A Woman of Generosity
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. (Proverbs 31:20, NIV)
Proverbs 31 is a popular passage and understandably so. However, shallow interpretations of the chapter can be troubling. For many years of my life, a virtuous woman looked like everyone but me. A virtuous woman made few missteps. She lived a conventional life, including her family structure, hobbies, and ministry involvement. Based on what I’d been taught, I was not the prototype of a virtuous woman.
But I am so grateful for the grace and compassion found in God’s love. I am grateful for the Gospel of Christ as a witness of how God has faithfully used the most unsuspecting people to serve, give, and witness. Within the freedom of Christ, my flaws were welcomed and amplified as a testimony that if God can turn my life around, it can also be done for you.
In this freedom the limits of shame diminished and I realized how much I had in my hands to give. Without the cloud of guilt or regret, I accepted how multifaceted virtuous women are and how we are all needed in the Kingdom of God. From this place of abundance, I sought ways to live my life as an act of worship and service.
Proverbs 31:20 states: She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. Like some limited views of who a virtuous woman is, how do we think of the poor and needy? Yes, poverty exists in terms of financial and material resources, but also spiritual resources. What of those who don’t know the power of prayer? Those who are striving endlessly to do everything on their own without the awareness that we have a divine Creator who sees and knows all … a guide and present help in every situation? Those who need a faithful community to stand with them through failing health, a challenging marriage, or after prolonged periods of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic? If we look beyond a surface-level understanding, we see there are so many who are poor and in need.
So what do we do? We live in our lives in gratitude for all we do have. We remember that any good gift we have was never solely for our enjoyment. We actively seek ways to give and serve as a way of life. This may look like starting or leading a ministry. It may look like an active writing and speaking life. But it also looks like calling a friend to ask how they are doing. It looks like giving beyond the tithe. It looks like doing our everyday work as unto the Lord. It looks like forgiveness, grace, and mercy extended to others, just as they have been extended to us. It looks like diverse, virtuous women living lives that truly represent Luke 6:38a: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.