In the New Testament, the Bible repeats the instruction that wives are to live their married lives in submission to their husbands (Eph 5:22, Col 3:18, 1 Pet 3:1). I understand that many women might struggle with this teaching, but the context for that instruction is that submission is based on the model of the church submitting to Christ (Eph 5:24), who loved the church so much that he gave up his life for the church (Eph 5:25-27). Husbands are to imitate Christ by loving your wives (Eph 5:28-29) by ensuring that you are the loving leaders of your wives, thus making it easier for them to follow and submit to your leadership. Today, I would like to encourage the married women of the importance of your role as a wife from Proverbs 31:10-31.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Some of us might think that this is a woman who is in perfect control of both her home and her career, but I envision a woman who fully understands that she is to fear God, trust Him not only for the provision but also for the complete management of her household; thus allowing her husband to focus on matters outside the home, or in our current day Christian context, to focus on ministry. A wife’s ministry in the home is crucial, for without her, a husband would have to struggle to juggle between ministry and managing the home.
So to the wives in church, if you doubt the good that you bring to your husbands, be encouraged; for your work is not in vain, you are worth far more than rubies. Your husbands are to praise and honour you for your commitment to your household and service to God.
But what if you are not married? Or still working your way towards marriage? What is your worth? Let me reassure you – you are not worth less! You are and have always been a precious child of God, saved by the grace of God through the blood of His son, Jesus Christ. Your marital status does not define your relationship with God; neither does it diminish your worth before God. My wife, Judith, shared this phrase with me years ago while we were still dating: “Single for a Season, Single for a Reason”. Let not your singleness impair or hinder you from having a deeper relationship with God; from reading God’s word more; from loving His people better. So sisters, if you are unmarried, let the reason for your singleness be Christ-centered, focused on devoting yourself to loving God and edifying others in God’s kingdom. If you are working towards marriage, work towards being a God-fearing woman, learning to submit to your future husband and trusting God to help you manage your household well. Whether single or married, remember this – you are God’s workmanship, and are worth far more than rubies.