Over the years, my perspective of the Proverbs 31 virtuous woman has evolved. She has been an ideal example, an overwhelmingly impossible standard, and a figurative concept. At times I have loved reading those final verses of Proverbs. Other times, I have wanted to completely ignore them and the feelings of inadequacy that they induced.
But with each perspective shift has come a slightly richer application of thoughts and concepts from the text. Ah, what delight comes when the Holy Spirit keeps the Word of God alive and fresh each time we read it!
As I read Proverbs 31 again in January, I noticed something new. I noticed simplicity. Now, I always hesitate to base any theological discussion on the absence of information. But, I still cannot help but notice that, although this passage discusses the woman’s wealth, it does not mention extravagance. Perhaps it is not clearly delineated in this passage, but Scripture as a whole supports the idea that “stuff” is problematic. The wealthy are not criticized and judged for being wealthy. They are judged for being addicted to their wealth and their possessions.
We live in a very materialistic society. We have closets full of clothes and shoes and games and this and that. We have kitchens piled high with the latest fancy dishes. We love our knick-knacks and decor. In short, we really enjoy our stuff.
I look at the virtuous woman, and I see how richly her family was fed and clothed. But, I also notice just how practical everything was. Everything she purchased had a purpose. Nothing was wasted. Nothing was extravagant. And because it all had a purpose, she had the financial means to make sure she bought the best.
Our family has simplified a great deal over the years, but we still live with a lot of fluff. Things we don’t need. Stuff. And that stuff ties us down. It increases the time we have to invest when God tells us it’s time to move. It increases the daily effort required to maintain our homes.
What if everything we did was bathed in practical simplicity? What if everything we had was kept only out of necessity? What if we were not tied down to stuff? Somehow, I think we would be much less overwhelmed by the image of the Proverbs 31 woman.
So, here’s to a year of progressing toward rich simplicity. May we become more like the Proverbs 31 woman this year because we choose to loose the bonds of stuff and embrace the freedom of simplicity.