6. SEVEN (7) KEY TRAITS OF A VIRTUOUS WOMAN
There are many virtues which characterize a virtuous woman, some of which have been highlighted in Proverbs 31 and other scriptures in the Bible. However, although such a woman is not perfect and will make mistakes from time to time because she is a sinful human being, there are seven (7) key virtues, in my estimation, that are generally true of such a woman, as follows:-
1. SHE EMBRACES SUBMISSION
She submits to God’s will, way and purpose for her life, first and foremost and as a result of this, she does not run from earthly submission but embraces it. She therefore submits and aims to submit to all forms of God-given authority, namely, authority in the Church, authority in the workplace, authority in government and most importantly, if she is married, she respectfully submits to the authority of her husband. For, she understands and accepts that God has given him the role of leadership in the home and that he expects her to be obedient to him, provided this does not go against scripture.
This does not mean that she is a doormat or that the husband is to rule over her with an iron fist, having no regard for how she feels, what her needs are and what she would like. Based on scripture, he is supposed to lovingly and humbly lead his family and as was evident in the Proverbs 31 virtuous woman example, what the wife has to say, how she feels and what she would like to do are important and worthy to be considered. For, the marriage is really a partnership of equals in terms of significance.
This was perfectly demonstrated in the biblical example of Sarah and Abraham. Sarah we are told from 1 Peter 3:6, obeyed Abraham and addressed him respectfully and deferentially as Lord, yet, he did not lord over her, as a cruel, authoritarian.
In fact, although she respected the fact that he was the leader in the home and was obedient to him, (even to the point where she agreed to lie to the people of Gerar to cause them to believe that she was Abraham’s sister and not his wife), it is evident that she was quite assertive in the marriage and had a voice and her opinions were not just considered but also sometimes acted upon by Abraham.
It was Sarah (formerly Sarai) for example, who, although it was poor counsel, told Abraham to marry her maid Hagar when her womb was barren, so that he could get offspring by her. Abraham did not have to do this but he did. He also gave Sarah freedom by allowing her to handle Hagar as she thought best, when she informed Abraham that Hagar, now pregnant for Abraham was regarding Sarah her barren Mistress with contempt.
Despite the fact that the virtuous woman reverences her husband therefore, as she is called upon by God to do in Ephesians 5:33, although she has a voice in the home and her opinions are to be considered, she understands that functionally, God expects her to operate under the headship of her husband and so she obeys and aspires to obey her husband, so as to please, not herself, her pride or her ego but the God who created her.
2. SHE KNOWS HER WORTH/VALUE
Nobody needs to tell her. She knows she has high worth, dignity and value.
Even in those moments where the enemy may try to whisper a lie into her ear or circumstances seem to defy this truth, she does not accept the lie. She delves into the Word of God (the Bible) which reminds her of her identity in Christ Jesus. God says that her value is far above rubies and back then and even to today, rubies were not cheap and still aren’t.
In fact, an Article online states that: “Rubies are rare and expensive gemstones with high levels of hardness and durability.”
A virtuous woman is therefore courageous, endures hardness (such as adversity, misfortune, attacks, drawbacks, disappointments, betrayals and suffering) as a good soldier on the spiritual battlefield of this life, for her Lord. No matter what, she never loses her joy which is God-given but continues on bravely, no matter how many hardships she may have endured.
She also considers herself to be worthy of respect, love and honourable treatment. She is not proud, puffed up and does not walk around with a haughty sense of entitlement. On the converse, she is humble and selfless but confident in who she is in Jesus Christ. She is joyful because of her regal identity and this is reflected in how she carries herself, her deportment, how she dresses, what she says and her philosophy and perspective of life in general.
This confidence that she has God-given worth and high value, radiates without, so that those looking on, can tell that she is not cheap, easy or a woman of low standards who tolerates and accepts disrespect. For, she knows her worth in God’s sight and therefore knows that what she has to offer her husband, her family, those who come into contact with her and the world in general is good and valuable.
3. SHE ACCEPTS HER ROLE AS A WOMAN
She understands and willingly accepts her God-given role as a woman and does not fight against it. She considers the one who created her as all-wise and knows that his plan and purpose for her life as a human being, as a woman and as a Christian is best.
She therefore embraces her femininity, not as a tool to exploit others and to manipulate situations but as a valuable gift from God, which she willingly accepts and loves. She understands that her femininity is distinct from the gift of masculinity given to men and that God, the Creator of all men and women, intended it to be so. She therefore views both as equally beautiful and as she operates in her call, she feels no need to fight against men or to be like them or to compete with them or to prove anything to them or to be resentful against God for how he made her and the role he gave her.
She delights in her God-appointed role as a woman and understands that men are not better than her or more important than her or have a more significant role to play than her, nor vice versa. She accepts that God never intended the lines of distinction between men and women in terms of how he made them and their respective functions, to be blurred or removed (as the differences are beautiful) but that in his eyes, both roles are equally valuable.
She understands and accepts that, while God has given the man the role of leadership in the home, he has given her an equally beautiful role of managing and nurturing the affairs of the home. This is in her very nature because that is how God created her.
She therefore naturally loves to take care of the family to which God has entrusted her or dreams of one day having such a family if she does not yet have one.
She also generally loves homemaking. She understands though, that while homemaking and seeing to the affairs of her household is her main role and priority, God does not limit her to this but is also pleased when she uses the skills, knowledge and education she has acquired, for business purposes, which can also be of benefit to her family. While her main focus is on attending to the needs of her family in her home therefore, she also seizes good business opportunities when they present themselves.
She is careful though, to not allow her career goals and aspirations to interfere with or undermine her call to be nurturer in the home. If the latter is threatened and she cannot give priority to homemaking due to the demands of business, her loyalty will lie with her calling as a homemaker. She will therefore proceed to take steps to ensure that she can devote quality time to her household and perform her fundamental role as wife and mother, where applicable.
Even where this may be difficult due to financial responsibilities or the situation she finds herself in, if she has a family, she will desire to spend quality time in the home, more so than in the office and will therefore seek the Lord in prayer for a solution to this issue. For, she understands that her primary function is to attend to the needs of her household.
This includes, among others, seeing to it that her family is well fed, the house is tidy, tastefully decorated, that her family has clean, decent clothes to wear and that she spends enough time being physically present in the home, so as to meet the needs of her children and husband and to communicate with them lovingly to provide much needed comfort, reassurance, guidance and advice where needed. She understands that when it comes to this primary role, everything else that she may wish to be involved in or is currently involved in, like her career is secondary in terms of importance.
Even if she is not married and has no children and therefore has more time to attend to her career aspirations, she holds these values close to her heart. She knows that the day God decides to give her a husband (if he decides to do this), that her priorities will have to change and she is prepared to sacrifice her career in the interest of homemaking which she loves far more, if this becomes necessary.
4. SHE PURSUES PURITY
She is pure and in any areas that she may need to increase in purity, she pursues after it, seeking the Lord’s help where necessary.
It is her genuine desire to think thoughts that bring glory to God and to dress modestly (not provocatively so as to selfishly arouse the wrong kind of interest from the men around her). She desires to convey speech that is circumspect and to not be regarded as a cheap sex object (which is the lie society tells women that they are today). She keeps herself, her body and her virginity until marriage or for a lifetime, if she should never get married. For, she knows that sex is strictly reserved by God for a man and a woman in marriage and therefore, it is only within this union, that the blessings of the Lord will flow.
She wants to be pure not because of a man-made purity movement but because God commands and expects her, as his royal daughter, to be pure. She therefore daily examines what she is thinking, what she is saying, how she is dressing and therefore being perceived by the opposite sex and does all within her power to guard her entrances in so far as is possible, from the filthiness that bombards the ears and the eyes of people on the big screen, on the internet, in written material and on the radio.
She also seeks to avoid the very appearance of evil and only believes in honourable courtship.
Should she ever let the Lord down by engaging in actions or thinking things that are impure, upon conviction, she genuinely grieves, repents, confesses her sin before God and does not stay in that condition but asks for his forgiveness, his cleansing power and that he help her to continue on in purity. She then moves on with the firm resolve to be pure and to never repeat those mistakes again.
5. SHE IS KIND, GRACEFUL & COMPASSIONATE
She is merciful, gracious, generous, kind and considerate. She is not just concerned about the welfare of her family but also selflessly cares for those in her community, like the less fortunate. She sympathizes with the plight and misfortunes of others and is not malicious, does not enjoy creating drama, contention and strife and is not petty, vindictive and vengeful. She does not hold grudges and harbour an unforgiving spirit.
If she finds something that has occurred to be so painful that it is difficult to quickly forgive the offender or offenders, she takes the issue to Jesus and asks him to help her to get to the place where she will harbour no ill-will against such a person or persons. Given her genuine desire to please God by forgiving, he will help her and she will get to the place where she no longer feels bitter or resentful at that person or persons.
When she speaks, she does not sacrifice truth for the sake of procuring the favour of others, for she knows that this would be deceitful. She therefore speaks what is true and with God-given wisdom but she uses her tongue to encourage, support, motivate, console, comfort, edify and build up others, where applicable. For, she sees potential in every human being that God has made, for improvement.
She does not speak hastily but thinks wisely before she speaks. She is known for such wisdom and she is an excellent counsellor and advisor to her husband, her children and to people in general, who seek her out for sound counsel.
She also stays far from gossip, the badmouthing of others and those who love bringing news about the affairs of others, as she is too busy with all of her activities in the home, in business and in her community, to waste time discussing the woes of others. She wants to help people, not bask in their misfortune and relish in their hurt. She also does not eat the bread of idleness but is wholly devoted to her Lord and the purpose he has for her life, whereby she can add value to her family and to society in general.
If, due to her human nature and imperfections, she should slip with her speech, she demonstrates godly sorrow, grieves over her sin, does not continue to conduct herself in this manner, repents, confesses her wrong before God and resolves to put away negative, unwholesome speech.
This does not mean that she compromises on truth. She continues to speak the truth when called upon to do so but only when this would bring glory to God. For, she knows that not everything that is true and honest needs to be spoken and so she resolves to remain silent if the truth is not a good report, there is no virtue, no praise, what she knows to be true is not lovely and if in her speaking it, God would not be glorified.
6. SHE LOVES EXCELLENCE
She has a thing for excellence. Whether big or small, whatever she does, be it in the home, at work or in the community, she aspires to put her best foot forward and to deliver an exceptionally high standard, to the glory of almighty God. She is known by this trademark of excellence and she takes all that she does seriously.
7. SHE IS GODLY
She fears God and derives all her favour from him. She therefore lives to please him, not herself, the world or anybody else because she understands that He is the source of our existence, all powerful, the highest authority there is and that Jesus is Lord over all.
She therefore boldly and without apology, rejects the world’s philosophies and ways of thinking, wherever they are not perfectly aligned with the Word of God.
She cares not for fads or for popular opinion. She takes her cues from the Lord, aims to please him above all and is therefore not swayed or intimidated by what is considered the norm by the masses, culture or the current societal trend. All that the world has to offer that is not of Christ, like pursuing after riches, holds little or no appeal to her, as she knows she has found the ultimate treasure in Jesus, causing everything else to fade in comparison.
She is ambitious but yet content to be who God has called her to be and to have what he has desired for her to have, nothing else.
She refuses to compromise, guards her integrity against every threat of invasion and refuses to tow the line to what the world dictates. For, she takes all of her instructions, her guidance and her lessons from the Lord Jesus, the one who created her and redeemed her, thereby bringing her into relationship with him and making her a royal daughter of God.
She is godly because she has been born of God (through her faith in Jesus Christ), has become his precious child by spiritual adoption and she therefore reverences God. In fact, it is her godliness (fear of and respect for God) that causes her to exhibit the other key traits identified above, like submission to earthly authority, recognition of her worth and value, acceptance of her God-given role as a woman, love of excellence and pursuit of purity.
(Written on 25th August, 2020)