18She knows when to buy or sell,
and she stays busy
until late at night.
19She spins her own cloth,
20and she helps the poor
and the needy.
21Her family has warm clothing,
and so she doesn't worry
when it snows.
22She does her own sewing,
and everything she wears
What makes a person – a woman, a man – good and noble as their character, not what they own or what college they went to or what their job title is. As the proverb says, from whatever is in your heart flows the spring of your life (Proverbs 4:23).
Proverbs 31 is a long list of examples of fruits of labour that a good wife bears. Just as a good and healthy pear tree bears sweet, yellow-green pears – good fruit – so too does a wife with good character bear many of the fruits that are listed in this chapter.
When a woman becomes a wife with a good character, there is so much she can accomplish – whatever her situation. She knows how to work with fine clothes in such a way that whatever she creates is beautiful (31:22). She wisely knows what a good deal is, and can even make her own cloth (31:18–19). Her status is not important – it is what she does with what God has given her that is.
A wife with good character cares for those who have less than her, even by giving out of her own supplies (31:20). She thinks of others first, including her own family (31:21). God has gifted her with talents that make her a blessing to others—all because of her good character.
These examples can seem overwhelming, but they are not meant to be. They are the good fruit that God wants to give us. As we follow God, our hearts become more like his, and we are transformed into his image. We are spiritually healthy and we bear good fruit.
Father God, wisdom, and honour belong to you forever. Cause me to hunger and thirst for your righteousness so that I may seek you first. Please help me to abide in you so I will praise you by bearing good fruit for your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Douglas & Noël Estes
Douglas Estes is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Practical Theology and director of the DMin Program at South University—Columbia. Prior to this he was a pastor for 16 years. He has written or edited six books and contributes to a variety of publications including Bible Study Magazine and Christianity Today. His wife Noël was a Marriage and Family Therapist, before making a career of raising their four children and becoming a DMin student. Some recent publications include: Questions and Rhetoric in the Greek New Testament (Zondervan, 2017) and, as co-editor, How John Works (SBL Press, 2016). Also: "The Exoplanets Declare the Glory of God" (Christianity Today, March 2016).