We are taking a break for the summer until futher notice.

(Thursday 2/28/08) Woman of Excellence - Conclusion

Proverbs 31:10-31

Throughout this series we have studied seven qualities unique to a woman of excellence:

  • Contentment – satisfied with what she has and where she finds herself in life's circumstances
  • Resourcefulness – puts God first and creatively and wisely uses what she already has
  • Trustworthiness – consistently upright in her behavior
  • Confidence – abiding in Christ
  • Wisdom – knows the source of true wisdom is God
  • Strength – in quietness and trust of the Lord
  • Beauty – living from the inside out (God in us) for His glory
What a remarkable woman! It would be easy to become discouraged and give up if we lost our perspective – as one author so aptly put it "and other impossible dreams"! But we must remember that her life as a woman, a wife, a mother, and a friend was really no different than yours or mine – it came one day, one moment at a time filled with choices that affected the outcome of her days. It was not that she had attained perfection (as we often believe), but rather that she lived her life above the "norm". Note, too, that her husband never once said she was perfect – only that she surpassed them all: "many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well…but you EXCEL them all" [emphasis mine].

Key Verses:
Proverbs 31:28-31

The portrait which begins in verse 10 with the touch of an excellent wife is filled in – each verse like the stroke of a brush enhancing the features of a woman who fears the Lord. "For all the lovely features described –

  • her faithfulness to her husband
  • her active personal habits
  • her good management and hard work for her family
  • her consideration for the necessities and comforts of others
  • her watchfulness of conduct
  • her tender concern for the poor and afflicted
  • her kind and courteous behavior to all –
the completeness of character and grace could only flow from godliness. They are the 'good fruit' that prove the 'good tree'. They are the fruit that grows out of right belief." ("A Modern Study in the Book of Proverbs" by Charles Bridges' Classic Revised for Today's Reader by George F. Santa, page 739-40)

In other words, a woman of excellence is one who has found herself and her security in Jesus Christ.

One Key Truth:

  • Security & Significance are based in Christ
If I were to ask you this question, what would your answer be:

"Who are you?"
Would you say something like – I am a …
  • Housewife
  • Mother
  • Woman
  • Sunday School teacher
  • Secretary
  • Chauffeur
The world's system has taught us from a very early age that we are what we do. We have also learned that we must do each of these things well if we want to be successful or be accepted by others. When our security is based on success and the opinions of others, however, we become dependent on our ability to perform and please others. Our self-esteem is high as long as everything is going well. But let something go wrong or someone speak poorly of us or our work, we feel like a failure or rejected. We are living our lives by this equation:


The truth is that we don't have to be successful or pleasing to others to have a healthy self-esteem. Our worth has already been freely and conclusively given to us by God. There is nothing, including failure or the disapproval of others, that can take it away. So, who I am (my person or being) is more than the sum total of what I do (my performance). The truth is:


The problem is that we do not know or often forget what God says about us. One of the most precious passages to me is Colossians 1:21-22 (NIV) which says, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But NOW He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blame [blameless, faultless], and free from accusation [beyond reproach]. (emphasis mine)

Do you see the depth of the truths Paul is telling us? Jesus paid the debt for my sin when He was nailed to the cross and shed His precious blood for me. His loving and obedient sacrifice reconciles me (or puts me in a right relationship) with the Father and grants me eternal life when I accept His work for me. From that point on (including right now), the Father sees me as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach in my person. There is absolutely nothing I can do to make Him love me any more. And, there is absolutely nothing I can do to make Him love me any less. Why? Because who I am is not based on what I do. It is based in Christ.

  • Christ is the source of our security
  • Christ is the basis of our worth
  • Christ is the only One who promises and never fails

When we are identified with Christ, our self-esteem is secure in His acceptance and unconditional love. As a result, we become more mature. We are freed from the bondage of constantly needing our emotional cups filled by the approval of others. We gain a more matter-of-fact approach to life's situations. We can more easily admit our own errors, ask forgiveness, and forgive others.

Larry Crabb in his book "The Marriage Builder" says:

"Until I am aware that my needs are already met in Christ, I will be motivated by emptiness to meet my needs. When by simple faith I accept Christ's shed blood as full payment for my sins, I am brought into a relationship with an infinite Being of love and purpose who fully satisfies my deepest needs for security and significance. Therefore I am freed from self-centered preoccupation with my own needs; they are met. It is now possible for me to give to others out of my fullness rather than needing to receive from others because of my emptiness. For the first time, I have the option of living selflessly."

The following chart summarizes the concepts we have been discussing:

The World's System
(Satan's Lie)
God's Provision
(Absolute Truth)
1. I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself.

Consequences: Fear of failure

1. Justification (a judicial act) - God has forgiven me of my sins and granted me the righteousness of Christ.

Romans 5:1 - Because of justification, I have the righteousness of Christ and am pleasing to the Father.

2. I must be approved (accepted) by significant others to feel good about myself.

Consequences: Fear of rejection

2. Reconciliation (relational) - I am now forgiven and brought into an intimate relationship with God.

Colossians 1:21, 22 - Because of reconciliation, I am totally accepted by God.

3. Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.

Consequences: Fear of punishment

3. Propitiation - Christ has satisfied the wrath of God by His death on the cross.

1 John 4:9-11 - Because of propitiation, I am deeply loved by God.

4. I am what I am; I cannot change; I am hopeless.

Consequences: Shame, inferiority, habitually destructive behavior patterns

4. Regeneration - I am now a new creation in Christ.

John 3:3-6 - Because of regeneration, I have been made brand new, complete in Christ.

"Search for Significance" by Robert S. McGee

How do I make this change?

Paul describes this process of change in Romans 12:1,2 (NIV) "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any long to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will."

To change our behavior, we must reject our old ways of thinking (the lies of Satan) and replace them with the truth of God's Word. Solomon said, "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is" (Proverbs 23:7). The way we think affects the way we feel, the way we perceive ourselves and those around us, and ultimately the way we act.

Here are three steps that will help in the process of renewing your mind:

  1. Identify the lies of Satan and the world's system that are the basis of your beliefs, thoughts, and actions. Use your emotions as a barometer to determine if your beliefs about specific circumstances are based on truth or lies.
  2. Choose by an act of your will to reject these false beliefs. Ask God to help you through the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells you.
  3. Replace the false beliefs with the corresponding truths of God's Word. This means you must be reading and studying God's Word. It means that you begin thinking those things that are true. Paul says in Philippians 4:8,9 (NIV) "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
The following declaration encompasses the truths we have been discussing in this Woman of Excellence series. Read it aloud often. Place it on your mirror, refrigerator, desk, or dashboard where you can see it throughout the day. Meditate on it. Let the truths reaffirm "who you are" right now in Christ and sink deeply into your heart and mind to set you on a new path of healing and wholeness in Christ.

I am an awesome spirit being
of magnificent worth as a person.

I am deeply loved by God,
I am fully pleasing to God,
I am totally accepted by God,
I am absolutely complete in Christ.

And when my person
is expressed through my performance,
the reflection is dynamically unique…
There has never been another like me
in the history of mankind, nor will there ever be,
I am an original, one of a kind, really somebody,
And so are you!

"Search for Significance"
by Robert S. McGee

Kay Marshall Strom in her book "Perfect in His Eyes" (pages 84-85) provides several specific things one can do to help nurture healthy self-esteem:

  • Allow yourself to love yourself.
  • Instead of comparing yourself to others, try to be the person God intended you to be.
  • Look at yourself honestly. Assess your strengths as well as your weaknesses.
  • Don't condemn yourself. Accept God's forgiveness, forgive yourself, then go on.
  • Have an attitude of love and forgiveness toward others.
  • Do things that will make you like yourself more.
  • Choose realistic goals.
  • Seek God's praise – not the praise of others – for what you do.
  • Determine to use your abilities and gifts for the building up of others.
  • Seek out friends who will build you up, not tear you down.
  • Build up those around you.
  • Trust God to mold you into the person He wants you to be.
  • Thank God for His endless, limitless love for you.
  • Thank God for the future He has prepared for you.

By changing the way you think, you will be renewing your mind – weeding out the deep-rooted lies and planting God's life-changing truths. The actions that follow will be unique and beautiful expressions of Christ in you.

Enemies that rob self-worth:

The biggest enemy to security and significance that is based in Christ is SELF. God asks us to present our body to Him (Romans 12), but we often withhold it for our own pleasures. To be renewed we must break old destructive habits, but we choose to continue in the easy or familiar. We are instructed in John 15 to abide (continue) in Christ, but we may depend on others to sustain us. Ephesians 6 describes our need to put on the whole armor of God, but we often attempt to fight the battles on our own. God desires that we submit in obedience to Him and allow Him to sit at the center of our life, but many times we choose to run our daily affairs on our own. In essence we are saying: Thank you, God, for the gift of eternal life, but I can handle the rest on my own. The struggle becomes an "I" problem. And when "I" am in the way, God's transforming work is hindered. Our desire should be to know our awesome God and to please Him, not self.

Am I willing to pay the price?
The answer to living as a woman of excellence is found in the last part of Proverbs 31:30 –

"…but a woman who reverently
and worshipfully fears the Lord,
she shall be praised."
The fear spoken of here is not the dread or fright that comes out of fear of punishment. It is a reverential trust that comes when we experience the reality of God's holiness. There is an overwhelming sense of awe because of His majesty, power, love, and goodness. Just as Isaiah saw the Lord and fell down before Him declaring his own unworthiness (Isaiah 6), we, too, will be compelled to fall down on our knees with hearts full of gratitude to honor the only One who is worthy to be worshipped. Our desire will be to be cleansed of sin, to seek His will, and to submit in obedience to His revealed will.

Do you want to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God? Do you want the days of your life to have meaning and touch those around you for the glory of the Lord? Do you want to find your security and significance in Christ? Do you want to be a woman of excellence? Then Proverbs 2:1-4 lists six things you must do:

  1. ACCEPT God's words – willingly, openly, readily receive all that He says; drink thirstily the water that gives life and satisfaction (fulfillment)
  2. TREASURE (store up) God's commands – memorize God's Word and hide it in your heart where no one can take it away (Psalm 119:11)
  3. OPEN your ears – be attentive both physically and spiritually to the voice or direction of the Lord, ready to submit and obey
  4. APPLY what you have heard and learned – meditate on God's Word and put it into practical use in your life, work, and ministry
  5. ASK for understanding and discernment of truth – lift up your voice, cry out in prayer to the Lord
  6. SEARCH for deeper truths – dig into God's Word, diligently seek out and uncover hidden treasures and mysteries of God (nuggets of truth)

As you do these things, you will find that your relationship with the Lord becomes more intimate and precious. But Psalms and Proverbs also assures us of many other wonderful blessings from the Father as a result of our search and obedience:

The last four verses of Proverbs 31 say that this woman of excellence shall be praised –

  • by her children,
  • by her husband, and
  • by all those outside who have been touched with the works of her hands.

A woman of excellence knows who she is and understands her purpose, responsibilities, and roles. A woman of excellence is able to control herself. Her home is a haven for her family where her husband is content and respected and the children are nurtured physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A woman of excellence does not have to "toot her own horn" or draw attention to herself. Instead, the characteristics of Christ in her, the works of her hands, and the fruit of her labors declare to all her trust in God!

"Listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the [woman] who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord." Proverbs 8:32-35

Closing Thought to Ponder:
"To break with all worldly customs; to live utterly separate from the spirit of the world, so that we shall not say, 'What is the harm of this and that?' but simply shall have lost all relish for what is not of the Father; to live as those who truly lay all on the altar – time, strength, possessions, literally everything we are and have; to live, not nominally but truly, in unity; this will cost us something. Are we ready for what it will cost?"
--Amy Carmichael, "Thou Givest…They Gather", page 199

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