“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20 (NIV)
“She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20 (NLT)
“She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.” Proverbs 31:20 (Message)
Let’s begin meditating on this verse by thinking about a woman you know who is quick to open her arms to you. Did she seem to have a sense that you really needed her? How did it you feel when she wrapped herself around you and hugged you so tightly? Were you overcome with peace? Did it break through the strain of trying to hold it together? Were you able just to fall apart and accept her unconditional love for you?
For me the woman that I am picturing in my heart and my mind is a dear friend. Her name is Connie. Connie is an amazing woman who I would consider a Proverbs 31 woman. Connie has a heart of absolute gold. She speaks great words of encouragement into my spirit. She is faithful in praying specifically for my needs and the needs of my family. Connie is so quick to listen as I share both joys and struggles. She is confident in sharing the wisdom of her experience when it is helpful in my life. Her arms and her heart are always open to me.
Connie has been there to catch me when I was mentally and emotionally spent. The moment I saw her and the tears began to well up in my eyes, it was as if she just knew every detail of my hurt. Her response was to wrap her arms around me, to hug me with her warm embrace. Her voice spoke words of kind and gentle reassurance. Not once did I feel that I couldn’t just allow the emotion to spill out upon her. There were no awkward moments where I felt I needed to pull it together. As each tear fell draining me, Connie’s compassion poured through renewing, restoring and refreshing me.
This beautiful woman, this blessing from Heaven in my life, has even gone as far as making me a fleece blanket so that I may wrap myself in her warmth when we are apart. Connie’s prayers and love were poured into that blanket. When she gave it to me, she called it my Hug. When I am lonely or tired from the day, I know that I can wrap myself in Connie’s hug to find comfort.
The best part is whether it is being with Connie or wrapped in her hug, I feel a peace that passes understanding. A peace that can only come from the source of all love and life, the LORD. Proverbs 31:30 says, “a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Connie fears the LORD. She loves Him with “all her heart and all her soul and all her mind” (Matthew 22:37). She puts God first. I know that is what makes her a Proverbs 31 woman with open arms.
God + me = Proverbs 31 I shall be
Connie is an example of the Proverbs 31 passage living in my life. She teaches me so much by the way she lives. It says in Titus 2:4-5 in the New American Standard that women should live by God’s Word “so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.“
Another good friend and Proverbs 31 woman, Bo, once shared this verse from Titus in another way with me “in one hand we need to reach out to a woman of faith who has gone before us to help us along our journey and in our other hand we need to reach out to a woman of faith behind us to help her along her journey.”
Let me share a little bit about Bo. Bo is a beautiful woman. She is a soft and lovely light, radiantly shining God’s love into a darkened world. Bo lives out Proverbs 31:20 in many ways. Did you notice how the verse mentions the poor and the needy separately? There are those among us who are poor who have physical and financial needs. There are those among us who are in need emotionally and spiritually. Bo is such a gift who has blessed many with support financially and physically. She also senses those near her who have more unseen needs.
Bo is aware of those whose hearts are aching with loneliness, stress or grief. She has open eyes to see where those around her are lacking and a mind able to find the piece that fills the missing hole in the puzzle. Bo “extends her hands“, as the Proverb says, filled with compassion to meet those needs. Her heart is open to the LORD and He is faithful to fill it with His blessings, which pour out upon everyone in Bo’s life.
Bo and Connie have both provided considerable blessing into my life. I am so grateful for each of them and for the ways they have extended their arms to me when I was in need. It is my prayer that we would be able to do the same for the people in our lives. May we be able to see and recognize the needs around us. May it fill our hearts with compassion. May it drive us to action to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this time, in this place.
Thank You! Thank you for giving us Your Word in Proverbs 31 so that we may learn what You desire for us in our lives. Thank You so much for placing women in our lives who illustrate Your example. For me God, thank You specifically for Connie and for Bo. Thank You for the ways that they have shown me open arms and extended themselves in my life to bless me.
May each person who reads this prayer find that they, too, have women in their life who see them the way You do. May we experience an extra measure of Your love through these women and feel Your embrace through them.
When we feel as though we are falling short of the Proverbs 31 standard, help us to come to You. Give us revelation, bless us with knowledge, drive us to actions that would leave a legacy of positive lasting change in our lives and in this world.
Thank You for loving us, help us to love You back with heart, soul, mind and strength. In Jesus name, AMEN.