Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Proverbs 31 says the husband of a virtuous wife will rise up and call her blessed—kind of like this man is doing.

Man: My wife is the perfect wife, and it’s not because she is perfect in the sense of being without sin, but she is the perfect wife for me. She is the one that God chose for me, I know without question. I can say without any reservation that the heart of her husband safely trusts in her. For that reason, I don’t need to go out and seek wicked gain or seek to achieve things in a way that is not godly or principled or does not exhibit Christ-like character.

I know that everything I do will be acceptable to her as long as it typifies Christ and exalts His righteousness. So I do trust in my wife and I thank the Lord for my wife. We are not two people who live under the same house but go in different ways. We are two people who became one at the marriage altar and we have enjoyed life more every day that we have lived it for these 36 years. I thank the Lord for my wife.

Leslie: It’s Wednesday, March 14th, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. For the last few weeks, Nancy’s been showing you insights from Proverbs 31. Some of the suggestions may seem very wise but hard to put into practice. If you do act on these difficult lifestyle changes, there will be great rewards. Here’s Nancy to explain.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As we’ve been working our way slowly through Proverbs 31, you may have found yourself wondering at points, “What do I get out of this?” I mean, here’s a woman who’s always giving, always serving, always thinking about others, and as you read through the passage . . . I hope you have been reading with us. Each day I challenged you to read Proverbs 31 for 31 days in a row.

The thing that stands out to you is that here is a woman who is just totally centered on the needs of others. She’s a giver. She’s a servant. She’s a lover. But in the recesses of our hearts, we have to wonder at moments, “Do I get anything out of this? What’s the reward? What’s the benefit?”

If you go and take a job outside of your home, you get a paycheck every week or two weeks or month or whatever. You work and then you see the reward for your work, and you see it pretty quickly. You may even see it before your paycheck because your boss is going to say, “Thanks, you’ve done a good job,” or “I appreciate that.” But then you go home to your work and it may be a long time before you feel like you’re seeing the paycheck, the reward, the benefit.

Now, in an ideal world, if we were really virtuous women, we wouldn’t care about the paycheck. Right? We’d just be serving because we love to serve. We love God. We love people. That’s the kind of heart we want to have. But I’m so glad that the Scripture lets us know that there is a paycheck coming. There is a reward. There is a benefit. There is a blessing to be had by committing ourselves to live life God’s way.

We ought to want to serve the Lord, and we ought to be committed to serve Him if we never saw the benefit. If we’re serving just for the benefit, then what we really are is paid lovers of God. That’s not what I want to be. I want to love God just because He’s God. Just because He’s worthy. But I’m thankful that God graciously does allow us to reap benefits and blessings when we surrender ourselves to His way of thinking.

At long last, in Proverbs 31, we’re coming to the last paragraph, which is the section that tells us about the rewards of being a woman of virtue. Now, these rewards don’t all come at the same time and none of them come quickly. You have to be patient. You have to endure. You have to go through a lot of tears and heartache and pain and hard labor to get the rewards in much the same way magnified . . . There’s no way—those of you that are mothers—that you could have brought a child into this world without going through labor.

But the reward now of having that life, having that child, makes it worth having gone through that labor and that pain. I want to say that in God’s time, the reward of choosing to live life God’s way as a woman will make all the pain, all the effort, all the hardship, all the heartache worth it.

But you can’t get to the reward without having gone through the process of becoming that kind of woman any more than you can have a baby without going through the process of labor and delivery. There are no shortcuts.

The problem is today people bail out on their marriages. They bail out on their families because there’s no reward in it. They didn’t wait long enough. They wanted the reward now. They wanted it instantly. They wanted to have after three years of marriage what you can’t have until you’ve been married 30, 40, 50 years.

I’m watching some of my elderly friends now, I mean old people who now, after having been married 60 or more years, are reaping in their marriage sweet and precious things in their relationship that are richer than what they ever experienced in their younger years.

So I want to challenge you no matter how hard it is right now, no matter how laborious, no matter how much labor there is, don’t throw in the towel. Hang in there. The reward is coming. We’re going to look at that reward today and in the next few sessions.

Let’s look at verse 28. We see how this woman works and how she serves and how she gives. She doesn’t go to bed at night and she gets up early in the morning and all these things that we think of as the Proverbs 31 woman. But verse 28 tells us, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Now, let’s focus first on this matter of her children and then we’ll look at the husband’s praise. Her children rise up and call her blessed. Let me say before jumping into that that I realize there are some women who would desperately love to be able to have children. Some women have not been able to have children or they’re not married. God has not brought a husband into their life.

Can I say to you as a single woman that God can bring you the rewards and the joys of motherhood if you have been making choices that are according to God’s will for your life. Now, it’s one thing if you said, “I’m not going to be a mother. I don’t want to have children. I’m not willing to accept those blessings from the Lord.”

But if your desire has been to be a mother, to have children, to be a nurturer of life, God will provide for you, as He has for me, opportunities and means of being a nurturer, a giver. You will be able to reap, I believe, the rewards of having a mother’s heart.

It may be that you take other people’s children under your wing and you encourage and pray for them and be a cheerleader for other moms. You’ll share in the reward that those moms have. It may be that God gives you other younger women that you can nurture and disciple in their faith. You’ll share in the rewards of a mom.

But here we’re talking about mothers and children. Her children rise up and call her blessed. Here’s a woman who’s rewarded. She’s loved. She’s praised. If you keep in mind the Middle Eastern culture in which this passage was originally written, this is really surprising because there was very little said in this culture in praise of women. The Scripture and the Lord and Christ have always elevated the value and the worth of women in a culture. That’s what this passage does for us.

Now, think about her children rising up and calling her blessed. What does that mean? Well, I’m going to tell you first of all what it doesn’t necessarily mean. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your children will wake up every morning and say, “Mother dear, thank you for all that you do for me. What a wonderful mother you are.” Because if you had that reward, we wouldn’t need to have this whole series. Everybody would just love being a mother all the time, right?

They rise up and call her blessed. It doesn’t necessarily mean that when you walk in the room, your children all stand up to show you how much they respect and honor you, though I would say that’s not a bad idea.

More likely, it means that your children grow up to live in a way that brings blessing and credit and honor to their mother. That the way they live when they become adults will reflect positively on the investment that you made in their lives and the way that you brought them up. It means that your children have a better chance than anyone else’s children of growing up to live godly lives and to fulfill God’s role for them in their homes. The fruit of your children’s lives as they grow to walk with God is your blessing. Her children rise up and their lives call her blessed.

I love that passage in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 19, where Paul says, thinking of his spiritual children, “For what is our hope, or joy, or our crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you [the ones we’ve discipled, the ones we’ve nurtured] in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and our joy.” Those of you who have children who have grown up to walk with God, aren’t they your joy and your blessing?

Now, this is not a promise that every child who grows up in a Christian or a godly home will grow up to fear and honor the Lord because they will have the responsibility of making their own choices to follow Christ even as you have had to choose to follow Christ. But I think it does say that this is the way that it ought to be. This is the way, by God’s grace, you pray that it will be, that your children will grow up to reflect in a godly way on what you have invested in their lives.

I think, for example, of a mom who sent me recently on email a poem that her college-age daughter wrote. This mom and her daughter were discussing things about women and women’s roles and why God made women. After that discussion, this college-age daughter went to her room and wrote this poem for her mother. It’s called A Calling.

The daughter said:

I know a woman who lived a truth she found in Proverbs 31, and as she lived
She proclaimed it with all her being.
Arise women! You can be beautiful as God created you to be!
Surrender your lives to the task, Oh women, we are here to serve Him!
So, give your body to bear His glory!
[That’s what this daughter had heard from her mom.]
Give your hands to comfort and prepare, your mouth to teach and your arms to bear
The weight of your children’s woes. Be the fuel to your husband’s flame and help him
Cast its light. And be the one on bended knees—you are God’s precious bride!
So, go to the Father to find who you are, and not to this world of deception.
For He has a beauty to make out of you, so surrender, surrender.
While our world is quickly extinguishing all that we women long to be,
I see one who stands unyielding in God’s truth and grace and plan.
Truth with no excuses.
What is a woman of God? What is the call to motherhood?
What does it mean to be a godly wife who serves?
I don’t really know . . . . but have you met my mother?

This mom told me that when her daughter brought this to her, she just lost it. She just lost it. And this daughter signed, “P.S.: [to her mom] You are my inspiration to someday be selfless and humble. A mother who knows why she is a mother and does it with joy . . . Thank you! I love you.”

“Her children rise up and call her blessed.” And that is a mother’s great reward.

Many of you are familiar with the name of Bill Bright—Dr. Bright, the founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ. He tells the story about his mother who was what many would consider an ordinary woman. As Mrs. Bright lay dying at age 93, no fewer than 109 members of her family—that was children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great, great-grandchildren—109 of them made their way one after the other to her bedside to express love and appreciation for her life. They did it before the funeral. They came back to say thank you. Her children, her family rose up to call her blessed.

But verse 28 goes on to tell us that her husband does as well. He praises her. He says, verse 29, “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” You surpass them all. You’re the greatest. You’re the best.

Charles Spurgeon—many of you know that name—great British preacher of the 1800s, wrote a tribute to his wife Susannah. Here’s in part what he said:

She delights in her husband. [Now this is the husband writing about his wife.] She delights in her husband, in his person, his character, his affection; to her, he is not only the chief and foremost of mankind, but in her eyes, he is all in all.

Her heart’s love belongs to him and to him only. He is her little world, her paradise, her choice treasure. She is glad to sink her individuality in him; she seeks no renown for herself; his honor is reflected upon her, and she rejoices in it. She will defend his name with her dying breath; safe enough is he where she can speak for him. His smiling gratitude is all the reward she seeks. Even in her dress she thinks of him, and considers nothing beautiful which is distasteful to him.

He has many objects in life, some of which she does not quite understand; but she believes them all, and anything she can do to promote them, she delights to perform. Such a wife, as a true spouse, realizes the model marriage relation, and sets forth what our oneness with the Lord ought to be.1

Here’s a man who was saying in effect, “My wife surpasses them all.” She had earned that respect. She had earned that honor because she was a woman who didn’t live for herself, but she lived to be a blessing and a service and a helper—a support—to her husband and to their children.

Now that tribute is written in language that’s a little bit difficult for us to grasp because it’s 150 years old or so, but we asked a number of Christian men if they’d be willing to share with us their tribute to their wife to express what their wife means to them. Here’s what some of those men had to say:

Man 1: I’ve given my wife a new nickname. It’s MBAW. I know that’s a little strange, but it captures who she is and who she’s becoming. We’ve been married 12 years, and we’ve learned an awful lot about each other, about God, about marriage and about trials.

As I was thinking about this, I wondered if today were the day that I was laying on my back and she gripped my hand in those final moments of breath here on earth, I would look at her and thank her for her smile. Her eyes are like blue topaz when she grins.

I love the way that her jaw drops when I surprise her, and I love to hear her sing songs with our kids. The look on her face when our kids hug her is just incredible. So my wife is MBAW, which translated is the “Most Beloved Among Women.”

Man 2: Debbie rises early, perhaps at 5:00 in the morning. She likes to take her Bible and sit down with any Bible studies that she might be doing and kind of clear her mind for the day. It’s almost like she needs to set her emotions and her attitude straight in order to face the issues of the day. Then she might go for a walk with one of our neighbors and get some physical exercise.

Usually before I go to work, Debbie and I will just take five minutes and talk to each other and say, “How can I pray for you today? What are you facing that is difficult?” She’ll ask me those same questions and then we’ll just briefly pray for each other and remind ourselves that we care spiritually for each other.

Man 3: Lori and I have been married for 20 years. When we first got married, we tried to have each other fill the void that was in our heart that God meant for only Him to fill. We just kept struggling and our marriage was really in trouble for quite a few years. Then after I just let her down and disappointed her so many times, she finally realized that only God can fill that void in her heart, and she finally turned to God to fill that void.

Over the years that she continues to look to God and continues to pray to God for that void, God has just filled her heart with such a compassion and excitement for God that she doesn’t have to rely on me and my silly moods. She now has God in that void, just like God wanted her to. She has just become such a godly woman and just such a beautiful person in Christ that our kids can see it and I can see it.

Anybody who knows Lori just knows that she has a heart for God. Everything with her is just, “What can we do to point those kids toward God and make their faith their own,” just like she finally has been able to do herself.

Man 4: One of the things that just is so special about Ann is that she is just so other-centered in our family. I think of my daughter who several years ago had some real difficult emotional and physical things she was going through. Ann just locked arms with our daughter and walked through some very difficult times with her, but really put her own needs aside. Just died to herself and gave herself to her daughter.

Recently, I was also in the hospital for almost 2½ weeks and Ann made her own little bed in the sofa in the hospital room there everyday and cared for my every need, just setting her own interests and needs aside and really meeting the needs of mine, which were pretty great at that time.

Man 5: The maturity I’ve seen in her to trust God for whatever the problem might be. There’s an underlying foundation there of being secure and being aware that God is in charge and God loves us and God is the basis for our marriage.

Nancy: What a wonderful illustration these men have given us of the fact that the virtuous woman’s husband praises his wife. “Many daughters have done well,” he says, “but you excel them all.”

Now, as we look at a passage like this one we’ve been seeing in Proverbs 31, I’m tempted to speak to men for just a moment and say, “What this passage means is you need to praise your wives.” But you know what, God didn’t call me to speak to men. God did call me to speak to women, so what does this passage say to us as women? It says that if you will watch your walk with God, the time will come when there will be a reward.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “But my husband doesn’t praise me. I’m trying to please my husband. I’m trying to please the Lord.” Maybe your husband’s not a believer. Maybe your husband isn’t walking with the Lord. What if your husband doesn’t have a walk with God and may never praise you in the way that we’ve just heard from some of these other men?

Let me just say two things to encourage you. First of all, no matter what the spiritual condition of your husband, you can still walk with God. You can still live out God’s standard for what it means to be a woman of virtue, a woman of noble character. Secondly, remember that ultimately your praise comes not from a man, but from God. God’s Word promises that a woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised. You see it’s worth it to fear the Lord, reverence the Lord, walk with God whether or not you ever hear another human being praise you for it.

So Paul tells us in Colossians 3:22 serve “heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Sooner or later if you’re walking with God, you will be praised. The woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

Leslie: If you spend your life serving other people as unto the Lord, some days will feel like drudgery. On other days, you’ll receive great encouragement and reward. I hope you felt encouragement today as you heard tributes to women who have been faithfully serving for so many years.

Today’s program is part of the study from Nancy Leigh DeMoss on Proverbs 31. The series is called The Counter-Cultural Woman. Hearing this material from Nancy on the radio will be very helpful to your life. But would you take it a step further?

One next step is to read Proverbs 31 every day for 31 days. Nancy’s been giving us that challenge. Another step is to study what other Scriptures say about serving the Lord in uniquely feminine ways. Nancy will help you do just that in a booklet called A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood.

This booklet would be perfect for your personal Bible study. Nancy brings up topics such as how does a woman of God conduct herself? Then she offers Scriptures that speak to each question. If you were to take one question per day meditating on the Scriptures listed, you would find yourself becoming more and more like the woman we’ve been reading about.

A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood comes in packs of ten. It’s because you need to read a copy and then you need to share it with nine other friends. Help them think through what it means to be a woman of God.

For more information, ask for packs of A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood when you call this number: 1-800-569-5959, or look for it at ReviveOurHearts.com. I hope you can be back tomorrow. Get some tips on developing beauty that will never fade. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.

1Cited in The John MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 Timothy (Moody, 1995), 209-210.

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