Christianity 201

April 15, 2016

The Valiant Woman of Proverbs 31

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:37 pm
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A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. …Strength and dignity are her clothing,and she laughs at the time to come.She opens her mouth with wisdom,and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household,and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her happy;her husband too, and he praises her…

Today we pay a return visit to the online resource, Theology of Work. Clicking the title below will take you today’s post, form which you can navigate your way to other sections.

The Valiant Woman (Proverbs 31:10-31)

A remarkable connection between the book of Proverbs and the world of work occurs at the end of the book. Lady Wisdom, who we meet at the beginning of the book (Prov. 1:20-33, 8:1-9:12), reappears in street clothes in the final 22 verses of the book (Prov.31:10-31) as a living, breathing woman, termed “the virtuous woman” (KJV). Some translators use “wife” instead of “woman,” probably because the woman’s husband and children are mentioned in the passage. (Both “wife” and “woman” are possible translations of the Hebrew ishshah.) Indeed, she finds fulfillment in her family and ensures that “her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land” (Prov. 31:23). But the text focuses on the woman’s work as an entrepreneur with a cottage industry and its servants/workers to manage (Prov. 31:15). Proverbs 31:10-31 does not merely apply to the workplace; it takes place in a workplace.

The book of Proverbs is summarized, then, in a poem praising a woman who is the wise manager of diverse enterprises ranging from weaving to wine making to trade in the market. Translators variously use the words “virtuous” (KJV), “capable” (NRSV), “excellent” (NASB), or “of noble character” (NIV) to describe this woman’s character in Prov. 31:10. But these terms fail to capture the element of strength or might present in the underlying Hebrew word (chayil). When applied to a man, this same term is translated “strength,” as in Prov. 31:3. In a great majority of its 246 appearances in the Old Testament, it applies to fighting men (e.g., David’s “mighty warriors,” 1 Chronicles 7:2). Translators tend to downplay the element of strength when the word is applied to a woman, as with Ruth, whom English translations describe as “noble” (NIV, TNIV), “virtuous” (NRSV, KJV) or “excellent” (NASB). But the word is the same, whether applied to men or women. In describing the woman of Proverbs 31:10-31, its meaning is best understood as strong or valiant, as further indicated by Prov. 31:17, “She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.” Al Wolters argues on account of such martial language that the most appropriate translation is “Valiant Woman.” Accordingly, we will refer to the woman of Proverbs 31:10-31 as the “Valiant Woman,” which captures both the strength and the virtue carried by the Hebrew chayil.

The concluding passage in the book of Proverbs characterizes this woman of strength as a wise worker in five sets of practices in her workplace. The high importance of this section is signaled in two ways. First, it is in the form of an acrostic poem, meaning that its lines begin with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in order, making it memorable. Second, it is placed as the climax and summary of the entire book. Accordingly, the five sets of practices we observe in the Valiant Woman will serve as a framework for exploring the entire book.

To some people in the ancient near east, and even to some now, portraying a woman as a model of wise entrepreneurship would be surprising. Despite the fact that God gave the gift of work to men and women equally (Genesis 1 and 2), women’s work has often been denigrated and treated with less dignity than men’s. Following the example of the book, we will refer to this wise worker as she, understanding that God’s wisdom is available equally to men and women. She functions in the book as an affirmation of the dignity of every person’s work.

As always in the book of Proverbs, the way of wisdom flows out of the fear of the Lord. After all the Valiant Woman’s abilities and virtues are described and honored, the source of her wisdom is revealed. “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov. 31:30).


Bonus item: We’ve run this before on the other blog, but I wanted to return to a song about a modern day Proverbs 31 woman.

July 1, 2015

Praying For Your Children

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
  Psalm 103:13 NIV

praying boy and dogEven if you’re not a parent, you might be a grandparent, Godparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, teacher, Children’s ministry leader, etc. Or perhaps you can use this as a checklist to see how you measure up yourself! This is a return visit to the blog Into The King’s Garden by Angel Koerner Bohon. Click the title to get the source for this and think of someone who has children in their sphere of influence you can send it to. (The text in each section alludes strongly to scripture passages you will recognize, but if you want to study them further, copy and paste into BibleGateway.com)

Virtues to Pray for Your Children

1. Salvation — “Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Isa. 45:8; 2 Tim. 2:10)

2. Growth in Grace — “I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18)

3. Love — “Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them.” (Gal. 5:25; Eph. 5:2)

4. Honesty and Integrity — “May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection.” (Ps. 25:21)

5. Self-Control — “Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do.”
(1 Thess. 5:6)

6. Love for God’s Word — “May my children grow to find Your Word more precious than much pure gold and sweeter than honey from the comb.” (Ps. 19:10)

7. Justice — “God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do.” (Ps. 11:7; Mic. 6:8)

8. Mercy — “May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

9. Respect (for self, others, and authority) — “Father, grant that my children may show proper respect to everyone, as Your Word commands.” (1 Pet. 2:17)

10. Biblical Self-Esteem — “Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:10)

11. Faithfulness — “Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts.” (Prov. 3:3)

12. Courage — “May my children always be strong and courageous in their character and in their actions.” (Deut. 31:6)

13. Purity — “Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown in their actions.” (Ps. 51:10)

14. Kindness — “Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thess. 5:15)

15. Generosity — “Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.” (1 Tim. 6:18-19)

16. Peace-Loving — “Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (Rom. 14:19)

17. Joy — “May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thes. 1:6)

18. Perseverance — “Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them.” (Heb. 12:1)

19. Humility — “God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all.” (Titus 3:2)

20. Compassion — “Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.” (Col. 3:12)

21. Responsibility — “Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5)

22. Contentment — “Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through Him who gives them strength.” (Phil. 4:12-13)

23. Faith — “I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them.” (Luke 17:5-6; Heb. 11:1-40)

24. A Servant’s Heart — “God, please help my children develop servant’s hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men.” (Eph. 6:7)

25. Hope — “May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

26. Willingness and Ability to Work — “Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” (Col. 3:23)

27. Passion for God — “Lord, please instill in my children a soul that ‘followeth hard after thee,’ one that clings passionately to You.” (Ps. 63:8)

28. Self-Discipline — “Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.” (Prov. 1:3)

29. Prayerfulness — “Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

30. Gratitude — “Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20; Col. 2:7)

31. A Heart for Missions — “Lord, please help my children to develop a desire to see Your glory declared among the nations, Your marvelous deeds among the peoples.” (Ps. 96:3)

 

October 31, 2013

Counterfeit Kindness

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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Today’s readings are from the devotional ministry of the late Selwyn Hughes, author of the Every Day With Jesus series of devotional materials published by Crusade for World Revival (CWR) in the UK. What follows is a three-day sample of the online devotions available at Every Day Light. They are currently in the middle of a series on the fruit of the Spirit.

Warm goodwill to others

Colossians 3
“… clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (v.12)

The fifth virtue listed in the fruit of the Spirit is kindness. The King James Version uses the word “gentleness” but there is little doubt that “kindness” is a more faithful translation of the original Greek word — chrestotes. “Kindness” is a very beautiful word; it means “a kindly disposition, or warm goodwill toward others.”One commentator says that if you wanted to express Christianity in one English word, you would use the word “kindness.” To speak, for example, of an “unkind Christian” is almost a contradiction in terms. There is some evidence that in the early centuries of the Church, non-Christians used the words “kindly” and “Christian” as synonyms. Tertullian, one of the Church Fathers, said, “The words were so allied in meaning that no harm was done by the confusion.”I once asked a church youth group, if I had the power to give them just eight of the fruit instead of nine, which one would they be willing to do without. Almost everyone in the group said “kindness.” When I asked why, they explained that for them, the word conjured up a picture of weakness and sentimentality. I told the group that they were obviously unaware of the true meaning of the word “kindness,” and that a kindly disposition does not necessarily mean maudlin sentimentality. So let’s be quite clear what we are talking about when we use this word: kindness is a supernatural virtue endowed upon us by the Holy Spirit, engendering within us a warm goodwill to others. How much of it, I wonder, will flow out to others today from you and me?

Prayer:
Gracious Father, help me today to be clothed with kindness. Make me a person who can show warmth and goodwill to others. I ask this for Your own dear Name’s sake. Amen.

For Further Study
Romans 12:1-101 Corinthians 13:4Ephesians 4:32

What kindness is not

Ephesians 4:17-32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another …” (v.32)

We saw yesterday how a group of young people had a wrong concept of kindness, viewing it as just maudlin sentimentality. It is surprising how debased the word “kindness” has become, in both Christian and non-Christian thought.

Some Christians accept the word because it is used in Scripture, but have no real desire to acquire the virtue because, to them, it smacks of sentimentality and weakness. The world uses the word but, separated as it is from any thought of God, “kindness” comes out as a mild compensation for a lack of firmness and clear thinking. People say, rather patronizingly in some cases: “Oh, he’s a kind fellow” — and they leave it there. The word has come to wear thin in the currency of the world (and in some parts of the Church), so there is a great need to see it minted afresh and gleaming bright in the commerce of modern-day Christian life.

Think with me still further about what kindness, the fruit of the Spirit, is not. Kindness is not being a “do-gooder.” In fact, the word in the original Greek does not imply active goodness but a disposition of goodwill, although active goodness may be one expression of it. Many think of kindness as giving money to people who have a financial need, but just giving money to people who appear to need it, without being guided by the Spirit, can result in great harm. Giving to people at the wrong time can take away from them something more precious than is being given. There are few things in which we have more need of the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit than in our giving.

Prayer:

O Father, help me to discern between what is true and what is counterfeit. I want my kindness to be genuine kindness — the sort of kindness that helps people, not hurts them. Amen.

For Further Study

2 Peter 1:1-71 Thessalonians 3:121 Peter 1:22

A debased word

Romans 2 “… not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (v.4)

We continue looking at counterfeit forms of kindness. Kindness is not indulgence. Supernatural kindness can be severe — severe because it loves so deeply that it can come up with a hard refusal. It is based on God’s kindness, which can cut when, just like a surgeon, He insists on cutting out of us moral tumors that threaten our spiritual health. But always God’s severity is our security. It is redemptive; He loves us too much to let us go. Kindness, which is the fruit of the Spirit, is like that.

Again, kindness is not a substitute for clear thinking. In being “kind” to one person, people can often be unkind to another. The wrong kindness — that is, kindness which does not operate on clear guidelines and right thinking — can deride justice. For example, a businessman remarked to his wife that he was dismissing the chauffeur on the grounds that he was an unsafe driver. “He nearly killed me today,” he said. “That is the third time.” His “kind” wife answered: “Oh, don’t dismiss him, dear — give him one more chance.”Another example of misguided kindness comes out of the law courts. A woman on trial for murdering her husband was acquitted chiefly because of the efforts of one “kind” lady on the jury. Explaining her attitude to someone after the trial, she said: “I felt so sorry for her. After all, she had become a widow.” By such examples as these, “kindness” has become a debased word — a fact that can hardly be denied. People have found it easier to be “kind” than truthful. How desperately the word cries out to be redeemed.

Prayer:

O God, take my hand and lead me through the fog and confusion that surrounds this word. Help me understand that true kindness can be a cutting kindness — kindness that gives life and not lenience. Amen.

For Further Study

Isaiah 63:1-9Psalms 17

Today`s two-for-one special: Enjoy the song Sacred Invitation as recorded by Seth Condrey.