My father-in-law’s hands are like none you’ve ever seen. They are calloused and cracking and sometimes wear dirt and oil. Looking at them, you know they could open the most stubborn jar of pickles. His hands tell a story that I hope mine will tell someday.
Paul’s hands have done a bit of everything in life. They have typed out forms at a hometown bank, caught pigs that got out on chilly winter mornings, fixed every electrical problem, hung every picture, and driven combines at harvest.
They are working hands. They don’t like to be idle. They are most happy when quietly serving others and serving the Lord.
Chances are you have heard about “The Wife of Noble Character” in the book of Proverbs. She is much like my father-in-law. Her hands are always going, always serving, always loving– they are faithful hands. But for a long time I didn’t like the woman described in this bit of scripture. I felt like her ways were completely unattainable no matter how hard I would try.
And I was right. Just listen to what this woman is up to all day (and night) in Proverbs 31…
Her hands are working when everyone is sleeping, making every meal for everyone.
“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. (v.13 NIV)
“She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” (v.15)
Her hands do the family finances, keep the books, and make important decisions.
“She considers a field and buys it out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” (v.16)
“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” (v.18)
She works outside the home, but she still gets all her household chores done.
“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.” (v.19)
When all the chores, family business, and the farming are done, she heads out to serve the poor.
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” (v. 20)
I mean. Come. On. This is the lady we all love to hate. We want to be her, but we don’t even know how to rise to this level of awesomeness.
But here’s the deal. I don’t think an outwardly awesome life was ever her goal. She never set out to be perfect. She set out to live life loving and trusting God with every ounce of her being. She set out to “fear the Lord” and divine faithfulness flowed out of that desire on her heart and through the strength she found in Him.
The last few verses tell us just that.
““Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” 29-30
I’ve learned that she’s not the woman I thought she was. She’s not a people pleaser or a showoff. She didn’t get all her ducks in a row by herself. She is a picture of a faithful life lived in constant reliance, trust, and obedience to God.
I was wrong about us too. Her way of life IS attainable. The way this woman lives and how she uses her hands all day everyday for the good of others is attainable … WHEN we have a deep abiding relationship with God.
We may do “noble things” on our own. But at some point our sin gets in the way. We need the giver of strength and the perfecter of righteousness to lead us when our pride and selfishness try to take control.
Proverbs 15 and 16 talk about trusting every move of our lives to the Lord…
“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor,” (Proverbs 15:33 NIV) Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed,” Pro. 16:3 NIV.
Wisdom from God helps us to be humble and serve our people with endless strength and love. As we commit our moments and days to the Lord and His purposes, our lives will succeed in divine ways much like our friend in Proverbs 31.
In Christ, we will be women of noble character. And our hands will do all kinds of great works for His glory.
*What sweet things do your faithful hands do to serve the people around you? Do your hands wash dishes? Fold laundry? Drive the carpool? Use a stethoscope? Post a picture of your hands working for Christ on our Facebook page encouraging other women that everything they do is important to the kingdom of God.