Proverbs 31: Stewardship in Marriage
How can you and your husband be wise stewards of the blessings God has provided you?
One of the top stressors in marriage is finances. How much we have (or don’t have) and how to spend it can affect every other area of married life. Having a financially healthy marriage doesn’t require wealth, but a unified view of how you’ll steward your blessings. We can take guidance from the wise woman who planted a vineyard in Proverbs 31. Her story illustrates she had a long-term goal and did not expect immediate gratification.
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This Week's Readings
Proverbs 31: Stewardship in Marriage
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
My friend Linda declares that the woman described in Proverbs 31 has to be a military wife! The woman is the definition of resourceful—and she can be intimidating. You have met this military wife, haven’t you? She is in great physical shape and runs in every charity race. She volunteers for countless community activities while operating her own home-based business. She opens her home for gatherings after spending the day taking cookies to troops in military billets. She is at every military function, always dressed in red, white, and blue. Perhaps I exaggerate.
The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom. Put wisdom into practice and Proverbs 31:10–31 will be the result. The woman of Proverbs 31 does not describe a particular woman, but an ideal. She is an example to instruct both women and men on the path of wisdom. The Hebrew language describes her as a woman of valor. She is not portrayed as passive or self-indulgent, but as wise and conscientious. She is a woman of substance and courage. The term translated as excellent wife is from the Hebrew word hayil. Referring to physical strength and bravery, hayil is commonly associated with those who serve with courage and loyalty—including those serving in the military.
One message of Proverbs 31:10 is that people are worth more than money or things. We must keep the perspective that the worth of a person and the worth of a relationship are far greater than mere money in the bank. When you read the description of this woman, you see her value lies in her personal qualities of diligence and intelligence, not in the material wealth she gained.
Among the top stressors of marriage is the availability and stewardship of a couple’s financial resources. Stresses related to finances can affect every other area of married life. But you do not have to be financially wealthy to be financially healthy. You only need a united view of the way you will steward your resources.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with “1” being unhealthy and “10” being very healthy, where would you rate your financial health? What do you and your husband need to do to get closer to 10?
Lord, thank you for all you have provided my family. Help us to be wise stewards of the provisions with which you have blessed us. Amen.
He Trusts Her Completely
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
Michele is a young woman I met during a retreat for deployed spouses. I watched her through the week we were together. She was fully present for her two daughters even though frequent issues arose from her home-based business. She calmly dealt with the issues, working hard to tie up loose ends so she could take part in the retreat sessions and enjoy free time with her girls. I will be the first to shout from the rooftops that military wives are among the most resourceful women on the planet, and in Michele I met the leader of the pack. I’ve continued to watch Michele via social media as she welcomed her husband home following deployment and continues to blossom in her career. Her industrious ways remind me of the woman in Proverbs 31:11–12.
I dare say Michele’s husband celebrates her value to him not because of the money she makes from her successful business, but in the complete trust he has in her. Her husband is a warrior in the U.S. military, but Michele is a warrior of a different kind. The word used in this passage for “gain” is another military term. The literal meaning in Hebrew is spoils of war. The woman in Proverbs 31 is like a warrior who brings home loot from her victories. She makes sure her family has everything they need to survive.
This woman is not fighting a losing battle with a credit card balance or uncontrolled spending. No, she fights tenaciously and effectively to bring in resources. Her husband has confidence that her battles in this arena are for the good of their family.
Trust, of course, is a two-way street. I remind you: this passage may be written about a woman, but the wisdom taught is for all. Finances will be an issue in marriage if there is a low level of trust between both husband and wife.
What kind of battle are you and your husband fighting in the area of finances? Can you both say you trust each other where money is concerned?
Lord, sometimes I do not agree with how my husband spends money, and sometimes he does not agree with how I spend money. Help us to respect and trust each other. Guide us as we become better managers of the resources you have placed in our hands. Amen.
She Works Willingly
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
As I look up from my computer, my eyes fall upon a vignette of blue and white objects. Each one tells a story from my military journey. I see the vase I purchased in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the plates with images of famous places where we lived in Wiesbaden, Germany, the mug from Japan, the platter from Korea, the ginger jar from Hong Kong, and the lapis box my husband sent from Afghanistan.
I enjoyed collecting my blue and white treasures from around the world, but a house of international mementos is not what is communicated in Proverbs 31:13–14. I am afraid that I sometimes do not have “willing hands” or a joyful spirit for trips closer to home to purchase household supplies. I know others enjoy going to the grocery store. I am not that girl.
The good thing for me is that I do not have to be that girl. Between my husband and me, one of us will go to the grocery store. (Fortunately, he likes to make that trip—it is one of the many reasons I love him!) The point is not whether or not I like to go to the grocery store; the point is whether I am a person who is willing to meet the needs of my family. The heart and goal of the entire chapter is found in these two verses. The focus of this woman of wisdom is not to collect personal treasures but to do whatever her willing hands need to do to care for her family.
What does it mean to you to “work with willing hands”? In what ways do you and your husband “work with willing hands” to provide for the needs of your family?
Lord, help me to always remember that people are more important than things. Help my family know they are a priority and a blessing in my life. Amen.
She Invests Wisely
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
I know many military wives who travel to an upcoming duty station to rent or purchase a home sans husband. Words like equity, escrow, amortization, earnest money, HUD, VHA, and closing costs do not intimidate these warrior sisters. They are like the woman who buys a field in Proverbs 31.
I am not suggesting you aspire to make such a big decision as purchasing a house on your own. What I will suggest is that you follow the example described in Proverbs 31:16. Whether alone or together, you need to follow two principles we see described in this verse.
First, give proper consideration before making a major purchase. Decide if this is the best thing for you to do at this time. In the case of a home, weigh the competing factors of buying, renting, or living on a military installation. During my husband’s first military assignment, we had assumed that buying a home was the best thing to do. We met with a realtor and even put earnest money down for a house. We knew nothing about military life and did not realize that our quality of life would be higher if we lived on that particular military installation. When we realized this, we ended up having to give up our earnest money to live in military quarters, but we have never regretted that decision. We have not always lived on military installations, but at that time it was the best choice.
We see the second principle in the way the wise woman in Proverbs 31:16 planted a vineyard. She had a long-term goal and did not expect immediate gratification. You do not get fruit right after planting. It will often be years before you can profit from mature crops. The principle is to look ahead at how major financial decisions will affect your future.
Your family’s financial situation needs to strengthen you as a family unit. Your confidence in each other will grow with each good decision. You can better enjoy what you have today when you view it as an investment in your future. Soon you can be in a position to do the things you want, have the things you need, and live in generosity because you do not live paycheck to paycheck.
What is your family plan for major purchases? What kind of financial plan do you have for the future?
Lord, you are my provider. My husband and I need your help to have the discipline to develop a financial plan for the future. Strengthen our will to be debt-free and know the joy of financial freedom. Amen.
She Gives Generously
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
Did you know that the more generous married spouses are to each other, the happier they are? It is true. The National Marriage Project has confirmed that having an attitude of generosity and forgiveness helps to protect a marriage. Research also confirms that generosity within a marriage begets generosity outside of marriage. Couples who are generous to one another will in turn be generous to others.
You can see this principle at work in the life of the Proverbs 31 family. A generous spirit was at work in this home. The wife was diligent and worked hard to provide for her family and prepare for her future, but she was not blind to those in need around her. She used her hands to work hard, but those same hands reached out to the poor and needy. She worked so she could give.
Generosity takes many forms. The word poor in Proverbs 31:20 can apply both to the financial or emotional state of a person. The generous person extends a hand to give what they can out of their resources of time, talent, or treasure. A married couple needs to agree upon the amount of time, talent, or treasure they will share with others.
The ability to share some of your resources with others can only come when you are able to manage those resources. No indication is given that the Proverbs 31 woman ignored her family or other obligations. In addition to meeting their needs, she found ways to help those who needed her help. The generosity this family shared with others was an overflow of the generosity they shared with one another.
Have you seen the benefits of generosity inside and outside of marriage? What principles of giving do you find in these Scriptures?
- Proverbs 11:25
- Proverbs 19:17
- Hebrews 13:16
- 2 Corinthians 9:7
Lord, I pray that my husband and I would be generous. Give us both the desire to budget our money and our schedules so we can give to meet the needs of others. Open our hearts to give out of the abundance of what you have given us in talent, time, and treasure. Amen.
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