On Mother’s Day each year, thousands of messages are preached on the “virtuous women” described in Proverbs 31:10-31. This passage paints an extraordinarily high vision of virtue. This stratospheric standard is so high that it is impossible to meet.
Some women may not like these Mother’s Day messages because instead of feeling honored and appreciated on their special day, they are faced with their shortcomings and feel inadequate.
It is not that the message should never be preached, because “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) But perhaps it could be preached at another time, on another day.
Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the traits of a virtuous wife, but the principles of virtue are universal. Virtue is not just for women. These spiritual virtues would make anyone a better Christian.
As I read Proverbs 31, I am struck with the thought that most of these virtues should apply to men as well as women. This is especially true since Christians (both men and women) are the bride of Christ. This makes Jesus the husband in the spiritual application of this passage.
With that in mind, here is a spiritualized version of this familiar passage. The description is of a virtuous Christian, who is a bride of Christ. It is written using masculine pronouns to help distinguish it from the original and to emphasize that it applies to men as well as women.
See how you compare
- Who can find a virtuous Christian? His value would be far above pearls of great price.
- The heart of God would confidently trust in him, and lack nothing of value.
- He does good, not harm, for Jesus and God’s Kingdom all the days of his life.
- He seeks souls and God’s glory, and willingly gives his life to spiritual work.
- He is like a merchant ship bringing souls to God from afar.
- He rises before dawn to pray; and feeds his family and coworkers spiritually.
- He considers a mission field, and makes it his own. He diligently works his field and presents Christ with the fruit of his spiritual labor.
- He clothes himself with the whole armor of God, preparing his heart and mind for spiritual battle.
- He understands that spiritual profit is good: so he works at it day and night.
- His hands take hold of the Bible. He clothes himself with the Word of God.
- He reaches out to the poor; and gives generously to the needy.
- He does not fear cold spiritual climates because he knows that his family is sheltered in the Father’s everlasting arms.
- He is clothed with humility and self-control. He is adorned with good works.
- His testimony makes Jesus known everywhere, and brings glory to the name of Christ.
- He is productive and works diligently to earn his living.
- Spiritual strength and godliness adorn him. He rejoices at the thought of eternity.
- He opens his mouth with wisdom, and provides loving instruction with his tongue.
- He carefully watches over the ways of God’s children, and is never idle.
- His spiritual children will rise up and call him blessed. Jesus will also praise him and say, “Well done My good and faithful servant. Many of My children have done great things, but you excel them all.”
- Charm is deceitful and physical vitality fades; but a man who fears the LORD will be praised.
- Give him the fruit of his hands; and let his works bring him praise in heaven.
So, how do you compare to this standard? I know I feel inadequate.
Feeling inadequate next to this standard is not surprising because “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
And Jesus told His disciples:
“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:7-1)
This standard provides an excellent target to strive for though. So “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith . . .” (Heb. 12:1-2).
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