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The purposes of work 

Looking briefly at an exemplary woman


The wise woman

The only time in the Bible that womenís earning power is given any considerable attention is in Proverbs ch 31 v10-31. There, work is set in the confines of itís purpose and it is here that it should remain. So what is the purpose of work? It is to enable the woman to fulfil her callingóto provide sustenance, comfort, good standing and a knowledge of God to others (and herself). In this context those Ďothersí are her husband and children but I believe this applies to the single and childless too in whatever your situation. I do not wish to imply that these tasks are exclusively the preserve of women either.

The wise woman in our passage has financial independence and stability but it is set in the domestic sphere, in itís broadest sense, keeping that purpose I have just spoken of in the forefront. She is not earning money for earning moneyís sake, she is not earning to avoid other responsibilities, she is not earning to prove herself to anyone or purely for her own satisfaction.

Letís look briefly at her responsibilities one at a time.

What I ask is that you assess whether you have sunk into a rut.

Sustenance eg v 15

The woman in our passage provides good food for those she has responsibility for.

The quality of food available in UK shops is currently a popular topic of discussion in politics and the media. Do you ensure good food is provided in your home? My dear hard-working reader, I donít want to heap bad feelings on you as I know you do your best for your loved ones and friends, what I ask is that you assess whether you have sunk into a rut of the quickest and easiest or are you conscious of your choices amid your purpose?

Has our pride set the standard rather than our needs?

Comfort eg v21

The woman in our passage provides good clothing so that even snow is not feared.

In many respects, clothes in the UK have too high a significance in many peopleís lives. The shops are trying to sell ever more items, changing their available collections more frequently than the seasons. Our passage draws our attention to the beauty of the woman being in her character not her attire yet she and her family are well dressed. Children need to be well dressed against the weather and are constantly needing bigger clothes but could we manage if we did not earn so much or has our pride set the standard rather than our needs?

As Christians we are to be good ambassadors for Christ

Good standing eg v27

The wife in our passage has a good reputation at the town gates (where business and law were at work). This reputation is good for the family and indeed her husband and children praise her. Let us consider if the life we lead has a positive affect on our family. Our agenda should not be dictated to by the world around us but as Christians we are to be good ambassadors for Christ not someone of whom the world thinks our life and family are a shambles.

We are told to show and tell what the Lord has done

Knowledge of God

Our work should not diminish the responsibility we have to pass on our knowledge of God. For those of us who are parents, God expects us to tell the next generation of Him. Indeed in the nation that He held up as an example He went so far as to make statutes requiring the stories to be told regularly. The law was to be attached to the door post and held close to the head and heart. We are told to show and tell what the Lord has done to others too. Are you doing everything possible to pass on your faith or is work getting in the way?

God has a purpose and a plan.

Your Work

Does your work serve your calling or is it setting your agenda to another area? It may be that you need to reassess your situation. You may be content that you are living the way you should just now. It may be that feelings of guilt or dissatisfaction surface as you are already juggling things as best you can but are not at peace.

God has a purpose and a plan. He does not ask you to do more than you have time for and he knows your needs. Bring your situation before Him in prayer. He wants to talk with you about it.

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This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.