Friday, January 21, 2011

Proverbs 31- valued

Before moving on from Proverbs 31, verse 11, I want to hone in on what this lady is doing for her husband, who, as we looked at yesterday, matters so much because he is a representation of God's great, complete multi-faceted love. Here's the verse again.

Her husband has full confidence in her, he lacks nothing of value.

Value is a word I have contemplated so much over the past year. When I took on the challenge of writing Snapshots, I had no idea how much God would allow me to be put on trial so that I could experience one of the fundamental truths from His Word that is a focal point of that book! That truth is- no matter what the world says, every child of God is precious, loved and valued by Him.

MercyMe has written a fantastic song to express this truth, and there are days when this line from "Beautiful" plays on repeat in my mind-

You're beautiful, you're beautiful, you are treasured, you are sacred, you are His.

But why does MercyMe need to write a song like "Beautiful"? Why have I been burdened with Snapshots? Because people tell us that we're not beautiful. That we're not worth anything. That we're not wanted, we're not important, we're not valued. And for so many of us, that message is going on at home. Either it was the father who criticized, the mother we couldn't please, the husband we married who soon started valuing images from the computer more than his wife's real beauty or some other voice that communicate through actions or words, "you're not worth anything to me."As Christians, I think we have this idea that the "big bad world" is out there making people feel worthless. But, what I encounter time and again are people who have been hurt at home, by people who often claim to know and love Jesus, but who have not communicated His love well.

So before we go letting ourselves off the hook thinking, "Well, I certainly don't make people feel that way! Whew!" Let's really consider what the Proverbs 31 woman is teaching us. This woman is challenged first with making sure she communicates to her husband that he is greatly valued. I see this as a challenging, but life-giving truth that I just praise God for today.

God does not want anyone to feel worthless. Nor does He want them to feel like their worth lies within their efforts, their talents, their background. Being a Christian means carrying the light yoke of communicating that through Jesus Christ everyone is considered worthy. Proverbs 31 is a clear message we need to put on that yoke and do that work for the Lord within the closest, most intimate relationship you'll have in this life- marriage. But how easy is it to go the opposite direction! It can be so easy to treat a total stranger as if they are valuable, worthy of our time, our patience, our money when we ignore those closest to us, or even heap abuse on them because we just think we can. If there was ever evidence of how sin completely dupes us it's thinking that we can treat our family- particularly our husbands- like trash and think that won't affect them spiritually. We treat strangers better than those most precious to us, when really, it's those precious ones to whom Jesus has called us first. We are to communicate clearly to our love, our friend, our family, our husband- "You are worth much to me because you are worth so much to Him!"

Proverbs 31:11 is a clear call back to this most amazing relationship to be our mission field. Yes, we should look outward- to the poor, the needy, the hurting in the world. There are people, even entire nations who are treated as if they were worth nothing at all. Social justice is most definitely an implication of the Gospel, and it's a part of this Proverbs lady's job description. But before she ever gets to that, she's to regard her husband as a man of worth and value every single day.

Notice that the Proverbs lady is going to show her husband how much he is valued by making sure he has every valuable thing. He lacks nothing. And the result is that he has confidence in her. I like that. I would like Andy to feel confident in me all of the time. And I would think it would be pretty easy to put your confidence in someone who supplies you with every thing of value.

So here's a challenge to you and me on how we can become women who are not just worth much to the Lord, but are also worthy of confidence from the husbands that He's provided.

1. Share what the Lord values. Above all else, study and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ. Know His life story. Beg Him for understanding, seek His heart. He will help you value what He values- His truth, His Word, His people. And then share those things readily with your husband. Nothing is of greater value than the Word of God- immerse yourself in it, and let it flow from you to him on a daily basis.

2. Share what he values. Here's a sure-fire indication that you're treating someone as if they are worth something to you- you know what they value. Think of the person or thing that you know the very most about- chances are good that person is the very most important in your life. You know all about them, and you probably go out of your way to talk to them and to others about them. So, if you're a married lady and you answered that question with the name of someone other than your hubby, do a little digging. Ask your hubby questions- what does he like to eat? What would he like to do this weekend? What would he want to learn? What book has he been wanting to read? Make an intentional effort to find out what he values and then, as much as you are able, and as long as it gives God glory, give it to him!

For you single gals, this can be fun, if you're willing, and I know a lot of you are. You might not have met Mr. Right yet, but I bet you can imagine the kind of valuable things you want to be able to give to him when you do meet him. If you want to be able to cook him up his favorite dish, practice cooking now! Think you might like to be able to go hunting or camping with him? Find a group who does that sort of thing now. Be intentional to develop the kind of skills you want to be able to bless your husband with and make time to practice them now. I'm not just talking about domestic skills like cooking and cleaning, but practice patience, being a good listener, thinking before you speak, etc. You're smart, creative girls. Chances are, you've got a million ideas already about the kind of wife you want to be. It's never to early to start putting into practice those valuable gifts you want to be able to give your husband some day.

3. Share what you value. Quick anecdote: I've been tutoring at Reagan High School. If you're not from Austin, think of one of the worst high schools in your area- you're now thinking about Reagan. I'm there to convey that message the Lord's put on my heart this year- everyone is valued by Him. But, in the time I've been there, I haven't seen someone come alongside them and tell them they value them too much to allow them to waste valuable learning time texting or listening to their iPod. So I was a little nervous to throw down the gauntlet and say, "No phones on my time." (Which is really their time) I developed a plan. I bought a wire basket and a bag of peanut butter Snickers. I went to tutoring today and said, "You can put your electronic equipment in this basket and when we're done, you can get a piece of candy OR you can keep it in your pocket, but I don't want to see it." I was shocked at the speed at which those phones and iPods made it into that basket. Candy- the universal motivator! I'm telling this story because those kids and I come from different parts of the city and are different in a lot of ways, but I shared something I value- chocolate and peanut butter!- with them, and they responded with willingness and even excitement! I didn't really know how that was going to go, because I wasn't sure that they would value a piece of candy over 45 minutes apart from their cellular device. Fortunately, they did. My point is- share with your husband what you would want shared with you. A hug, a backrub, fifteen minutes just listening. Granted, giving your husband a mani/pedi might be taking it a little too far, but you never know! ;)

The important thing is to ask God to help our hearts value this work that He has given to us. We reflect His love to the world- we are His hands, His feet, His mouth and His heart. He's telling us to start that mission at home- to our husband. Don't think that all your good work outside of the home is going to make up for neglecting your husband. It won't. God, your husband and your kids won't be fooled. Instead, what they will learn that rather than being able to have confidence in you, they need to look outside of your marriage/family to feel valued. And that never leads to anything of any value.

I'm challenged! Are you? What can we do in the next few days to communicate to our husbands (or husbands to be) that we value them?

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