Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
It was Labor Day weekend in September 1981, and our Minneapolis/St. Paul churches held a final session of youth camp at Orr, Minnesota, 250 miles north. I was among the staff and, after the activities, it was time to return back to the Twin Cities on a school bus. I was the last one to hop onto the crowded bus as the driver closed the door. There was only one space available—it was next to a pretty woman. I kind of knew who she was but didn’t really know her. I had no choice but to sit next to her for the next four hours.
That trip was the beginning of a 40-year adventure. This week we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Every time I think of how God brought Beverly and me together for the first time, I am reminded of two passages in Proverbs that describe my wonderful blessing:
- “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22 Proverbs 18:22Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor of the LORD.
American King James Version×).
- “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers and a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14 Proverbs 19:14House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
American King James Version×).
In this personal column, I’ve been talking about marriage and its divine origin for the past few weeks, and today I would like to continue with this subject.
God created man in His image and likeness. God specifically made us of two genders: male and female (Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
American King James Version×).
The apostle John states that God is love (1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
American King James Version×). He is more than having love or being loving—He IS love. He is giving us life and calls us His sons and daughters.
Marriage is based on every use of the word love in Greek: spiritual love (agape), friendship love (philia) and sexual love (eros). Our attraction to our spouse is founded on all of those. We fall in love and that tenderness should continue through our lifetime. We reproduce because we make love. “Loved ones” is a term that is used to describe those of our family.
As we travel on life’s journey, I cannot help but reflect on the words in Proverbs 31, which is the well-known chapter about a wife of noble character. Here I read about this indescribably beautiful gift from God.
Proverbs 31 contains many ideals. One might feel inadequate in attaining to them and become discouraged.
Don’t think that!
While Proverbs 31 speaks of womanly ideals that you may find impossible to attain, some of them can be reached in different seasons of our lives.
There are times when life is complicated and our energy and focus may be consumed elsewhere, but we always have this positive biblical standard to aspire to.
Whether one is married or not, these principles provide many positive instructions regarding the rules and behaviors that are intended to produce a happy marriage (as well as life in general).
Of course, I am completely and positively biased, but please allow me to say that for me, my wife, Bev, has epitomized much of Proverbs 31, and doing so has blessed our marriage. I quote from the New Living Translation:
“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies” (v. 10).
Certainly, this is true on our 40th anniversary; 40 years happens to be the ruby anniversary!
“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (vv. 11-12).
We both have looked out for one another and do all we can to help the other because in doing so we both benefit.
“She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls” (vv. 13-16).
This is a woman who is hard-working, productive, thrifty and organized. She likes to mend and sew, and shops at our international grocery store, Jungle Jim’s, but she is still waiting for the servant girls!
“She goes to inspect a field and buys it [our home]; with her earnings she plants a vineyard [garden]. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber” (vv. 16-19).
She is a wise businesswoman who carefully researches options and has profited from the labor of her hands (as well as the many people she serves).
“She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy” (v. 20).
She has managed a non-profit charity for many years resulting in many hundreds of students receiving scholarships, providing multiple dozens of boreholes for fresh water and much more. She is always thinking ahead not only for her family, but for those around her and around the world.
“Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. . . She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness” (vv. 23, 25-26).
Beverly is a woman of courage and faith. She has tirelessly been by my side in the ministry every one of these years and has stood up for truth, even in most trying of times. Her personality is a red lion. She is not afraid and will speak her mind, which is rooted in the faith and in the mission of the Church. She is always sure of good outcomes on matters of faith.
“She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her. . . Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise” (vv. 27-28, 30-31).
I pray that all of our women consider how to aspire to and take on these splendid qualities, which are not only for you, but for your husband, your children, and for service to all those around you.
On our 40-year long journey that started with a bus trip, the road for me and Bev has been filled with both joy and sorrow. We have been able to rejoice in the many wonderful moments with many friends around the world. Figuratively speaking with regard to biblical figures, we have met Priscilla and Aquilla as well as Lydia. We have met several like Timothy. But, we have also had experiences with Diotrephes and even a Judas. But, through all of it, the road, as we look back, has been a triumphant one seeing God’s hand in so many dealings as we have yielded to Him.
Thank you for allowing me to relate some very personal thoughts. As we celebrate and champion the biblical institution of marriage in these increasingly trying times, let’s aspire to reach the ambitious standards of Proverbs 31 in all that we do.