The Strong Marriage Check List – Item 6: Friendship

 

by Leslie De Morais

Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.


Item #6: Friendship

For many couples, the typical time line of events in their relationship begins with attraction, which leads to friendship, which develops into love resulting in the mutual decision to marry. It is a natural progression which grows in momentum and intensity as time passes. Whether your relationship followed this particular order or not, friendship is an important facet for every marriage and not one to be taken lightly.

A Friend Sincerely Enjoys Your Company

”Experts on happiness say for a happy marriage there has to be more than passionate love. For a lasting union, they insist, there must be a genuine liking for one another. Which, in my book, is a good definition of friendship.”1 – Marilyn Monroe

Known as the sex symbol of her day, Marilyn Monroe had a great quote regarding the word friendship. Although the “Blonde Bombshell” could have easily emphasized the aspect of physical attraction in a

In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe epitomized the essence of sensuality.

relationship as the most important attribute between a couple, she clearly comprehended the value a solid friendship brings to a marriage that is destined to last.

Perhaps for thrice-divorced Marilyn, it was easier said than done. Unfortunately, a true and enduring friendship can be evasive and eludes many couples. So, what do you do if you sense your marriage is lacking in the friendship department? Is your marriage doomed to fail? How do you foster “a genuine liking” for one another? How do you recapture friendship if you feel it slipping away due to the pressures or monotony of daily life? How do you shield your existing friendship from the relentless, crashing waves of stress as you deal with problems or challenging situations?

We can apply some good advice from the Apostle John and at least be pointed in the right direction of preserving our friendship with our spouse.

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.  – Revelations 2:1-5a (NIV)

John writes to the early Christians in the city of Ephesus with both words of encouragement and correction. He praises their hard work, perseverance and righteousness. John commends them for not being fooled by false prophets and the fact that they have not grown fatigued

Author of the Gospel of John, I, II and III Espistles of John and the Book of Revelations, the Apostle John was known as the disciple for whom Jesus had a special affinity and frienship.

in their walk with God. However, he admonishes them for having less love currently than they had at first. Strange, isn’t it? You’d think John would be happy the Ephesians were doing all the right things. Yet time after time, God communicates to us just how much more concerned He is about the heart behind our actions. Why? Without the right heart to fuel what we do we’re susceptible to running on auto-pilot. If God had wanted a mechanical and programmed relationship with us, He would have created robots or not given us free will. The motivation behind our actions means everything to God.

Now, let’s apply this lesson to our topic of friendship. After a few years together, married couples develop some heavy responsibilities, such as: holding down full-time jobs, paying bills, raising kids, tackling chores, etc. Taking care of those responsibilities can become automatic. It’s simply what you do. Creating a stable life by being responsible is praiseworthy indeed, yet it sounds a lot like the Ephesians’ “hard work and perseverance.” A couple can become lost in their daily routine, the business of living life and dealing with pressing issues that demand attention. Those who forget the importance of friendship or allow it to be squeezed out due to the stress and strain of everyday life may find themselves wondering if there’s more to marriage than what they are experiencing.

I love the Apostle John’s warning. Let’s read it again.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.  – Revelations 2:4-5a (NIV)

Why would I love a strong correction like this? I’m no glutton for punishment! But I do love the advice he gives. If your friendship is not what it used to be, applying what John commands here would mean getting back to the basics and doing what you did at the beginning of your friendship. Now that should be appealing to all of us.

What was your friendship with your spouse like in the beginning? Did you spend lots of time together? Did you go places and do things you both enjoyed? Did the friendship seem light and care free? Did you have a genuine liking for one another?

What can diminish our liking of one another? Perhaps an unresolved disagreement. Maybe a lack of consideration for each other. Even harsh words or severe treatment that need to be forgiven can greatly reduce our liking of one another. Maybe you’re at a point in your

Disagreements, unresolved conflict and stress can ruin the friendship in marriage.

relationship where it’s difficult to even imagine being friends again. Remember John’s advice. Do the things you did at first. “But how?” you might ask. “I don’t have free time to sit on a park bench or see a movie in the middle of the day or stay up late talking into the wee hours of the night. How are we going to do the things we did at first?”

Doing the things you did at first may look different than it did when you were younger or had fewer responsibilities. Remember, we’re looking for the heart behind the action. Maybe your time together will be shorter (Ex.: until the baby cries or one of you falls asleep from exhaustion!), but

Spending time together doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Make the most with what you have.

at least there’s a conscious effort. Perhaps your outings need to meet a budget or certain time constraints, but the heart of friendship can still shine through. Possibly, your first attempts might feel awkward or contrived. Just keep in mind your goal of getting back to what you did at first. That’s the miracle of repentance. God can refresh and revive us when we seek wholehearted transformation. We serve an amazing God who loves to perform miracles through His ever changing and evolving creation…us!

Here are some practical points all of us can apply immediately:

  • Make an effort to be easy to please.
  • Decide to be fun.
  • Decide to be funny, playful, and lighthearted!
  • Give each other your full attention.
  • Be determined to not let a bad day spoil your time together.
  • Remind yourself what you like about your spouse.
  • Remind your husband what you like in him.
  • Make time for each other.
  • Have genuine enthusiasm and excitement about being together.
  • Pray for discernment to know when and how to bring up difficult topics to discuss. Your date may not be the time nor place for heavy subjects.
  • Prepare the children. Explain the need for mom and dad to spend time together. Plan to have them either in bed before your time starts or have a babysitter on hand to watch them. The effort this requires is well worth it.

Friendly Advice

Some seven years ago, my husband and I were at yet another marriage retreat when we heard one of the most memorable classes ever. The lesson was geared toward soon-to-be empty nesters. Alcides and I were just a few short years away from that reality and were eager to glean

Dana and Gingerla Perkins, evangelist and woman’s counselor in the Greater Seattle area.

good tips. One of the main points in the class that Dana and Gingerla Perkins presented was the need couples have to set aside time for their friendship, especially when they think they don’t have that time readily available. Why? Because all too many couples reach the milestone mark in their relationship where the kids leave home and begin living their own independent lives. Suddenly, a husband and wife no longer have that central and all-consuming focus of their relationship (the kids) holding them together. Many times, a couple may discover the friendship that initially brought them together is nowhere to be found. What now? Unfortunately, some married couples have sorely neglected their friendship. When finally alerted to the dilapidated state of their relationship, there is nothing left to salvage, and divorce ensues.

For Alcides and me, this was like the Apostle John’s call to repentance to the Ephesians. We had become experts at taking care of the business side of marriage and friendship was scarce. Luckily, we both wanted that to change. Immediately, we began making plans about how, when and where we would spend time together fortifying our friendship. The months to follow that marriage retreat were some of the most memorable for us. We formulated a plan. We discussed activities, preferences and budget. And then we made it happen.

We took turns planning our dates. Some were dressed up dates with dinners out on the town. Some were simple walks on a beach, at a lake or in a park. Some were the stay at home kind with a favorite meal and a movie picnic style in the living room in front of the fireplace. We had

Alcides and Leslie on a date visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle

options for every budget, taste and even any kind of weather. Our time together became sacred and highly protected. We were really enjoying ourselves, to the point that we started sending selfies of our dates to the kids, and writing “Look where Mom and Dad are!” My then 17-year-old daughter Stephanie commented, “Hey! Why don’t you take Lucas and me on your dates to all these cool places?” I slyly replied, “Sure, why not! And I’m certain you’ll be happy to let us tag along on your dates!” Needless to say, she immediately understood our necessity to have reserved time just for the two of us.

Thank you, Dana and Gingerla. We are grateful for your expert (and fun) advice! Our friendship is all the better because of it!

A Friend Always Has Your Back

If there is one person in this world who should have your back, it’s the person you married.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

In my opinion, that “friend who sticks closer than a brother” should be you and your spouse.

The byproducts of a strong friendship are trust, confidence, and ultimately, love. Friendship generates the power to believe in someone even when the odds are stacked against them. Even if they falter or fail. Just knowing you have one person on this earth who truly believes and trusts in you or who you believe in, makes all the difference.

Let’s consider what the Bible says regarding Abraham and his relationship with God. Look at the following point conceptually not literally.

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.  – James 2:23 (NIV)

When Abraham’s faith was put to the test, he passed the test because of his intimate knowledge and friendship with God. Abraham was called to sacrifice his only and long-awaited son. He reasoned that God had the ability to raise his son from the dead and would not leave the answer to his many prayers (Isaac) laying cold and lifeless on the altar (Hebrews 11:17-18). In Genesis 22, his actions prove how much Abraham believed God had his back.

  • When asked to sacrifice his son, he woke up early in the morning, rather than procrastinate in his obedience. He brought with him the necessary provisions to carry out God’s commands (wood). (Gen. 22: 3)
  • Although it took a three-day journey to reach the spot God indicated, Abraham did not waver or change his mind about obeying God. (Gen. 22:4)
  • In his heart, he believed God would make good on His promise that through Isaac Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Therefore, he said, “We will worship, and we will come back.” (Gen. 22:5)
  • On their way to perform the sacrifice Isaac asks about the lamb they need for the offering and Abraham replies that God will provide it. (Gen. 22:8)
  • During the time it took to build an altar and pile the wood up on it, perhaps Abraham was tempted to doubt whether God would keep his promise. And when he laid his son on the altar, maybe then he resigned himself to the fact that Isaac would die but God would raise him from the dead. (Gen. 22:9)
  • And finally, with the knife in hand, Abraham’s obedience to God was confirmed. (Gen. 22:10)
The ultimate test of faith: Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Then, like in any good action-adventure story, at the very last-minute God saves the day by preventing the sacrifice! (Gen. 22:12)

We can easily see why Abraham was called God’s friend. What trust! What confidence! What obedience Abraham showed during the most difficult test a parent could endure!

But there’s another side to this story that you may have possibly never considered. Abraham could depend on God, and that seems obvious because God never fails, but have you considered how much God could depend on Abraham? Perhaps the whole son-sacrifice ruse wasn’t only to test Abraham’s faith. Maybe God was thinking a few steps ahead. Maybe He was thinking a few centuries or millenniums ahead. God needed to depend on Abraham just as much as Abraham needed to depend on God. Fast forward time and God is thinking about how He can encourage you to be faithful to His word. He needs Abraham to pass the test so that he will serve as a good example to you…and to me and everyone else. God’s friendship with Abraham allowed Him to trust that Abraham would follow the plan, even if he didn’t fully understand it or see how things would work out in the end. Abraham had God’s back, too.

What about you as a wife? Do you only follow a plan that makes crystal clear sense to you? A plan you can 100% agree with? Or, are you a friend to your husband who trusts and has your husband’s back? I realize your husband is not God and sometimes his plans may not work as intended. However, true friends have each other’s backs, always.

A Friend Brings Out the Best in You

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American captain of industry and a business magnate, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and the sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production.

Although Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he developed and manufactured the first automobile that many middle-class Americans could afford. In doing so, Ford converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into a practical conveyance that

Henry Ford, engineer, innovator, businessman, visionary.

would profoundly impact the landscape of the 20th century. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As the owner of the Ford Motor Company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with “Fordism”: mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put dealerships throughout most of North America and in major cities on six continents. Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation and arranged for his family to control the company permanently.2

”My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”3           – Henry Ford

Considering all that Henry Ford accomplished in his lifetime, his quote makes me curious about the friendships he forged. Who were these amazing people who brought out the best in Henry Ford and where can I find some friends like those! The fact is, we are surrounded by people who can have that role in our lives if we’d only let them.

The Bible has a similar saying, found in the book of Proverbs.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.                             – Proverbs 27:17

It is said that we are the average of the five or six people with whom we  spend most of our time. Think about your inner circle of friends. Are you inspired by their lives? Are they worthy of imitation? Do you want to be like them? Now, while you’re ruthlessly sizing up your unsuspecting friends, imagine what their conclusions might be if they did the same with you! Are you a friend who brings out the best in others? That takes work. That takes courage. That requires living a life on the cutting edge. It involves being someone who is always learning and growing and sharing that experience and knowledge.

As the friction intensifies, the sparks fly!

Bringing out the best in others also demands being a person who is not afraid of sparks. What do I mean by that? When iron sharpens iron, sparks fly! There’s friction, there’s heat. An active and growing friendship may give off some sparks from time to time. That’s fine if the intent is to spur one another on toward growth, and for Christians, that’s growth in Christ.

Consider your marriage.

Are you able and willing to allow your husband to bring out the best in you? Are you eager to “be spurred on” or “sharpened” by your spouse? Or does he have to tip toe around certain subjects because you’re too sensitive or prideful. Spouses know each other best. Who better than your spouse to see the areas in your character in need of change? Oh, but how hard it is to hear correction from our husbands! Sadly, if you do not have a relationship with your husband where he can openly bring out the best in you with words of encouragement or correction, your friendship may need review and/or repair.

Test your friendship

  • Do you look forward to spending time together?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10, what’s your level of fun? Smiles? Laughs?
  • When you are together, are the activities shared interests or one sided?
  • Does your together time depend on an event or activity to sustain it?
  • Can an off comment or disagreeable situation easily shake your desire to spend time with your spouse?
  • Does supporting your spouse’s efforts, projects or plans feel more like a chore than a delight?
  • How do you rate your openness and communication with your husband? And his with you?
  • Do you challenge one another to be your best or are some areas off limits to discussion?
  • Do you both share in each other’s success? Or does competition and jealousy get in the way?
  • How have you brought out the good in your spouse? And vice versa?

Conclusion

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”4 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph summed it all up quite nicely. Work on yourself and let your husband work on himself. Share this post with him and open the lines of communication between you. Your friendship will only get better.

Marriage is fantastic when your BFF is your spouse!

 

Best Friend Forever

As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!

Footnotes

1 www.brainyquotes.com

2 www.wikipedia.org

3 www.brainyquotes.com

4 www.brainyquotes.com

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #7 She is Serving

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Serving – [sur-ving]  (n) 1. the act of a person or thing that serves.1

She provides food for her family                                                                             and portions for her female servants.                                                                           – Proverbs 31:15b,c (NIV)

Why do we serve?

The act of serving another person is a powerful experience. Depending on the condition of one’s heart, the action can evoke either a sense of tremendous gratification or immense indignation. It can produce a deep feeling of true humility or utter humiliation. Motivation determines on which end of the spectrum you may find yourself. It begs the question: why do we serve?

Are your daily opportunities to serve a joy or a chore for you?

Throughout the history of humankind, there have always existed situations where one person served another, whether formally as in employment or informally within a family. In all the depictions of service I can remember reading about, seeing in films or in my own experience, there was never any indifference about the act, only polar opposite reactions. Either you love to serve and love the ones you are serving or despise service and those you serve. The heart behind the action matters.

Serving requires humility and love

“We have to humble ourselves and the way you do that is by serving other people.”2  – Tim Tebow

It’s refreshing to hear a young, very successful athlete speak of the need for humility and service to others. In this age of self-promotion and superstar-worship, few recognize the real keys to a truly happy life.

Tim Tebow, award winning American football and baseball player, outspoken about his Christian faith.

The wife of noble character in Proverbs 31 provided portions of food not only for her own family but for her servants as well. Why? Shouldn’t her maids have been responsible for serving the lady of the house and not the other way around? The act of serving someone who is typically in the position to serve you sends a powerful and compelling message. It communicates humility and love to the one being served.

Serving is so much more than the mere act of service. We may think that only those on the receiving end of serving benefit, but in reality, those who serve gain much more than you might imagine.

Here are 7 benefits of serving:

  1. Helping others can help you live longer. Want to extend your lifespan? Think about regularly assisting at a soup kitchen or coaching a basketball team at an at-risk high school. Research has shown that these kinds of activities can improve health in ways that can length your lifespan—volunteers show an improved ability to manage stress and stave off disease as well as reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction—when they were performed on a regular basis. This might be because volunteering alleviates loneliness and enhances our social lives—factors that can significantly affect our long-term health.
  2. Altruism is contagious. When one person performs a good deed, it causes a chain reaction of other altruistic acts. One study found that people are more likely to perform feats of generosity after observing another do the same. This effect can ripple throughout the community, inspiring dozens of individuals to make a difference.
  3. Helping other makes us happier. One team of sociologists tracked 2000 people over a five-year period and found that Americans who described themselves as “very happy” volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month. This heightened sense of well-being might be the byproduct of being more physically active as a result of volunteering, or because it makes us more socially active. Researchers also think that giving back might cause individuals to experience a mental boost by providing them with a neurochemical sense of reward.
  4. Helping others may help with chronic pain. According to one study, people who suffered from chronic pain tried working as peer volunteers. As a result, they experienced a reduction in their own symptoms.
  5. Helping others lowers blood pressure. If you’re at risk for heart problems, your doctor has probably told you to cut back on red meat or the hours at your stressful job. However, you should also consider adding something to your routine: a regular volunteer schedule. One piece of research showed that older individuals who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year decreased their risk of hypertension by a whopping 40 percent. This could possibly be because they were provided with more social opportunities, which help relieve loneliness and the stress that often accompanies it.
  6. Helping other promotes positive behaviors in teens. According to sociologists, teenagers who volunteer have better grades and self-image.
  7. Helping other gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Looking for more meaning in your day-to-day existence? Studies show that volunteering enhances an individual’s overall sense of purpose and identity—particularly if they no longer hold a life-defining role like “worker” or “parent.”3

 

Watch this video about how simple acts of serving communicate and multiply kindness throughout a community.4

Whether we are aware of it or not, people are watching us. They see what we do and hear what we say. This is not by chance. As Christians, the fact that others watch us provides the opportunity to impact people through our daily example of serving others.

Another young man understood this concept and used his personal example and acts of service to influence those closest to him. He could have simply told people what to do, but instead he led the way, teaching by example. That example spread throughout the world and affects us to this very day.

Jesus gave the example of serving others by washing the feet of the disciples.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.                               – John 13:14-17 (NIV)

In the beginning of the same chapter, it says:

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. – John 13:1 (NIV)

Jesus served out of love. Love for the Father, love for the disciples, love for those who would later follow him.

The disciples had been through so much with Jesus up to this point. They had witnessed miracles, they had heard him preach, they saw him deal with the religious leaders, they saw demons being cast out and the sick being healed. They learned how to pray. They believed he was the Son of God. To the disciples, he was their rabbi, their hope, their Lord. How, then, could someone in that position, kneel before each one of them and wash their dusty, smelly feet? It was a lesson that would be etched on their hearts and seared into their memories forever. Out of love, Jesus gave them an example of serving for them to follow for the rest of their lives.

Now, can you imagine how different this scene would have been if washing the disciples’ feet were a mere duty for Jesus and not an act of love? Can you picture Jesus simply ticking off tasks on a To Do list? It would completely change how we’d feel about what he did, for the disciples and for us. If his motivation matters to us, you can comprehend how our motivation matters to God.

Think of those you serve, at home, at work, in your community or church. Do you communicate love or duty as you serve them? Let’s love others to the end, in every task, no matter how daily or mundane.

Serving brings you happiness, satisfaction and fulfilment

Mario Batali, master chef and TV host.

Great chefs have a passion for cooking. It’s an art, it’s a form self-expression, and for some it’s an obsession. Creating and serving meticulously planned and plated dishes is what makes top chefs thrive. Yet no matter how chic the restaurant, or how fancy the food, there have got to be days when even the most dedicated chef finds maintaining his or her high level of continuous service challenging. So, what fuels the fire?

“Although the skills aren’t hard to learn, finding the happiness and finding the satisfaction and finding fulfillment in continuously serving somebody else something good to eat is what makes a really good restaurant.”5Mario Batali

For Batali, the thrill lies in his connection with the ones he serves. Their reaction, their gratification, their joy becomes his happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment.

What I learn from this chef’s comment is the actual work cannot be the only source of contentment. No matter what your field, no matter how much you love what you do, the joy derived from serving others with your talent, skill or intelligence needs to be at the center of it all. Anything less than that falls short of the goal of serving and leaves us empty.

Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.     – Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)

The Apostle Paul implores the church in Philippi to make his joy (of serving) complete by realizing the effect of Christ in their lives and becoming like him. It wasn’t enough for Paul to simply do the right thing. He had to see his service taking root in others and continuing. His service was meant to inspire others to serve.

Any of us can learn from this lesson, however it amazes me how quickly little children pick up on the joy that comes from serving others. They

Children need to see their parents serving. They will want to imitate and participate.

brim with satisfaction at bringing dad a glass of water as he watches TV, or serving mom the scrambled eggs they made themselves on Mothers’ Day. They are not concerned so much with the perfection of the act as they are enthralled with the reaction it produces; the gratitude, the hugs, the kisses, the closeness. I imagine at moments like these the endorphins go off the chart!

Serving is about selflessness and sacrifice

Joyce Hilda Banda (née Mtila; born 12 April 1950) is a Malawian politician who was the President of Malawi from April 7, 2012 to May 31, 2014. She is the founder and leader of the People’s Party, created in 2011. An educator and grassroots women’s rights activist, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and Vice-President of Malawi from May 2009 to April 2012.

Joyce Banda, first woman president of Malawi, business woman and philanthropist.

Banda took office as President following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. She was Malawi’s fourth president and its first female president. Before becoming president, she served as the country’s first female vice-president.

She was a Member of Parliament and Minister for Gender, Children’s Affairs and Community Services. Before her active career in politics she was the founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation, founder of the National Association of Business Women (NABW), Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project.

In 2014, Forbes named President Banda as the 40th most powerful woman in the world and the most powerful woman in Africa.

In November 2016, Banda announced she that she was willing to stand as a presidential candidate in the 2019 elections.6

My blog takes my heart and mind places I never dreamt of going. Through it I have learned so much and been inspired by so many amazing people while researching their quotes and lives. Joyce Banda is one of those people who just motivate and encourage me to dig deeper; to do more and be more than I am.

“I learned that leadership is about falling in love with the people and the people falling in love with you. It is about serving the people with selflessness, with sacrifice, and with the need to put the common good ahead of personal interests.”7                                          – Joyce Banda

It’s not common to hear a politician talk of “falling in love with the people.” That’s probably one of the attributes that set Joyce Banda apart from other presidents around the world…that and the fact she’s a woman. Her comment about serving the people with “selflessness and sacrifice” immediately called my attention and caused me to wonder about her personal life. Further checking revealed she is the mother of five children: three from the first marriage to a man she described as abusive and another two children from her current husband. Most mothers know and understand the meaning of selflessness and sacrifice. A mother of five knows it five times as much.

As Christians, we are called to serve in many ways throughout the day, every day, just as Christ was. In fact, he gave us the perfect example of serving the people with selflessness and sacrifice.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!                                                                                                              – Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)

When we truly understand how incredible it is that Christ willingly served us by living a life worthy of imitation and died a death out of service to the very ones who were crucifying him, then and only then will we be able to serve each other out of love and humility. When we put the needs of others before our own we will discover the spiritual meaning of serving and will reap happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment for ourselves. When we learn to love people as Jesus loved us, then our serving will reflect the selflessness and sacrifice that is pleasing to God.


Footnotes:

1 www.dictionary.com

2 www.brainyquotes.com

3 http://mentalfloss.com/article/71964/7-scientific-benefits-helping-others

4 Life Vest Inside – Kindness Boomerang – “One Day” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwAYpLVyeFU

5 www.brainyquotes.com

6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Banda

7 www.brainyquotes.com

 

 

 

 

 

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #5 She is Consistent

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Consistent – [kuh n-sis-tuh nt] (adj) 1. agreeing or accordant; compatible; not self-contradictory: His views and actions are consistent. 2. constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form, etc.: a consistent opponent. 3. holding firmly together; cohering.1

She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.         – Proverbs 31:14 (NIV)

Merchant Ships

For millenniums, cities have depended upon merchant ships to set sail for distant lands with the promise of returning heavily laden with all sorts of valued commodities and enticing treasures. Local economies counted on the regularity of delivered goods not readily available from surrounding areas, such as: spices, textiles, natural resources like wood, or precious minerals like gold. The arrival of the merchant ship on the horizon signaled the prospect of abundance, prosperity, and comfortable times ahead.

An early merchant shipping vessel

One of the keys to success for any company in the merchant shipping industry was consistency. Without reliability of delivery, commerce would grind to a halt. Fleet owners were required to plan for and handle unpredictable weather, unreliable crewmen, and unrelenting piracy in order to meet the demands of customers without skipping a beat. Only the most consistent companies gained the trust of the store owners and the public, thus solidifying future orders.

Your Consistency Affects Your Family

If someone compared you to “the merchant ships, bringing food from afar,” the comment might not communicate the great compliment it truly is. Really, who wants to be likened to a commercial vessel? Yet the praise is high, indeed!

So much of what is contained in the job description of a wife and mother falls under the category of “unseen and thankless tasks.” No one else notices unless it isn’t done. Rarely will you hear, “Wow, the house looks and smells great!”, after you’ve swept, mopped, vacuumed and dusted the entire house. Yet, skip a day or two of tidying up and every member of your household comments about the mess! Like the merchant ships, only the owner recognizes the hard work behind consistently meeting needs, on time, every time.

When my children were young, toddlers even, I made the decision to have “sit down” dinners every night. As they grew into preteens and teens, we had those dinners together as much as their sports and extracurricular schedules permitted. Why the fuss? Research shows that one of the best ways to connect with your family is through sitting down at the table and enjoying a meal together. It’s a way to communicate with your children. It’s a great way for them to see their parents interacting positively. It’s a perfect way to have group discussion, teach a principle or establish new family codes of conduct or expectations. Most of all, it’s a way to check the negative influence the world is having on your family and counter balance that with Biblical precepts and encouragement.

Early on, my husband and I agreed upon the importance the dinner table would serve in our lives. As a physical education teacher, he fully understood the intrinsic value of consistent training. Around our daily meals together, we would plant seeds of God’s word in our children’s hearts. Daily, they could count on sitting down at the table, praying with us, practicing good table manners, participating in open conversation, remaining at the table until everyone finished and helping to clear the table after the meal was over. What I just described didn’t happen overnight. Every new phase in their development required revisiting expectations and explaining the reasons behind our need to spend time together as a family. Our consistency won out. My husband and I braved the preteen years and somehow survived the teen years. For our now adult children, gathering around the dinner table is what normal looks like to them.

Establish good habits with kids while they are young. They grow up all too fast!

As “the merchant ship” of the family, I took it upon myself to set a proper table, to vary the menu, and to make meals on time and worth coming home to. That takes commitment, especially if you work outside the home. My husband began sharing the responsibility and many nights we cooked together. That was an added and unexpected bonus, time together in the kitchen recapping our day while we chopped and diced. Now that our children are grown, the toil behind that major decision fades and the memories of us around the table remain.

Were there exceptions to the rule? Yes, of course. But that is what it should be. Not eating together is the exception and not the other way around. Ask yourself: Have you fallen into lazy or less effective routines with your family? Has the dinning table become a catch all for mail, assorted junk or dust from inactivity? Do your kids ask if it’s a special occasion should you decide to set the table because they are so unaccustomed to looking at family faces while eating instead of the television or their iPads?

Meal time is so much more than simply satisfying the biological need for sustenance. It represents an opportunity to commune, connect, communicate. It’s not by chance that one of the most well-known scenes of the New Testament took place around a table. In the three years that Jesus spent with his disciples I imagine he broke bread with them daily. Every time they ate together, he had another chance to get to know them and to be known by them. They saw his example, heard his words and felt his presence. The Last Supper was a familiar “family” event for the disciples although they would only come to understand its deep significance much later. And how they would treasure those moments after Jesus had left them to be reunited with the Father!

The Last Supper by French artist Bouveret

Your Consistency Affects Your Righteousness

King David of the Old Testament, a forefather in Jesus’ earthly lineage, was described as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:13-14), meaning God could trust that David desired what He desired. What an incredible attribute! What an amazing description for someone who loved God and wanted to serve Him! Yet, David’s life was characterized by spiritual highs and lows. The most infamous low was his adulterous relationship with a married woman, which resulted in the birth of an illegitimate son and the consequent assassination of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah.

David sees Bathsheba from afar.

The prophet Nathan was given the terrifying task of confronting King David and calling him to repentance. Fortunately, for Nathan, after he recounted a convicting parable, realization set in and David acknowledged his sin before God and the prophet, but not without consequence. His infant son soon fell ill and in a week’s time died. It was then that the full extent of David’s sin was felt to his core and Psalm 51 was inspired.

The Prophet Nathan confronts David about his adultery.

10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.                                                              – Psalm 51:10-12

The word steadfast, meaning fixed in a direction; firm in purpose; unwavering or resolute, is what you’ll find in the Bible more readily than the word consistent. It also means faithful or reliable. It stands out in David’s psalm as he is racked with guilt and grief after coming to terms with his iniquity and the loss of his son. He asks God to renew a steadfast spirit within him.  Perhaps David recognized that his failure to obey the Lord’s commands stemmed from his inconsistency.

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”   – 2 Samuel 11:1-3

David let his guard down. Instead of doing what a king should have been doing, he sent another in his place and remained back at the palace, idle. Maybe the old adage, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” sprang from this very situation.

Consistently doing what we know is right can certainly help shield us from temptation.

Your Consistency Affects Your Maturity

“I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. More and more, I want the consistency rather than the highs and lows.” 2  – Drew Barrymore, Actress/Producer/Director

Drew Barrymore

Typically, I research the lives of the people I quote in my blog. Why? To better understand the circumstances and deeper meanings to their quotes. I need to comprehend the who, what, why and how behind the words of these famous people who someone thought worthy of quoting. Discovering significant events of Drew Barrymore’s life led me to a greater appreciation of the above quote. Here’s a brief description of some of her highs and lows:

Drew Blythe Barrymore (born February 22, 1975) is an American actress, author, director, model and producer. She is a member of the Barrymore family of American stage and film actors, and a granddaughter of actor John Barrymore. Beginning as a child actress on television, she soon transitioned to feature films, including her biggest box office success, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).

Following a highly publicized, turbulent childhood marked by drug and alcohol abuse with two stints in rehab, she released her autobiography, Little Girl Lost (1991). Barrymore appeared in a string of successful films and in 1995, she and Nancy Juvonen formed a joint production company, Flower Films. Her godmothers are Lee Strasberg’s widow Anna Strasberg, a relationship with whom Barry has described as “would become so important to me as a kid because she was so kind and nurturing”, and actress Sophia Loren, and her godfather is director Steven Spielberg.

In the wake of her sudden stardom, Barrymore endured a notoriously troubled childhood. She was already a regular at the racy Studio 54 as a young girl, smoking cigarettes at age of nine, drinking alcohol at age eleven, smoking marijuana at age twelve and snorting cocaine at age thirteen. Her nightlife and constant partying became a popular subject with the media. She was in rehab at age of fourteen, and spent eighteen months in an institution for the mentally ill. A suicide attempt, also at 14, put her back in rehab, followed by a three-month stay with singer David Crosby (of rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame) and his wife. The stay was precipitated, Crosby said, because she “needed to be around some people that were committed to sobriety.” Barrymore later described this period of her life in her autobiography, Little Girl Lost. After a successful juvenile court petition for emancipation, she moved into her own apartment at the age of fifteen.

Barrymore went on to star in numerous films, some of which were box office hits and some with less than glowing critical acclaim. She has won a Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement” Award from the Young Artist Foundation, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Grey Gardens (2009). Barrymore’s films compile a worldwide box office gross that stands at over US$2.3 billion.3

All actors dream of the mountain top experiences (the highs) of their profession; fame, fortune, and accolades. I imagine that no one desires the low points; being passed over, starring in flops, and addictions. So, is it possible to have the highs without the lows? Can there be mountains without valleys? I don’t think so. To some, Ms. Barrymore’s words may sound safe and unambitious. However, after a closer examination of her life, I sense experience, maturity and levelheadedness in her quote.

While reaching for the “highs,” perhaps some of the “lows” in one’s life cannot be avoided. However, leading a consistent life may even out the waves, making it easier to deal with the ups and downs of the voyage.

Consistency Affects the Basics of Christianity

There’s no way around it, consistency is one of those characteristics that permeates all others. It’s like excellence or passion. It ends up being applied to every aspect of a person’s life and becomes their hallmark. Whether it be in punctuality, a pleasant demeanor, a strong work ethic, an amazing prayer life or a deep relationship with God, etc., consistency is a cornerstone of those who continually see progress in their lives.

“Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties.” 4  – Charlotte Bronte, Writer

As with New Year resolutions, lofty ambitions or awe-inspiring declarations may wear off as time goes by. If you are sensing that your consistency needs an overhaul, my suggestion is that you start off slow and steady in any resolution or decision you make. Small amounts of progress are far better than none at all. Increasing measures of effort and dedication over time are healthier than a burst of energy that quickly dies out.

“The beast, the religion of any restaurant is consistency. The food has to be the same every single time. It has to be as good (as the last time). That requires eternal vigilance.” 5                                      – Anthony Bourdain, Chef/Author/TV Host

The best restaurants can boast longevity because of consistency. Their customers know they will not be disappointed, so they return, again and again.

As a young Christian, I was prone to being led by my emotions rather than being guided by the Word of God. You can easily imagine the problems that could spring up because of that! What would happen if I didn’t feel like reading my Bible, sharing my faith, meeting with other disciples or keeping my commitment with God?

A friend helped me see and understand that feelings, emotions and even circumstances change constantly. God’s Word remains the same. Steadfast. There were many situations where I needed to simply decide to be consistent with God, and hopefully the feelings would follow. Most times, the right feelings did follow the obedient actions. Now, thirty-four years later, that good advice still helps me to be consistent.


In 2018, my personal theme for the year is “Transforming weaknesses into strengths.” The sky’s the limit! Everything in my life and character are open for improvement. Here’s the plan:

  • Decide about what I most want/need to change
  • Pray, meditate, seek input
  • Take practical steps and make achievable goals
  • Reflect, reboot, rejoice in the process and the progress, large or small

I hope you’ll join me! Leave comments and let me know what you plan to grow in.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 www.brainyquote.com

3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drew_Barrymore

4 www.brainyquote.com

5 Documentary, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character: #3 – She is good

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Good – [goo d] (adj.) 1) morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.  2) satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher; good health. 3) of high quality; excellent. 4) right; proper; fit: It is good that you are here. His credentials are good. 5) well-behaved: a good child. 6) kind, beneficent, or friendly: to do a good deed.  7) honorable or worthy; in good standing: a good name. Ect. 1

Good – [goo d] (noun) 1) profit or advantage; worth; benefit: What good will that do? We shall work for the common good. 2) excellence or merit; kindness: to do good. 3) moral righteousness; virtue: to be a power for good. 4) the good.  a) the idea of goodness or morality. b) good things or persons collectively.

She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.                                                                                                                           – Proverbs 31:12 (NIV)

How good is good?

Much to my surprise, I found over 50 definitions, in a variety of forms, for the word “good.” Only 11 are listed above. Who knew such an unassuming little word was so ample and versatile. The fact is we take the word “good” for granted. It’s not as grand as great or as flashy as fantastic. The word good doesn’t hold our attention like amazing or wow us like wonderful. We tend to think of the word good as sufficient, as in the expression “good enough,” or like the contemporary response “I’m good,” which communicates a satisfactorily satiated state when asked if more food or drink are desired.

In a world of mind numbing choices of products, services and experiences, who would ever settle for plain old good. We want the best! There’s also a never-ending quest for individuals to rise above the crowd and be set apart from the masses. In view of the incessant selfies and constant social media self-promotion to which so many are addicted, settling for good just doesn’t cut it. Then, what on earth did God see in the word “good” that He should inspire its use in Proverbs 31:12, regarding the wife of noble character?

Lessons Learned from Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.                                       – Genesis 1:1-5 (NIV)

In the third verse of the Bible, God uses the word good to describe the light he had made from nothing. By verse 30, God used the word good six times to describe a few little things he created, like: the land and the sea; all variations of vegetation; the sun, the moon and the stars; all living creatures in the sky and the water; and all living creatures on land. All this He deemed good. Good? I would have said stupendous, incredible, marvelous, astonishing or so many other phenomenal adjectives.

Then, when God stepped back and admired his work, He decided to live a little and described that first six days of work as very good.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.                                               – Genesis 1:31 (NIV)

If God sees fit to use the word good to describe the birth of a galaxy or the formation of a planet as good, well perhaps we’d all better upgrade this dictionary classification from ordinary and sufficient to and an all-encompassing mighty titan of a word worthy of great feats!

The Proverbs 31 Wife

The wife of noble character is described as someone who “brings her husband good.” What exactly does that mean? How can a wife bring her husband “good?”

Over the years I have observed, both in my own husband and in the male gender in general, that men like to keep things uncomplicated. Women, on the other hand, have a tendency toward the more complex. If you’re reading between the lines right now, you might be coming up with some adjectives of your own to describe how each of the sexes approaches life.  One style isn’t better than the other. They are just different.  It is to a spouse’s benefit to understand the differences and react or adjust accordingly.

Three words come to mind when thinking about how to bring my husband “good.” The words are “easy, simple and happy.” At first glance, you may think these three little words are  exceedingly elementary or immensely mundane. But if we’re talking about how to bring our husbands good and not harm, we must first consider their definition of good and not our own.

Easy

The fall of “man” (AKA: Adam) resulted in a major life style change for all mankind: hard work.  Apparently, what Adam had been doing in the Garden of Eden up until he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit was not considered hard work. In Eden, God required two things from Adam: take care of the garden (Genesis 2:15), and name all the animals (Genesis 2:19-20a). Then, Eve sinned by disobeying God and Adam followed right along. The result for Adam that ensued was backbreaking, never ending hard work.

 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”                                                                                      – Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV)

Hard work is the curse brought down on man for the iniquities of Adam. That connection with work is deep in the male gender’s DNA. Men seem to derive their self-worth from their work. They also assess one another based on the type of work they do and the strength or intelligence required to perform that work. As a by-product, the income received or the quality of life resulting from that work is also factored into the appraisal equation. In general, when it comes to their daily toil, men are competitive, driven and dedicated to their work. This is neither praise of the fact nor criticism on my part, simply an observation.

I have also observed an area of a married man’s life where he does not want work: his relationship with his wife.

What do I mean by “work” in the relationship? Men tend to be objective, concise, no frills. Women tend to be the opposite. Men want relating to their wives to be easy. They want their wives to be easy to talk to and easy to understand. Easy to lead. Easy going, easy to please. For the majority of men, their “work” is what they leave the house to do. They want their relationship with their spouse to be synchronized, balanced and functional.

So how can a wife bring her husband good?  Be easy to be with. Sounds easy enough, yet a woman has towering challenges to surmount in order to become an easygoing person.

Hormones and Emotions

A woman’s monthly cycle does not typically facilitate any of her relationships and especially the one with her spouse. I’m sure you are familiar with all those symptoms that afflict women every 28 days. Irritability, pain, bloating, discomfort and fatigue. It’s a wonder we can maintain any relationship while dealing with these ailments. The physical changes in the body coupled with the spike in hormones creates the perfect menstrual storm and our husbands are the tiny fishing boats trying to weather it unscathed.

How can a wife be easy to be with while going through the most painful and uncomfortable time of the month? Here are a few suggestions:

Be Prepared

Many women have absolutely no idea when their period is about to strike. Why is that? For most, their menstruation is like clockwork, on time and reliable. So, why not prepare for it? How? Prayer and scripture. God expects us to be self-controlled in all situations. That’s how we avoid sin even when we’re in pain. Here are some helpful tips:

Use a calendar to keep track of your monthly cycle.
  • Use a calendar to record the beginning and end of your cycle. Note the most challenging days and the symptoms you experience. It will likely be the same each month.
  • Explain to your spouse what you go though, both the physical and the emotional. Men have a hard time understanding or remembering what you feeling since they have never experienced anything like it.
  • Let your husband know when your period is about to kick in so he can be aware and be sensitive to what you’re going through.

Be Spiritual

  • In your daily devotionals, pray for self-control and read scriptures that will encourage the same. Pray for a double portion of patience, kindness and restraint.

Be Practical

  • Whenever able, use sick leave from work for your worst menstrual days. Although having your period is not an illness, you’re definitely not well. For many years I toughed it out at work during my period only to come home feeling completely spent and irritated, taking my pain and frustration out on my family. Only in later years did I discover the wisdom of allowing myself the much-needed rest and pampering my body and emotions craved during my menstrual cycle.

The same is true of pregnancy and menopause. Although symptoms vary with each phase of life, and from person to person, one thing remains true: we are not condemned to be controlled by hormones and emotions. We’ll be women who are easy to be with the more we are determined to take control of what we’re experiencing during uncomfortable or painful times of our lives.

Simple

Women love events. We love dressing up and going out. We love excitement and entertainment. We love turning the mundane into an occasion and the ordinary into an experience. We love adorning, embellishing, decorating and designing. We love planning and prepping. We’re all about the tiny details as well as creating show stopping wow factors. We love color and texture, mixing and matching. Men on the other hand, like to keep things simple.

Has this ever happened to you? You enthusiastically begin telling your husband some amazing plans you have. Vividly, you describe all your ideas down to infinitesimal detail and he begins to look as if he’s developing a headache? That’s because most men are big picture people. They understand the plan in broad brushstrokes. The details are of little consequence, in their view. However, for those of us of the fairer sex, the details are significant and are a way to express our creativity and personality. How can you bring your husband good? Try your best to keep things simple, in speech and in actions, especially if he actually makes that request.  Remember, less really is more…at least for men.

Happy

When thinking of the scene of a young man nervously asking the father of his beloved for her hand in marriage, I’m reminded of the reply from the protective dad heard in countless books and movies, “Just be sure to make her happy.”

Unfortunately, many women go into marriage believing it is the husband’s duty to make his bride happy. But is it? Ephesians 5 teaches that husbands must love their wives and ensure they are holy and blameless before God. That, in and of itself, is a monumental task. Is the husband also responsible for his wife’s happiness?

If a man is following the word of God and loving his wife as Christ loved the church, laying down his very life for her, I imagine that would make any woman happy. However, what about her day-to-day happiness. A better question is, “Can anyone be solely responsible for another’s continued happiness?”

Just as faith, repentance and discipleship are individual responsibilities, I believe happiness is, too. One way for a wife to bring her husband good and not harm is to be accountable for her own happiness. Why? In my experience, I have found that happiness is a decision. It’s a decision that only I can make for myself.

Something that inspires me in the decision to be happy is the fact that happiness makes a person more beautiful naturally. It also lightens any mood and brightens circumstances.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.     – Proverbs 15:13 (NIV)

A happy woman attracts people and her happiness is contagious. She is a person who lifts spirits just by smiling genuinely. She lights up a room and people are drawn to her.

Easy, simple, and happy. That’s a good starting point for any woman to bring her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life.

 

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #1 She is Valued

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Valued – [val-yood] (adj.) 1) highly regarded or esteemed: a valued friend. 2) estimated; appraised: jewels valued at $100,000. 3) having a value of a specified kind: a triple-valued offer. 1

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.                                                                                              – Proverbs 31:10 (NIV)

An Interesting Factoid

According to the website Energy Muse, rubies bring love and passion and are associated with vitality and strong feelings.  The gem stone ruby is the good luck stone of love, encouraging sensitivity in a relationship. Ruby also promotes clarity and wisdom allowing the wearer to attract wealth. Ruby strengthens the body’s immune system against infectious diseases. 2

Personally, I cannot attest to all these claims about rubies. However, if this was the common belief back in the day when Proverbs 31 was written, a virtuous wife was certainly held in high esteem.  The comparison to rubies was not a trivial choice. The author understood the great value rubies would convey.

Unfortunately, in today’s western society and perhaps worldwide, the perceived value of the role of a wife has diminished considerably. Why is that? Certainly, negative factors like machismo add to the deflation of a woman’s value. But can all the blame be attributed to the unenlightened minority of the male sex? Even some misguided concepts stemming from the feminist movement may contribute to the devaluing of the standing and role of wives nowadays.

Rosie the Riveter as depicted by Norman Rockwell in 1943.

Recent history reveals the steady shift from the long-established home life where a wife and mother was a permanent fixture who maintained a high standard for herself, her family and home. World Wars I and II provided the call to action for women that inevitably changed the fabric of family life, perhaps forever. Women were needed in the workplace as their male counterparts went off to war. Once the wars were over and the men returned home (and in many cases they did not return), women needed and wanted to retain their newly acquired status, opportunities and freedom their efforts during the war provided. And rightly so.

The decades that followed the last World War ushered in an explosive advancement in women’s rights. Women were now entering professions never before held by the female gender. Great strides were made towards fair wages, acceptance in the workplace and equal opportunity. The pendulum swing, regarding a woman’s role in modern life, was an inevitable and natural occurrence. In just about every great movement, in order to change the status quo, a pendulum swing takes place and a complete shift of mentality goes from one extreme to another. When discussing women’s development in society over the last 100 years, one of the great shifts that took place went from appreciating the roles of wife and mother to almost scorning them.

The challenge today is to recapture and maintain the high regard and intrinsic value of being an excellent wife while retaining the positive advancement of women. Unfortunately, too many times we wives do not value our own role as we should. Instead of cultivating our character to better handle the challenges and responsibilities, we complain, make excuses and are mediocre. Then, we wonder why we are undervalued.

How much do you value your role as wife? Do you hold this facet of your life in high esteem? Do you have as much concentration and determination to grow in this role as you do in your profession?

An Incredible Quote

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (born November 30, 1874 and died January 24, 1965) was a British politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. As Prime Minister, Churchill led Britain to victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a non-academic historian, and a writer. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his overall, lifetime body of work.3

Now that is a résumé to be proud of, for sure. Yet, what did Churchill value above all that?

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me.”     – Winston Chruchill4

Stop and think about the amazing implications of that statement. Churchill valued gaining his wife above becoming Prime Minister, winning the war over Nazi Germany and being awarded the Nobel Prize.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

Motivating Bible Verses  

The more I read about, study and contemplate the idea of being a wife, the more I see and understand it has much more to do with my relationship with God than my relationship with my husband. In my role as a wife, I’m being called to be like Jesus in every aspect of my character in every moment of my day. It’s a spiritual approach to a challenging situation I find exhilarating and motivating. In my marriage, I do what I do to please God, who sees my effort and my heart even when my husband does not.

Consider these verses:

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.   – Proverbs 12:4 (NIV)

Being a wife of noble character would figuratively make your husband feel like a king! The opposite would cause him to desire death!

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.     Proverbs 18:22 (NIV)

It is a blessing from God for a man to find a good wife. What surpasses a blessing from God?

Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.  – Proverbs 19:14 (NIV)

The value of houses and wealth is obvious to any of us. Yet a sensible and wise wife is a spiritual gift from God. Do we women recognize the value of that? If not, how can we expect others to value what we do and who we are?

How can you become a valued wife?

 1. Start valuing yourself and your role as a wife.

Who you are and what you do as a wife will be valued by others if you value it.

Your value before God:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  – John 3:16 (NIV)

This well-known verse sums up the incredible value God places on each one of us.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  – 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

God is omnipotent and the creator of all that is seen and unseen. Therefore, it amazes me that He takes the time and makes the effort to communicate to wives that particular female character traits are of great worth to Him.

Your value to your husband:

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.   – Proverbs 31:10-11 (NIV)

Imagine your husband acknowledging as long as he had you by his side, he’d lacked nothing of value. That’s powerful.

2. Stop undermining your worth.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.   – Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)

In chapter 3, Paul urges the Ephesians to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. In view of that statement, he then urges them in chapter 4 to live lives worthy of Christ. What would that look like? Would it include belittling your role as a wife or mother? Would it mean complaining about daily tasks or spending your time wishing you were in different circumstances? No! Because of Christ, everything we do and everything we are has the potential to be used by God to accomplish great things.

3. Decide to be invaluable.

Show me someone who does a good job, and I will show you someone who is better than most and worthy of the company of kings.                  – Proverbs 22:29 (GNT)

I worked for many years as a secretary. The profession has many similarities to being a wife. In fact, among secretaries you may often hear them refer to their boss as their “work husband.” The best secretaries (those in high demand) anticipate needs, hope for the best and plan for the worst-case scenarios. They keep important information at their fingertips and their number one goal is to become invaluable. The best bosses know, appreciate and greatly value the assistants’ role, knowing how difficult it would be to get the job done without them.

Are you invaluable to your “home husband?” Becoming an invaluable wife is a decision coupled with a plan that is motivated by Christ.

Decide to be a gem. Decide to be a jewel. And you’ll be treasured.

A wife of noble character, she is valued.

 

Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://energymuse.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/gemstone-of-the-day-ruby/

3 Wikipedia

4 www.brainyquote.com

An Introduction to 31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character

by Leslie De Morais

 

In this modern world of ours, a woman may aspire to countless professions, attributes, titles and abilities. However, I cannot think of one that compares or competes with becoming a wife of noble character.

As you read Proverbs 31:10-31, see if you can identify the 31 characteristics of a wife of noble character.

10A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.                                                                                                            –  Proverbs 31:10-31 (NIV)

The virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 is awe inspiring indeed. Surely, she is the culmination of the ideal wife and mature woman.

Her numerous attributes may leave us overwhelmed, however, I prefer to learn from her rather than be intimidated by her.

My list of her amazing qualities is meant to be used as a source of inspiration, meditation, imitation and admiration. Each of the 31 qualities comes with:

  • A dictionary definition
  • Inspiring quotes
  • Bible scriptures
  • Practical application

As you study, you may find other adjectives that describe her. Add them to your list.

Take your time reading. It’s not a race, because I doubt there’s a finish line. Transformation into a wife of noble character takes a lifetime of training and perfecting.

Beware the temptation to doubt the existence of the woman of Proverbs 31. Becoming like her is possible. I have actually known incredible women who fit this description.

Here’s my list of her characteristics:

  1. Valued (v. 10)
  2. Trustworthy (v. 11)
  3. Good (v. 12)
  4. Diligent (v. 13)
  5. Consistent (v. 14)
  6. Hard working (v. 15a)
  7. Serving (v. 15b,c)
  8. Business woman (v. 16a)
  9. Financially responsible (v. 16b)
  10. Stamina (v. 17a)
  11. Physically fit (v. 17b)
  12. Savvy (v. 18)
  13. Capable (v. 19)
  14. Compassionate (v. 20)
  15. Fearless (v. 21a)
  16. Prepared (v. 22b)
  17. Determined (v. 22a)
  18. Elegant (v. 22b)
  19. Discerning (v. 23)
  20. Industrious (v. 24)
  21. Strong (v. 25a)
  22. Dignified (v. 25a)
  23. Confident (v. 25b)
  24. Wise (v. 26a)
  25. Knowledgeable (v. 26b)
  26. Attentive (v. 27a)
  27. Busy (v. 27b)
  28. Respected (v. 28)
  29. Excellent (v. 29)
  30. Righteous (v. 30)
  31. Honored (v.31)

The list of 31 characteristics of a wife of noble character is inspiring to say the least. It is perhaps a little daunting or even intimidating. Let’s learn from her one characteristic at a time. Are you up to the challenge?

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New blog articles featuring the 31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character will be posted weekly.