I recently read a heartbreaking article written by an anonymous sister in Christ. In this article, the woman spoke about the Proverbs 31 woman and how trying to mimic this picture perfect woman is nothing short of exhausting! She said that simply reading Proverbs 31 made her want to give up, sit down and take a nap.
She went on describing the many wonderful qualities of this wonder woman and in a rather sarcastic tone, talked about how she didn’t understand why any woman would do all these praiseworthy things! Where was the motivation?
Then she came to the second sentence in verse 28, “and he praises her.” Suddenly it became clear to her: the Proverbs 31 woman was happy to be such a blessing to her family because her husband praised her for it! That makes sense right? Well, it made more sense after I kept reading the article. You see, this sister went on to explain that in forty years of marriage, she had never, not once, ever received praise from her husband.
This dear woman confessed she had no motivation to live out the example of the Proverbs 31 woman, because her husband didn’t live out the example of verse 28.
I admit my heart breaks for this woman. How sad that, after forty years of marriage, her husband has yet to give her praise. But, what breaks my heart even more is that her husband is her motivation.
Verses 29 – 30 say this, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Did you catch that? A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the Proverbs 31 woman was motivated by her Heavenly Father, not her earthly husband.
Our motivation must be the Lord, and only the Lord, every day, every time, no matter the task.
I can think of no better motivation than Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Matthew 5:16 tells us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”
It doesn’t say let your light so shine before men so that they may see your good works and praise you for it. It does, however, say let your light shine before men so that when they see your good works it glorifies your Father in Heaven.
Glorifying God should be our motivation, not receiving praise from man.
I could certainly say a thing or two to this husband who has never given praise to his wife. He hardly seems to be living out his charge to love his wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). But as wives, we can’t be a blessing to our husbands only because they praise us for our efforts.
With that being said I, like most wives, can relate to this. I’ve had my fair share of moments when I thought, “Why should I do this or that when no one seems to notice?” But those are the moments when I’m telling myself the lie that I deserve praise, and that in that praise I will find my self-worth.
When I instead think to myself, “I’m so thankful that God blessed me with a home to maintain and a family to care for,” my entire attitude changes. Suddenly I don’t really care if they notice all the little things I do, because now I’m doing those little things out of response to the love my Heavenly Father has shown me. He has given me a family to care for, so I’m going to care for them to best of my ability – to honor Him.
I had a friend tell me once that every day when her husband came home from work, she immediately thanked him for working hard and supporting their family. But one day she realized that he had stopped thanking her for staying home with their kids and taking care of their house. So guess what? She stopped thanking him because he had stopped thanking her. Round and round it goes….
The ugly truth is, people disappoint. I have complete confidence that I disappoint my husband and, thankfully, I have complete confidence that he takes his charge to love me as Christ loves the church seriously, despite my shortcomings as a wife! We cannot be each other’s motivation!
Think about Jesus…think about Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
What if, instead, that verse said, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: Once everyone loves Him and honors Him the way He deserves to be loved and honored, Christ will die for them.”
That would change everything, wouldn’t it? Jesus would still be waiting to make that sacrifice! But the reality is, Christ died for us, not while we were on our knees praising Him, but while we were running away from Him with hard and rebellious hearts.
When we understand how God demonstrated his love for us…when we understand the sacrifice he made while we were still dead in our sin…we understand that God, and only God, can be our motivation. We must remind ourselves that our worth is found in Christ, not in the praise of man, and that our goal, in all that we do, should be to honor Him.