Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: “Be prepared.” It’s more than a motto; it’s a necessity. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We may be in this country facing some even more difficult days than what our nation has experienced in our lifetime. Are you thinking about how to prepare your children for suffering?

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Friday, March 2nd.

As winter fades, moms across the country are thinking, “Do my kids have enough clothes to wear this spring and summer?” It’s a surprisingly difficult job to get kids to the store to try things on or to pull boxes of hand-me-downs from the attic and organize them. But when you do provide in this way, you’re following a biblical model.

Today Nancy will explain why a wise woman prepares her family for what’s coming.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I know that as we’ve been looking at this portrait of the virtuous woman, the excellent woman found in Proverbs 31, I know that all of us have felt challenged, and at points convicted, and at points overwhelmed at how far we have to go.

But I hope that you’ve also been encouraged and are experiencing hope as we look at the grace of God that He gives us to become the women God wants us to be. So don’t let this overwhelm you—or go home and say, “I’m going to be that woman if it kills me!” It will kill you if you’re trying to do this in your own effort. But by the grace of God, Christ living in us, living His life through us, all of us who are children of God will one day look like this woman.

This is a finished portrait. We’re a portrait in the making. But Proverbs 31 is the finished picture of what we will look like. So there’s hope no matter where you are in that process. And remember that spiritual maturity is not so much where you are as in the direction in which you’re headed.

I know that you have a heart for becoming this kind of woman. That’s why you’re here. That’s why you’re listening to these sessions, because this is the heart that you want to have.

Now we come in Proverbs 31 today to verse 21. We read that this woman, this virtuous, excellent wife, is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet.

So here’s a woman that plans ahead, thinks ahead, and is prepared so that crises don’t catch her off guard. Now there’s a sense in which you can overdo this, and there’s a sense in which you cannot be prepared for some crisis. Some things hit you and there was no way of preparing.

But you can be preparing in your heart and in your life and in your walk with God so that when the crisis does come you have the wisdom and the understanding to know what God wants you to do when you’re faced with that situation.

So this woman—it’s speaking specifically here literally of cold weather—it doesn’t cause her to panic because she thought ahead and she’s prepared clothing for her family. It speaks of scarlet clothing. This is a picture of the dye that was used to produce a scarlet color. It was a very expensive dye, so this is good quality clothing. It’s costly, but she has made the investment. She’s made these clothes, remember, with her own hands.

But she has prepared so that her family will have their needs met when the time of crisis comes. She anticipated the needs of her family. This is another practical expression of a woman who fears the Lord.

You see, your relationship with God will affect every area of your life, including the way that you plan your schedule, the way that you think ahead about life. Now, here it's speaking of the obvious, literal way that she prepares so that her house will have their needs met in the time of winter or snow.

In making those literal physical preparations, she’s reflecting to her children, to her family, the heart of God. He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. She’s showing her family what God looks like as she’s providing for them their clothing that they will need for the cold weather.

But there’s another sense by way of application that I think this passage speaks to us as women in the era of grace. That is that she has thought ahead about preparing her family for not just the winter snow in a literal sense, but also preparing them for the coming judgment, for coming crises between now and the judgment. She has thought ahead and planned and prayed and sought the Lord about how she can prepare her family for the days ahead.

We may be in this country facing some—and likely are facing—even more difficult days than what our nation has experienced in our lifetime. Are you thinking about how to prepare your children for suffering?

You say, “That’s not going to happen here.” If there is not repentance and revival in this nation, that will surely happen here. Now it may or may not be in the lifetime of you and your children, but we need to be preparing those that we love for what’s going to be coming.

Are you preparing your children for the difficulties and challenges of marriages, looking ahead and thinking how can you prepare them? Are you preparing them to know how to respond in times of loss? And are you preparing them, as I said a moment ago, for future judgment, to face Christ?

Are you praying and trusting God that your children in that day will be found clothed in the scarlet blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ? Because if they are not, then they will not be prepared for eternity and will spend eternity under the wrath and the righteous judgment of God.

So as you pray as a mom for those that you love, ask the Lord, “How can I be investing in their lives in a way that will help prepare them for what’s ahead, that will help prepare them for eternity?”

Now we see here some further talk about the clothing of this woman’s household. And we read about that already. But now we come in verse 22 to the first reference and really the only reference in this chapter to the woman doing anything for herself. And in the context, we can be sure that her motive is so that she can be a greater blessing to her family and to others.

Verse 22 tells us, “She makes tapestry for herself and her clothing is fine linen and purple.” The NIV translates that, “She makes coverings for her bed.” That first phrase in verse 22 is not about her own clothing. It’s about items that she makes for her house. Bed coverings is what is specifically being referred to there.

So as this passage is unfolded, she has been caring for the basics of food and clothing for her family, and now she turns to decorating her home and then to clothing herself. That’s kind of the order of priorities that unfolds in this passage.

Her relationship with her husband, of course, is primary over that with her children. She’s met the needs of food and clothing for her family. Then she thinks about the environment of her home, decorating her home.

That word tapestry or coverings speaks of home furnishings. It can be different kinds of home furnishings—rugs or coverlets, upholstery, quilts, pillows, blankets, drapes, wall hangings, tablecloths, place mats, napkins, towels, sheets. All these kinds of things this woman makes on her own, wanting to make her home a place of beauty and a haven where her family will be nurtured and blessed and cared for.

And again, not going to extremes and not so that our house can be something that is admired by everyone around us, but so that our house can have a climate that is conducive to spiritual growth and encouragement in the lives of others.

Then we see this first and only reference to her own clothing. Her clothing is fine linen and purple. I think if you take this verse in the context of the whole chapter, it becomes clear that her clothing is not her number one priority, but it is a priority.

Now the kind of clothing she has, made of fine linen and purple, gives evidence that this particular woman is from a “well-to-do” family. Linen is made from flax. It’s a high-quality fabric that this woman uses. And then purple, as we’ve said, is something that’s rare. It’s a costly dye that actually is extracted from shellfish in very minute amounts. So to make clothing of scarlet or purple is something that would have been done by royalty.

Of course, we know that Proverbs 31 are the words of a king who was teaching us what his mother taught him about looking for a bride who would be a queen. So there’s nothing wrong with having nice clothing, good-quality clothing, if God has provided and made that possible, and if that is appropriate to the position and the place in life that God has given you. Those things are not sinful.

What is sinful is to say, “We have to have expensive clothing,” or to look to expensive clothing to be what makes us attractive. The most expensive designer clothing put on the body of a woman who does not have a heart for God cannot make her beautiful—not truly beautiful.

Leslie Basham: As we look at the closets of our kids and ourselves and think about what we’ll need this summer, Nancy Leigh DeMoss has given some helpful, biblical advice. She’ll be right back with the second half of today’s program.

Nancy just touched on the concept of true beauty. It doesn’t come from clothing, but from inward qualities. We’re all bombarded by messages about beauty all the time, and we all need to grow in true beauty.

Every woman needs to think about this topic more deeply, and I hope you’ll read what Carolyn Mahaney has to say about it. She’s a pastor’s wife and speaker, and she’s written powerfully on the subject of true beauty in a book called Becoming God's True Woman. Nancy Leigh DeMoss and other godly women also contributed to this helpful book.

As the weather turns from winter to spring and moms think through the clothing needs of their families, there is one huge challenge. When you go to the store, it’s so hard to find modest clothing. Nancy’s back to help you think through modesty, continuing in the series The Counter-Cultural Woman.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you know that the clothes that you wear talk? The way that we dress says a lot of things that our words may not say. Have you ever thought about what it is that you’re communicating to others—to your husband, to your children, to others in your church, to those who don’t know Christ? Have you thought about what is the message that you’re sending by the way that you dress?

We’ve been looking at the virtuous, the excellent, woman in Proverbs 31. We’ve come to verse 22, which is the only verse that says anything to us about her clothing. Now there are other verses about clothing. Those other verses refer to the clothing that she makes for her family. But in verse 22, we’re just given one little sentence. “Her clothing is fine linen and purple.”

We’re not told a lot about the details of how she dresses. But we do know as we put that verse with other verses in God’s Word that the way that we dress communicates a lot about our heart. Now you may not have realized that, and you may have been dressing in ways that communicate some things that are not true of your heart. And what you want to make sure of is that you have a right heart and that the way that you dress outwardly reflects that right, that virtuous heart.

Again, let me just stress all the way through this series on Proverbs 31—we start with the heart. We start with the internal matters. What matters most about this woman is that she reverences God, that she loves God and people and that she’s got a servant’s heart.

But the heart that she has does express itself outwardly in many different ways—in the way that she works and in the way that she uses her time and how she talks—we’ll come to that verse in a later session—and in this verse in the way that she dresses. It’s all a reflection of her heart.

Now this woman, as we said in the last session, does dress in a way that is fitting for her station in life. It’s appropriate. She’s a queen. One old-time author on the book of Proverbs (he’s written a wonderful commentary on the book of Proverbs) says about this matter of clothing that it is possible to pay too little as well as too much attention to the matter of clothing. And again, the enemy tends to send us to one extreme or the other.

The fact that we are inwardly adorned with spiritual graces, with a heart for God, does not mean that the external is unimportant. In fact, the more we have a heart for God, the more that should be reflected in many different ways externally.

This author, Charles Bridges, writing on the book of Proverbs says that, “The wife’s exterior, her appearance, should continue to be not less pleasing than when at first her husband’s heart was drawn to her.”1

That’s a good word of counsel for those of you who are married women. When you were courting or dating (whatever it was called or considered in those days) your husband, you thought about what you wore. And chances are you dressed in a way that you thought he would consider attractive. And this old-time writer says that your appearance should continue to be not less pleasing than when at first his heart was drawn to you.

So as you think about clothing as a married woman, it’s so important to be asking yourself, asking the Lord, and asking your husband what is attractive to him. What pleases him? It’s an unwise, a foolish woman, a self-centered woman who says, “I will dress the way I want to dress regardless of what my husband thinks.”

Your body isn’t your own. You aren’t your own. You are one. You belong to each other. And the heart of love, the heart of devotion, the unselfish heart says, “What would be attractive to you? What would be pleasing to you?”

As a wife it’s so important that you in every way seek to please your husband. And one of those ways is in the way that you dress. As I’ve said in earlier sessions on other matters, if you don’t tend to this matter, there are women who will be happy to dress in a way that will be pleasing to your husband. You can work to create an environment in which your husband is drawn to you and to your home, again for the glory of God.

Now, let me say that not only for married women, but for all of us as women, our clothing is a reflection of our character. We want to dress in a way that reveals the inner clothing. We’re going to see when we come to verse 25 that this woman has the clothing of strength and honor or dignity. There are ways that we are to clothe ourselves inwardly and matters of the heart. But we want that to be reflected in the way we dress.

Now you may not have, and this woman may not have, a closet full of clothes. But we do know that what she has is good quality; and it reflects the beauty and the excellence of God, and the beauty and the excellence of her heart and her character.

Because of what we read about this woman in the whole chapter, we know, we can assume safely, that she has invested time and effort not in making her clothing her first priority, but in making it a priority so it can reflect to others the beauty and the excellence of God and her heart for her family as well.

We can assume that she takes care of her clothing. We can assume that it is neat and that it is clean because that’s the way that this woman is all throughout the chapter. I think it’s not reading anything into the text to say that she cares about the details. But she’s not obsessed with details that are less important than other details. Some details matter more to her than others.

Again, God has to show us how to strike this balance. That’s where it’s so important to walk in the Spirit and not to let someone else tell you, “This is what this means for you.” Ask the Lord to show you how to walk in balance and how to be sensitive to what would be pleasing to the Lord for you at your season of life.

The way that you dress does send a message. It reflects on your own character. As I watch some of these young women today I think, “Don’t you realize the wonder that it is to be a woman? Don’t you know that God made you to be beautiful—beautiful in His eyes, beautiful in heart?”

The way that you dress reflects on others. In this passage, Proverbs 31, we see that everything that this woman does reflects on her husband. We’re going to see that he is known in the gates. He has a reputation. Everything about this woman has helped to enhance rather than to detract from her husband’s reputation. That includes her clothing.

The way that you dress reflects on your husband; it reflects on your children. And most importantly, it reflects on your God. We need to ask the Lord what’s pleasing to Him. This woman doesn’t want to embarrass her husband. She doesn’t want to reflect negatively on him, and nor does she want to draw inordinate attention to herself. It’s only as we walk in the Spirit and are sensitive to God’s work in our hearts that we know where that line is for us.

As we go to the Scripture, we see that the New Testament gives us some clear standards, both Old and New Testaments in fact, that our clothing is to be different from that of men, that there should be a distinction between women’s dress and men’s dress. When I’m talking about that I’m speaking even of hairstyles as well, that we want to dress in ways that are distinctively feminine.

Again, I can’t tell you exactly what that means in this culture and where you live and for your lifestyle, but I can say ask the Lord to show you how to dress in ways that are feminine. He made you a woman. Enjoy it.

First Timothy and Titus tell us that we should apply the standards of modesty, of soberness, what is proper, what is sensible, of moderation and of discretion.

So as you look into your closet, ask yourself (and if you’re married ask your husband to help you look at your wardrobe), “Lord, what message is being sent through the clothes that I wear? Am I dressing in a way that would seek to bring glory and attention to the Lord, or am I dressing in a way that seeks to bring attention to myself? Am I going to extremes, or am I dressing in way that is sober, proper, sensible as the New Testament says?”

It’s not the thing that matters most about the virtuous woman, but it’s one thing that does matter.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been discussing an issue that affects each of us as women.

What does my clothing say about the state of my heart? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Have you ever asked it while looking at your closet? It’s a very helpful question to ask, and Nancy’s written a booklet to guide you through the process. It’s called “The Look,” and it could transform the way you evaluate your clothing choices.

Thousands of women have benefited from this booklet, and they try to navigate confusing messages about fashion and modesty. Nancy writes from a balanced, biblical perspective, which you’ll find helpful. “The Look” is an easy read. It’ll take you through a series of true or false questions to get you thinking about the topic, show you what Scripture has to say, and then lead you to draw some conclusions for yourself as you consider your wardrobe.

As we enter March, it’s a perfect time to read this booklet, since stores gear up for the summer fashion season early. You can order “The Look” for yourself, but you might also want to read it with a daughter or another young woman in your life. It would be perfect for a small group of women at your church.

Get more information at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Whether you’re married or single, you can be a complement to the men around you. I don’t just mean giving compliments. I’m talking about being a complement. Find out how when Nancy picks up The Counter-Cultural Woman Monday. Now she’s back to pray.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, more than anything else we want to be women who are clothed with wisdom and purity and humility. We want to adorn Your gospel by the way that we carry ourselves, in the way that our hearts express themselves. But we also recognize that our literal, physical clothing communicates as well.

I pray that You would show us by the power of Your Holy Spirit how to dress, that You would give us wisdom in how Your Word should apply to our lives. Show us how to dress in ways that are womanly, modest, appropriate. And may always our motive be to draw glory to You so that the world can look at us and be drawn to You and say, “I want to know the God, the Lord, the Savior that she serves.” I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.

1Charles Bridges, A Commentary on Proverbs (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1998).

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Join the Discussion