Proverbs 31 Woman Debunked

If you are involved in women’s ministries, you will hear countless seminars on the Proverbs 31 woman. Thinking that this was what I needed to be like, I made a list of all the qualities that she had. Gradually I checked them all off. Now I was the Proverbs 31 woman.

Yes, you heard me correctly. What good did that do? It just made me prideful and arrogant. Working down any list, and doing those things, didn’t make me pleasing to God.

Do you realize this list was written by a woman? Yes, Lemuel’s mother was brainstorming a list of things to look for in a queen, that would indicate that the woman had substance rather than just good looks.

The list from Proverbs 31 is not a description of an actual person, even though some actual women fulfill that description. She was rich and had many, many servants doing all the grunt work for her. She only did what she was good at, which was mostly management. So this woman was a businesswoman and an administrator who apparently didn’t get very much sleep. The description is one of a workaholic. She works in the wee hours in the morning, and then her lamp doesn’t go out at night either. If you burn the candle at both ends like this, you will not be pleasing to God. You will be grumpy from your lack of sleep, and you won’t be able to function properly.

Not to discount being hard-working. People who are lazy aren’t pleasing to God either.

Also keep in mind that this list is what a woman would have done over the course of her entire lifetime. Women in their 20’s expect to already have done all of it, but they haven’t lived long enough to “consider a field and buy it,” for example. For most women, if they bought a field, it would be disobedience to God and to their husbands. This list is not meant to be held up as the be-all and end-all of life.

So don’t pursue the list. I’m tired of “older women” holding this passage up to the younger women and criticizing each other for their lack of measuring up. To cause other women to feel like a failure is not pleasing to God. We have taken our eyes off Jesus.

Being yoked to the Holy Spirit is what this life is all about, and if the enemy can cause us to focus on an entirely different subject, he rejoices. Focusing on checking off a list is a form of self-righteousness that is not pleasing to God.

There are many other issues involved in emulating the Proverbs 31 woman, but the most important thing is this: if you are trying to be like her, you are no longer yielding to the Spirit and resting in Christ, guided daily by His Spirit. It is possible to achieve this list, but it is pointless. I’ve done it. There’s nothing here. Nothing of value. The sin of arrogance and self-righteousness maybe. But nothing good. Drop it. Ask God how to live, and follow His Spirit’s leading in your life.

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8 Responses to “Proverbs 31 Woman Debunked”

  1. Reen says:

    Living by God’s laws and principles takes daily effort. In no way does the Proverb’s 31 woman passage deter me from pursuing that. I’ve always thought it was just a really great guideline/tool for the Holy Spirit to nudge me towards, when needed, not a list to check off…lol. Susan, I’m thankful for your perspective and accuracy. Thanks so much for sharing from your heart. ♥

    • Susan Evans says:

      Our sanctification is actually a combination of God’s work, along with strenuous personal effort. I Timothy 4:7 says we have to put forth effort in order to have godliness. But I’ve discovered that the effort is trying to stay yielded to God rather than trying to be a certain way. When I discovered that, it was so freeing…

  2. Becoming Pharisaical about any Scripture is a danger. It would actually make things so much easier though…wouldn’t it? 😉

    • Susan Evans says:

      We only think it’s easier because we have control of it (because we are trying to accomplish something through the flesh), but when we yield to the Spirit, there is so much more peace and joy.

  3. I stumbled on this blog whilst doing a research on the Proverbs 31 woman and this just agrees with my own thoughts on the matter. So many women have killed themselves with this scripture and worked themselves to an early grave. I believe that we should ask our Maker, why we exist and trust the Holy Spirit to show us how to please God. Thanks for writing this, Susan.

  4. Astrid says:

    While I have to agree that self-righteousness is not living by God’s principles, this also means that judging people for not living by God’s principles, is not up to us. It’s up to God to judge us. I have only just heard of Proverbs 31 women, and I don’t agree with at all pursuing a list of achievements as making you almost-holy, but I think Proverbs 31 women is a revolt against submissive wife type stuff. Now I do not know what you think of that, so I’m not going to give my opinion, just saying that each is at a different end of the spectrum

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