Proverbs 31:10-31

Ephesians 5:21-6:4

 “Strong – Invincible – Christian

Mother’s Day May 13, 2018

Tody is Mother’s Day, a day when we celebrate our Mother’s love and our love and gratitude to God for our mothers and  a day we honor our mothers, but I don’t like to just stick to honoring or talking about our mother’s and our mother’s love on this day. So today I want us to look at what it means to be a real  woman – because I think that when we  look at what it means to be a real woman we’ll see what it means to be a real Christian, male or female.

There are so many ideas of what it means to be a real woman in today’s world. The modern definition of womanhood can be very demanding and very confusing.  There are numerous sites on the internet that are advertised to be “by women, for women.”  Many give examples for women to pattern their lives after.  Many feature tips for women on how to make it in the business world or “look the part” of a successful business person and still be feminine about it   and many other tips all the way from cooking and cleaning to how to pick the best mechanic to how to pick the best financial advisor.

The fact is that many women are moving from the home into the business world.  Some are doing this for the first time and may not have experience to draw on to make the transition, so the creators of internet sites and blogs are glad to dispense advice, Over 50 million women are expected to log on this year to internet sites, making women the most critical demographic of the Web. There’s a lot of things for women on the inernet. Most are trying to convince women to make a name for themselves, go out there and change the world, and  be your own person –

            Or – as Helen Reddy once sang – be strong – invincible – woman.

            There are a lot of images out there with a lot of advice on what it means to be a woman, some good advice and some not so good. What’s a woman to do? Which image does she follow? Is it really possible for a woman to be completely independent – strong, and invincible?

When we look at Proverbs 31 we see that the talk of the strong woman is nothing new, for here we have a good image of a strong, what you might call invincible woman! But  where does this strength come from? Where does this ancient Hebrew woman get what she needs to do all these things? I don’t think she gets it from a web site! No, it comes from her faith.

It is a woman of faith the author of Proverbs is describing here. In Hebrew, the word to describe her is chayil, which is to say that she is strong and powerful and faithfully living up to her full God-given ability. The bottom line is that this passage is a poem in praise of the kind of woman all women should aspire to be, not because she can be the goddess of home and commerce, but because it is a life of using your God given talents and praising God for these talents.

So, here we have chayil,  the strong woman of faith. Strong. Invincible. Faithful.   

But what does Paul add to the image of the strong , invincible, faithful  woman in Ephesians 5? Talk about a mixed bag of images!  At first glance, this is not the picture of the strong, invincible, faithful woman Proverbs gives us. Proverbs says the strong, invincible, faithful woman is to:

do her husband good – and not evil

be adept at buying and selling

rise while it is still night to cook for the family

be able to buy property

gird her arms with strength

have profitable merchandise

work at sewing and other crafts at night

clothe her household

give her husband a good reputation

sell some of the clothes she makes

not be idle

Then in Ephesians Paul says that the faithful woman is to be subject to her husband. 

These seem to be a confusing set of images here! But are these really 2 conflicting images, or are they the same image, the same person,  the same goal, just different aspects of it?

Can a woman be a strong, invincible, faithful woman and:

do her husband good – and not evil

be adept at buying and selling

rise while it is still night to cook for the family

be able to buy property

gird her arms with strength

have profitable merchandise

work at sewing and other crafts at night

clothe her household

give her husband a good reputation

sell some of the clothes she makes

not be idle

and at the same time be subject to her husband?

Maybe so. In fact maybe that’s the Christian way.

A woman who:

does her husband good – and not evil

is adept at buying and selling

rises while it is still night to cook for the family

is able to buy property

girds her arms with strength

has profitable merchandise

works at sewing and other crafts at night

clothes her household

gives her husband a good reputation

sells some of the clothes she makes

is not idle

While at the same time lets herself be subject to her husband.

Maybe this is what it means to be a strong, invincible  Christian woman.

Maybe. just maybe, instead of trying to be thoroughly modern,  thoroughly strong, and thoroughly invincible women,  and men, can strive to be thoroughly Christian. 

 doing  their husbands and wives good – and not evil

being adept at buying and selling

rising while it is still night to provide for the family

adept at business –

doing what needs to be done for the other – and the family –

While at the same time letting themselves be subject to each other.

Maybe we can all be strong, invincible, Christians.  Paul gives some roles for the man in Ephesians also, you know. What it boils down to is mutual strength,  mutual love , and helping each other. Not so much thoroughly modern, but what I call thoroughly Christian.

Strong, Invincible. Christian.

How can we accomplish this? Only with God. Only with God’s love. Only with God’s strength. God can strengthen us so we can be a strength for each other in our families and marriages. God can strengthen us so we can love each other in our families and marriages. God can strengthen us so we can support each other in our families and our marriages. God can strengthen us so we can be strong, invincible,  Christians.

Being a thoroughly modern woman may not be the answer. Being a thoroughly modern man may not be the answer. But being a thoroughly Christian woman is the answer. Being a thoroughly Christian man is the answer.

Being strong, invincible, Christian. 

I believe that the key to life, for a man or woman,  is not being thoroughly modern but thoroughly Christian. Not paying attention to all the self  help web  sites that are out there but paying attention to God and God’s help for our lives.

So, to all our Moms, Happy Mother’s Day! I praise God for all you do, the way you tackle the hard tasks, the way you do all you can for your family and our Church. We here at Edgewood are indebted to our moms and all the women who do so much for us and for the Church. Your hard work and willingness to “jump in and do” whatever needs to be done is a blessing and we all give praise to God for you!

And I call upon all of us men to do all we can to support the women n their tasks.

Let’s all be thoroughly Christian women and thoroughly Christian men.

Let’s all be strong, invincible, Christians. Amen.