“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27 (NIV)
“She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.” Proverbs 31:27 (NLT)
“She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.” Proverbs 31:27 (Message)
According to this verse, a Proverbs 31 woman watches over the business of the household. She does not fall prey to laziness or idleness. I looked up the word idle in Webster’s dictionary and found one meaning to be, “having no employment”. Interesting. So I looked up employment, which can mean “use or purpose”.
A Proverbs 31 woman watches over her household and all in it with a sense of purpose.
Where I live it is back to school time. There is much to watch over; forms coming home from school, schedules to be documented on the household calendar, homework to be completed, sleep routines to be followed and generally more movement in a greater number of directions. Top that off with the normal meal preparations, errands and cleaning. I can rest assure that there is great security in the future of work to be done here at home.
Watching over our households is such an important job. It’s not glorious, it’s not beautiful, but it’s important, very important. There are so many small tasks that need to be frequently repeated to keep a household in order, to create a peaceful environment and to fill it with love.
God has called us to be stewards of what He has given us. Everything belongs to God, yet He is so gracious to bless us by His measure. What God has given us, he has made us responsible for. It says in Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done”.
Does it ever feel like a daunting task, taking care of all that God has blessed us with? Tending to everyone that is in our household, watching where they need to be, when they need to be there and what they need to bring; does it ever feel overwhelming? Is there ever a thought that God is upset or ashamed at how it’s going right now?
I know that I can personally answer a resounding YES to all those questions. They have all run through my mind. Yes, I feel overwhelmed. Yes, I miss things, I forget things and I don’t always get everything written in the calendar. Yes, it can feel like I need to do so, so, so much more to be considered for a reward by God. I fall so short.
An interesting observation that I have made about myself is that I seem to live in extremes. I struggle to find and walk at God’s pace for my life. When it comes to self-control and discipline, I’m a gigantic work in progress. Truly, my life in this area has a huge sign that says, “HARD HAT REQUIRED FOR ENTRY!”
Let me illustrate this. I take an idea in my mind about having a peace filled loving home. To me, I envision the home on the Mr. Clean commercial. Shiny and smelling like fresh oranges. So I set out to replicate that in our home. Shiny, always smelling like oranges and not a trace of dirt or dust any where. A place for everything and everything in its place.
I have a husband and two children, ages 12 and 6. I live out in the country. I’m surrounded by dirt. The dust literally can appear out of thin air and land where I just dusted moments before.
Keeping up with an idea of perfection is exhausting. Absolutely exhausting. After I have given all my energy to hitting this mirage in my mind, I basically collapse. I sit down, I watch a pointless movie with a predictable plot and shut down. I let things slide, the dust gathers. Then, usually after a good dose of sleep, I come to my senses and realize that I need to get into a higher gear if I am going to get close to that image in my mind.
I have bounced back and forth like this for such a long time. At this point, you may know exactly what I am talking about or you may just think I’m plain crazy. In Luke 10:41-42 Jesus talks to Martha about her frantic pace and intense focus on tending to her home where Mary (Martha’s sister) has decided to simply sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
If you insert, “Julie, Julie” at the front of that verse, you will find a message that I have often heard. So often I have found myself in Martha’s place over Mary’s. Oh but how I love to experience the richness that Mary soaked in when she was with Jesus. The key words are SHE WAS WITH JESUS. She had her eyes on Him. We need to have our eyes on Him.
God + me = Proverbs 31 Shall I be
If you feel like being a “Martha” is hopeless, have no fear. God loves you! God loves you so much. Look at how God can transform a life that is focused on Him. Do you know what God did in Martha’s life? God helped her to learn and move forward with greater wisdom from her experience.
Martha is Lazarus’s sister. Word had been sent to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus but he stayed where he was for two additional days. Lazarus had died and had been in the tomb for four days. At this time Martha heard that Jesus was returning to the area.
Here is the amazing part, I don’t want us to miss, “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.” John 11:20. Martha wasn’t waiting for anything. She knew took what she had learned from her previous experience and went to Jesus. She did wait. She didn’t tend to the house filled with people who were there to visit and mourn with her. Martha got up and went to find Jesus.
Martha was not perfect. I am not perfect. Perhaps that is why God allowed her story to be told in separate places in the Bible? When we read about Martha in Luke, she was at a point in her journey. When we read about her in John, she was at another point journey.
That is true about all of us. Today, I am at a point in my journey. Five years ago I was at a previous point. I pray that five years from now, I will be a further point along the path that God has laid for me. We are all at a point and because we are still here, not at the destination of Heaven, we still have distance to go in our walks with God.
Thank You so much for giving us direction, reassurance and for loving us each and every step of our journey. Lord, You are so gracious, so loving and so merciful. You are wondrous, magnificent and Your greatness draws such marvelous awe of who You are.
May we keep our eyes upon You. May Your Word renew our minds. May Your Spirit counsel and cleanse our hearts. Teach us to walk at Your pace. May we accomplish the “few things needed” that you mentioned to Martha. May we be working for You and not for this world.
Through it all, may we find that our work is a sacrifice of love to those You have placed in our lives. In doing so, may it be an offering of love to You as well. In Jesus name, Amen.