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.
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).