I'll be gone for several days, but I want to leave this behind as something to ponder and study on. This is Proverbs 31, from the NIV version.
What I'd point out in the first half is that there is a time for partying and drinking, but it's not for people who want to lead others or themselves. It's always good advice to take care of business first.
But by far I most want you to ponder the verses about caring for the poor and needy. It is possible to do so and still have more than plenty for ourselves. The Proverbs 31 woman is a strong woman; not only does she care for her household, but she invests in real estate and creates several businesses to earn the money to help with her family and to care for the poor and needy. She sees her circle of responsibility as extending beyond herself and her family.
This chapter also points out that there are great opportunities for creativity in work. Taking care of a household is not all about scrubbing floors and doing laundry, though we can find joy even in those tasks if we set our mind to find it.
Just look at all the things this woman does! It reminds me of some of the most successful business women I know today. Many interests, each of which fulfill a purpose not only of the household, but also to feed the spirit and soul.
What do you not see? Not drudgery. Not selfishness. Not being kept under her husband's thumb (or anyone else's.)
Sure, she works hard, but it's the work she chooses to do. And she has many ventures, all her own.
Sayings of King Lemuel
1 The sayings of King Lemuel—an oracle his mother taught him:
2 "O my son, O son of my womb,
O son of my vows,
3 do not spend your strength on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.
4 "It is not for kings, O Lemuel—
not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what the law decrees,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
6 Give beer to those who are perishing,
wine to those who are in anguish;
7 let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
8 "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.