Did you know that the Proverbs 31 woman was a businesswoman? Really! Check out these verses:
“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff and her hands hold the spindle.” Proverbs 31:16-19
I spent some time considering what these verses meant in her day and realized that this woman was not your ordinary housewife. In her day, women buying land was pretty much unheard of. In order for her to have been able to do that, she needed to have some resources of her own and been very wise with them. The fact that she was planting her new vineyard with “the fruit of her hands” seems to imply that she was reinvesting profits of previous ventures. Sounds a lot like what I try to do when I manage to make some money with my sewing…rather than take that money and use it as mad money, I try to be smart about replacing materials, sometimes investing in newer, better equipment to help me be more productive, saving for financial obligations (taxes, yuck!), and thinking ahead about future craft fairs and being able to have money available for vendor fees.
I had to do a little studying to figure out what exactly the next part about strength was all about. The phrase ‘gird up your loins’ shows up numerous times in the bible. In those days and that culture, the common piece of clothing for both men and women included a long tunic or robe. As a lady, I know that running around or working in a dress can sometimes be a bit cumbersome. The term ‘gird up your loins’ meant, basically, pulling the back hem of your robe up and over the front of your robe and tucking it into your sash or belt, baring your knees for greater ease of movement. Basically, when our excellent wife friend ‘dresses with strength,’ she’s hitching up her britches, rolling up her sleeves, and ready, willing, and able to work, and work hard. Sounds like a great work ethic to me!
And then there’s that whole, lamp-on-all-night thing. At first glance it seems to indicate that she’s staying up all hours of the night doing her work, but that didn’t jive with what I know about how the Lord feels about us caring for our homes and ourselves. There are other parts of scripture that make it clear that working yourself to the bone is NOT what God expects from us. Hey, He’s the one Who invented the sabbath rest, right? Even HE took time off to rest! So I knew that this verse wasn’t implying super-mom was pulling another all-nighter. After a little digging, I learned that the lamp burning all night most likely indicates that she thinks ahead, being prepared and equipt for what is to come. Basically, in order for her lamp to burn all night (while she’s getting some well deserved shut-eye), she has to make sure that lamp has plenty of oil and a long enough wick to make it through the night without going out. I guess it’s kind of like banking a fire at night, or making sure I’ve got enough thread to finish a big project I’m right in the middle of! Smart lady!
That last part about her spinning tools…I couldn’t find much about that. All I got from my study tools was that a spindle and a distaff where, in fact, spinning tools…duhhhh. Anybody who’s read Rumpelstiltskin knows that! It seems that this verse should be pretty self-explanatory. Basically, she was equipt with the tools she needed to do her work and she knew how to use them. Ta-da! In my world that translates to, “I’ve got a rotary cutter and I’m not afraid to use it!” O.K., maybe not quite so defensively, but you get the picture. 🙂
So I’m feeling pretty good today that my work can and does honor the Lord. Now, if I could just make enough money to be able to do more than just reinvest in the business…but for now, I’ll count my blessings and be grateful that I’m doing even that much. All things considered, this little homespun business of mine is doing all right. Plenty of room for growth, but far from faltering. Thank You, Lord!
Whatever your work is today, go for it! Gird up those loins and give it your best!