Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Proverbs Woman... no, not THAT one! (part 1)

If prompted to think of "the Proverbs Woman", anyone who has read a handful of books, skimmed a few blogs, or heard a sermon or two aimed at Christian women will automatically call to mind the Proverbs 31 woman. Land investor, wise guru, accomplished seamstress, careful shopper, generous philanthropist, and dependable wife and mother all rolled into one, she's perhaps the most referred to biblical "example" for Christian women. But I don't want to talk about her today. It's a different woman of Proverbs I want to talk about...

"The Forbidden Woman"
Proverbs spends a lot of time talking about this "forbidden" (sometimes translated "strange" or "foreign") woman. Much of the text is aimed at imploring the author's son not to visit or be hoodwinked by her. But there are things we, as women who want to honor God, can learn from this woman. Just like TLC's show, "What Not to Wear", we can look at this negative example in God's Word to see "what not to be".

It is easy to look at negative examples in Scripture and link them to "that woman three rows up every Sunday who wears tight clothes and distracts all the men during worship" or "those young barely-clad strumpets at the mall." (OK, moment of truth-- I just wanted to use the word "strumpet"... how many times does one have the opportunity to do so?) :) But we can't much do anything about those other women... however, we CAN "ponder the path of our feet" as Proverbs 4 instructs us to do.

We CAN look to this example and learn something for our own selves.

Traits of the Forbidden Woman (all references from Proverbs):

  • Her lips and speech seem smooth and sweet, like oil or honey (2:16, 5:3)
  • She forsakes the companion of her youth (2:17)
  • She forgets her covenant with God (2:17)
  • Her final destination is bitterness (5:4)
  • She's as sharp and dangerous as a sword (5:4)
  • She's on the path towards death & hell (2:18, 5:5)
  • She does not ponder the path of life (5:6)
  • Her ways wander and she doesn't even know it. (5:6)
  • She takes from the honor and labor of strangers (5:9-10, 23:28)
  • She's like a deep pit that you fall into and can't escape from (22:14, 23:27)
  • She increases sin among mankind (22:28)
There are many things we can learn from this. I'd like to propose a few self-examining questions we could think through as we consider this passage:
  • When speaking with married men, do I speak and carry myself carefully, in ways that will not be enticing or tempting?
  • Have I forsaken the companion of my youth? Am I growing in love or in annoyance towards my husband? Do my actions and words towards my husband give encouragement and support, or are my words discouraging and quarrelsome?
  • Have I forgotten my covenant with God? (This question assumes that we are in covenant with God. If you are not sure on that point, click here and consider this.) Do I forget my Lord as I go through my days and weeks? Is my life still being changed by God?
  • Do my decisions and attitudes lead me on the path towards bitterness? Am I quick to forgive, or do I hold onto grudges? Am I working towards contentment in all things or would it be more accurate to say that I actively seek things to gripe about?
  • Are my words sharp like swords? Do people feel lanced and bruised after being around me, or do I speak life-giving words?
  • Do I ponder the path of my feet? Do I consider where I've been, where I am, and where I'm headed? Do I live thoughtfully and intentionally? (Some Proverbs to consider and pray through: 3:6, 3:17, 3:21-23, 4:11, 4:14, 4:18, 4:25-27)
  • Am I wandering, and have I looked closely enough at my life to recognize it if I were? If my life was an airplane, and Christlikeness, wisdom, and Heaven were my ultimate destination, am I headed in the right direction, or do I need a mid-course correction? Is my life more influenced by TV personalities or by Christ? Am I more likely to make a change in my life and home based on an HGTV episode or on God's Word? Am I like the women talked about in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 that are easily led astray, "always learning", but never arriving at the knowledge of the truth? Am I bouncing around in the philosophies and lifestyles of the world, or am I seeking to honor Christ in the overall trajectory of my life?
  • Are others around me influenced towards God or towards sin after being around me? Is my mouth more likely to gossip or encourage? Do I encourage lust by the way I dress or the words I use? Do the words of God regularly pour forth from my mouth, or is my advice interlaced with tips and techniques found in any grocery store magazine, psychological daytime TV show, or best-selling book? Does the "fruit" of my life propel people Godward or sinward? Do my actions show compassion and kindness, or am I an obstacle someone would have to "get past" in order to know God more?
Just a few thoughts I had about this "Proverbs woman".

I'm enjoying reading through Proverbs each month and gleaning more wisdom for life... if you aren't already involved in a Bible study, I'd encourage you to follow Proverbs through each month (read Proverbs chapter 1 on the 1st, chapter 17 on the 17th, etc.). It's full of practical wisdom for life, and it's something even the busiest mom can make time for most days.

May God's wisdom be evident in your heart and life this week! ~Jess


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