This is the last in our series on women of purpose in the Bible, which began last August. After this, I will compile all 22 entries into one document, write an introduction and conclusion, edit, and then go forward with the production process to publish this material as a book. The title will be The Power of Purple: Women of Purpose in Scripture. I will let you know when it is available.
As we close out this series, let's look at what Proverbs 31:10-31 had to say about a virtuous woman. When I teach purpose, I tell women that motherhood and marriage are roles and not a purpose. Children will eventually leave home and spouses can go home to the Lord before the wife as well, so a woman's roles at home change over time.
Her life purpose, however, does not change, and she must learn to feed and develop that purpose even when she is her busiest as children grow or as her marriage evolves and matures. I am going to move beyond any references to marriage, however, which are minimal (her husband is mentioned three times, her children once, and her household or family three times), and analyze the verses that describe the ideal traits and work habits of this composite picture of godly femininity.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers (31:13-19).
This ideal women pursues her business interests with eagerness and enthusiasm, and what she does is profitable. She seems to follow her heart interests, with little direction besides building a successful career. The references to her work - the spindle, a vineyard, a field, trading - were common activities when these verses were written, but would undoubtedly be greatly expanded today to include medicine, teaching, business, social work, or ministry. Notice that she had servants to help her carry out her duties. I have often recommended that women who need help managing their household affairs find other women whose purpose it is to manage private matters and hire them to do that for them! Today's Proverbs 31 woman would apply the same traits of diligence, good business practices, and reinvestment of her profits into her work as this original model woman is seen doing.
The Proverbs 31 woman is also involved in the needs of the world around her.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness (31:20-27).
This woman helps the poor from her own funds and is a strong woman in her own right. She speaks with wisdom so she teaches others (with modern social media, this practice can be achieved from the comfort of one's own kitchen). There seems to be little purpose input from her husband if she is married, and if she is not married, then she would be quite free to pursue her business interests in a way that blessed and served other people.
The writer concluded this chapter and the book of Proverbs with these verses:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate (31:30-31).
The efforts of a Proverbs 31 woman were to be recognized by those around her. This woman realized her worth was not based on her looks or charm, but rather on the value she brought to those around her, whether single or married. The beneficiaries of her focus and virtue were to honor, recognize, and encourage her worth.
All this is summarized to say that the Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of purpose. She knows who she is and what God wants her to do. She is a blessing to those closest to her because she bears fruit according to her gifts in the sphere to which God has called her. She is true to her roles of mother, wife, daughter, niece, sister, or friend while pursuing the will of God for her life.
The lessons here are clear. God created Eve to be Adam's helpmate, not his maid. In other words, Eve had her own purpose that complemented Adam's but was not subservient to it. The Proverbs 31 woman is a picture of what God had in mind for Eve, but of course the Fall impacted her purpose just like it did for men. Jesus came, however, to reverse the effects of the Fall and that was to restore the power of purpose in everyone's life, including women. The Proverbs 31 woman was free to be herself, and she is now more than ever because of the work of the cross.
I hope this series has helped you, whether male or female, to realize that women are equal to men where purpose is concerned. The Bible is full of stories that depict women as leaders, creators, and entrepreneurs. Those women were not renegades or the exception to God's plan for women, but examples of His desire to use women without permission from their male counterparts. If you are a woman, I hope you will embrace the power of your purpose because of what you have read here. if you are a man, I trust you will see that women are co-heirs of the purpose message and are worthy of resources and attention so they can pursue and reach their potential.
Thank you so much for your feedback during these last seven months, and now it's on to the publishing process. While I do that, I expect you all to pursue your purpose. Have a blessed week!