What is a Proverbs 31 Woman? -by Angie Hughes

There is much controversy about the woman described in Proverbs 31: 10-31. Some mistakenly believe that these verses describe either : 1) an outdated model for the domestic women, or 2) they outline an impossible standard for women to live up to. In reality, Proverbs 31 is not meant to be the “ultimate female checklist” but rather a set of guidelines designed to help us live a blessed and fruitful life.

When you read Proverbs 31 in its entirety, you can see the following guidelines:

  • Be substantive.
  • Work purposefully and productively. (Never be lazy.)
  • Take care of the needs of your household.
  • Be savvy in your finances and business affairs.
  • Be strong and healthy.
  • Help the less fortunate.
  • Be open to learning new skills so that you will be capable of taking care of yourself and those around you.
  • Have a close relationship with God so that you can give wise and faithful instruction.
  • Above all, fear God.

As you can see from this list, the Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of substance. She lives her life with purpose. Her focus is not on things of this world that have no real value. Her focus is on meaningful contributions in her home and in her community. She is very capable, both in her business endeavors and at home.

In all things, she works vigorously and uses her time productively. She is strong so that she can perform all of her tasks. She proactively takes care of the needs of her family and household. She also acquires knowledge and uses practical sense to make good business decisions. She has a broad skill set which makes her very capable and well rounded in all of her endeavors.

The Proverbs 31 Woman respects her husband and others, and in turn is well respected herself. She has a close relationship with God so that she is able to give wise and faithful instruction. Her light never goes out, meaning that she is unwavering in her commitment to serve her family and God.

The Proverbs 31 Woman should serve as an inspiration to us, not as someone to imitate. Proverbs 31 is not a checklist of the “ultimate women” to compare ourselves to, but a compilation of principles/guidelines to follow. It should inspire us to work purposefully and meaningfully and to be an active participant in life. Use Proverbs 31 as it was intended, a set of guidelines to help us live a blessed and fruitful life.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

Becoming A Proverbs 31 Woman Is An Inside Job -by Michel Williams

Take a minute and read Proverbs 31.  I will wait right here.  Welcome back! Depending on where you are in your life with Jesus, this list can make you feel defeated like there is no way you resemble this woman. It can also make you feel hopeful like maybe this is possible by the end of my life. When we decide to believe in Jesus and that He died for our sins on the cross, it is the beginning of a life with Him. In that moment, we are given the Holy Spirit to guide, help, and change us. Wherever we are in our life when we believe is where we, are imperfections and all. God speaks to us in the real world and we are not automatically “perfect Christians”…if we ever will be.

I have believed in God as long as I can remember but reading the bible confused me in a lot of ways because there are so many passages, including Proverbs 31, where it seemed I did not measure up to God’s standard.  There seemed to be lists of things I needed to do and not to do to be a good Christian and I wasn’t able to do that. I looked at the spiritual measuring stick of the bible and looked at myself and found that I did not measure up.  Growing up and through much of my adulthood, I thought I had to do this all myself. I thought all I had to do was believe in God and follow “the rules” and I would be a good Christian. I figured all of it was dependent on me. After years of anxiety trying to do it on my own and failing, praying over and over that God would help me, I gave up in defeat.  I turned to wine and numbed out, letting it carry me through my days. God was with me but the wine was planted firmly between Him and I. I couldn’t figure out how to live a life of Christian rules and expectations on my own nor could I figure out how to let God help me so I just floated through life for many years. I prayed and read my bible asking God for help all the while gripping my glass of wine. At some point the wine quit drowning out my list of failures.  The anxiety, guilt, condemnation, and fear caught up with me again. One day, I came to the end of myself, let go of the wine, and grabbed onto God hard. I didn’t think about any of the Christian “rules” or all the ways my life needed fixing. I just knew I needed Him because I was miserable. He met me in that moment filling me with peace. Slowly over time the craziest thing happened. While I was busy clinging to God learning more about him through prayer and bible study, He began to work on me. He took away the guilt, condemnation, and anxiety.  One day I realized that I slightly resembled this Proverbs 31 woman. Not a lot mind you, but I was beginning to see glimpses of her in my life and I didn’t have anything to do with it. You see, I didn’t do it at all. I spent so many years trying to make myself be this woman but it was never my job, it was God’s. I do have to agree to follow God and where he leads but it is Him who changes me slowly over time as I continue to say yes to Him. I am not perfect. Nowhere near it but now I sit in a position of gratefulness. I am aware of the ways I still need Jesus to heal/change me but can see areas where He has already done so.  I can relax because God is at work in me. It is nothing short of a miracle to look back and see the changes that came when I finally let go of trying to do it on my own and grabbed on to God. I still struggle with it since it’s in my nature to be in control, but in those moments, I try to remember what it was like to be carried along in the flow of the Holy Spirit and to just be with Him.

Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman is an inside job that God does slowly over time. It can’t be faked and it can’t be rushed.  All we can do is decide to follow God every day and get to know Him through prayer and bible study. He does the rest, and maybe, by the time Jesus takes us to heaven, we will resemble this woman.

Angie is right.  Let’s look at this passage with hopeful inspiration because God will continue the good work he started in us.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

Wherever you are at this moment is wherever you are.  Move forward following God in faith, imperfections and all, and let him comfort and change you.  One day you will look up and see your own resemblance to this woman.