Proverbs 31:17

“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”  Proverbs 31:17 (NIV)

“She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.”  Proverbs 31:17 (NLT)

“First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.”  Proverbs 31:17 (Message)

This morning, I want to dive right into God’s Word.  This is such a beautiful and precious verse.  I would love to be known in such a way.  Wouldn’t you?

This verse reveals to me two things.  The first is how the Proverbs 31 performs her tasks.  The second is her strength.

What does God say about work?  One of the most commonly used verses about work is in Colossians 3:23 (NLT), “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

I want to expand upon this passage and share the Message version.  “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”  Colossians 3:22-25 (Message)

Listen to the encouragement that flows through God’s direction.  Do your best.  Work from the heart.  Be confident in your inheritance in Christ.  Let me share with you what I hear God saying.

“My beloved.  Know that I see all the little details about how you work.  I am always with you.  Think of me not as a boss looking over your shoulder to judge you, but instead know that I am there because I love you so.  I want to help you in any way that I can.  I am there to encourage you to continue on when you feel like giving up. When no one else knows or seems to appreciate the care that you place in the smallest of tasks, I see them and credit them to you in heaven.  Talk through your challenges with me.  Together we can find an answer.  Lean upon me when you are tired.  I will love you through it.”

I am just in awe of God’s love.  He is a God, not of condemnation, but of grace, love and mercy.  Our work is a gift of God.  It says in Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NIV), “to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.”  Happy and toil, should they really be in the same verse?  This is a gift from God?

It is a gift.  Think about the times that God has allowed you to see a glimpse of the impact that your work has.  Think about a time when you looked around at what you had done and felt a peaceful sense of accomplishment.  Perhaps you sat in wonder at how it all got done or how it all came together.  Wasn’t it a gift to you?

I would imagine that the Proverbs 31 woman experienced the same thing.  I would guess there were times when she finished cleaning up her cooking area, listening to the after dinner laughter of her guests, feeling uplifted in her heart.   She may have been thinking back only a few hours when she was tasked with pulling together dinner for a few extra hungry guests unexpectedly. I bet she, like I have, wondered how on earth she would get it all done.  She may have even prayed that cry, “Lord, help!”  Now she looks around and sees that it is good.

How does she do that?  How do we do that?

Proverbs 31:17 uses the word vigorously to describe how the Proverbs 31 woman works.  My first thought is the rushing that occurs when someone is expected for a visit and the exhausting panic that goes with it.  Perhaps you can relate?

The 1828 version of Webster’s dictionary says to work vigorously is to work with great physical force or strength.  If you look for similar words to vigorously, you will find quite a list; energetically,enthusiastically, robustly, heartily and strongly.  Where does the strength come from?

 It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”  2 Samuel 22:33 (NIV)

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.”  Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”  Habakkuk 3:19 (NIV)

God + me = Proverbs 31 I shall be

God is the strength of the Proverbs 31 woman.  God can be our strength as well.  He is always constant, never changing.  His love for her is the same as God’s love for each of us.  He longs and wants for us to come to Him.  He wants us to bring our work to him.  God desires that we search His word for help.

That is probably why He said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

God promises that His scripture will help equip us for our work.  It will encourage us.  It will celebrate with praises when things are good.  It will offer hope when things look bleak.  It will offer comfort when we hurt.  He will be our strength for the work He has given us.

Dear Lord,

Thank you so much for giving us work to do.  Thank you for making it a gift.  Lord, please help us to see our work as a blessing, especially in the small tasks the world is quick to overlook or label as unimportant.  Please God, help us to remove all of the labels that the world places upon our work.  Whatever it is that you have given to us to do at this point in our lives, may we know that it is important to You. 

Help us to give our best, to work energetically & enthusiastically and may we pour our hearts into it.  May we be focused on working for You first.  Convict us and direct us.  Please bless our work and open the eyes of our heart to allow us to glimpse our impact on a grander scale.

Through it all, may we be eager to come to You; eager to come with our successes and just as eager to come with our struggles.  May we lay them both before You and seek Your wisdom for their resolve.

We love You, Lord.  May we also love the work you have blessed us with.

Amen

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