|Volume 21 Number 5 May 2019||
Gary C. Hampton
It is obvious King Lemuel’s mother wanted the best for her son (Proverbs 31). She warned him against improper relationships with women and the dangers of alcohol when carrying out the important duties of a king. She also gave him a beautiful picture of the type of woman who would make a wonderful wife.
The worthy woman has her family’s respect. Her husband places his full trust in her. “She does him good and not evil All the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12). She is such a help to him that he is known among the leaders of the city in which he lives (Proverbs 31:23). Her children speak well of her, and her husband praises her (Proverbs 31:28-29).
The wise use of money is characteristic of the worthy woman. Her hands are busily at work, toiling well into the night making yarn (Proverbs 31:13, 16-19). Her labors include making things to sell to merchants. She watches her family and provides for their needs (Proverbs 31:24, 27).
Food will be prepared for her family, even when it means getting up well before the sun rises (Proverbs 31:14-15). Every member of her household has warm clothing. She strives to look nice, wearing fine linen and purple (Proverbs 31:21-22).
The words of a worthy woman are filled with wisdom and kindness (Proverbs 31:26). She is not like the young widow who spends her time gossiping and telling others how to conduct their business (1 Timothy 5:13). She would not be a false accuser like the devil (Titus 2:3).
Reverent service to the Lord is the worthy woman’s most beautiful attribute (Proverbs 31:30). She cares for the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:20). The good works of a worthy woman are well spoken of in the gates of the city, where the leaders sit (Proverbs 31:31).
We are blessed beyond measure by mothers who are worthy women. Praise God! We should regularly give thanks for our mothers and strive to imitate their hard work and reverence for God.
A Role for Us All
“There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem” (Mark 15:40-41). It is true, when you examine the pages of Scripture, that Jesus did not appoint any woman to serve in the capacity of an apostle during His earthly ministry. Spiritual headship in the kingdom of God has been assigned to males (1 Corinthians 14:33-35; 1 Timothy 2:8, 11-15). This doesn’t mean, however, that the role God has given women is unimportant or unnecessary. What a needed part the women mentioned in the above Scripture had to play in Christ being able to fulfill His work as Savior! The term in the Greek translated “minister” means to do anyone a service, care for someone’s needs and is an inferred service rendered, bringing advantage to others, to help. They offered real benefit to Christ.
What are some of the ways they ministered to Jesus? Luke pointed out, “…and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means” (Luke 8:3). Those who had financial means helped support Jesus that He could be free to fully carry out the will of God. There were no doubt other tasks they did to His benefit. Mark mentions the concern certain of them had with His crucifixion and of making sure His body was properly prepared for burial (Mark 15:47-16:1). They had stayed with Him during the entirety of His death and were the first witnesses to His resurrection (Luke 24:1-10; John 20:11-18), as well as reporting it first to the apostles.
The women who followed Christ exemplify what true service is. In ancient society, women did not occupy a place of importance to many. They were considered weak, both physically and emotionally. Yet, Jesus elevated them as worthy followers of Him. Paul emphasized how the forgiveness of Christ was as applicable to them as to anyone else. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Peter spoke of women as “fellow heirs of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). We can point to the example of Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, who took Apollos and explained to him “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Paul said they also risked their lives for his life (Romans 16:4). Consider Lydia, who obeyed the Gospel in Philippi and opened her home to her fellow Christians (Acts 16:40). Remember Phoebe, of whom Paul said, using the same terminology that was used to speak of those women who followed Jesus, was a servant of the church (Romans 16:1).
God has a place of service for each of us in His kingdom. It is not the specific role that He has given us that matters but having a heart for ministry and a willingness to do one’s best for Him, whatever that role may be, is what really matters. Both the apostles and the women who followed had a part to play in God’s will through Christ, and everyone has something to offer today as well. May we all be as Paul commended in Ephesians 5:1-2. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Like Christ, be His servant and find the abundant life He offers (John 10:10).