May 10, 1998; No. 2888
The calling of a Christian woman, whether married or single, is perhaps the most difficult in the kingdom of God. That is true for single daughters as they grow in teenage and adult years. The pattern which is set for them by the world is certainly not virtue or adornment with the beauty of God. But a girl is viewed by men today in carnal lust and with unchaste thoughts. The emphasis is upon sex, so that, to be popular, a girl must be shapely, beautiful, and suggestive. A girl is viewed as something which is intended to arouse passions in men. And young Christian girls are constantly subjected to that, both from outside the church and, shamefully, from within.
Besides, there can also be, for an unmarried girl, the desire to have a husband, which is good and honorable. But it may be that the Lord does not immediately grant such a God-fearing husband. Then the temptation to accept a man outside of Christ who shows interest in her, and to compromise her faith in Christ for him, can be very great.
It is also difficult to be a Christian wife today. Immorality of both husbands and wives, permissiveness, adultery-these are things that abound everywhere. There are forces which entice a woman to live apart from her husband. And especially there is the resentment and hatred against the Bible, which calls a wife to obey and to submit to her husband in the fear of God. That word "obey" that is used in Titus 2 is looked upon as tyranny by the world, which does not understand the order and the love of Christ in His kingdom.
It is also true that it is difficult to be a God-fearing mother. That calling of motherhood is also a calling which is attacked and slurred today. It is not true that a Christian mother sits in her home safe and unaffected, living an easy, Christian life. No! Christian mothers also suffer the attacks of the evil one, who wishes to destroy her especially in her crucial place in the home. The work of a mother and a wife in the home-loving her children and husband, keeping the home (according to Titus 2:4)-is looked upon as degrading and demeaning. Many women, as a result of such a view, no longer want to be at home, but would rather be "on the go," socializing, or outside of the home constantly. All of these things make the life of a Christian woman, whether single or married, tremendously difficult.
That is why a woman who fears the Lord is a rare and a precious thing. A woman who fears the Lord is a gift of God's grace. She is the most attractive woman to God and to believers that could possibly be known.
The Word of God speaks of such an attractive and beautiful woman in Proverbs 31:29, 30. We read: "Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."
In that chapter of Proverbs 31 we read of this God-fearing woman. We read that the heart of her husband safely trusts in her, that she labors diligently from morning to night for her household, that she provides for herself and for their needs, that she is a woman of wisdom and honor and strength, that her children call her blessed. This is all summed by this word: She is a woman that feareth the Lord and is to be praised, that is, held in deepest respect and loving esteem, by the church. She is beautiful because God loves her. She knows God and God knows her. By His grace, God loves believing girls, wives, and mothers in His church because they are His and because of the wonderful, powerful, amazing work that He performs in and through them.
We must understand that Proverbs speaks emphatically here of a God-fearing woman. Of herself, this God-fearing woman would not always see herself in this way. The Word of God certainly points out a very beautiful picture of a God-fearing woman. And perhaps God-fearing women now listening to this message would blush when they try to put themselves into the picture of Proverbs 31 and see only how far they fall short. The text, that is the Word of God, is not ignorant of the fact of our own failures and sinfulness. Nevertheless, by God's grace, this is how God looks upon a believing woman, upon a God-fearing woman. This is what God is pleased to perform in and through her. The Word of God here brings out the wonderful, beautiful, and amazing calling of a God-fearing woman.
Who is this woman?
As I said before, the Word of God here points out emphatically that she is defined or known by one great characteristic. She feareth the Lord. "But a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." That is what being a woman is all about. You cannot be a woman, a wife, or a mother in the true, biblical sense unless you fear the Lord. Otherwise it will be just an empty shell. A woman is not, first of all, to be identified as attractive, friendly, or a host of other things. But the Word of God says a woman, for her beauty, is first of all identified as one who from her heart fears the Lord. She belongs to the Lord in her body and soul. And, from her body and soul, she loves to serve her Lord, who has purchased her with the blood of His Son.
Now, we need to hear that. And men and husbands and young men, you need to hear that. Do you, as a man, married or single, submit yourself to the Word of God? Do you confess to be a Christian? Do you confess that the Bible is the Word of God to you? Then you must listen! A woman, a girl, a wife, a mother is first of all one who fears the Lord. She must not be identified by, and you must not look for, other things first. Do not look first to the shape or to the beauty or to any other characteristic. A woman, in God's estimation, is known for her beauty first of all in this characteristic: she fears the Lord.
The fear of the Lord, according to the Bible, is a heartfelt reverence for the majesty of God and a loving awe of the grace of God. The fear of God is when you are overwhelmed and staggered, you fall down on your knees before the great God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It involves a deep and all-consuming reverence for the majesty of God. One who fears God has great thoughts about God and knows God and puts his trust in God alone. One who fears God, first of all, knows God in all of the infinite splendor of God's being-the God who says "I AM THAT I AM," the eternal, unchangeable, absolutely dependable God, the sovereign-that is, the one of absolute authority and might, the One who is infinite in His wisdom, the One who is perfect in His holiness, the One who is faithful in His goodness and mercy. To fear God is to know Him exactly as He is, to fall down in awe before Him, and then to understand that this great God has shown His grace to me, an unworthy sinner. It is to know that in grace He has done me good, and has brought me out of the sin and death in which I lie and blessed me with all spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ. That is the fear of God.
Now, obviously, if the fear of God is in your soul it will have the greatest effect upon your life, so that at bottom your every thought, your motives, words, and deeds are influenced by the fear of God. As a woman, now, whether cleaning, making meals, shopping; or as a girl-whether in school, with your friends, wherever you are among other girls; it is the reverence, it is the loving awe of the God who is God, the God who has become your Father, that will characterize you. That is a God-fearing woman.
We should note that the Word of God brings out that this is emphatically the identity of a beautiful woman in God's sight. We read, "But a woman that feareth the Lord." There the proverb is contrasting this woman with what man would commonly identify a woman with. We read: "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman ." So the contrast here is with external beauty and external charm.
When the Bible speaks of charm as being deceitful and beauty as being vain, it does not mean, of course, that Christian manner and care for our bodies are being downplayed or condemned. The Bible makes very plain that as male and female we are to care for our bodies. We are to see that our bodies are presented always as the temples of the Holy Spirit, believing that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. But the Word of God looks at charm and beauty as it would usurp godliness, or as if charm and beauty become the standard whereby a woman is to be identified. The Word of God here speaks of charm and beauty in the merely carnal and earthly sense, a charm which is calculated to entice men, which would appeal to the flesh and not to the spirit, a charm which is suggestive in words or gestures and intended to arouse thoughts of uncleanness (what the world calls "flirting," or "teasing"). And the beauty that is referred to as vain is an emphasis only upon the physical beauty itself-upon the shape or upon the dress (not modest in appearance but seeking to draw the eye unto the physical or lust). The woman who fears the Lord does not seek to identify herself in such a way. She does not think of herself, first of all, in that way, nor does she desire to be known that way.
We read, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain." A mere physical charm intended to arouse is deceitful. It is the attempt to make what is evil appear tantalizing. And beauty is vain-that is, physical beauty, in itself, does not last. True spiritual beauty is something that grows and becomes more vibrant. But physical beauty, in itself, does not last. Your appearance may be very pretty. And God has made women attractive. Nevertheless, your identity is not simply in the physical beauty that you possess. Nor must you vainly try to preserve that external beauty. The Bible says then you are, at best, chasing fool's gold-something that cannot last, that cannot satisfy your own soul.
No, a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised. This woman, then, is pious in the good sense of the word-the majesty of God's grace permeates her life and is seen in her thoughts and in her words. Words like prayer, chastity, devotion are not words which are foreign, but words which describe what she is. A God-fearing woman, then, is one who prays, who daily listens to the Word of God. A God-fearing woman is one who sets God before her in her heart with loving devotion, with intense desire.
This begins already when you are a young girl. It ought never to be said that spiritual knowledge and instruction in the holy Scriptures are not necessary for a little girl or for a teenage girl. After all, they cannot become ministers or elders or heads of their households. So why is it important that they be instructed. Oh, no! Instruction in the Scriptures in home and in the Christian school, instruction in doctrines and in truths of the Scriptures and the church must be given to our daughters and little girls with a holy and loving zeal. Young girls, it is crucial for you to know the truth-the absolute, unshakable truth of the holy Scriptures. It is important for you, personally, as a child of God. It is the truth of the Scriptures which are able to mold you and to give to you a beauty in the eyes of God.
A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
The God-fearing woman that Proverbs speaks of in chapter 31 is an extremely busy woman. In fact, if you read the chapter, you will ask the question, "How in the world does this woman find the time to do all of this?" She is identified as a hard worker, devoted to her husband and children and household. She has her family's best interest at heart always. She is always doing something for them.
She certainly is not a woman who is looking always to find time for herself, or looking at her children and husband as an inconvenience to be worked around and to be pushed aside in order that she can pursue her own desires.
But before we speak further of these things, I want to make sure that you do not make a mistake as a mother or woman and begin to think that you are inadequate. Very often we make a mistake as a mother or as a wife, a mother with a busy family and children to care for. We begin to think, if we really put ourselves before this word in Proverbs, that we simply do not measure up. Then we begin to think that our house should always be perfect and orderly. Our families should go without any problems. And when we see other Christian women who, apparently, have it all together, and we feel that we do not. We compare ourselves to them (which is always dangerous and wrong), and we feel tremendously inadequate. Perhaps we cannot even get out of bed in the morning. Then we have made a mistake. You and I must look to God first.
God has given different talents to each one of us. And we are to thank Him for those talents. Not every woman is gifted in sewing or baking or whatever it may be. But that does not make her less of a woman. The point is that a God-fearing woman is one who is identified in the direction of her heart, what she has in her heart. And out of that heart of love for God she uses her time and talents in her home with her household, husband, and children to the glory of God. Yes, always inadequately. But always under the service of a gracious and loving Lord who receives all that is done out of a heart of love for Him as well-done, by a good and faithful servant of God.
The motivation for all of her work is that she sees herself as a servant of God. She looks at her place in the home as the appointment of God. She looks at her husband as the husband given of God. Then she looks upon her children as the children that God has given. Looking at it from that point of view: that God has appointed her home and her husband and her children in His wisdom and in His power, eagerly she seeks to be faithful in her own place, to the glory of God.
Then she will be vigilant over her household. We read, "she looketh well to the ways of her household." She carries authority in her home which she exercises as her husband's helpmeet, so that she may rear her children in the fear of God. She sees to it, she is vigilant, that the direction of her home is not toward the world, not toward materialism, uncleanness, ungodliness, disrespect. But she sees to it that the direction of her home is toward the Lord, and she has the support in her calling of her husband, whose obligation is to see to it that this woman, mother, wife is honored in the home and obeyed by her children.
She opens her mouth, we read, with wisdom. And in her tongue is the law of kindness. She is identified in how she talks. Her talk with her children is wholesome, spiritual, edifying in the Word of God. She opens her mouth with the law of kindness, we read.
If we read this passage in Proverbs, we discover that the calling of a Christian wife who fears the Lord leaves little time for herself. Yes, very often she may think there is no time left for her. That is right. That is true of a place of special service to the Lord. The more important the service to the Lord, the less time there is for me. But the Lord has said that it is in giving that we shall receive. That is imminently true of a God-fearing mother. She shall be praised.
There is no amount of money which could be paid for a God-fearing woman. There is no way, in a human sense, of estimating her value except to ask, "What happens when a wife is not God-fearing? What happens when a wife is not faithful? What happens when a wife abandons her children?" Then the home is destroyed. The children are subjected to the onslaughts of Satan, who gobbles them up. There is uproar and confusion. Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies, says the Word of God. She shall be praised. Among God's people, she is honored with a grateful love. She may not be abused, ill-treated, disrespected. Listen, children, young people, teenagers: you may not have a big-mouth to her. For, I tell you, a God-fearing woman is the apple of God's eye.
She shall be praised. The Word of God says here that many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Many daughters have made riches by marrying for wealth. Many woman have obtained glamour and fame. But one daughter of God who fears God excels them all.
Is that what you say, as a man of God? Is that what you say as a teenage boy? A woman who fears the Lord excels them all. Not the world's unbelieving women who are unchaste and who promise to give all the pleasures of sin. But a God-fearing woman who, unashamedly, is sold out to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She excels them all. She is precious to me. She shall be praised. Her children are to call her blessed. Her husband is to give thanks to God for her every day.
A woman that feareth the Lord. That is a gift of God.
Once again, perhaps, you, as a believing woman and God-fearing mother, feel that you cannot measure up to all that the Word of God speaks of in Proverbs. Look to Jesus Christ. Remember that you serve a faithful, kind, and benevolent Master. From your heart, do all things as unto your Lord. Then you are a precious thing to your husband and to your home.
A God-fearing woman? No price can be placed upon her. And this will be your reward. When you meet your Lord, He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. In as much as ye have done it unto these the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for the Scriptures. We pray now that those Scriptures may enter into our hearts. Amen.
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