The last study was about the wife loving her husband focusing on the church always remembering her first love, Jesus Christ. This study is about loving her household, and how the church should love each member of the body of Christ.
Love for Her Household
She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. (Proverbs 31:13-18)
The sun is blazing. Her oldest daughter is sweeping the floors. Her son is carving a chair in the backyard. She looks up and wipes the sweat off her brow. The baby is crying, he’s hungry again. It just seemed like minutes ago he nursed. She pulls him close to her bosom and nurses him again. With one hand under the baby, she bends to scoop more dirt and plants wheat. The hearth is hot and the smell of fresh bread is beckoning. The baby stops nursing. She lifts herself up, goes into the house to prepare supper.
The family then eats and goes to bed. She is on the side of her bed praying, thanking God for the many blessings He has given her this day. She goes into the living room near the spindle, and begins to sew a new shirt for her husband. He had snagged the good one on the boat earlier while catching a large net full of fish. There is a pot of stew cooking for tomorrow on the fire. Once the shirt is done, she goes to bed only to wake up at the crack of dawn to start breakfast and pick the grapes off the vine to sell for wine.
How many of us today would keep this type of schedule, especially in the extreme heat of summer? In Biblical times, women were expected to take care of the household, the chores, making clothes, cooking, etc. She nursed the children, taught them before sending them to school, and disciplined them. Husbands that had a wife that was hardworking were considered blessed.
Here we see in Proverbs, that the virtuous wife did not mind getting her hands dirty. She made sure that everyone in the house was taken care of. She did not look out for herself, others came first. She even worked to have money for her family. The time of day did not matter, just as long as the family was fed, dressed, and had a place to lay their head to rest at night.
This woman is special. She is not afraid to work. She provides for her household. She girds herself with strength. She is a light that does not burn out. What a lot this says to us as the church.
We are very good at looking beyond the church trying to win people into our congregations. However, if the spiritual level is dead or suffering, outsiders will not want to be a part of the problem. We need to focus on the issues inside the church before going out. How do we do this?
First we need to not be afraid to work. This is not just the pastor’s job. Everyone in the church needs to work together. There needs to be a sense of unity. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:14). If there is no unity, the work is spent on solving problems rather than winning souls to the kingdom. We are to seek the things of God, not the things of man. Sometimes it means getting our hands dirty. Issues may need to be dealt with that are hindering the work of the Spirit. At times, it may seem like everything is wrong, but if our priority is Christ and the Presence of God in the church, we need to work at it. As said in the previous chapter, we should be seeking to please God and what better way than to be working for Him.
The early church was very good at caring for each other. When one was sick, another would bring food to the family, and then laid hands upon them and prayed. When one had sinned, they were prayed over and forgiven. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:13-16). If only we could get back to this practice today! Instead of putting each other down or holding onto bitterness, we need to love and look out for each other.
We need to gird ourselves with strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”(Philippians 4:13). Our true strength comes from God. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We need to take the time alone and corporately to worship and seek Him. We are in a war. Satan will do anything he can to destroy the body of Christ. He is afraid of a church that is strong. But with God’s strength, we have the victory. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). We need to understand that the main cause of most church conflict is our ignorance of the enemy and not having the strength to fight him. We need to be an army that will stand up and fight.
If we know that someone is in need of prayer, pray. Don’t share it as gossip. Don’t belittle them. Pray for them and then encourage them. If one falls, pick him up and dust him off. If others see us united and strong, they will more than likely join us.
We need to be a shining light. No matter what time of day or night, we need to be reflecting Christ. He is our light and salvation. With Him, there is nothing to fear. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalms 27:1). Our conduct will show whose we are. What do people think when they see us individually? What do they think when they see us as a church? What image are we portraying?
Are we taking care of each other? God wants us to have Him first and foremost, but then He also wants us to look out for each other. Where do we stand?