If you’ve looked to the Bible for guidance on how to live as a Godly woman, you’ve probably studied Proverbs 31:10-31. These verses describe a tireless, wise, devoted wife and mother who keeps every area of her life running smoothly.
From what we see in scripture, she gets only the bare minimum of rest (“She gets up while it is still night”), works excessively long hours (“She sees that her trading is profitable, and that her lamp never goes out at night”) and earns her children’s undying respect (“Her children arise and call her blessed”).
Taking Proverbs 31:10-31 literally will bound to make us feel inadequate. And living up to this vision of womanhood can be overwhelming and lead to frustration. This is not God’s plan for us–to be tired, grumpy, and burnt out. His plan for us is to be healthy, productive, joy and peace filled. So how do we reconcile God’s plan for us with what this passage is saying?
It’s important to think about these passages in context. They aren’t a rigid checklist, but rather a set of guidelines in the form of a poem written from a husband to his wife. (“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” verse 29)
Yes, the verses are packed with instructions on how to live as a Christian woman, but it’s essential to remember how and why they were originally written. They weren’t intended to be used as a grading rubric.
When we look closely at the scripture, we can see the true intention of Proverbs 31.
- Caring for your family
Your family should play a key role in your life. There’s no need to set yourself a punishing schedule. If you make your family a priority and try your best to create a happy home, that is pleasing to God.
- Being sensible with money
Proverbs 31 praises a prudent woman who will plant a vineyard “from her earnings.” In practice, this means having the wisdom to manage your family’s budget and being financially savvy. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to worry about every cent. The key idea is that you make the best possible use of what you’ve got.
- Caring for those less fortunate than yourself
Verse 20 is clear on this point: “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” A woman who walks with God should be charitable and kind. This doesn’t mean you need to wear yourself out serving others. Or say yes when you really can’t handle any more. It means that you should support and nurture those who require help as far as the Lord has given you mental and physical capacity to do so.
- Doing your best to support your husband
Verse 12 makes it plain that a Godly wife is supportive of her husband, and builds him up to fulfill God’s purpose in his life : “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Cherish your spouse. Approach him in good faith when you run into problems.
- Offering guidance and discipline in a kind manner
Verse 26 states that a Godly woman “speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” When giving instructions to others, or disciplining children, try to remain loving yet firm. No one can be perfectly calm and patient at all times but, as a rule, we should try to be gentle with others and to choose our words with care.
We can relax in His love and find blessing in the pursuit of Proverbs 31
God never meant any portion of scripture to be a burden. He knows our limitations. He knows aren’t perfect (which is why He sent Jesus). So when you see Proverbs 31 as a guide rather than a measuring stick, the verses become a source of life and joy, not a daunting set of standards.
Learning to walk with God is a lifelong journey, and walking with Him reaps dividends. As the final Verse implies (“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate”), walking in obedience to the Lord leads to blessing, both now and in eternity.
About the author: Lia Huynh, LMFT is a Milpitas and San Jose Therapist, pastor’s wife and seminary professor who has a passion for helping others fulfill God’s calling for them. If you are interested in learning more about Christian counseling with Lia, click here.