Proverbs 31 is a chapter of the Bible which talks in depth about the characteristics of an excellent and godly wife. So it is naturally brought out at women's conferences, women's bible studies, and in books addressed to women.
But men here's a newsflash for you: Proverbs 31 was written to men.
It starts off by saying, "An excellent wife who can find?" So it assumes that men are the ones who need an education on what an amazing woman really looks like. Is this surprising? Who can argue that all young men need a readjustment on their view of which characteristics make a woman amazing, exceptional, godly, and special. I know I did in my teen and 20's!
Now don't get me wrong. I love the women who study Proverbs 31 and pattern their life after it. I'm just writing to the MEN who have neglected it.
If you ask young men what they are looking for in a potential girlfriend/hangout partner/wife the list would probably reflect some version of:
1. Hotness (because of shallowness)
2. Limited "Drama" (because of laziness)
3. Good Job/Family/Class (because of prejudice)
But it should not be surprising to find the Bible pressing our cultural expectations. And if I may add, having been married for over a decade I've watched the marriages of many friends come and go, and I've been blessed by marrying a woman who rocks Proverbs 31. So here are several principles MEN need to take away from Proverbs 31.
1. Stop Being So Passive!
Now I want to be crystal clear here that the opposite of being passive isn't being aggressive, it's taking initiative. Proverbs 31 implies that you should be searching for an excellent wife! Stop living in the friend zone. Ask some ladies out. Get a job, get married, have lots of babies. Don't wait for women to approach you. The Bible says that an excellent wife is far more precious than jewels (v.10), so take some initiative and go find her. It never says anything like that about the perfect job, or a nice car, or a great vacation. After your decision about Jesus, finding an excellent wife is the #1 thing that will shape the quality of your entire life.
2. Find a Woman Who Loves Jesus
"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (v.30) I've personally seen the marriages of my friends and family dissolve because of problems, conflict and affairs. Only a wife who loves Jesus will have the forgiveness and resiliency necessary to stick with your stupidity and sin over the years. On top of that a woman who loves Jesus will have the Holy Spirit guiding her to repent consistently, guard her heart, and love you selflessly. Do yourself a favor. Love yourself. Find a wife who loves Jesus.
3. Look for a Hardworking Woman
"[she] does not eat the bread of idleness" (v.27). Perhaps more than any other characteristic, Proverbs 31 surprises us with just how STRONGLY it commends a hardworking wife. It's all over the chapter. Having married a very hard worker, men, let me tell you that this was probably not even on the list of things I was looking for when I was dating, but as a married man it's in the top 3 now. Surprising? Well, marriage is work and raising kids is 5 times the work. I came home from a business trip this week and my wife, who had been watching our 3 kids alone, had cleaned the house, worked on her master's degree, done the dishes, talked a church member through a problem, washed laundry, and cooked a meal so that I wouldn't have to spend money by eating on the way home. That doesn't happen without some hard work!
4. Look for Strong Character
The rest of the chapter mentions numerous other things about the excellent wife. She is generous (v.20), not a worrier (v.21,25), is dignified (25), speaks with wisdom and kindness (v.26). In other words she has a strong character. One day you will both be old. One day you will both be wrinkly. Find a woman who will be more of a treasure after 35 years because of her character, not less of a treasure because her beauty has faded.
There's undoubtedly more that can be said. And in many ways I'm just writing this to my past self. But I hope to inspire young men to think about wives and marriage the way that God does.