the proverbs woman: the garden tool
The book of Proverbs is a great book for usable wisdom in our everyday lives. Its short and sometimes poetic verses give us guidance to enhance o u r lives in making us better people. The book of Proverbs is also useful in another way. It describes a woman in a passage that preachers often use to portray the perfect woman: the woman of noble character. As we read the last part of Proverbs 31, we find this woman is a wife and a mother, but she is so much more. She is almost but not quite superwoman. She is full of confidence. She brings her husband only good and no harm. She knows enough about every aspect of womanhood that she is the perfect businesswoman, provider, cook and seamstress. She is the perfect salesman (ahem, sorry, I mean salesperson), housekeeper, wife and mother. It seems the only thing this woman cannot do is to jump over tall buildings and fly into the sky to rescue people from their distress. It is no wonder that preachers use this passage so often for Mothers’ Day sermons. This woman is a worker of great ability. She knows how to use her tools as a master gardener. She works hard at hoeing the soil, killing weeds and breaking up clods. She sounds like a great person to employ or go into business with.
is that all there is to a woman?
But is this really all that a wife and a mother is? Is this the person that every woman wants to be? Does this description ﬁt what men look for in a wife and a mother of their children? Is there something more? Is there also another side of a woman?
the 1 peter woman: the flower
Peter’s ﬁrst letter contains a message that some women hate because he calls for wives to submit to their husbands. But let’s get past Peter’s words of submission and look a little closer at the heart of his message. When you read the following passage, please focus on verses two and four, and look at Peter’s description of a woman; the wife of a husband and the mother of her children.
1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or ﬁne clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
– 1 Peter 3:1-4 (NIV)
In verse two and four, Peter hopes that the unbelieving husband will see something in his wife that the author of the Proverbs misses: a gentle and loving wife. Peter isn’t really talking about wives submitting to their husbands as much as he is hoping that her godless husband will see his wife as a true gem because she is a faithful example of Christ. In this case, Peter calls on the woman to be the attractive ﬂower that God has created in all her beauty. Do you remember Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? Jesus tells His listener to not worry about their lives. 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the ﬂowers of the ﬁeld grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. – Matthew 6:28-29 (NIV)
While these two passages speak to two entirely different topics, they both address similar issues: real beauty.
a garden tool and a flower
Real beauty is not only about hard work as the woman of noble character in Proverbs. Real beauty is also about the woman whose inner person is beautiful, gentle, and of a quiet spirit. A quiet spirit doesn’t mean that she is timid and readily pushed into the corner. It means that this woman can be of a quiet nature when it is time to be soft and gentle. For example, she is a wise and hard worker when the circumstance calls for it, but she is also of a gentle and quiet nature when it is time to demonstrate those qualities. This woman has all of these character traits within her and she is all of these at all times. She has the ability to naturally call for the correct character to be revealed when needed. She works hard and she wheels and deals with the best of anyone, but she also comforts and soothes broken hearts too. She never loses any of her inner character, but she has the wisdom and ability to reveal each one as needed.
When her husband has had a rough day and needs comforted (yes, men need comforted too), she is there for him. She is a CEO (she is a garden tool), and she kisses the ouchy on her child’s knee (she is a flower). She is a businesswoman by day (a garden tool) and she shows her feminine side when dancing with her husband (a flower). She disciplines her teenage son (a garden tool) and she hugs him at his graduation (a flower). She and her husband put a new roof on their home (garden tool) and she soaks in a bubble bath that evening (a flower).
Women, wives, mothers, only you can do all these things. No man compares to you. We never have and we never will. We love you and greatly appreciate you. God truly made you the best of the best.
May God bless you with a very happy and joyful Mothers’ Day.
Love you & God Bless