by Gina L.
from Virtuous Daughters, August/September 2017~Volume 17, Number 3
"Panning for Gold" Proverbs 31 Study Series Part 15
Once upon a time….there was a beautiful young lady with many dreams. She was going to do this and that. She would someday go here and there. She would accomplish the great and good. She would become known and renowned. She ran to and fro with her mind filled with dreams so lofty that the day to day drudgery of working and serving and learning skills was somehow beneath her, or so she thought. Unfortunately, she awoke from her dream years later to find she knew nothing and had accomplished nothing and was not going here and there but rather going round and round in the same place, for her days were spent dreaming and dawdling and doodling instead of doing and delivering.
Not far from the Dreamer lived a Doer. Her days were never dull, though some may not exactly call them exciting, at least not at first. She took every opportunity to learn, never shying away from work or a challenge or even getting her hands dirty. She busied herself with the tasks at hand, no matter how mundane they appeared at the moment rather than dreaming of a nobler and higher task. She learned to work efficiently, faithfully, and even joyfully and her list of skills began to rapidly grow. Still she took on more, learning tirelessly from all around her regardless of their education credentials while also taking initiative and figuring out how to learn on her own. Books were her teachers as was trial and error.
Later, an opportunity, far more exciting than the norm arose and both the dreamer and the doer desired to embark on this new adventure.
There was little time to make ready oneself for the door was soon closing and had to be walked through immediately. The Doer quickly gathered her few things and with a life full of serving and a suitcase full of honed skills, she embarked ready and able. The Dreamer scurried about furiously trying to quickly acquire skills and wisdom that she had never bothered to attain. Her suitcase was beautifully adorned, but oh so empty inside. She was sure she could fill it quickly with what she considered were such simple skills, but soon was frustrated with how long these seemingly little tasks took to master. “Oh why does this simple little task take so long to learn,” she poutingly mused. What had seemed so senseless previously had now been the very thing which would have opened the door to her dreams. How was she to know work was a prerequisite for an adventurous life and skills the keys to unlock so many doors?
I am sure you are thinking that she learned her lesson and began to apply herself diligently in the most menial of tasks. Not so, my friend, for she rather consoled herself with her adornments, deciding rather that this present adventure was for those of lesser vision than her, and stirred up her dreams, while ignoring the road to those dreams that was right under her nose. Certainly she must just wait, she thought. Waiting would solve all her problems, she reassured herself, ignoring all the while her beautifully adorned—but ever so empty—suitcase. Instead of realizing that she herself had not made ready, she reasoned that the dream was just farther coming and entered her own world again where she neither helped nor hurt anyone nor went anywhere of meaning nor learned anything of value. The opportunity will knock again for her, but the time to make ready is not when the hand is knocking on the door. She has dreamed away the necessary time of preparation and an empty suitcase can’t be filled when on the way to the destination. The Dreamer sits…..waits….but not the Doer.
The Doer is off far away, using her gained skills she has honed, and adding more. Her suitcase has become a trunk stuffed full with talents and skills developed in the most unlikely places and some learned from the most unlikely people. She is serving. She is making. She is helping. She is fixing. She is delivering. She is doing. She is not waiting for a better day, but is doing her part in the day at hand. She has indeed been faithful in little.
Come, meet the Doer a few years later........
She has become the amazing woman of Proverbs 31. Look at what she is now up to. In Proverbs 31:24, “She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.”
When did she learn to make fine linen? How did she know what people were buying? How did she figure out how much to charge? Where did she acquire the boldness to speak to the merchant? Who taught her the people and business skills needed to negotiate a price? Where did she learn to deliver her girdles?
She was the Doer. Her life had been well spent. She did not wait until the day she opened her business to go about acquiring the needed skills. Certainly she learned more and more with each venture, but she had used her time and energy well long before she hung up her shingle and long before she said “I do.” The successful business woman we see in Proverbs 31:24 emerges as a result of doing many small things well over time. She learned to work willingly with her hands, developing strong arms from real work. (Proverbs 31:13,16,17,19) She learned to consider a matter before jumping into it, developing a sharp mind by using it. (Proverbs 31:16) She carried herself with quiet confidence, knowing her merchandise is good while never forgetting to care for the poor. (Proverbs 31:14,20) She used her time well, burning candlelight to finish productive tasks and rising early to serve. (Proverbs 31:15,18) She developed a good reputation, being trustworthy and clothing herself royally and honorably while also helping her husband attain honor, doing good to him, and being a reliable refuge for his heart. (Pro verbs 31:11,12,22,23,25) Her success in marriage and business is neither happenstance nor the result of simply dreaming a big dream. The Virtuous Woman has been—for a long time—a doer and a deliverer, and that is what we see her continuing in Proverbs 31:24. She is making fine linen, selling it, and delivering girdles or sashes to the merchant.
It is easy for us to look at the Virtuous Woman and get discouraged. She appears perfect. She knows and does it all and is compassionate to others while caring well for her family too. But she wasn’t born that way. We often desire, like the Dreamer, to do big things in life. Big things for Christ. Big things in our families. Big things in impacting the world. But God doesn’t often call us to the big things. Life is made up of so many small things—small and seemingly insignificant things. But they are not actually as insignificant as they seem. The Virtuous Woman had many days just like ours. She chose to joyfully persevere in daily duties and now has become a woman of true virtue and influence. We are commanded likewise not to be weary in well doing for there is a time of reaping if we don’t faint! (Galatians 6:9) Obedience is often tested in the small things before given a chance to be tested in the big things. Jesus told a story about this. In fact, He likened it to the Kingdom of God, so there is a deep truth for eyes willing to see.
There was a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. He gave differing amounts to each servant according to their abilities. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. Then he took his journey. While he was gone, the one with five talents traded and got five more, doubling the initial investment. Likewise, the servant given two talents doubled what he had been given, gaining two more. But the one who had received only one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid, rather than used, the lord’s money. After a long time, the lord returned and the servants brought back the talents the lord had given them to steward. The lord was quite pleased with the servant who had gained five talents and just as pleased with the servant who had gained two. In fact, he told them the same thing: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” It didn’t turn out very well for the one who just buried and hid the talent. (Read the record in Matthew 25:14-30 for the conclusion.)
Faithfulness, like obedience, is tested by giving responsibility in few things before it is trusted to be over many things. What is interesting too is that the lord in the story is equally pleased with the servant who gained two talents and the servant who gained five, since both had doubled what they were given. Let us draw an application. Perhaps you and I are not given the same amount of talents to invest as the Proverbs 31 woman. God knows what He has entrusted to each of us and we are simply to be faithful in doing joyfully the daily tasks He puts in our lives. Being faithful in much always starts with being faithful in little.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, calls people who believe on Him salt and light. In fact, they are called the salt of the earth and the light of the world. That sounds pretty significant, and is not a small calling at all. He goes on to say that men don’t light a candle and then put it under a bushel but rather set the candle onto a candlestick. Then He makes a simple statement. He says the candle gives light unto all that are in the house. We all want to light up the world. We love the sound of the bigness of that calling. But how does the world appear to be lit in the illustration Jesus uses? One little house at a time! Yes, first your little flicker of a candle lights those directly around you in your house. That is where you are faithful. That is where you shine, amidst the daily deeds of life. That is your first mission field, an assignment to light up your house. Then Jesus says to let your light so shine before men. Your circle widens. Your light shines out farther, reaching even more as they see your good works. (Just like the Virtuous Woman who first took care of her own household and then stretched out her hands to the poor.) And when men see your good works, they glorify the Father which is in heaven. The world is lit up by those who have Christ, the light of the world, shining through them. (Matthew 5:13-16, John 8:12)
The Dreamer and the Doer may have been given the same amount of talents. The Doer used what she was given, not despising small opportunities, and she gained a trunk full of lasting treasures in the end and made quite a difference in many lives. The Dreamer tucked her talents into her ornate suitcase where they neither grew nor diminished. Her suitcase remained light and airy, much like its owner, and her impact on the world, insignificant. Her dreams to light the world and make a big difference were not bad dreams. But she never was faithful to let her little light shine in the smallest of places, such as her own house, holding out for a larger sphere of influence, which never came. And it never will come. For faithfulness in the small opportunities is a prerequisite for the larger opportunity.
Today you have your tasks to tend to and your list to attend to. But may I ask, how dim or bright is your own house—how much are you lighting those around you? Remember, as you toil away, to shine brightly, being a faithful doer in small things, for such does the Virtuous Woman.
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