Enjoy these entries - we hope they make you think.
Praise God for Excellent WivesMonday, March 06, 2023
The woman depicted at the end of Proverbs 31 is fictitious. That is not to say she cannot be found or does not exist in many hard-working women across the centuries, but the wisdom writer wrote of the ideal woman.
Solomon wrote most of Proverbs, and his stated intent was to help his reader know wisdom and instruction and to understand words of insight (Prov. 1.2). He wrote as a father to a son, and much of the wisdom found in the book guides a young man away from the pitfalls and traps of the adulterous woman of folly and towards lady wisdom. The first nine chapters instruct with a unified voice, “Listen to Wisdom; she desires your good! Flee the adulterous woman; the path to her house is the path to hell.”
The book begins with Lady Wisdom (Prov. 1.20–23; 3.13–18; 4.5–9; 8.1–9.12) who wants to care for young men and provide them healthy living, and it closes with a marvelous description of a woman who would make an excellent wife. The Proverbs 31 woman is Lady Wisdom incarnate.
Her husband trusts her with everything. He knows she will not squander their money. Instead of wasting wealth, she contributes to the household income streams.
She skillfully makes things for her household: plenteous food, fine garments, lovely bed coverings. Not only does she make them for her household, she also sells them and gives to the poor. She manages a house which provides—largely because she works hard to make sure these things happen. She purchases land and cultivates a vineyard. In a word, she is fruitful.
What can we say of her character? She diligently rises before the sun to accomplish her daily work and works into the night by lamplight. She “dresses herself with strength…strength and dignity are her clothing.” She “laughs at the time to come,” which expresses not only her sense of well-being but also her joyfulness in the face of uncertainty. Because she is prepared, she can laugh.
In the center of the poem we find, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” Taking nothing away from his character and work-ethic, we understand this note is not about him—it’s about how his excellent wife has been a great force behind his respected status. As husband and wife are one flesh, we observe in this couple a mutual, harmonious, synergetic relationship where each blesses the other, and God works powerfully between them.
The poem begins with the heart of the husband trusting in her and ends with the husband praising her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
But the key to everything lies in one of the last statements: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” The secret to all is in the fear of the LORD! Indeed, what an excellent way to end the book of Proverbs…much as it was begun, for we read in Proverbs 1.7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”
May my sons each find a woman who they can trust their hearts to. May my daughter become one of these excellent women. God has blessed me to be married to an excellent wife who is worth more to me than any amount of wealth.
These women aren’t found under every rock; they are uncommon. You will not find an excellent woman among people who do not fear the LORD, so only look there! Realize, also, that women grow into this kind of strength and dignity. Proverbs 31 shows a woman who has been diligently working, building, and growing for many years, a picture of long-term walking with God. Again, this is an ideal woman—no one will look exactly like this—but find you a woman (or be a woman) who wants to look like this.
Praise God for excellent wives!
Tend Your Own GardenMonday, September 12, 2022
Our country experienced a “sexual revolution” in the 60s and 70s. Young hedonists rebelled against parental and societal guidance, pushing norms of morality several steps down the line. “Make love, not war,” they said, blending sex and love, which are not the same thing.
Obviously, this butted right up against the church and the teachings of the Lord, so the free-love movement was an anti-religion movement. Religion was the reason why parents were so stiff and unyielding and wanted to keep the pleasures of sex away from their children.
Over a fairly short period of time, the societal shame of unmarried couples “shacking up” diminished. Used to be, people would blush if they talked about an unmarried girl living with a guy, but no one bats an eye now.
Television shows and movies glamorized the sex act. Big-screen heroes did it with whoever they happened to be with on their current adventure: James Bond, Indiana Jones, etc.
Today the envelope has been pushed so far that same-sex coupling has become normal, and some of the most crass and perverted acts are discussed openly as if anything and everything is acceptable.
The contraceptive industry rakes in billions of dollars. We have statistics on teenager contraceptive usage in the United States…because teen sex is generally accepted. The abortion industry continues to kill millions of pre-born children. They want the sex but not the natural result.
Our cultural leaders inform us our sexual orientation is a majorly important characteristic, and we are constantly encouraged to go public with it. The number of those who identify as LGBT has greatly increased over the past few years. Think about that—our identities are being boiled down to who we like to have sex with.
Are Folks Content?
How is this hyper-sexualization working for the country? Do people seem happier because of it? Are they more content? Are they feeling fulfilled in their relationships?
This article reports that 1 in 4 women in the United States reports “completed or attempted rape victimization at some point in her lifetime.”
Seventeen percent of adolescents in 2020 experienced a major depression episode, a period of at least 2 weeks of serious depression.
Suicide rates are extremely high, and have increased 30% from 2000 to 2018, declining slightly in 2019 and 2020, according to the CDC. A CDC website header states, “Suicide is a leading cause of death.”
Inarguably, society has become a mess of misery and disfunction. People are not happy, not fulfilled, not content. Talk of euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide is heating up. Canada has plowed well down that path already.
Of course, sex is not the only issue, but it sure is staring everyone right in the face.
Faithful, Married Couples Have the Best Sex
Most who are in faithful, married relationships will agree: the sexual life of the married is far superior to those not committed to a spouse or who sleep around.
Christians know this is because God created man and woman, marriage, and sex. God designed marriage to be much deeper than the sexual act itself. It’s about intimacy with a life-long, trusted, loving partner. It’s about total commitment to faithfulness. It’s about not being alone. The Christian husband sees his wife as his only source of sexual pleasure, and she knows she’s his one and only. She feels secure in the relationship. Both enjoy fulfillment because of their mutual commitment.
Think of marriage as a garden God prepared for you. There is so much beauty, pleasure, and joy to be found in this garden. Other gardens exist out there, but this is the one God prepared for you. God said to stay inside the fence—but you can enjoy everything inside the fence, which is quite a lot if you would just focus on your own garden and put down the binoculars you’ve been using to search around for other gardens. Satan whispers about the greener grass on the other side of God’s fence. Indeed, there are pleasures to be found out there, for sure, but they will kill you in the end, draining your life and losing forever the true joys God had prepared for you in your own garden.
What Does God Say about Sex?
Positively, one of the first statements about sex in the Bible is with Adam and Eve: “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2.24). Becoming “one flesh” includes the concept of coming together sexually because Paul tells the Christians in Corinth, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord…Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh’” (1 Corinthians 6.13-16).
Two of the Ten Commandments talk about sex: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
Speaking on the purity and sanctity of marriage, the Hebrew author writes, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13.4).
“Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7.2. Sexual immorality is any sexual activity with someone to whom you are not married. If you are single, God forbids you from having sex with anyone, because you must be married to your sexual partner. If you are married, God has blessed you with the one to whom you must be faithful. Paul continues:
“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7.3-5).
Love and Respect and the Gospel
God did not create marriage solely for the sexual aspect—no, the world has limited our vision and gotten us to think so much about the sexual aspect that we can easily lose sight of the deeper and greater gifts inside of this most intimate of relationships.
Husband, you are to love your wife as Christ loves His bride, the Church.
Wife, you are to respect your husband as your head.
Husband, you are to learn your wife and honor her as a weaker vessel and as a fellow heir of the grace of life.
Wife, you are to submit to your husband’s leadership and love your husband and children.
If husband and wife both serve one another in these ways, we become a real reflection of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5.22-33). The Christian marriage becomes a way of showing the gospel of Christ to the world. Why be faithful to an imperfect wife? Because Christ is faithful to His imperfect bride. Why submit to a husband even when it’s hard? Because Christ submitted himself to His Father even when it took Him to the cross (1 Peter 2.21–3.1).
Tend your own garden and reap the fruit God has prepared for you.