Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two Virtuous Women...And Me

Life is running in laps around me. No time to spit out the words that crowd my head. 

Shari wrote about making mistakes and learning that she doesn't have to be strong. With Mother's Day around the corner it made me ask how does a woman show Godly strength.

Which made me dig an article out of the file that I wrote after sharing a woman's devotional on the topic of the Proverbs 31 woman. 

Two Virtuous Women...and Me

Heads turn as a tall woman enters the marketplace. The fruit merchant straightens his baskets of oranges in hopes that his wares will please her. The garment shopkeeper fingers his money pouch. Maybe the woman is bringing more of her well-made garments to sell. He will be quick to bargain for her products. At the far end of the market, an old woman pulls her ragged shawl tighter over her shoulders, and her face brightens at the memory of past generosity from this woman's hand. A weary mother leans on her broom, a concern lying heavy on her heart. She hopes that, as usual, the woman will stop to share a few words of wise counsel.

Another marketplace, centuries later, and another woman enters, but this one garners little notice. A deeply lined face tells of years of trouble. A dingy, patched robe covers her stooped shoulders. She carefully makes a few small purchases, tucking vegetables into her basket.

It was only at the far end of the marketplace when she meets a friend that her head lifts and the sparkle is seen in her dark eyes. “Is it true,” the friend asks, “that you are completely healed?” 
Yes! Because of Jesus. He healed me with one touch! Praise be to the Lord!” 
The old lady leaves the marketplace, still old, still poor, but with a radiance that draws the attention of more than one bystander. 
Two women, one admired and the other pitied. We know the first because of her skills and character. We call her the Virtuous Woman. Her description in Proverbs 31 has inspired and frustrated generations of women who seek to emulate her diligence, wisdom, and faithfulness. The second lady we know as The Woman with the Issue of Blood, because of her great need for healing. The first garners awe, the second sympathy. But both were women of virtue and worthy of imitation.

According to the dictionary, “virtue” is “moral excellence, a quality of a person's character.” Proverbs 31 gives us numerous examples of good character. As I read this passage, it is easy for me to become discouraged by the description of a virtuous woman, especially on the days when the children whine, a dish breaks, milk spills, tempers flare—and I can't blame it all on the children. Is there hope for me when I'm not showing the attributes of a Virtuous Woman? Is this chapter only for a few select spiritual giants? 
In the Scripture, the word used for “virtue” is also translated “power or strength of the Holy Spirit.” Virtue isn't just what I do, or what I am, but rather who I am—or better yet—Whose I am. As God's daughter I can be virtuous, not through my own efforts—I've failed often enough to know that doesn't work—but because of Christ's power. 
And that brings us to the second woman. Mark 5 tells the story of the woman who had tried for years to find healing. She had spent all her money on doctors but had only become worse. (Sounds a little like my efforts to be virtuous.) When this lady heard that Jesus could heal and that He was coming to her town, she wanted desperately to experience healing. But she was too ashamed to ask Him for it. In her desperation, the lady managed to get near enough to touch Jesus' hem, hoping to find relief. 
Jesus knew immediately that some virtue (that word also used for power) had left him. In kind words to this broken, but now restored, woman, Jesus said it was her faith that allowed her to experience virtue/power in her life. Isaiah 40:29 says that “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.

A confident woman exuding positive traits and a desperate woman broken by years of shame and needboth can be virtuous women. 

While I may long to be the first woman, I find myself in the second woman's sandals most often. God's “strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) Maybe it is less important that I check off all the attributes in Proverbs 31 and more important that I recognize my need for Christ and humbly ask for His power to be a woman of virtue.

What about you?


  1. I just need a "like" button cause I don't really know what to Say, but my heart is nodding..............

  2. I also feel that I am always striving but failing to be like the first woman and yet I know that in my heart I am compassionate and wish to 'do the right thing'. I have tried to stop berating myself for not actually being perfect (lol!) and try and see that its the motivation behind behaviour that is more important. xxx

  3. Wonderful thought......more important that I recognize my need for Christ and humbly ask for His power to be a woman of virtue.

  4. Love this post! So encouraging!


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