By Sally Wagenmaker
By Proverbs 31’s “wife of noble character” can seem quite intimidating. She does it all, has it all, and even “laugh at the days to come” (Prov. 31:25). Can anyone measure up to her accomplishments, her standard, her work ethic? As a wife, mother, and partner in a law firm, two verses stand out to me.
First, “[s]he brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Prov. 31:12). She is thus on a lifelong journey to consistently strive for good – for her husband, her children, her servants, her business relations, and the poor. Her stellar qualities did not materialize from thin air. She mostly likely was trained over many years, had to work hard, and had to cultivate strong habits of diligence and excellence.
So too we must strive, and learn over time. As my father lectured his rebellious daughter (me) many years ago, “Life is a test.” And sometimes – “You flunked!” What are the constants? My answers include remaining true to my husband, striving to be a good mother, to be discerning about whether (and how much) to work for a living, and engaging in intentional community. Often that means “get[ting] up while it is still dark” (Prov. 31:15). And of course to grow closer to God through it all!
Second, “[s]he speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” (Prov. 31:26). Wisdom is likewise a quality gained over time – not just knowledge, but discernment and understanding too. Imparting “faithful instruction” implies an underlying faith in God and His ultimate wisdom, along with effective communication skills.
Who am I charged with instructing, and how will I know if it is wise? All of us have responsibilities to others – perhaps a spouse, children, other relatives, friends, co-workers, and clients. Whom has God placed in my life now? And will I seek His equipping through His Word, others, and my own life experiences?
God has called each of us to bring good to others, being grounded always in Him and with faithful instruction. Now that is noble character!