With Mother’s Day approaching us tomorrow, this verse from Proverbs 31 has been flashing up in my face everywhere lately! So it made me stop for a brief moment and ask myself if maybe the Holy Spirit is trying to whisper something sweet to my spirit. And guess what?!?!?! …I think he just might be :)
There are so many views on the ‘Wife of Noble Character’ found in Proverbs 31:10-31. Some women find her absolutely inspiring. Some find her ridiculously intimidating. Some believe she does not and cannot exist, since she was referred to in an ‘oracle’ of King Lemuel’s mother, and therefore is a mystic, unattainable legend. But that doesn’t sit right with me. I LOVE the Proverbs 31 woman, and just like many other wives, daughters, mothers, sisters and friends, she provides me with a path to follow and virtues to aspire to rather than a list of impossibilities that I can’t achieve.
Which brings me to verse 25, “She is clothed in righteousness.” (Most versions read ‘strength and dignity’). What I love about this is that I see it as the key to how she is able to do all that she does and achieve all that she achieves from sunrise to sunset. This little phrase reveals the heavenly wisdom in her life that is available to me too. What I feel the Holy Spirit pounding into me every time I see this lately, is that I don’t have to do everything in my own strength. He clothes me in righteousness. He clothes me with his strength. He clothes me with dignity. He provides all that I need – every resource available to me from heaven, by his power – to be able to do what I need to do. Even if that is simply getting through the day!
When we see the Proverbs 31 woman as ‘intimidating’ or ‘impossible’ to live up to, it’s most likely because we’re viewing her from the perspective of the Old Testament – the Law – and on this side of the cross we know that the law kills, but the Spirit brings life (2 Cor 3:6). What does this mean? The law was given to prove that we cannot do everything ourselves! We cannot earn our salvation by being perfect. We cannot do it in our own human strength. It is impossible. The law highlighted this, because if even one tiny little command was broken, the law was completely broken altogether and we have fallen short of the standard.
Cue Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jesus came to be that perfection, to live sinlessly, and to offer his body and life as the ultimate sacrifice. Because the price has been paid on the cross we no longer have to live under the law, but we now live under grace. We live in the Covenant of Grace!!! This means that we don’t have to earn or strive to be right with God, because Jesus has already done all that is required for us to be presented holy and blameless before God himself. We are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ! (2 Cor 5:21)
I love that the Proverbs 31 woman is ‘clothed’ in righteousness. This insinuates that someone else put this garment on her. And although I’m sure she had many servant girls to help her get dressed in the morning, I’m talking about being clothed by God himself. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to clothe us. Every morning! Afresh, anew, anointed for this day and this moment. When he clothes us in his righteousness and strength and dignity, we don’t need to rely on ourselves, but can draw from what he has already given us. This great inner strength can only come from him dwelling in us (Eph 3:16), in order for him to work through us.
So let’s not let the Proverbs 31 woman intimidate us or make us feel insecure about ourselves and our achievements (or lack thereof). She has been provided to us as an example to aspire to and if we let go of ourselves, daily, hourly, moment by moment and ask the Spirit to empower us, we can actually go on to achieve more than we think we’re even capable of, because we will be doing it by the strength and power of the God of the universe.
Happy Mother’s Day all of you lovely mothers! You are doing a wonderful job and you don’t have to do it all on your own. In fact…you can’t! Even the greatest woman/wife/mother of all time didn’t do it all on her own! Surrender to the Spirit and ask him to flood in and heal you, strengthen you and lift you up. Ask him to clothe you in righteousness and strength, that you will live each day with purpose, productivity and passion. You can do this :)