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 – #6 She is Hardworking

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Hardworking – [hahrdwur-king] (adj) 1. industrious; zealous: a hardworking person.1

 

She gets up while it is still night;
             – Proverbs 31:15a (NIV)

 

Facts About Early Birds

According to Forbes.com, early birds have the advantage! This assessment is based on an article written by Christoph Randler for the Harvard Business Review.

Early risers can jump with joy at the perks they create for themselves.

Here are 10 encouraging benefits early risers can experience:

  1. Get Better Grades – In a 2008 Texas University study, college students who identified themselves as “morning people” earned a full point higher on their GPAs than those who were “night owls” (3.5 vs. 2.5). Good grades help students secure better career opportunities.
  2. More Proactive – Harvard biologist Christoph Randler discovered in 2008 that early risers are more proactive. They were more likely to agree with statements like “I spent time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen.”
  3. Anticipate Problems – Randler’s research also revealed that “morning people” are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, which leads to more success in the business world.
  4. Better Planners – Early risers report using their morning quiet time for organization, goal-setting, and planning out their days and weeks ahead.
  5. Time to Exercise – Many successful businesspeople get up early to exercise (before the family is awake and their official work day starts). Regular exercise boosts mood and fitness, provides energy on the job and helps create deeper sleep cycles.
  6. Get Better Sleep – Sleep experts say that if you go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, your body will be more in tune with the earth’s circadian rhythms, which offers more restorative sleep.
  7. More Optimistic – Various studies have shown that morning people exhibit character traits like optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and conscientiousness. Night owls, while linked with creativity and intelligence, are more likely to exhibit traits such as depression, pessimism and being neurotic.
  8. Easier Commutes – Early risers report less congested commutes due to leaving home earlier than the crowds.
  9. A Quiet Hour – Those who arrive at the office before their colleagues say the relish that first hour or two that provide quiet, uninterrupted time to focus.
  10. More Family Time – If you’ve gotten a jump on the day, you’ll have more quality time in the evenings to spend with family. Instead of bring work home, you can relax and unwind.2

There’s no doubt in my mind that strong arguments exist in the business world to support getting up early. In fact, they far outweigh the rationale for hitting the snooze button. But what are the benefits for us as Christian women, wives and mothers?

Hard Workers Rise Early

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”3Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is one of my favorite historical characters to quote. Not only were his observations witty and memorable, often he was just plain right. The facts

Jesus praying in the early morning hours.

mentioned above regarding those who are up before the sun easily refute the late riser’s attempts at building a case to the contrary. Even though every rule has its exception, most would agree an early start to a busy day makes sense, no matter how seemingly painful that might be.

Take the central character of the New Testament for example. Even the Son of God had a schedule to keep and rose before the rooster crowed.

 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” – Mark 1: 35-37

Verse 36 indicates that Jesus rose so early that no one else was awake yet for him to communicate where he was going. In fact, the preceding paragraph to this verse leads us to believe Jesus was most likely a guest at the house of Simon (later to be called Peter).  The night before, Jesus had cured Simon’s mother-in-law of a high fever. She promptly got up and served the men after her illness left her. Jesus rose so early that even the women of the household were still not awake. That’s early.

Why would Jesus need to get up at such and “ungodly” hour? Was he stressed and unable to sleep? Was he simply one of those annoying morning people who automatically wake at the crack of dawn? Was he nervous or agitated about the day ahead of him?

Verse 35 tells us that Jesus got up early so he could be alone and pray. Before the incessant din of the day or endless clamor of the crowds began, he gathered his thoughts, questions, plans and laid them before God. In the cool and quiet of the pre-dawn hours Jesus communed with his Father.

Let’s examine a typical day for Jesus. In Mark 1:21-34, this is what his schedule looked like:

  • Arrive in Capernaum (walking from Galilee)
  • Go to the synagogue (teach with authority, amaze people)
  • Cast out an impure spirit from a man (the news goes viral)
  • Go to Simon’s house (cure Simon’s mother-in-law of fever)
  • Attend crowds (cure the ill and demon possessed)
  • Attend the whole town (heal many and cast out more demons)

As women, wives and mothers, we can pack our schedules. It’s in our DNA to be aware of the status of others and the condition of our surroundings. We can run ourselves ragged tending to the needs of our family, boss, community or church. However, even if we have the good intention of serving others as an act of service to God, do we give Him the prime time of our day? Do we let Him in on the plans at the planning stage or only after a problem occurs? Is God at the start of each day so that He can orient, guide and bless the numerous tasks before us?

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.  – Psalm 127:1-2

No one who is a hard worker wants his/her work to be in vain. We all want our hard work to pay off, show progress, and result in reward. For Christians, that means ensuring we work in step with God.

Hard workers do rise early. However, spiritually-minded hard workers maximize their efforts by first working hard at being close to God, no matter what.

Hard Workers Realize Dreams

“What I was told by my parents was…pursue your dream, as long as you’re a capable and hardworking human being, you will be able to follow and fulfill your dream.” – Chanda Kochhar

Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank.

Chanda Kochhar (born 17 November 1961) is the managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank. She is widely recognized for her role in shaping retail banking in India. In 1984, Kochhar joined the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) as a management trainee. During her early years at ICICI, she handled project appraisal and monitoring and evaluated projects in industries such as textile, paper and cement.

Kochhar was instrumental in establishing ICICI Bank during the 1990s. In 1993, Kochhar was appointed as one of the core team members who were assigned the responsibility of setting up the bank. She was promoted to assistant general manager in 1994 and then to deputy general manager in 1996. In 1996, Kochhar headed the newly formed Infrastructure Industry Group of ICICI Bank, which aimed to create dedicated industry expertise in the areas of power, telecom and transportation. In 1998, she was promoted as the General Manager and headed ICICI Bank’s major client group, which handled relationships with ICICI’s top 200 clients. In 1999, she also handled the strategy and e-

Kochhar revieves the India’s Best Banks Award.

commerce divisions of ICICI Bank. Under Kochhar’s leadership, ICICI Bank started building the nascent retail business in 2000 focusing largely on technology, innovation, process engineering and expansion of distribution and scale. In April 2001, she took over as executive director. In 2006, Kochhar was appointed as deputy managing director of ICICI Bank. In 2006–07, Kochhar handled the international and corporate businesses of the bank. From 2007 to 2009, she was the bank’s chief financial officer (CFO) and joint managing director.

In 2009 Kochhar was appointed as managing director and chief executive officer of the bank and has been responsible for the bank’s diverse operations in India and overseas. She also chairs the boards of most of the bank’s subsidiaries, which include India’s leading private sector life and general insurance companies.

Kochhar is a member of the India–Japan Business Leaders Forum and the US-India CEO Forum. She was the president of the International Monetary Conference, an organization that annually brings together the chief executives of approximately 70 of the world’s largest financial institutions from 30 countries, along with officials from government institutions in 2015–16. She is the deputy chairman of the Indian Banks Association. Kochhar is the chairperson of the board of governors at IIIT Vadodara. She is also on the boards of the National Institute of Securities Markets and Institute of International Finance. Kochhar has been a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry, the Board of Trade and High-Level Committee on Financing Infrastructure. She was co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2011.

Kochhar received an honorary doctorate from Carleton University, Canada in 2014, in recognition of her pioneering work in the financial sector, effective leadership in a time of economic crisis and support for engaged business practices. She was conferred with the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honors, in 2011.

Kochhar resides in Mumbai, and is married to Deepak Kochhar, a wind energy entrepreneur and her business schoolmate. They have two children, a daughter Aarti and a son, Arjun.4

Reading Chanda Kochhar’s bio makes my head spin! It is obvious she is an exceedingly capable, intelligent and dedicate professional. So, it’s interesting that she associates her hard work rather than her intelligence with reaching her dreams, at least as highlighted in the above quote. There’s a certain down to earth quality about it. It makes dreaming big more accessible to the average person. Not everyone is intelligent, but anyone can work hard.

Another over-achiever credited hard work to his spiritual accomplishments instead of calling attention to his mental aptitude, charismatic personality or family pedigree. The Apostle Paul, who was a highly educated man, cited not his own intelligence as the success of the ministries he planted and cultivated but rather the hard work of making Christ known among the believers:

We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me. – Colossians 1:28-29 (HCSB)

Paul evens goes a step further by attributing the strength behind his hard work to Christ himself.

What are your dreams? Whether they are scholastic, professional, interpersonal or spiritual, hard work is an integral factor in reaching your goals.

Hard Workers Inspire Others with Their Example

”Being hardworking is the best thing you can show your children.”5David Beckham

David Beckham

It always amazes me how those who master their craft make their art, sport, or performance appear easy. Have you ever watched a great movie and imagined yourself on the big screen or humbly accepting an Oscar? Or perhaps you attend a show and the singer inspires images of yourself on stage before a sold-out concert hall. Or maybe you watch a sports event and toy with the idea of the crowds chanting your name! That’s what watching superstars does to our perception. It gets bent a bit. Their years of endless practice, toil and rehearsal, which we never see, makes their performance look effortless.

On the flip side of that coin is an opposing warped perception. We think, superstars are not like your average person so why even try to be like them? That way of thinking is just laziness on our part. The assumption that the those at the top of their game are simply naturally gifted removes all responsibility from the rest of us to commit to the same hard work protocol required to achieve similar results. It’s our way out, it’s our irrefutable excuse.

Picture this: David Beckham tucks his young kids into bed at night. In an adorable English accent one of his sons might say, “Daddy, I want to play football just like you when I grow up!” And Beckham responds, “Don’t worry son, you will, it’s all in the genes.”

Instead, based on his quote, I imagine the conversation would go more like this: “Daddy, I want to play football just like you when I grow up!” And Beckham responds, “Son, if you work really, really hard at it you very well could someday.”

When we give the example of hard work, we then expect it in others. We understand its value and don’t try to shield our children from its innumerous lessons. We comprehend the pride that is derived from good old fashioned hard work. We are not ashamed of the sweat and toil that got us where we are today.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.                                – 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Saul, later to become the Apostle Paul, giving approval of the stoning of Stephen.

Paul was arguably the greatest of all the apostles, yet he did not pride himself on his intellect or religious track record. He realized he had grave sins that needed forgiveness. The amazing grace that God extended him inspired his hard work. Those of us who identify with Paul’s deep appreciation of forgiveness don’t work hard to be saved but work hard because we’re saved.

What’s your perspective on hard work? Are you ready to get up early to invest in your relationship with God? Do you believe hard work can bring you closer to achieving your dreams? Are you an example of hard work for others to imitate? If you find your perspective about hard work is a little warped, just bend it…like Beckham.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://www.forbes.com/pictures/gglg45gfd/benefits-of-early-risers/#1d1e1d861eb7

3 www.brainyquotes.com

4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanda_Kochhar

5 www.brainyquotes.com

The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #5 – Love

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.


You might wonder why I’d include “love” on the Strong Marriage Check List. Isn’t love a given? Isn’t it obvious that a marriage requires love? Yet I’ve met many women who have married for innumerous reasons other than love. Here are a few (all the names are fictitious):

  • Pat married to get out of her parents’ home.
  • Jenny married because all her friends were getting married.
  • Diane married because she got pregnant.
  • Beth married because she feared her boyfriend was interested in another woman.
  • Sue married because she was obsessed with having her dream wedding.
  • Cathy married because she thought it would solve some of her financial problems.
  • Linda married to end the relentless pressure from her family.
  • Terry married because she was bored and thought it’d be fun.
  • Paige married because she didn’t think she’d get a better offer.
  • Judy married because she was afraid of growing older and being alone.

And the list goes on. Even if you married for love, it may be difficult to maintain that love as life unfolds.

I’ve learned from my own marriage that without love there really is no marriage. Love is the glue that holds us together in the tough times and enables us to flourish in the good times. Love is more than a feeling; it is more than an emotion. Love is a decision made daily, regardless of circumstances and independent of sentiment. Love is the result of a choice and the choice is, “I choose you, I choose us.”

But what exactly is love?

If you are as old as I am, you might remember searching the newspaper for the popular “Love is…” drawings by New Zealand artist Kim Casali. Over the years, the successful comic strip must have accumulated thousands of definitions of love. Some funny, some insightful, some whimsical.

When it comes to love, it seems as if everyone has their own definition.

Watch this video of children who candidly share their ideas about love.

 

Now, what do you do if you found yourself on the list above of women who married for reasons other than love? What is love and how can you cultivate it in your relationship?

Eppie Lederer, A.K.A. Ann Landers

Known for her practical advice dispensed for decades through a syndicated newspaper column, Ann Landers gets us a little closer to a working definition of love. Yet there’s an even more complete definition inspired by the One who invented love.

If I speak in the languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.                                                                                                                  – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)

The first three verses describe how accomplishing incredible feats and deeds without love only results in emptiness and utter failure. Let’s apply this to marriage:

  • If I have an awesome wedding planner and amazing party, a fabulous dress and incredible honeymoon but have not love, I gain nothing.
  • If I marry a man my friends think is perfect and my family accepts but I do not love, I set myself up for heartache and disappointment.
  • If I have the good intentions and a desire to make things work but have not love, I am likely to fail.

Not very satisfying statements. Yet when individuals do not profoundly understand the true meaning of love, it’s easy to comprehend how couples enter into marriages where love is sorely lacking.

Verses 4-8 of 1 Corinthians 13 are well known and are the adopted passage for many brides and grooms on their wedding day. It is one of God’s biblical definitions of love.

Many years ago, in a class for wives, the speaker challenged us all to reread the passage removing the word love and put our own names or pronoun in its place. The verse would then read something like this:

Leslie is patient, Leslie is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. Leslie does not dishonor others, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Leslie does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  She always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Leslie never fails.

It was only after this exercise that some aspects of the biblical love God expects me to have for my husband became crystal clear. I had to admit, some days were difficult to claim possession of even one of these traits. At least now, I knew what love looked like. Love was deep, steady and enduring. Love required discipline and self-control. It selflessly focused on others. Love was incredibly difficult yet somehow attainable. Love was possible…with God in the middle of it.

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)

I cannot love like the Bible describes without closeness to God. Without Him to remind me how great His love is for me, I would not have the capacity to love others, to love my husband, or even to love myself. His awe-inspiring love teaches us, by example, how to love. It is this unfathomable, rich and spiritual love that attracts, binds and matures as the years pass.

What does love look like in your marriage? Can you confidently place your name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as the definition of love? If not, then begin today, trait by trait, adding to your love. Both you and your husband will love the result.


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!

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character: #4 – She is Diligent

by Leslie De Morais

Diligent – [dil-i-juh nt] (adj) 1. Constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student. 2. Done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking: a diligent search of the files.1

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.                                                                                                  – Proverbs 31:13 (NIV)

Wool and Flax

As many of us know, wool comes from sheep. Usually, once a year in the spring, the sheep are shorn (or sheared, depending on the dialect of the region). The wool is then spun into yarn.

What about flax? Considering the verse above, I wondered about flax, so I did some investigating. Here’s what I found out:

Flax (also known as common flax or linseed), Linum usitatissimum, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. The textile made from flax in the Western countries is known as linen. It is traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen. The oil is known as linseed oil. In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word “flax” may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. The plant species is known only as a cultivated plant, and appears to have been domesticated just once from the wild species Linum bienne, called pale flax.2

If you have a moment, watch this short and informative three-minute video that shows how to spin flax.3

Now, getting back to the theme verse (Proverbs 31:13) of this blog post and the definition of diligent, what can we learn from the Wife of Noble Character?

What Motivates Diligence?

Imagine living in a time where you not only have to make your own clothes, and those for your family, but you also need to spin the yarn or thread for your fabric. The words time-consuming and tedious come to mind. How full would your wardrobe be if all that work were required of you? What could possibly motivate the Proverbs 31 woman to “work with eager hands?”

Only one answer stands out. She highly valued the end product much more than the long hours ahead of her. Perhaps she envisioned her children dressed in the clothes she so painstakingly made for them. Maybe she cherished the cozy touch of the brand new bed linens that she and her husband would slip into after a long day’s work. Possibly, she was imagining beautiful table linens that would make a meal special when visitors called. The end product is the inspiration that fueled her task, and diligence is what set her apart from the rest.

Consistency, persistence and perseverance are qualities we all admire. No one ever wrote a book or made a movie about the guy or girl who half way through a tough job, long journey, or daunting battle gave up! Who would want to read about that or see that movie? Yet we all love to hear about the person who stuck it out during a challenge. It gives us hope that we can do the same.

A Surprising Quote

“Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did.” 4

If this quote came from a cross-country runner, you might say, “That makes sense.” If I told you an Olympic athlete was known for making this statement, you might think it nothing out of the ordinary. How would you feel about that quote if you now discovered it came from a man who spent most of his adult life in political and ethical struggles against racism and injustice?

Nelson Mandela, human rights activist and President of South Africa from 1994-1999.

For most of us, we practice a sport, play an instrument or indulge in a hobby because we have a natural inclination or talent for it.  In Nelson Mandela’s case, he had neither when it came to cross-country running. He got through his task by harnessing diligence. Certainly, this discipline gave him the strength and hope to endure the 27 years he spent in prison for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

Diligent Wives Get What they Want…Eventually

How does a wife benefit from being diligent? There’s a Brazilian saying, “Quem casa, quer casa.” Translation: “The one who marries wants a home.” We’d all love to have an unlimited budget to buy our dream home and decorate it with the finest furnishings. Personally, I have yet to meet a woman in those ideal circumstances. Diligence is the stuff that fuels dreams, little by little.

Consider these verses:

Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.                                                                                                     – Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,                                                                         but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.                                                           – Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)

It’s easy to sit around dreaming or worse, complaining because you don’t have what you want (be it a beautiful home, higher education, an amazing marriage or closeness to God). It takes diligence to bring those desires of the heart into reality.

My husband is a smart and capable man. He has accomplished many difficult undertakings in his life, such as: completing his college education, becoming fluent in a second language, moving to new countries and adapting to unfamiliar cultures, navigating the challenges of raising two teenagers successfully, relocating and beginning new careers several times and going for his master’s degree at age 50. Not to mention becoming a Christian and not wavering in his decision for over 30 years. Obviously, he is grateful to God for the many opportunities and blessings he has received. However, to what personal characteristic does Alcides attribute his success? Diligence. He doesn’t consider himself extremely intelligent or unusually gifted. He understands the benefit of staying the course even when it gets hard and when giving up would be much more comfortable.

Diligent Wives Remove Obstacles

William Penn, English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.

William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

A man of extreme religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.5

Like Mandela, William Penn was imprisoned for his idealism. You might think an ordeal like that would dampen his fervor or soften his convictions. Yet Penn was known for this statement:

Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.                                            – William Penn

What are the obstacles you need to remove in your life?

  • Do you have a home in desperate need of organization and order?
  • Are there personal goals you’d like to reach but procrastination and excuses have paralyzed you?
  • Is your husband not yet a Christian and your faith that he’ll become one is dwindling?
  • Does your husband lack the spiritual leadership for your family that you would like him to have and you’ve given up on being the helpmate he needs?

Do you have what it takes to remove these obstacles from your heart and mind? Patient diligence (in prayer, faith, and actions) is what’s required.

Diligent Wives are Wholehearted

In the fourth chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul encourages and exhorts the young evangelist about some of a pastor’s worst fears. He warns Timothy that some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons! Paul then cautions Timothy to:

  • Be a good minister
  • Have nothing to do with godless myths or old wives tales
  • Train himself to be godly
  • Put his hope in God
  • Command and teach these things to others
  • Not let anyone look down on him because of his youth
  • Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity
  • Not neglect his gift of preaching and teaching

Paul ends the chapter by giving Timothy the key to his future success.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.  – 1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NIV)

Wholehearted diligence and perseverance. Timothy had a mountain to move and Paul set him up for victory.

Whatever mountains you may need to move, whatever your past track record has been, imitating the diligence of the Proverbs 31 Wife of Noble Character will certainly get you closer than ever to making your goals and dreams reality.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax

3 Spinning Flax with Christine MacCleod – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az2VNllZhEE

4 BrainyQuote.com

5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Penn