by Gina L.
from Virtuous Daughters, December 2016~Volume 16, Number 9
"Panning for Gold" Proverbs 31 Study Series Part 9
One day when my eldest daughter was about 17 years old, she decided to take all her honed wood-working skills and try her hand at a new feat. After meticulous research, she ordered plans and selected excellent quality maple wood from a local lumber mill, and she disappeared into the loft of our barn for many afternoons to work on her project. A few months later, she emerged with a beautiful looking and sounding full-sized 34-string harp. Each step was done in excellence as her habit had become, and therefore the end result was likewise, exquisite!
Proverbs 31:18 says that the Virtuous Woman perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. This Virtuous Woman knows that her products are top rate—top quality—because she made them. As she worked with her hands, she did each step unto the Lord and not to men, and so in the end, it was all done right and her merchandise was indeed good. If she made a product or food item or such, she knew exactly what ingredients she used and they were all good, so she has confidence that her end result is also good.
The end result—the product produced—is really just the sum or compilation of the steps taken to get there. She knows her merchandise is good because she knows that she did each step with her whole heart and with excellence. She also knows what inferior things look like, and she avoids those shortcuts. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t safety-pin something instead of sewing it at times or ever cook with a convenience product, but what she offers, what she provides, what she sells, what she produces, what she gives is good, and she knows it!
Differing from modern culture, the Virtuous Woman doesn’t spend her evenings in idle entertainment. We see that her candle doesn’t go out by night. She works until the job is done, not just until the day darkens, and she uses all her hours productively, not in trivial pursuits or following vanity, be it vain programs, purposes, persons, or personalities. Now, spending time with her family and husband is not idle or trivial or vain, but sometimes they are busy in the evening on their own projects and she (and any that may help her) use the time well. Maybe she is weaving or sewing. Maybe she is reading by candlelight a quality book to grow and feed the mind of her youngsters. Maybe she is preparing her food at night for her family or another family in need and the children are at her side helping. Maybe she is making a gift or grading a homeschool assignment.
Maybe she is doing something to help her husband either with his work or something else that he wanted done. Maybe she is figuring the family’s taxes or looking where to get her food from afar. Maybe she is working to remodel or paint or beautify the home or tidy or organize it. Maybe she is singing to a baby or rocking him to sleep or telling a Bible story to a little one or singing hymns with the family. Maybe she is spending time in prayer, Bible study, or meditating on Scripture or journaling. Maybe she is studying and learning and researching if the field she wants to buy is a good price and the soil good, and maybe she is counting the cost of grain and deciding if she should spend the fruit of her savings on seed for the field. Maybe she is writing to encourage someone.
She could be doing many things by candle light (or since Edison—by lamplight), but we know there are many things she would not be doing.
I will insert a word of caution here taken from my own experience. It can be tempting to take a Bible verse and apply it to our situation, crafting it carefully to justify our desires, which is great folly. I think I subtly did this very thing directly after writing this article. I decided to stay up late, later, and even later to finish many projects that the day with its demands did not allow me time to complete. Inwardly, I justified that the Virtuous Woman too doesn’t blow her candle out, but keeps on with her productivity into the night hours. Since my husband had left for a short trip, I felt furthered justified in that I wasn’t bothering anyone. In the morning when I heard my little girl awake, I realized my folly. As I rubbed my eyes and tried to rouse my tired body, I felt ill-prepared for my day.
We must remember that the Virtuous Woman only stayed up as late as would also allow her to arise early and only as late as would still allow her days to be productive, for we know how productive her days were. The truth is that we don’t know how long her candle burned at night, but we are wise to seek the Lord in His will for us and in our honest application of His Word to our lives and not seek to use His Word to get by with what we want to do.
How we spend our free time in many ways defines what we will be in years to come. We are all on a journey, learning and growing, or at least we have the potential to learn and grow each day. Idle time-wasters starve growth and produce pitiful, shriveled fruit. Our time on this earth is short—a vapor. Buy it up, use it up, and redeem every minute of your day. Don’t crowd out your family, husband, and people in the evening in pursuit of pleasure or even your goals, but rather pursue God’s goals for your night—your candle time, or should I say His candle time—for such does the Virtuous Woman.
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