Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Far Above Rubies

I administrate a Christian group on the Blackberry Messaging platform.  We have members all over the world, some in ministry, some average believers.  Recently, one of our group celebrated an anniversary.  And his comments got me thinking about what’s come to be called “the Proverbs 31 woman”.  There wasn’t a lot of description in his comments.  But you could tell that the things he was planning weren’t being done because he had to, in the sense that he was meeting some expectation.  The undercurrent of what he talked about was that he had a need to bless his wife because who she has made him want to.  And that got me thinking.

When we hear about “the Proverbs 31 woman”, it’s often described as some kind of goal.  Awhile back, there was a Christian woman blogger who wrote about wanting to become a “Proverbs 31 woman”.  She said it with that same kind of understanding – it was a goal to attain.  As part of her learning process she talked about meeting with a Jewish woman to get more of the Judaic perspective on fulfilling the “requirements”.  One of this woman’s comments was very much an “Ah hah!” moment for me.  She told the blogger that Proverbs 31:10-31 was read by the husband to his wife, to honor her and the gift from God that she is to her husband.  I don’t recall what she said about how often that was done or if it was on some special occasion.  I believe it was actually said to be a nightly reading.  But her description made it clear that this is how the husband is to see his wife, not some legalistic goal she needs to try to fulfill.  And that drew me to some other Biblical passages.

The Christian church is described as being “the Bride of Christ”.  If we look at all the passages about this bride, we can come to only one conclusion.  Proverbs 31 is the description of why she is beautiful and much desired  by Him.  God sees only the perfection bought and created by the blood of Christ.  In Acts 10:34, Peter tells us that “God is no respecter of persons”.  We’re described as “the Bride of Christ” as a statement of our relationship and our position in that relationship.  The term defines relationship, not nature.  So, even though I’m a man, I’m as much a part of that as the Godly women I know.

That understanding explains something else.  We read in Romans 14:19 and 1Thessalonians 5:11 that we’re to edify one another.  That’s not an edict, but an opportunity to praise the Bride of Christ in appreciation of who she is.  A chance to bring that thinking into our everyday experience.  A gift of gaining God’s viewpoint toward us by expressing and living in it toward each other.  And that’s special!  So, we learn a few things from this.

  1. Proverbs 31:10-31 isn’t a goal to attain, but a state of being.  Although wanting to improve is always a good thing.
  2. The passage describes how the husband ought to see his wife, just as God sees the church.
  3. Even though the “bride of Christ” is spiritually a wife, not a husband, we in the church are all part of that.
  4. The command to edify one another is less an order than God giving us an opportunity to see ourselves and each other as He sees us.
When we think about it, how does that make us feel about ourselves?  And about each other?  And, as we draw on the heart of God, doesn’t that make us want others to be able to experience that kind of love?

2 comments:

  1. Bill, I've never heard this perspective on Proverbs 31 before! I really enjoyed reading this, especially since I'm at the age where my peers are constantly talking about becoming a Proverbs 31 woman. It is much more encouraging to know that this was not a standard to aspire to, but instead was written to appreciate who this woman already was, and the gift that her husband has in her.

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    1. The Father doesn't see us as needing to improve. He sees His Son in us, who is already perfected. And we're supposed to see ourselves and each other that way.

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