Day VII: Food For Thought -- An exercise for your Home Management Notebook
We're still on the fundamentals. Last post, we talked about purse organization. We've been looking at some specific skills that are useful to the keeper at home. Today, let's think about the heart of a keeper at home. We'll use the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 as our example.
Remember, the verses about the Proverbs 31 woman are a portrait of a wise woman who was skilled in the arts necessary to keep her household running in her place and in her time. Why was spinning and sewing such an important part of her life? Doubtless, there were merchants who sold materials and seamstresses who could be hired. Yet, she simply did not have the access to the abundance of ready-made clothing that we have today. If she wanted to keep her family clothed well, she needed to create materials and fashion them into garments. Sewing was also a source of outside income. Why was keeping her lamp filled with oil and burning so important? From what I've read, the woman of a household at that time would get up at least once in the night to make sure that her lamp was still burning. The lamp provided needed light should anyone have to get up during the night. It also served as a welcoming beacon for family members or friends who approached the house after a long journey. It was the source of flame from which the cooking fire was lit the next morning.
On the other hand, the Proverbs 31 woman did not drive a car, nor had she ever heard of a computer. She had never purchased a vacuum cleaner or a refrigerator. She would not have known how to help her child construct a model of the solar system for a learning assignment. Our example may have possessed some skills that you don't possess, but you certainly have skills that she didn't have, as well.
Some things about her life, we might find to be surprisingly similar, yet different at the same time. She packed for journeys on donkeys or camels; we pack for trips on airplanes or in cars. She haggled in the village marketplace; we clip coupons to use at our nearby grocery store.
Of course, the things we most have in common with her are that she feared the Lord and loved her husband and children. She also looked well to the ways of her household, because she cared about the people who lived in it. Whatever she turned her hand to, she did it with care and with skill. Our life and activities may not be identical to hers, but we can imitate her heart. We can also do whatever we need to do to provide an orderly household in reverence for God, knowing that He is a God of order.
Proverbs is an Old Testament book about applying God's wisdom to daily life. It's nice to learn some of the domestic skills in the passage, if we so desire. Yet, I think you can be a godly home manager whether you sew your own clothing or buy it and whether you garden or buy your produce at the market. What we're really after is applying the heart of wisdom described in these verses to managing our home in our time and in our place.
For your notebook:
1) In what ways do you think your life circumstances are similar to or different from the example in Proverbs 31?
2) What are the character traits of the virtuous wife? What is her heart like? Go through the verses in Proverbs 31 and examine not just what she does, but the heart behind what she does. Look at who she is in character. How would you imitate her heart in your time and in your place? How can you apply her character traits to your daily home management activities?
3) How is the virtuous woman's heart similar to the character that the Lord desires to develop in all of his followers -- men and women? Are you committed to growing in your household management with diligence, faith, and patience? Even more importantly, are you committed to a lifetime of growing in Christ-like character? Have you set your heart on obeying Christ's commands out of faith and love, depending on his grace to help you? John 14:15. Or, are you frustrated with your progress? If you are frustrated, how could Paul's words in Phil. 3:12-14 help you?
4) Have you ever studied what it was like to live in Old Testament or New Testament times and places? Would you like to? What have you already learned or what do you think you could learn from such a study?
5) Did you know that each letter of the section on the virtuous or excellent wife begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet? It covers all 22 Hebrew letters, beginning with the letter aleph. This acrostic style of literature appears in several places in the Old Testament. It's kind of like saying, "This is the ABC's of the virtuous woman, or here is everything from A to Z about the virtuous woman." The idea of an acrostic is to give a "complete picture" of something. Some have also speculated that acrostics were also used to make memorization easier.
6) One lesson that boys can learn from Proverbs 31 is not to choose a wife simply for her pretty face, but to consider her character. Likewise, girls can learn not to put their confidence in their physical beauty, which can fade, but to place their hope squarely on the Lord. Mothers, are we praying for the future spouses of our children? How can we teach our children to look for and appreciate true values in a potential mate?
7) The example of the worthy or virtuous wife belongs to the Old Covenant or the Old Testament. The Proverbs 31 passage has some parallels in the New Testament, however. Compare Proverbs 31 to Titus 2:1-5 and I Timothy 5:9, for example. Do you see any similarities?
Just for fun: Write a little poem for each of family members just by jotting down a positive characteristic for each letter of a person's name. Here's an example: Jenny -- Joyful, Encouraging, Neat, Nice, and Youthful.