Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Wife of Noble Character: What Motivates Her?

Wife of Noble Character - The picture of the ideal wife or virtuous woman as described in the book of Proverbs.  It is a familiar part of the bible; some have the whole paragraph memorized. Some (myself included), however, use the same verses to draw a caricature of the proverbial wife because it seems so difficult or even impossible to be like her.  I've read the verses over and over again but today I noticed something new.  A revelation that probably demonstrates the reason for Christ to parallel his relationship to the Church to that of a husband to his wife.

We can draw several lessons from the woman described in these passages. However, I will focus on the logical reasons behind her joyful yet busy lifestyle.  She is hardworking and bold -- someone you might consider avant-garde, humanitarian, entrepreneurial,  but there is no mention of any motive for personal ambitions or exaltation.  So what then makes this mysterious woman the way she is? What motivates her to pursue such noble attributes?

In my attempt to bring this woman's enigmatic life to light, I came up with the following deductions based on what the bible verses mentioned above.  (I strongly recommend to read  Proverbs 31:10-31 before reading the rest of this article)

1.  Her driving force is her husband's confidence. 
"Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." (v. 11)
Everything starts the moment he decides to have her as his wife.  He chooses to love her and commits to spend his life with her.  Once the wedding is over, the wife becomes part of her husband.  and in our society, she carries his name.  From the very beginning her husband values her and believes in her.  This wife has her husband behind her.  She relies on his full confidence as a backbone in her domestic affairs.  

2.  The result she expects is good reputation for her husband.
"Her husband is respected in at the city gate, where he takes the seat among the elders of the land." (v. 23) 
If there is one real motivation in this passage, it is that her husband's reputation, shown here in the way her husband is respected among his colleagues. Through her active role she does shine forth, but the ultimate glory is that her husband gets a better reputation from her active role. through the reflection of the praises that her husband gets at the city gates.  Like the moon gets its glow from the reflected light from the sun, so this wife get the praises only when her husband gets the glory first.

3.  Her reward is the admiration of her family. 
"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." (v. 28)
Her best reward does not come from personal gratification or accolade from the outside world but it comes from her own family.  Easy as it may seem, this is a difficult thing to achieve considering the familiarity involved.

4.  Her continued faithfulness builds a good name for her husband.
"Let her works bring her praise at the city gates." (v. 31)
She brings good reputation to her husband and as a result her husband praises her. She isn't doing a good job in order to be praised, but the natural result of her good character and industrious nature is the praise that comes at the city gates.  Her husband will be there to hear about it and at the same time takes pride on the commendable nature of his wife.  She is valuable to him and she believes she has his full confidence.

So there you go.  It's very simple.  Why then can't we all be Mrs. Noble Character?  Maybe it is Mr. Noble Character's fault?  No. The choice and belief is hers and she acts on them.  This is the hard part.  It is hard because the world constantly provides her with numerous reasons to change her priorities away from her true reward - her husband.

It is her husband and his good name that motivates this woman to be the wife that she is.  I doubt that if she devoted her efforts in making name, money, or glory for herself that she would be worth writing about to be an influence to the women beyond her generation.  In my own life as a wife, I admit that there are many occasions when my glory is the only motivation to do or dream certain things.  And surely, those are also the times when the burden is most oppressive and unbearable.  On the contrary when I am doing things for my husband's delight and reputation, it is fun and rewarding.  To make the person the I love look good is truly a joy.  I can't explain how long my memory holds on to the words of approval and appreciation I get from my husband - they are engraved in my memory. :)  And when he is proud of what I do for him, there is more rejoicing in my world than when I do things to get recognition from other people.  This is not to disregard the natural desire for compliments from other people but, ideally, it should come as a bonus and not the goal. For it is such a burden to maintain the good opinion of the world to get a recognition that is short-lived.

I have come to understand that the life of a married woman is different from that of someone living alone. Fun fact!  Marriage presents a new form of accountability.  After the wedding self identity begins to be eclipsed by the new union of two people loving each other. Where once there was a lone star, now there are two stars made brighter than ever before because they are reflecting light on each other.  No longer two individuals but a team.

Now if we parallel this union with that of Jesus Christ and his bride - the church, I would say that the church's significance is tied to her desire to bring honor to Jesus Christ.  The church can do all sorts of initiatives but as long as the Church desires a reward other than Christ then it's all futile and insignificant.

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