"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."
This verse probably should have been included with yesterday’s devotional, but it was pretty long already so I split it up into to two parts. Remember we were talking about the Proverbs 31 woman taking care of her home so her husband is free to do something other than worry about what she is up to. Today we get to see a bit of the how she does this.
I love the practical. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you. It’s nice to hear all the great ideas and glowing dreams but if you are not taught how to apply it or if there isn’t a practical application, then it does no good and when you are looking for ways to grow closer to God truly, all the esoteric spouting in the world isn’t going to help you. It may sound pretty but then the sound fades and all you have is a faint impression you just missed something beautiful.
When we read that “she looks well” it means she’s paying attention very carefully to those around her. One way you could translate that phrase is “she observes accurately”. This is something that can’t happen when we are distracted by our own pursuits, by our own ambition, and it cannot happen in our own strength. Now, how accurately can we observe our homes if we are never in them? If we spend all our time out, whether that is out shopping, visiting, working, playing, whatever the case maybe, if we are not at home, we can’t see what is really going on. This is especially true with our children. If we only see our children for an hour or two a day and during that time we are in front of the TV or computer or they are working on homework, how much of what they are thinking, feeling or doing are you really able to see? I love how the verse doesn’t say anything about she talks to her children. Not that this is not important, but there is no way you will know what is really going on in your children’s lives if you don’t watch them. Kids lie, kids don’t know how to tell you what they are thinking sometimes. So if you can’t watch them to pick up on these things for yourself, you will be missing out on a huge part of parenting.
This watching goes for your husband too, in a different way. If you are again always busy outside your home with some form of activity, most likely you will be too tired yourself to observe your husband. I don’t think this will come as a shock to anyone but sometimes husbands have hard time communicating with us. So as wives we sometimes feel like we are left guessing what they are thinking. But I think if take the time to learn more about how our husbands think and feel through watching and sometimes asking a few questions, we will be able to anticipate what their needs are and how best to meet them. I’m sure most husbands come home tired from work, whether that is a mental or physical tiredness depends on their job, but they are tired and the last thing they want is more strain at home. I am not saying that husbands and wives don’t need to talk things over and verbally communicate. I am not suggesting that observation is a replacement for talking about the issues you are facing as a family or as a couple. What I am suggesting is, learning to tune in to when your husband needs a moment of silence to think or when he just wants you chose the curtain color because he doesn’t have an opinion about what color would look best with the walls and furniture. Try to involve him as much as he wants to be, but don’t add more stress to him by asking for more than that. Do what you can to make his home a place of refuge where he knows he will be listened to and cared for all the time. And where he doesn’t have to chose between soft gold and linen curtains.
The last part of the verse is just as important. First of all if you are consuming laziness (which is what eating the bread of idleness means), you aren’t paying attention to your home, plain and simple. There is a stereotype that all stay at home wives are bon-bon eating couch potatoes who watch soap operas and talk shows all day, or women whose life’s goal is to stick their nose into everyone else’s business. This is exactly the opposite of what we are learning here from the Proverbs 31 woman. She fills her day with work of all kinds and there is no time in her day for pettiness or waste. She is redeeming every moment.
What your days should be filled with depends on your individual family situation. But one of our biggest chores as women is maintaining a neat and clean home. Every husband has an idea of what they want their home to look like and it is our responsibility to try our best to keep it that way. Some like it spotless and some don’t care if there are three days’ worth of dirty dishes on the counter as long as dinner is on the table at 5. Now there are concerns about basic cleanliness which we are not here to discuss today but all that aside, you need to know what is most important for your family and make sure you do that faithfully every day. Where a lot of us get lost, is we do what we have to and then we head off for a play date or we go call a friend and sit around the rest of the day, or we find some way to spend our time having fun when really there are plenty of things we could be doing to better our homes and our family’s comfort. I know there are women out there who spend too much time on their homes and they need to relax some, but if we are being honest, most of us don’t fit into that category. For most of us, we want to do that we have to and then like we did when we were children, we want our play time. But what is our motivation for that? Do we really need a break? Or are we just being lazy and wanting to get out of more work?
I would encourage you to take sometime this weekend to read over again what we have talked about and as you pray about what God would have you change in your life, I hope that you take a moment to evaluate how you spend your time. Is there something more you can be doing to serve your husband or your family? Maybe for some that means giving up something that you have done for years. Maybe it’s just as simple as watching what is going on around you in your home. Whatever God shows you, apply it. Make it a practical part of your life. It will be a blessing you and your family and most of all, it will be a blessing to our Lord.