Category Archives: Value and Worth

Planting a Vineyard

Proverbs 31:10,16 

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies….
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

P1010626 copyMy wife is blessed with many gifts, talents, and abilities, but growing or sustaining green things is not one of them. While there is little chance that Marilyn would consider buying a field and planting a vineyard, the fruit of her hands is evident in many other ways. For a start, there are the five children she has raised, and two grandchildren she also pours out her love upon. Then there are the other lives she has touched in so many different ways. Most of the time folk wouldn’t even know that Marilyn is there because she prefers to work away quietly in the background. You won’t find Marilyn up on the stage at church, but you will see her serving coffee and tea in the lobby to welcome people to the morning service, and she is often busy behind the scenes in the church kitchen, or producing cakes in huge quantities for church events, and as gifts to people she loves. And she is the same outside of home and church.

The fruit of Marilyn’s hands is evident in my life too. I cannot place a value on her loving support over nearly thirty-five years of marriage. If I consider the investment Marilyn has made in being a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, then it could be compared to a field. Marilyn has taken that field and transformed it, and through the fruit of her hands she has benefited the lives of many. Without knowing it she has set an example. Without deliberately seeking to demonstrate the love of God through her life, she has done just that. Quietly, effectively, and always without seeking acknowledgment or praise.

Who can find such a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.

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A Spicy Ship

Proverbs 31:10, 14

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. … She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”

Being Careful

I must be careful, for any time a man writes about his wife he should first consider: what he is about to say…the weather…her mood…her future mood…whether or not she will ever read what he writes…what people will tell her he wrote…and most importantly, has she taken out any new life insurance policies?

King Lemuel was a very fortunate man, much like King Solomon. Both had the luxury of living in a culture that prized such things as goats, flocks of sheep, and merchant’s ships. They thought these things were beautiful and found no difficulty in comparing their wives to them. However, I must be careful when I compare my wife to a heavily-laden wooden hull that creaks, leaks, and has to be patched with tar. I’m better off comparing her hair to a flock of goats, and her teeth to a flock of sheep (Sgs. 4:1-2)!

However, in order to keep with the program, I must find a way to relate to Proverbs 31:14, to share my “thoughts,” and to make an application. Therefore, I will get to the point of what the passage is telling us before I get into trouble.

Spiced Up

The rare and virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is like the merchant’s ships in that she is always a source of variety. Instead of being content with the same old stuff day after day, this woman is like a merchant’s ship, one that goes out far and wide to find new spices, new colors, and new fragrances to adorn not only herself but to spice up her home.

Most people know how plain and dreary a man’s home can be without a good woman. I was always one who liked white walls, plain dishes, and simple clothes. But when my wife came along, up went color on the walls, color on the table, and color on me (I would have never worn anything but a white or blue shirt under a suit).

Bargains

The woman of this verse is also a bargain shopper. Like the merchant’s ship, she travels far and wide to find the best deals, the ones most advantageous to her family, and always comes back with something to show for her efforts.

Anyone who really knows me could tell you that I hate – I HATE – to negotiate on prices. On the other hand, my wife almost never pays full price for anything. I have literally witnessed her negotiate on an object at a rummage sale when the asking price was only 25 cents! My response was, “Valerie! Pay the man a quarter and let’s go!”

Variety is the spice of life, so they say. If that is true, a good woman brings plenty of flavor to the table.


Beautiful Hands

Proverbs 31:10, 13

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. … She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.”

Mixed Memories

A long time ago my mother and grandmother (on my dad’s side) would go shopping for fabric. I will never forget those days, for they were some of the most miserable of my young life.

I was forced to endure the summer heat as they drove around town looking for sales in a ’71 Ford Maverick with no air and little ventilation. I walked beside my mom for what seemed like an eternity as they searched for patterns and fabric that would become my school clothes and their dresses. Women used to be proud to be called seamstresses, but not anymore. But there are exceptions, and my wife is one of them.

A Hard Worker

I have never met a harder worker than my wife, Valerie; she works rings around everyone, including myself. Until she became ill, she was always the first one awake and the last one asleep. She is still the last one to sit down when visitors come to eat, the last one to finish cleaning after a church social, and the only one who can handle a phone call, fold laundry, do dishes, and complete an income tax return at the same time.

On many days my wife hurts so much that no pain medication will touch it. Sometimes one day’s ordinary activity will leave her bed-ridden half of the next. Yet, she never gives up. She enjoys the duties of running a home and only complains when she can’t complete them to her own satisfaction.

Scarred, but Beautiful

When I first read 31:13 I thought of my wife’s hands…of how she loves to sew…of how she always brags on how her grandmother was an excellent seamstress, and how she always dreamed of being like her. I think of how she sewed her own wedding dress and then taught our girls to sew.  Now, because of her fibromyalgia, there are mornings I must rub her fingers before she can even move them, but it isn’t long before they “worketh willingly.”

20 years ago this June!

20 years ago this June!

The hands of a virtuous woman are not the flawless hands of a supermodel; they are scarred. They are scarred from oven burns, needle pricks, tire swing ropes. They are dry from folding laundry, wrinkled from dishwater, and paper-cut from clipping coupons. They are even bruised and sore: bruised from spanking bottoms and applauding home-runs; sore from pushing a discouraged husband out the door and up the ladder.

When I think of the hands of a Proverb 31 woman I don’t think of perfect hands, but I do think of beautiful hands. I think of Valerie’s.

Yes, I found a virtuous wife, and I wouldn’t trade her for all the rubies in the world.


Mother Knows Best

Proverbs 31:12 

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies……
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

ScanMother knows best when it comes to many things, with this verse one of several, beginning with verse 10, that deal with attributes every mother would like to see demonstrated in her daughters-in-law. My wife Marilyn and I have three daughters-in-law, but I’d rather use Marilyn as an example.

Now I don’t know if my mother judged Marilyn by any of the criteria listed in Proverbs 31 but I do know that after nearly thirty-five years of marriage I have absolutely no regrets that God chose us for each other. I do not need an ABC of virtuous women to tell me how fortunate and blessed I am to be married to Marilyn, who as well as a wonderful wife and mother, is also an excellent grandmother.

Thirty-five years of marriage is a long time. It is closer to forty years that we have been together, if you add in the years we spent courting. We have changed in appearance, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the heart of my wife. I look at Marilyn and I see a very special person. Someone who has not only enriched my life, but the lives of other people around her. Quite simply, I have never met anyone like her. Marilyn has, in the words of this proverb, done me good – all the days of my life. And I am truly grateful.


… Happy Life

Proverbs 31:11

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. (KJV)
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. (ESV)

Happy Wife …

Perhaps you have heard that saying “Happy wife, happy life.”

Personally, I disagree slightly, and, you can ask my wife, I rewrote it: “Better a holy wife than a happy wife.”

Temporary displeasure for the sake of holiness is better than happiness that is based on lies or misunderstandings which lead to mistrust.

Neither of us lets the other get away with simple platitudes or quick answers (though the occasional playful joke does happen!) We help each other to grow more Christ-like. We are not perfect, but the focus is on Christ.

The wonderful thing about this is that we have complete trust in each other.

I know that I can trust my wife in anything. Even if we were to “lose everything” and become homeless, as long as I have her my life is complete.

Holy Bride

Our Lord never promised this life would be easy. In fact, He warned us in John 16:33 that we “will have trouble” if we follow Him.

He has been preparing His Bride, the Church, for His return. Sometimes He rebukes, and often times He encourages (look at Revelation 2-3). He does not necessarily want a Bride that is happy if that happiness gets in the way of the relationship.

He seeks perfection, which can only be found in Him, and He has confidence that His Bride will achieve the mission He has given (Matthew 28:18-20) because He is always there to help us. Our life is complete with Him, and He wants to have us with Him forever. That is what is truly of value.

Loving Savior and Bridegroom, thank You for Your love. Fill us with a desire for You, for Your Bride the Church, and for each other. Strengthen our marriages and our other relationships with a love that refuses to compromise or settle.


Doing a Good Job

Proverbs 29:5 

A man that flattereth his neighbor spreadeth a net for his feet.

Flattery will get you everywhere – or so they say. But what about the person on the receiving end of the flattery – where will it get them? Is flattery a good thing, or is bad? Is it clever to flatter, or is it stupid? For instance, should a husband who has just worked his way through another awful meal tell his wife she is a wonderful cook? Or should the wife of a lazy husband who does little to help her around the home tell him what a fantastic husband he is?

My wife Marilyn was asked to help with the children’s work soon after we joined our present church. Marilyn knew that this wasn’t her calling, but she initially agreed. When she found out that it would involve leading some of the sessions she panicked. Flattery based on Marilyn’s success as mother to five children might have persuaded her that she would make a brilliant Sunday School teacher. Such flattery would have been misguided. Fortunately a wise lady suggested serving elsewhere. Nowadays Marilyn does occasionally help in Sunday School, but she is also a vital member of the church catering team serving where she thinks she can’t be seen. Despite hiding away in the church kitchen, Marilyn’s reputation for cake making means that she is much in demand. When people tell her how good her cakes are it is not flattery, but praise (and possibly a hint that more cakes would be appreciated).

As ever, this proverb is about wisdom, specifically the wise use of words of praise, and perhaps also the ways in which criticism can be provided constructively. If a person is continually on the end of undeserved flattery they may come to believe that they are something that they are not. Flattery has the potential to stack up problems for the person who is flattered to the point where they believe they can do something outside of their gifting or skill set.

God took great pleasure in making us all different, and in giving us different gifts and skills. Yes, it is important to be told when we have done a good job. But we also need to receive guidance and direction when we have not, especially if the reason is that we are in the wrong job. Telling a person they are good at something when they are not will eventually end in tears.


Make Money Fast

Proverbs 28:20 

A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

It is probable that ‘get rich quick’ schemes have been around since time immemorial. You may ask how they operated in Solomon’s day without a postal service, email, or Internet; but imagine a group of shepherds sitting around the fire one night talking about how poorly they are paid, with no overtime for the night shift, and no possibility of ever matching their employer in terms of wealth. One of them then says, “I met this fellow the other night in The Bethlehem Arms and he told me about a scheme involving something called soap. If we all invest one-quarter of our weekly wages for the next six months, which is only a little bit more than we spend on beer, he will supply us with the ingredients and secret recipe to manufacture soap. Then all we need is a market stall in Jerusalem and voila, we’ll make a fortune and never need to sit out here minding smelly sheep all night again.”

“Soap?!” replies one shepherd, “what is soap, and what do you do with it?” When Getrichqwikamiah replies “you use it to wash your body” the other shepherds all fall around laughing. “Who ever heard of anyone in Jerusalem washing?” shouts one, barely able to get the words out because he is laughing so much.

Solomon wasn’t just talking about people wanting to get rich quick, but about the condition of their hearts when wanting to be wealthy begins to rule their thoughts to the extent that it becomes an obsession. Jesus had opinions on wealth and those who let it dominate their lives. When a cheating tax collector came into contact with Jesus he ended up giving away most of his wealth. But another man with great wealth chose not to surrender his riches, and walked away from Jesus. I love the parable about the barn building landowner and how Jesus summarizes this teaching:

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NIV)