A Tribute to Women (Proverbs 31:10-31)
- please open your Bibles to Proverbs 31
- if you want to generate a bit of heat in any discussion, just bring up the role of women
- I find a great variety of views exist in the never-ending battle of the sexes
- on one hand, you have the view that a woman can do the work of two men
- that if women were prime ministers and presidents, wars would end, unemployment would be eliminated, and the Bre-X fiasco would never have taken place
- on the other hand, you have those who feel that a woman’s place is secondary to a man’s
- that it’s a man’s world, and that a woman had better learn her place in the world
- just try opening a discussion on the matter sometime and see how it goes
- if you took a poll and asked people what the Bible says on the matter, you would probably hear that the Bible is an antiquated book reflecting old-fashioned values
- but this morning we’re in for a surprise
- into the discussion of the role of the sexes, the Bible enters and paints a very noble, enlightened view of women
- this morning is Mother’s Day
- we are going to pay tribute to our mothers
- we are so grateful for the qualities that our mothers exemplify
- but there are many women who are not mothers
- and we want to pay tribute to them this morning
- I’m not going to make the mistake of telling women how to be better women
- what do I know about being a woman?
- but we’re going to let the Bible this morning pay tribute to the women in our lives as it paints a lofty view of females
- I HOPE YOU REALIZE FIRST OF ALL THAT THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT WOMEN AND MEN ARE EQUAL IN PERSONHOOD AND IMPORTANCE
- when God created humans, he created both male and female in his image
- men and women were made equally in God’s image, and both men and women reflect God’s image in their lives
- we need to realize that Scripture teaches that men and women are equally important to God and equally valuable to him
- I get very angry when I hear some chauvinist men let on that they are somehow worth more because they are men
- no man should feel superior because he is a man, and no women should feel inferior because she is a woman
- the Bible is clear, right from Genesis 1, that God values males and females equally, and both are created in his image
- the Bible is also clear that there is an equality of God’s people in the church
- (Galatians 3:28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Paul was emphasizing to the Galatians that they had better not adopt the values of the culture in which men thought of themselves as being superior to women
- instead, Paul told them that men and women are equal before God and should be equally valuable to each other as well
- I won’t even get into the rights that the Bible bestows on a woman that were unthinkable in the culture of the day
- or the friendships that Jesus had with women
- we need to realize the dignity that the Bible bestows upon women
- does this mean that there are no differences between men and women at all?
- I think that most of us would recognize that there are some fairly obvious differences between men and women
- there are two schools of thought on this issue
- both recognize that women, Scripturally speaking, are equal before God
- but one view teaches that men and women are equal and yet have different roles
- that’s another morning’s topic
- but listen up chauvinists: women and men are equal in personhood and importance
- THE BIBLE IS ALSO CLEAR THAT WE SHOULD PAY TRIBUTE TO WOMEN
- and that’s what we’re going to do this morning
- 1 Peter 3:7 tells husbands to “bestow honor” on their wives
- and Proverbs 31 is a beautiful picture of the honor given to a godly woman
- the passage in Proverbs 31 pays tribute to a woman who is finding fulfillment in her home, in the community, and in a career
- this passage doesn’t limit women to one of these roles
- now please understand that this passage isn’t intended to place guilt on women or to create unrealistic expectations
- this passage, however, lays out some of the possible opportunities for women
- if you’re a woman, please sit back and bask in the praise this morning
- this isn’t a Hallmark card – it’s God’s Word that’s praising you
- so enjoy it
- maybe you will be challenged by the passage to find fulfillment in another avenue in your life
- THE NOBLE WOMAN IS PRAISEWORTHY IN HER HOME
- women, this morning we praise you because many of you have shown yourself praiseworthy in your homes
- [AS WIVES]
- (Proverbs 31:10) A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
- (Proverbs 31:12) She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
- (Proverbs 12:4) A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown
- there’s hardly a day that goes by that I’m not aware of the value of a good wife
- Charlene and I are like any couple
- we have our good days, and she has her bad days
- oops, I mean that we have our bad days
- but not many days go by that I don’t realize how privileged I am to have a wife like her
- I am incredibly blessed, and it’s worth even more as we consider that not everyone has this privilege
- men, if you are married, please value your wives
- your wives are precious, worth far more than rubies
- let her know today how much you value her
- she is a precious gift
- [AS MOTHERS]
- we also honor women who are mothers
- (Proverbs 31:21) When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
- (Proverbs 31:27) She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
- (Proverbs 31:28) Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
- it seems that everyone is blaming their parents for their problems
- that’s why I like the title of a book I saw: What My Parents Did Right
- let’s honor our mothers for their provisions of love for us
- when Winston Churchill was still alive, an editor submitted a list for his approval of those who had been his teachers
- Churchill returned the list to the editor with this comment: “You have omitted to mention the greatest of my teachers – my mother”
- one woman wrote a letter to her child
- this letter expresses what a mother gives to her child:
I give you my love, which means that I accept you, without reservations, just as you are and will be.
I give you my personal presence in order that you will have the security you need during your childhood.
I give you my ears, in the sense that I will never be too busy to listen to you – sometimes never uttering even one word.
I give you opportunities to work so that you might learn to do it without shame and come to enjoy the satisfaction of work well done.
I give you my counsel only when it is necessary or you ask for it so that you might avoid some of the mistakes I have made.
I give you my consolation when you have failed or feel discouraged, but I will not always protect you from the consequences of your sins.
I give you instructions in the way of the Lord so that when you are old, you will never depart from it.
I give you my daily prayers that the Lord will keep you and guide you in such a way that you, my child, will be a man or woman who will serve and glorify our Heavenly Father.
This I give you with all my love.
- (Proverbs 31:28) Her ch ildren arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her
- let’s praise the women here for what they have done in our homes
- there really is no higher contribution that anyone can make than in the life of a child
- as children and husbands we applaud you
- THE NOBLE WOMAN IS ALSO PRAISEWORTHY IN HER COMMUNITY
- (Proverbs 31:20) She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
- (Proverbs 31:25) She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
- (Proverbs 31:26) She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
- here we have a woman pictured who is compassionate, known for her strength and dignity, and also a wise and loving counselor
- her interests reach beyond the confines of her home
- she cares for the needs of other people
- the passage acknowledges that women are a vital part of the community as a whole
- in the church, in neighborhoods and communities, we appreciate the contributions of women
- today we have books identifying that men and women are different in fundamental ways
- women are from one planet, and men are from another one
- of course men get to be the ones from Mars
- we need to recognize that women bring to the church community something that men can’t bring
- we need to honor their contribution
- let’s look at another area of praise for the noble woman
- this one might surprise you
- THE NOBLE WOMAN IS ALSO PRAISEWORTHY IN HER CAREER
- (Proverbs 31:13) She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
- (Proverbs 31:14) She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
- (Proverbs 31:15) She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
- (Proverbs 31:16) She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
- (Proverbs 31:17) She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
- (Proverbs 31:18) She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
- (Proverbs 31:19) In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
- Proverbs 31 pictures a career woman
- whoever it is that argues against women having a career obviously hasn’t read this passage!
- here is a woman working diligently in her career
- she is buying and selling, making money
- in fact, the Bible does describe the career activities of woman outside the home without condemning them
- Lydia was a seller of purple clothes; Priscilla was a worker along with her husband
- the Bible does not stifle the individual talent of a woman outside the home or in a career
- in fact, Proverbs 31 praises a noble woman who is a good wife, mother, community member, and career woman
- not all women choose to have careers, but about 60% of Canadian women over the age of 25 do hold jobs
- but for those of you who have made this choice, don’t succumb to those who try to impose guilt on you for having work outside the home
- the housewife’s role only came into existence during the Industrial Revolution
- in fact, for almost all of history until World War II, women did have careers
- we ought to follow the example of Proverbs 31 and praise those women who are working hard in their careers
- we do honor you
- FINALLY, THE NOBLE WOMAN IS ALSO PRAISEWORTHY SPIRITUALLY
- (Proverbs 31:30) Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
- the woman who lives for God is worthy of praise
- some of the most spiritual people I have known have been women
- and we praise them for it
- how’s that for a tribute?
- let’s make a few applications as we close
- APPLICATION NUMBER ONE: LET’S GIVE PROPER HONOR TO THE WOMEN IN OUR LIVES
- surely the first application is that we should be recognizing women as equal partners in God’s grace, and expressing our appreciation to them
- (Proverbs 31:31) Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
- let’s give women their due and show our appreciation to them for their roles
- not just in the home, but in our communities and in their careers
- have you done this today?
- if your mother is still alive, have you thanked her and praised her today?
- if you have a wife, have you told her how much you appreciate her?
- APPLICATION NUMBER TWO: LET’S STRIVE TO APPLY WHAT THESE WOMEN HAVE TAUGHT US
- let’s consider their example and imitate them if they have been good examples
- let’s learn from the woman of Proverbs 31 and try to emulate her
- she is respected by her family and community, a success in her career, and she is spiritually sound
- how are you and your family? could you learn anything from the woman in Proverbs 31?
- how is your impact in the community?
- how is your spiritual life? do you know God and fear him like the woman in Proverbs 31?
- APPLICATION NUMBER THREE, LET’S LOOK AT OUR LIFE’S BOTTOM LINE
- one of the things we’re told to do is to imagine what we want people to say about us at our funeral, and then try to live a life that earns the eulogies we desire
- women couldn’t do badly to try to live the life of Proverbs 31
- as we see Proverbs 31, we think of the bottom line of our lives
- not just success in a career or community or home, but balance and success and respect
- Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:
- How do you measure success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a redeemed social condition, or a job well done;
To know even one other life has breathed because you lived—
This is to have succeeded.