How is it like to be a woman – one beautiful not as a result of external adorning, one who’s inviting and has let her defenses down, one who forgives when wronged and does not seek revenge, one who is patient and long-suffering, one who doesn’t give up on people but continues to pour out herself into them, one not given to anger, malice and slander, one who is not quarrelsome and irritable, one who is creative, productive and industrious and one who displays Christ’s beauty and love? Is the ‘proverbial’ Proverbs 31 woman only an ideal, whose Godliness is only to be desired but never achieved? (This woman gives us pressure yani!)
Women can be troublesome. I have seen such! I recently watched a program on one of the local television stations with my folks. The main character was a woman who caused distress to all those around her. She would be rude, violent and quarrelsome. At one time she would be all nice, gentle and caring then at the next she would turn to be a lethal venom to her household. Even the husband would cow and bow to all her demands.
Well, that’s in a marriage context but who am I to speak of marriages? Every woman, married or single, is prone to this kind of behavior. But what makes a woman beautiful? Is it her ability to lord over those around her and bring them subject to her demands or her gentle and calm demeanor? Is it her inviting smile or the frown that pushes everyone away? Is it her devotion towards God or her carelessness in using words and recklessness in behavior? Is it her industriousness or her laziness, disorderliness and misuse of time?
It’s very easy to be an unbiblical woman. Our depravity and inability to do that which pleases God save for His grace guarantees our potential of doing the most absurd of things. Oh, I have seen this in myself. How I get defensive and declare cold wars on people, how I sulk at negligible issues and pick up quarrels where it was uncalled for and even how I get lazy and unproductive at times.
Worse still, we could easily take pride in these things that we do against God and other people. Getting entitled to our sinful behavior and renaming our sins to ‘weaknesses’. Going ahead to warn people of our struggles yet as Elisabeth Elliot would say, a lot more of those things we say we struggle with are just delayed obedience. We know the truth but want to hang on to our sinfulness.
In multiple verses Solomon labors to warn against a quarrelsome woman. A quarrelsome wife is likened to a constant dripping leaky roof and it’s better to live in a corner of the roof or in a desert than share a house with one. (Proverbs 19:13, 21:9) On the contrary, a gracious woman gets honor… (Proverbs 11:16)
Elsewhere the Bible gives instructions on how women ought to conduct themselves. The deacons’ wives are instructed to be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Tim 3:11) I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. (1 Timothy 2:8-10)
Isn’t it easy to find confidence in the beauty that comes from our adornment? Just because you look good in your make-up, jewellery or clothes doesn’t mean you are beautiful. The biblical definition of beauty is modesty, character and good works. Braided hair, gold or pearls and costly attire are to never be our source of beauty and confidence.
This verse has the same thrust. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
Enter the ‘beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit‘! My labors in trying to figure out what this means have borne no fruit so far. Humility and quietness could be mistaken for a gentle and quiet spirit. If we went by these standards, all introverts would qualify whereas all extroverts would be totally disqualified! Haven’t we all at one point secretly thought them to be ungodly? 😀 May be a gentle spirit is to do with how we treat each other – kindness, generosity and showing love to others. A quiet spirit would have to do with calmness in the midst of turbulence, both external and internal.
Clearly, to be a biblical woman is to obey God’s word. It is to lay down selfishness and pride. It is to display Christ’s beauty. It is to have the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. The cheesy part is this: For every believing woman, Christ has achieved for us righteousness and all we have to do is gaze upon the cross, where He cried, “It is finished.” Oh yes, we can trust Him to help us have the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. For none of our efforts in becoming good could appease His wrath on us or match His standards, only by placing our faith on the complete work of the cross!