Thursday, October 18, 2018

The ABC’s of Praising Women

Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic poem in its original Hebrew.  As such, there are 22 statements.  Each one begins with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  No letter is missing.  It is a full, complete, beautiful artistic description of an excellent woman. 

An excellent woman is rare and precious (10)*.  You will not find this kind of woman just anywhere.  For the ladies who read this, it is important to know that you will not become this kind of woman by accident.  You cannot go hard after the ways of the world and accidently become virtuous.  This kind of woman is not only rare, she is also precious.  So, dear men, when you find her, you must treasure her!

An excellent woman is trustworthy and complimentary (11).  She is a perfect fit for her husband.  This woman is also beneficent and consistent (12).  She is also diligent and blessed (13).  I say she is blessed because she is active with her hands’ pleasure.  She gets to do what she likes and she likes what she gets to do. 

An excellent woman is industrious and frugal (14).  She is careful and attentive (15), economical and industrious (16), resilient and tough (17), productive not slothful (18), hard-working and busy (19), generous and open-handed (20), prepared and responsible (21), thrifty and elegant (22). 

An excellent woman is supportive and liberating (23).  She is devoted to her husband. And because she is, he is able to excel in the things which have been entrusted to him.  And if she is not married, an excellent woman still values the marriages around her. 

An excellent woman is shrewd and pragmatic (24).  She is organized and equipped (25), discreet and taught (26), structured and persistent (27), acknowledged and praised (28-29), balanced and faithful (30), fruitful and commended (31).    

The key to becoming an excellent woman is the fear of the LORD (30). 

* I am deeply indebted to Eric Lane in his commentary on Proverbs published by Christian Focus which helped me come up with these couplets in understanding this passage.  Though I generally used different words to capture the teaching here.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Daily Provision

Throughout human history most people have lived hand-to-mouth.  And some days along the way, particularly outside of the growing season, there was not much moving from the hand to the mouth.  This sort of subsistence living is normal even for many people in the world today. 

Of course, being Americans living in the time in which we live, it is hard for us to imagine living in those conditions.  Though there are many people in our county who live pay check to pay check.  On the other hand, many Americans have been able to invest and save money.  The average person in America lives as well as, if not better than, many kings throughout history.  Our palaces may not be quite as opulent as the greatest monarchs.  But our houses are still quite large. 

How do we make sense of the disparity between the poverty of most of history and the incredible wealth of our time?  How do we keep our eyes on God’s provision when we have so much? 

Seeing God’s provision, like with most anything else, is a struggle of faith.  It is a real fight.  It is easy to think that we have done the providing by our hard work.  It is just as easy to think that God doesn’t care when we face difficult times. 

Whether we have a lot or little, it is important for us to remember the words which Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).   The Lord provides us with daily bread.  Certainly there are times when His blessings are bountiful.  And in those times we might set a little extra aside.  But even then, we must not trust in the little extra (Luke 12:13-21).  We must keep looking to the Lord who gives our daily bread. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Walking By Faith

The Christian life is a life of faith.  But this life of faith is lived upon the earth.  And as we walk upon the earth we do so making decisions based on the information we gather from our senses. 

Our sense of touch will cause us to withdraw our hand from a hot stove.  It may also cause us to pull the blanket up as the fall weather brings cooler nights. 

Our sense of taste will cause us to go back for seconds at the dinner table.  Or, it might cause us to look around for a napkin so we can discreetly spit the food out instead of swallowing it. 

Our sense of hearing will cause us to turn quickly as we hear the voice of a loved one calling our name. It may cause us to hurry out of the building if the fire alarm begins to sound. 

Our sense of smell may bring us great pleasure as we walk through a flower garden.  Or it may cause us to leave the rest room quickly. 

Our sense of sight will help us walking carefully across the stepping stones of a creek bed.  Or it may allow us to stand in wonder at the bright colors of the rainbow. 

Our senses help us to enjoy our life on earth.  But as Christians, we must remember that there is more to reality than the things which we discern through our senses.  There is an unseen spiritual realm.  There are eternal realities that cannot be touched or held in our hands.  There are things which we know to be true even though we have not heard them with our ears or seen them with our eyes. 

And so we walk by faith, not by sight.  And sometimes that walk by faith does not make sense to the people around us who are only walking by sight as they rely on their five senses.