by Gina L.
from Virtuous Daughters, August/September 2018~Volume 18, Number 3
"Panning for Gold" Proverbs 31 Study Series Part 20
When we moved into our house in Cottonwood five years ago, I was amazed at the beautiful scenery that lies outside my windows and likewise blessed by the nice craftsmanship within our home. It was all just about perfect, except for a large wall-sized, full-length mirror which hung directly outside of our bedroom closet. Upon first glance in this mirror, I knew there was a problem. It wasn’t exactly like those funny house mirrors you find at a circus, but there was some major distortion going on. In reality, I may not have minded if the distortion made me taller and leaner, but it was a shorter and wider version of myself that looked back at me from that mirror. Remembering the problem with the mirror, I gladly snatched up a framed full-length mirror at a local garage sale for five dollars. This I rested against the untrustworthy mirror and the problem was solved, at least temporarily! I enjoyed the accurate reflection and the confidence based on truth my trusty mirror provided, until a rambunctious child knocked over the mirror and it was taken in pieces to the trash. Life goes on. People get busy. Minds forget things that they once knew. I never took the time to replace the old distorting mirror screwed into my wall. Rather, I got used to looking into that untrustworthy mirror, and in time, I made a huge mistake. I forgot it was untrustworthy. I based my reality on a lie. I believed fully the lie the mirror told me and forgot that the source was unreliable. Over time, I grew frustrated with myself as I embraced as truth the mirror’s widening deceit. Then one day, I was in the restroom at church and turned to gaze into the full-length mirror, and I was shocked. I was not what I thought I was. This mirror revealed a leaner version of myself, and all at once I remembered the problem my mirror at home possessed. I chided myself for forgetting something I should have known and basing my reality upon a lie. For the lie I believed about myself did affect me.
As I stood there realizing the trick of the untrustworthy mirror, I thought of a deeper truth. What mirror am I looking at to size up myself as a person? Do I look at what the world says about me and women in general and size up myself by my accomplishments in that mirror? Do I look inwardly into what I am feeling about myself and trust that mirror’s reflection? Do I look to others’ words around me and allow those to be my mirror of truth? Do I look at the past and believe that old reflection to be my current size and shape and state? Perhaps sometimes I do. Perhaps we all do. But why?
As Christians, we know the truth of the Scripture. God tells us who we are in Christ, so why would we falter? We certainly know the untrustworthiness of the world’s ideals, our own feelings, others’ opinions, and the past, but sometimes it is just like my old mirror. Life goes on. People get busy. Minds forget things that they once knew. We never take the time to replace the old distorting mirror screwed into the wall of our minds, and we stop leading each thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Soon we get used to looking into the old untrustworthy mirrors around us and within us--our emotions, the past, and the words of others--and in time, we make a huge mistake. We forget that the mirrors we are looking into are telling lies! And worse, we are believing them. We begin basing reality upon a lie and trusting something that doesn’t hold truth. This is a huge mistake. It is time to shatter the lying mirrors and take them out to the trash! The mirror we look into to determine who we are is of utmost importance. It is a sad thing to find you have based your “truth” upon a lie. But there is a true and reliable mirror, though only one of such kind exists. But first, let us look at a faulty mirror which we can be tempted to trust as true—the words of others.
It is hard not to believe the words that are spoken about us or to us about ourselves. While we are wise to consider rebukes and reproofs of others and be humble enough to receive correction, we cannot simply believe every word spoken. Sometimes words are weapons and arrows from the enemy’s camp. We are told to rejoice when men revile us and persecute us and say all manner of evil against us falsely for Christ’s sake, for then we have a great reward in heaven. Rejoice, but don’t believe it! It can be especially hard when the words come from those closest to us. Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe Him or Who He was until after the resurrection and probably expressed this in many unsavory comments, and many around us may misunderstand us and express the same.
The words of those closest to us do carry weight. Because of this, it is extremely wise for a husband to wash his wife with the Word of God and speak words that give life to his wife. His comments can do much hurt or build something beautiful. Often a wife can become a reflection of the words her husband has spoken over her, if she has believed them in her heart. We all know that words can make their way into the heart, just like an image in a mirror can make its way into our minds, and as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).
In Proverbs 31:28, we see clearly that the Virtuous Woman was praised by her husband. In fact, it is often thought that Proverbs 31:29, which is the only verse written to the Virtuous Woman and not about her, is simply a quote of the praise her husband washed her with: “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” What powerful words those are! Though she no doubt earned this praise, it is still noteworthy that the Bible mentions her husband as audibly giving her praise and even perhaps stating the exact words he spoke as an example. What can we glean from this?
Many men probably wish their wife was more like the Virtuous Woman, but they have no idea how to go about helping her become such. They see flaws in their wife and are quick to point them out. They desire to wash the spots away quickly and with vigorous scrubbing and perhaps even a bucket of critical words, perchance thinking they are doing well by such “helping.” However, their hasty fix often scours through the surface and leaves an even bigger spot. God gives husbands wisdom when he instructs them to love their wives as their own bodies (Ephesians 5:28). He tells what real love is too. Love suffers long, is kind, doesn’t envy or vaunt itself, isn’t puffed up, doesn’t behave unseemly or seek her own way, isn’t easily provoked, and doesn’t even think evil! Love rejoices in the truth and not in iniquity. It bears, endures, believes, and never fails. (1 Corinthians 13) Praise the Lord for husbands who love their wives with this kind of love and wash their wives in the truth of the Word of God and give them encouraging, honest praise! And we see that the husband of the Virtuous Woman did praise her.
The praise for the Virtuous Woman that is recorded in Proverbs 31 may have indeed come straight from the lips of her husband who said, “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” This truth shared about the most excellent woman therefore can also remind us of the wisdom of a husband who looks for and praises the virtues and praiseworthy things he finds in his wife. However, if this praise in Proverbs 31:29 is not the husband’s actual words, we are at least certain that he did praise her (for Proverbs 31:28 states this), and we are also certain that these recorded words are indeed God’s Word, which, in reality, is the only reliable, trustworthy mirror to look into. But we will all hear hurtful words sometimes, for those around us are no more perfect than we are. Must these words derail us and immobilize us?
What if critical words fill your ears from those closest around you? Are you then destined to be filled with spots and not shine like the Virtuous Woman? Not at all. For there is a mirror that is always true and one that you must learn to fix your gaze securely on. While positive words from others are nice, ultimately God’s Word is where one must look for unfaltering truth. And learning to base your confidence on this truth will help you joyfully endure during times when others’ words may be unkind or harsh. You can remain unshaken and able to love back, even amidst unjust criticism, if you are basing your reality upon and deriving your confidence from who you are in Christ. The Word of God is the only trustworthy mirror! Listening in on Jesus’ prayer to God, we hear Him say, “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17:17) Jesus knew the mirror to trust. Insults and ridicule were hailed at Him from every direction, but He never took His gaze off of the Father and His Word.
We too must look to the Lord and fix our gaze on Him. He died to redeem us and will present us to Himself without spot or blemish. We are God’s workmanship. We are daughters of God. We are washed clean in Christ’s blood. We are righteous and sanctified. We are accepted by Him in the Beloved and He loves us with a never ending love. We are chosen. We are justified. We are forgiven. We are His Bride. We are sealed with His Spirit. We are saved by His grace. We are kept by His power. We are complete in Jesus Christ. He is the only trustworthy mirror to base your reality upon.
(1 Peter 1:18-19, Ephesians 5:27, Ephesians 2:10, John 1:12, Revelation 1:5, 1 John 1:7, Ephesians 3:22, Philippians 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Jude 1:1, Ephesians 1:6, John 13:1, Ephesians 1:4, Romans 3:24-28, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 2:13, 1 John 2:12, Revelation 21:9-11, Ephesians 1:13, 4:30, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 2:5, 8, 1 Peter 1:5, Colossians 2:10, Proverbs 3:5, John 14:6)
It is a beautiful picture that we see in Scripture of us looking not at ourselves in a mirror, but rather looking at the Lord’s glory in a mirror, and thereby being changed into that glory by the Spirit of the Lord Himself! “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 2:18)
Let us remember in all seasons, to look to the only trustworthy mirror and base our truth on the Word of God, shattering the lies of false mirrors, and fixing our gaze on His Glory and not on ourselves, for such does a Virtuous Woman.
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