Today I am continuing my series for wives (and future wives) based on the ideal wife of Proverbs 31. It is both fun and challenging to look at this passage verse by verse and then examine our own lives and look for practical ways to apply these timeless principles. Please join me each Monday as we continue to examine the character and wisdom of this noble woman and learn how we can each become a Model P31!
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. ~ Proverbs 31:20In previous verses, we've witnessed the virtuous woman's diligence, her enterprising spirit, and her willingness to go the extra mile to procure excellent food and clothing for her family. Through her hard work and God's blessing, she has filled her hands with all she and her family needs and more. Now, she does not close her hands tightly for fear of losing what she has worked so hard to gain. In fact, she opens her hands to the poor and needy, freely sharing the blessings God has given her with a generous heart!
As we've observed, this woman is not idle, her hands are always busy meeting the needs of her household and engaging in profitable work. Yet, she is not too busy to notice and help meet the needs of others!! The first part of the verse says she stretches out her hand to the poor, which means she willingly gives of her resources to meet their needs. However, the second part of the verse states that she reaches forth her hands to the needy, implying that she uses both hands to serve them and help meet practical needs. It's one thing to reach into your wallet and pull out some cash for the offering plate, or even to give money or food to the poor or homeless, but this woman is stretching forth both hands in humble service to the poor and needy! Isn't that a beautiful picture of our Model P31?
I love the insights that I learn from Beautiful in God's Eyes by Elizabeth George, and this excerpt really captured my attention:
As she "stretches out" her mercy and compassion, she stretches out her heart. Rather than folding her beautiful hands for moments of relaxation, or using them to clutch her profits, or keeping them frantically busy in order to gain greater wealth, she extends her outstretched hands to those around her who are in need! She is aware of these people, sympathetic to their needs, and ready to help, and her full heart and full coffers spill over to liberally and plentifully bless others. Rather than drawing a tight circle around her family and shutting others out, she follows her heart, opens the circle, and takes them in. Her circle of love includes all who need her help.
Each day we have the opportunity to be like the Model P31 as we become alert to the needs around us, and ask God to give us compassionate, generous hearts that long to meet the needs He directs us to meet. Sometimes supplying the needs we see can be overwhelming, as there are so many needy people all around us! We can't help everyone, but we can help those whom God directs us to minister to!
We also need to ask God to give us 20/20 vision. By that I mean, we don't want to be "nearsighted" -- only seeing the needs in our own families and church families and being oblivious to the needs in our community or the world. But we also don't want to be "farsighted" -- being burdened for the needy people in our communities and on the other side of the world, while being oblivious to the needs right in front of our noses! God can help us focus in on the needs that He desires us to meet, both near and far!
And one thing is for sure -- we will be blessed more than we can imagine as we allow God's love to flow through us to meet the needs of others!
"He who has a generous eye will be blessed,
For he gives of his bread to the poor." ~ Proverbs 22:9
"The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself." ~ Proverbs 11:25
Especially for Single P31s:
If you are a single woman without a husband and children, you may have more time for ministering to the poor and needy in your church or community! The Lord may even lead you to foreign fields where you can minister to hurting women and children. I can't type this without thinking of Amy Carmichael, Gladys Alward, Elisabeth Elliot, and other great missionaries who have spent their lives ministering to the poor and needy. There are many modern young women who have also answered the call to minister to the least of these -- Katie Davis quickly comes to mind. The question is, how can you reach out with love and mercy to the needs that God draws your attention to?
Project P31, Mission #10:
How are you doing on your homework assignments each week?? Are you ready for a new assignment? Your mission for this week has three components:
1. Ask yourself whether you have a generous heart full of mercy and compassion? Or if you have hardened your heart to the needs around you, which is certainly easy to do! If we ask for a tender heart full of compassion for the needs of others, God will most definitely give it to us!
2. Ask God how you can reach out your hand to generously give to the needs you are aware of? When you find a need, do what you can to meet it! (Make sure your husband is OK with this before giving of the family's resources! Many years ago, my Dad used to require my Mom to give from her "grocery money" if she felt led, but if she ran out of money, she could not coming running to him to ask for more! :) Guess what? The Lord always provided! And now, God has given my Dad a Generous heart too!)
3. Ask God to show you some practical needs that you can meet. Perhaps you know someone who needs a home-cooked meal? a bag of groceries delivered? a bathroom cleaned? someone to sit with an elderly parent or to watch their active little toddlers? help with organizing or catching up on mountains of laundry? Be the first to volunteer your heart and hands for the task!
Your Turn to Share:
I hope you'll take time to complete your mission for this week and share your thoughts here! Please leave a comment here on my blog or over on my Facebook page, so we might all be encouraged! You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to share a private testimony or a guest post.
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