If God designed the husband to be a spiritual leader in the home, then what is the God-designed role for the wife? In Proverbs 31 we find the passage of scripture that is generally referred to as “The Virtuous Woman.” Verse 10 begins the passage with a question. “Who can find a capable wife?” Take just a moment and think about how you define a capable wife. I’m reminded of an old 70s/80s commercial for Enjoli perfume where they lyrics in the jingle shows a classy, business dressed woman who can work all day, come home and fix dinner, read a story book and still be a passionate woman with her man. Does this make her a capable wife?
When you read the verses that follow, you’ll see that this woman who is commonly referred to as the ideal, Godly woman and praised for her virtues is not the stereotypically image of a woman that is “barefoot and pregnant” at home. However, she is also not the career-driven woman. This woman that is the model for us is strong. She is multitalented. She is dignified and caring. She is not a woman that has her identity in her husband’s identity. Instead, she is her own person. In the verses we find that she has money and she makes investments. She looks after her servants and manages real estate. She is a partner with her husband who completely trusts her to see to the lands they own. She takes care of the property and the goods. She goes to the market and uses her business skills to buy and sell.
Certainly as wives and mothers today, we have responsibilities. For some it might mean working all day at home cleaning the house, doing the laundry, being the unpaid taxi driver for the kids, cooking and all the daily responsibilities of running a home. For others it might mean going to a job and putting in the hours there and still having to come home to do all the chores around the house. However, I think that keeping a clean home is only part of what makes a capable wife. So what else would make us women a capable wife?
The capable wife understands that her ability to be capable comes from God alone. If we depend on ourselves to be capable, we will fail every time. She understands that her reputation as a Christian is on line in how she behaves, the attitudes she demonstrates (even when no one is looking), and the words she speaks. Instead of behaving and speaking like the world, she demonstrates Christ-likeness with a servant’s heart, feeling blessed to be able to serve the people that God’s has entrusted to her care. The only way to accomplish this is having a daily, intimate fellowship with Christ. If she is ignoring and not having a daily time where she gets alone with God and studies His Word and talks with Him, then she is not going to have the strength to see to all her responsibilities in a way that will honor and please God.
One translation of the Bible rewords the questions to read, “A wife of noble character, who can find?” The Hebrew word is chayil and can be translated as either “noble,” or “virtuous.” In other words, she is a wife of valor. Femininity is not weak or passive. Instead, noble character has strong traits such as loyal, dependable, honest, trustworthy, dignity, compassion, wisdom. She has high moral principles. In other words, she is the opposite of the woman that strives for power and success. She doesn’t need wealth to feel accomplished. Her joy and happiness comes from leaving a Godly legacy for generations to come. Can you think of other noble character traits? Which of these traits do you have? Which ones do you need to work on? Can you identify a woman of noble character that has left a Godly legacy for you to follow? Are working to leave that kind of legacy for your daughter and granddaughters?
The capable wife is also sensitive and compassionate. In these verses the virtuous woman sees to the needs to others who are less fortunate. She is kind and generous toward them. Other ways wives can be sensitive and compassionate are recognizing when your husband is having a stressful day and be an encourager. Listen … really listen… to what is going on in his life. Then demonstrate empathy and understanding. Take his hand and pray for him. What are other ways you can show sensitivity and compassion to your husband?
The capable wife also sets to her tasks and responsibilities cheerfully and energetically. She doesn’t see these things and “have tos” that she meets with dread. She isn’t lazy and procrastinates to get the tasks done. Instead, she tackles every challenge head on. She sees her responsibilities and tasks as “get tos.” It is her ministry to her family and she understands that by serving them, she is serving God.
God placed as much responsibility on wives as he did husbands and our roles are no less important than our husbands. Many times marriages suffer when husbands and wives get hung up on what the other spouse isn’t doing in the role God have him or her. Let me challenge you, dear wife, to focus on your own “get tos.” Make a commitment to your marriage and to God that you will cheerfully serve your family regardless of what your husband does or does not do. If your husband is not fulfilling what God has called him to be in your marriage, then pray about it…but keep being the wife that God has called you to be. Keep your servant’s heart and joyfully and energetically do what God has designed for you as a wife, fully depending upon Him to accomplish his purpose through you.