Oh how sweet, to have reached the final verse in this chapter of Proverbs. If you have been reading along my journey you know that I first started writing on Proverbs 31 on June 19th, 2012. It’s been many days since then. Yet, it’s not a bittersweet ending, but a rich continuation of a beautiful journey.
“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:31 (NIV)
“Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” Proverbs 31:31 (NLT)
“Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!” Proverbs 31:31 (Message)
As we have strolled and pondered our way through Proverbs 31 we have seen all of the things that the Proverbs 31 has done. She has opened her arms to the needed. She awakened early to provide meals, not only for her family, but also for her servants. She worked with her hands to spin rough fibers into vibrant linens, she worked with her mouth to speak wisdom and faithful instruction, she worked with her mind to consider the viability of fields to purchase and she worked with her heart so that her husband would have full confidence in her.
Now we she that the Proverbs 31 woman is to be honored, rewarded and praised for all she has done. Oh how she must be longing for it! Oh, how she deserves to be showered with the best.
I’ve been pondering and searching for the reward the Proverbs 31 woman would receive. The verse does say, “let her works bring praise at the city gate”, but I’m not sure that means the town she lived in threw a parade or festival in her honor. Being unsure of this I searched for some verses for rewards and honor.
I am so quick to think of worldly praise and worldly rewards. Things that are temporal, things that won’t last. The bonus check, the accolades, the award, the recognition, a picture in a paper – yet how fleeting is all of that? How quickly the check is spent, the award lies in a pile of papers, the trophy begins to gather dust, a new paper comes out with fleeting news.
“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,” Matthew 5:12 (NIV)
Treasures in heaven, oh how wonderful they must be! They are gifts that will last. They will collect no dust. They will be remembered.
Look at the words in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:1-10
Oh these are words of God that we should meditate on, allowing to soak into our minds, our emotions and our hearts. This is the greatest gift that we could be rewarded with. This is the great and mighty gift which Jesus blessed us with. This is the gift that gave Paul his words and voice to carry the message.
When we lived by the ways of the world, selfishly sinning, we were destined to death, deserving God’s punishment. Then Paul uses the word but, the word that basically erases what was just said. Paul delivers God’s most powerful message. “Because of His great love for us”. That means you and me! Us, in all our brokenness, in all the times with have fallen short, in all the times we have made poor choices and in all the times we have suffered. God loves us!
The passage goes on to say that God is rich in mercy, grace and kindness. Those are riches that God has an immeasurable abundance of in heaven. He will raise us up to spent eternity with him. Because of His love and goodness, God wants to pour those riches upon us. God loves you so very, very much!
Notice that it is not by our works that we are saved. It is by God’s grace, through our faith in Jesus Christ, that we are blessed with the most amazing gifts that we will ever receive. This doesn’t mean that because our works do not save us that we should stop working. God has prepared good works for you to do. God wants you to work for Him!
That’s right the God of the universe who hung each beautiful star in the heavens wants YOU! He has meticulously tended to the tiniest detail, right down to the number of hairs upon your head, because He wants you to do something so special that no one else can do it. I can’t tell you what that is, to figure it out, you’ve got to go to God. To experience God’s riches that He has for you, it’s got to be
God + you = Proverbs 31 you shall be
Read the Bible, talk with God, listen to Him, move forward doing the best that you can and be reassured that God is not looking for perfection. God wants you now, just as you are. Even if you think you are a complete mess, God will use you if you let Him.
These may seem like simple words, but I know how hard they are to live out. I personally fall under the category of complete mess. I apologize and repent frequently. But, I keep going back to God. I watch Him transform my life, renew my heart and refresh my spirit. I have been given great work to encourage with love, passion and enthusiasm.
Each day I hope we add to our treasures in heaven and to let go a bit more to the treasures of the world. I pray that we can give the best that we have to God and leave the rest in His hands.
Thank you so, very much for Your Mercy, Your Grace and Your Love! God, how we lack an understanding of Your love. We do not need to understand it in full to accept it. May we be open to receiving the abundance of Your love that pours down upon us. May it fuel us to live out lives of love.
Lord, please help us to make time to listen to Your still small voice. May we take great care with the smallest of tasks that You give us. May we not look for earthly reward, but may we trust Your words that these actions You call us to store up treasure in heaven. May we seek to fill Your house, not our own houses, with good things.
Your blesses are too great for this meager mind to imagine God! Praise be to You! Amen.