I love how God ties themes together in His Word. Proverbs is no exception. Like beautiful matching book ends, holding together word pictures of wise living versus vain and foolish living, we see the author of Proverbs 31 ending this book the same way it began…with “the fear of the Lord:”
Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
The author of Proverbs 31 reveals the value of fearing of the Lord by offering us a contrast that will no doubt strike a chord with a woman’s flesh as well as her heart. He contrasts the disappointment and deceit of charm and the fleeting nature of physical beauty with the eternal quality of the fear of the Lord.
Fleeting Beauty or Eternal Fear of the Lord?
We daily see the fleeting nature of our fleshly beauty. The older we get, the more it becomes painfully evident. Thus, all the more, like the Proverbs 31 Woman, we should long to focus on reverential fear of our Lord.
As followers of Jesus Christ, fearing the Lord simply means we have such a reverence for Him that it has a boundless impact on the way we live our lives. As women who love God it means we respect Him, we obey Him, we joyfully submit to His will and His discipline, and we worship Him with the reverential awe that He so deserves.
John Bunyan, “Christian, let God’s distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear Him greatly. He has put His fear in your heart, and may not have given that blessing to your neighbor, perhaps not to your husband, your wife, your child, or your parent. Oh, what an obligation should this thought lay upon your heart to greatly fear the Lord! Remember also that this fear of the Lord is His treasure, a choice jewel, given only to favorites, and to those who are greatly beloved.”
Here are four questions to help you evaluate whether you are focused on fleeting beauty or the eternal fear of the Lord:
When with others, what do I find myself speaking about?
Does your speech reflect that you are in awe of God’s lovingkindness that has been mercifully bestowed upon you, or is your speech focused more on temporal things such as your newest accessory, the children’s latest academic achievements, or the hottest new workout?
Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
When alone, what do I choose to learn?
Do you long to spend time growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, or are you spending your time learning about the latest the world has to offer in the areas of temporal beauty, exercise, diet, etc. …? What do you spend time reading and reflecting upon?
Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
What am I passionate about?
Do you use your spiritual gifts and God-given talents and interests to promote the beauty of your God? Do you utilize your passions to be a blessing others? Or do you draw attention to yourself with desires that don’t reflect Christ?
I have a friend that is so creative and thoughtful of others. She has purposed in her heart to put that creativity and thoughtfulness to use ministering to other women by coordinating wedding and baby showers down to the smallest details. Over the years, she has collected countless “ministry tools” that she uses for and shares with others as a part of her ministry. If an unbeliever attends one of these events, there is no doubt that the activities, devotionals shared, seating arrangements, and decorations promote the beauty and goodness of God, leaving a lasting memory for the guest of honor. She finds her pleasure by putting her passions to use to please God in these ministries.
Hebrews 13:6, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
What are my motives?
What motivates you when you care for your body? The temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s love for you and His ultimate glory, or your love for yourself and personal gain? Are you doing it for God or merely for others to notice? Do you respond sinfully when others do not notice something you do or something about YOU? Reflecting on this will help you discern what idols may be lurking in your heart. Are your motives Gospel driven?
I Corinthians 10:31-33, ”So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”
Just like the Proverbs 31 Woman, there are countless activities we are involved in every day that are simply part of life; our children’s various academic and sports activities, the seemingly mundane care of our home and family’s needs, and even the care of our own physical bodies. But every one of those activities can reflect the Fear of the Lord if our heart’s attitudes are set on Him. What a privilege that we have been chosen by God to fear Him!
2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day”