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“The Four Family Loves” (episode 128)
“Teach Your Children to Obey” series (starts in episode 138)
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On our last episode we looked at the first two major themes from Proverb 31’s conceptual sandwich for parents, and today we hope to deal with the final two.
If you missed the last episode, definitely check it out before continuing today.
And you should also click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link in the description of this episode. Adam and Nichole did just that and chose to partner with TLP to help us create Christ-honoring parenting resources. In fact, they are to thank for today’s episode. So, make sure you thank them when you see them.
Their heartbeat is the same as mine. They desperately want God’s Word to transform us as we seek to be the parents God called and created us to be.
So, to that end, let’s jump right into the second part of our “Proverb’s 31 Mother and Father” episode.
And don’t forget that these two episodes will be part of a larger series called “Biblical Parents” and will include our episodes about the “Isaiah 11 Father” which should post before Father’s Day.
Okay, so last time we learned that a Proverb’s 31 Mother is more valuable than all other mothers primarily because she fears the Lord.
And then we saw that her fear of the Lord is the center of her wisdom.
Today we’re going to see the two ways that wisdom lives itself out every day in her life.
But, before we do that, don’t forget to download our free episode notes from Taking Back the Family. That link is in the description. Among other things, I’ll include the highlighted text from Proverbs 31 so you can appreciate that “conceptual sandwich” at which we’ve been looking.
Last time I rambled on and on about that “conceptual sandwich.” At the beginning and the end of the passage God discusses this woman’s fear of the Lord, and then the next layer at the front and back ends is about her wisdom, though — to be fair — the entire passage is one huge example of what it means to be wise.
And then there’s this very large middle section which primarily focuses on what this parent does, but sprinkled all throughout that description are references to the love that motivates the work.
And that’s where I’d like to start today.
3. A Biblical Mother is Loving.
Now, this will come as a shock to none of you.
It’s equally unsurprising for two main reasons: 1. The Bible talks about the necessity of love throughout its entire grand and glorious discourse on God, and 2. Any even remotely decent parent loves her kids.
But I must remind us that our definitions of words must bow to God’s definitions for those words.
We did a series called “The Four Family Loves.” I would strongly recommend working through that series with your family so that you can all understand love the way God describes it.
Among other things, we learned that true, God-inspired love “wants and works toward God’s greatest good for the people we love.”
This will be the backdrop for our study today as well.
A. The first sub theme we see for this point is that this woman loves her husband.
Now, before we continue, I do want to say that being unmarried does not make it impossible for you to be a God-fearing, wise, and loving parent.
This point is for those of us whose spouses are still in the picture.
And I’m going to go so far as to say that it doesn’t matter if your spouse is world-class or an A-1 Loser, the Proverb’s 31 Parent is going to truly, deeply, and biblically love their spouse.
We see this in verses 12, 23, and 28: “She does [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”
And nowhere in the passage does it say anything about the spouse being an equally excellent individual.
But it does say that she does good and not harm all the days of his life. I’m pretty sure we could unpack this idea for a couple weeks.
The passage also insinuates that at least part of her husband’s success is tied to her influence in his life. Really, it wouldn’t make any kind of sense to suggest that an excellent wife is such because her husband is a really cool guy. No, I believe the Lord is teaching that the good this woman does her husband will compliment and complete him in such a way that it helps him become the man God wants him to be.
And you know what I think is really powerful? This man understands his wife’s love. He gets it. He praises her for it.
Listen, we need to move on, but I want to be a blessing to those of you out there whose spouses aren’t on the same page with you. Perhaps they’re not even in the same book because they’re not born again.
I Corinthians 7:12-14, and 16 reads, “12 If any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”
God is saying that by faithfully completing your spouse in true, Christ-honoring love, you may be the very vehicle by which the Lord introduces your spouse to Him.
Stay at it.
Love your spouse the way God does. And listen to “The Four Family Loves” series if you’re not 100% sure what that looks like.
So, A. The Proverb’s 31 Woman loves her husband, and B. She loves her family.
Verses 15, 21, and 27 read, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
Of course, almost all of the other verses in this passage can be illustrations of the love she has for her family.
I also know there may be a nagging question hanging on your tongue, but I’ll address that momentarily.
First, A Proverb’s 31 Parent loves their spouse. Second, they love their family, but third, right in the middle of the passage . . .
C. A Proverb’s 31 Mother loves the needy.
Verse 20 says, “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”
This is a really important aspect of our parenting.
In Matthew 5:46-47 Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
This followed His command that we should love our enemies.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the poor and needy are our enemies, but I am saying that we will know our love is genuine when we love those who do not benefit us at all — even to the extent that we can’t even pat ourselves on the back because we loved these unloveable people.
An excellent, God-fearing, wise, and loving woman is — of course — going to love her husband and children, but she’s also going to love her employees and the needy with whom she comes in contact. She’s a child of God, how could she not love others?!
And your kids will see this. If they doubted even for a moment that you love them, if you love is consistent and biblical, they’ll see it in your interactions with everyone else in your life.
Okay, so let me take a quick moment to address that question that some of you have.
“Aaron, nowhere in this passage does it say a single thing about love.”
You’re right. I know.
But, remember what the definition of love is — “wanting and working toward God’s best interest for the people you love.”
Love is not an emotion, it’s not the times we say “I love you” — though those are important when we mean them — love is doing. Love is acting.
In many ways, love is wisdom and wisdom is love.
Last time we discussed how wisdom is not a collection of sacred ideas; wisdom is the practical outworking of God’s Truth . . . it’s Truth in action . . . it’s putting sacred ideas into daily use.
Therefore, when this mother does good to her husband and rises early to care for her family and gives to the needy, she’s loving these people as she lives wisely.
Now, again, it would take far more time than we have to look at the specific ways this woman shows her love — and we will see some of that in the final point — but for now we simply need to be swallowed up in the idea that Proverb’s 31 Parents are going to be known for their love for all people. And it’s this love that is woven through absolutely everything she does.
And that leads us to our final point, but by way of review . . .
What’s interesting about this point is that it’s presented a little backward from how we might approach the subject.
I know my propensity would be to really focus on how we’re to love the Lord, illustrate ad nauseam how that’s to be manifested in our wisdom, carefully tie to that an explanation of how we’re to love, and then finish off with some simple, practical applications about how all of this works itself out in our lives.
But, that’s not how God wanted to communicate it. He spends over half of the passage practically applying the reality that an excellent mother is going to fear God, live wisely, and love.
God saw no reason to compel us to fear Him, to explain why we should fear Him, to unpack the huge concept that is biblical wisdom, He simply states that a parent who fears Him will be wise, and then spends over half the chapter giving detailed examples of that wise and loving fear of the Lord.
Before we move on, I believe part of the reason for the way God handles this subject is the fact that this is the last chapter in the book of Proverbs. He took 10 chapters at the beginning of the book to describe in fantastic detail what wisdom is and why we desperately need it. Then he took the rest of the book to put some meat on those bones by showing us what real wisdom looks like in nearly every facet of our lives.
And now, at the end of the book, with the rest of the proverbs as the natural assumption, God paints a picture of what it means to be a God-fearing parent.
The Bible is so awesome!
Anyway, out of the twelve verses in Proverbs 31 describing this God-fearing parent’s hard-working mentality, I see three sub-themes.
The first is that A. She is strong.
Verse 17 tells us, “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” And verse 25 says, "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
Of course, every other example of her work ethic exemplifies her strength, but I want to reflect on this for a moment.
This is a touchy subject in our society. Don’t talk about a woman’s body. Don’t you dare mention her weight. Unless she’s an athlete, it’s not even appropriate to talk about her muscular strength. Anything other than pandering or ignoring is considered shaming.
But God, multiple times in this passage talks about her physical strength.
Could these verses be talking about her spiritual integrity and strength of character? Sure. But within the context of the broader passage, I don’t believe that’s what the Lord is saying.
And we need to keep in mind that this discussion about her hardworking mentality is being had within the broader context of her being an excellent woman.
I believe I can say this will full certainty — God expects both dads and moms to have a body strong enough to fulfill the expectations He has for us.
Now, this doesn’t mean we all need to have the strength of those who lived in an ancient agrarian society, but it does mean that we can’t be so weak and sickly that we can’t be the parents we need to be.
We shouldn’t be too overweight that we can’t keep up with our kids. We shouldn’t be so constantly under the weather that we’re just too tired to meet the challenges of our lives.
And, listen, my friends, too many people live this way.
I am so looking forward to unveiling TLP’s Family Health site. This is so important, and we miss it, we just miss it. We’ve bought the lies of our culture, we worship at the alter of our taste buds, and it’s not just our families that are being affected, our ability to glorify God in our bodies is being affected too.
Now, again, I acknowledge that our culture and even the church has decided that it’s completely unacceptable to talk about people’s weight and health choices . . . but, my friends, God disagrees with that mentality.
The Bible has a lot to say about how we care for our bodies, and this passage is not the least of them.
The Proverb’s 31 Mother is strong. Because she fears the Lord, she’s strong in her beliefs, her thoughts, and her feelings, but she’s also strong in her body.
Now — on the flip side — I will say that you can go too far in this. Is it wise to get a gym membership in order to work off that weight we shouldn’t have gained in the first place? Yeah, that’s great. Is it a good idea to have a regular work out plan to keep our bodies functioning healthily? Definitely. But, should we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing solely on being a champion body-builder? That’s a harder sell.
There’s being strong, and then there’s being stronger than you have to be. No one needs to be a body builder to care for their two year old, vacuum a house, or mow the lawn. Now, is it wrong to be that strong? Not necessarily, but imagine all the intentional, premeditated, disciple-making opportunities your missing when you spend more time in the gym than you need to.
It’s all about priorities, and — to be fair — most of us aren’t anywhere near spending too much time strengthening our bodies. That’s not our greatest fault.
I really need to leave this point and move on, but please, take it from someone who’s still trying to work off his additional 20 pounds. This is important. We all need to glorify God in our bodies. We need to be strong enough to fulfill God’s commands and meet His expectations in our lives.
And this leads to the second sub-point which is closely related to the first but is an important theme of its own.
B. She takes care of herself.
Consider verses 17, 22, and 25 in conjunction: “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
This woman cares for herself physically, but she also cares for her environment and her outward appearance.
And I love that last sentence, “She laughs at the time to come.” She is so competent and confident in who she is in Christ that she has no fear of the future.
It’s not just that she has nice things and dresses nicely and is beautiful and strong. The world can be confident in those things as well. We have to understand every verse of Scripture as being in agreement with every other verse of Scripture.
This woman cares for herself not because she has too much “me time.” It’s not because she’s vain. She loves the Lord and she loves her family. That motivates all she does.
She cares for her health because her body is a temple of the Holy Ghost. She cares for her bedroom — at least in part — because that is where she and her husband are intimate. She dresses well — not to show off — but because she wants to do her best.
And all of this is motivated by the fear of the Lord
Now, if that is confusing to you, I’d love for you to reach out to our Counselors at counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. It’s so natural for spiritually immature people to find their satisfaction in material things, and for the supposedly spiritual mature people to disdain all of that. But that is not the balance with which we’re presented in the Scriptures.
We should always — and in everything — desire to do our best for the sole glory of our Creator God.
And that is why this Proverbs 31 Parent works so hard.
“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
This parent knows the beauty and grandeur and nobility and spirituality and joy of real work. But it’s not just about the work or the comfort that work provides. Remember, everything we’re studying is rooted in the fact that this parent desperately fears the Lord and wants to live wisely.
Now, our modern lifestyles are different. I’m not saying that you’re not a Christ-honoring parent if you don’t know how to spin your own yarn and weave and dye your own clothes.
But how strong is your work ethic?
Sure, you wash the dishes and do the laundry, but do you genuinely work hard for the honor and glory of your Lord? Do you redeem the time? Do you labor as unto God?
Guys, I get that you go to work, but do you stop working when you get home? And — for those of you workaholics out there who think you’re doing just fine — why do you work?
Do you work because it’s what brings you joy and fulfillment? Do you work out of a sense of desperation that if you don’t do it, no one else will? Is it a control-freaky power trip for you?
Or do you work and work hard because you want nothing more than to please your Savior?
You see, it’s so easy to do the right things in the right ways for all the wrong reasons in our own power. This is why teaching your kids the nature of true obedience is so important. But it’s also why we need to understand it ourselves.
I’m concerned that there are tons of parents in the church who honestly believe they’re glorifying God in their parenting because they’re doing so many right things in so many right ways . . . but God isn’t pleased because they’re doing it for their own reasons . . . and they don’t even know it because our hearts are wicked and deceitful — so much so that we lie to ourselves easier than we lie to anyone else.
This is why I believe we won’t truly thrive as parents until we grasp the real core of what it means to be a Proverbs 31 Parent . . . “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
There’s so much more that could be said, and likely a lot more will be said this Sunday.
But I’m here once again to challenge us parents. Your family’s greatest struggle is not your disobedient child. It’s not the financial crisis. Your family’s greatest issue right now is your heart.
I am the chief of sinners in my home. I’m the only person over which I have any control.
The first thing I need to do every day is center myself on God’s Word. I need to love Him and live to serve Him. I need to speak Him and act Him and think Him and believe Him and feel Him.
That kind of parent is worthy of praise. That kind of parent will be wise and loving and hard working, but not just to be wise and loving and hard working, that kind of parent will impact those around him for Christ.
Please share this episode with the parents in your life. Invite them to take this parenting journey with us.
And feel free to reach out to us. We love to meet you and talk with you and pray for you. You can tell us anything you want at TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com. We’d love to connect.
Originally, I was going to have a guest for our next show, but it didn’t work out, so we’re going to start our next short series on Biblical Shame. We’re going to talk about what it is and how to parent your kids when they’re ashamed.
I hope you’ll join us for that.
Listen, I love you guys. I really do. Doing these episodes the past few weeks has been a huge challenge due to scheduling problems, health issues, and personal difficulties. But I keep coming back to it because I desperately love God and believe with all my heart that we all need to hear this.
I look at the world, and I see how a Christ-centered home could have staved off nearly all the wickedness and Failure Philosophies and horrors on our planet.
I don’t want that for your family. I work with hurting and broken families, and I don’t want that for you. Each of these episodes is a labor of love because I want — and am working toward — God’s best interest for you and your kids.
So . . . to that end. I’ll see you next time.
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