Saturday, 2 April 2011

A "Chayil" woman of virtue

Proverbs 31:10An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

Looking through several translations I've seen this woman called a virtuous woman, a wife of noble character, a woman of strength, a capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman, etc. And I've been confused as to what it really means to be an excellent wife, I mean, I generally feel like I’m trying my best... but what is it that God really intended for women?

The word used in Hebrew is chayil. This is the definition of the word “virtuous” from the Hebrew as found in the Strong’s Concordance is:

chayil חיל ~ strength, ability, might, efficiency, wealth, force, army

This word was also used to describe great forces and armies. A woman said to be "chayil" would possess a certain strength, might, and power!

That’s interesting. These days I feel like it’s very difficult for a woman to live in Eastern or Western culture, be submissive to a husband and retain her own strength and power. It’s not that it can’t be done, but how often does it really go to one extreme or the other, not finding the balance?

Ephesians 5:22 instructs “wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.” This isn’t one-sided though, husbands are “the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body...” and that husbands should “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...”

Biblical marriage isn’t a dictatorship, but mutual submission; in which both partners can still possess strength and power. Not power over each other, but power to work to honour each other and honour God.

Putting each other’s needs first.

I guess my goal then should be to put my husband’s needs first. When I’m tired, drained, grumpy... when he’s tired, cranky, argumentative... (yes, it happens!) I’ll work hard to have a “me first” marriage.

Not “serve me first”, but “I’ll take the first step.”

I’ll consciously submit first, forgive first, make amends first. I’ll do the difficult parts first, and not begrudge my husband or wait for him to take the first step...

Perhaps the best use of this power isn’t in making demands or holding fast to stubbornness or rebellion. Perhaps it’s not even in big projects, changing the world, or even changing husbands! But mustering up the strength and integrity to do the hard work needed to make a marriage glorifying to God.

Isn’t that really the best use of the power, strength and might that God has given me as a wife?

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