Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29
These are some pretty big shoes to fill. Women throughout Christian history have aspired to emulate this woman’s behavior. And the character qualities beneath the behavior give us insight into how she was able to live such a significant life, particularly in how the text primarily describes her as “excellent.”
The word “excellent” (used in verses 10 and 29) comes from the Hebrew word chayil, which means (are you ready for this?) wealth, virtue, valor, strength, mighty power and substance. This term is actually used in the Old Testament to talk about strong armies and warhorses. Webster’s Dictionary defines excellent as “archaic, superior, very good of its kind.”
The kind of strength and virtue required to fulfill the call of a godly wife and mother hits a new level with this definition. I can do an “excellent” job with my tasks. People can tell me I keep a good house and my kids behave in public. But virtue and valor are character qualities that rise far beyond responsible behavior.
So how do I cultivate excellence in my life?
As a mother, I get tired. Really tired. When my family asks me what I want for Mother’s Day, I usually tell them I want a day off. But the Bible tells us the excellent wife is incredibly strong and prepared for many difficult tasks on a moment’s notice.
Where do I get that strength?
Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” The power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside us! We must draw from His strength in order to face the daily challenges of motherhood. This means we fall at His feet every day in submission to His will, begging Him for the daily bread of His power. It means we feed off Scripture to strengthen us.
This kind of strength is also unafraid in the face of trial. Verse 25 says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” When trouble comes, she remains steadfast and unmoved. I’ve watched over the past couple of months as godly women in my life stand unmoved in the face of horrific trials, and I’ve wondered if I could do the same. Here’s the truth, though: The foundation on which I stand cannot be shaken. Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” So even when my flesh fails (and it will), God remains strong. As mothers, we must continually fix our eyes on Jesus in the face of trials, knowing He sustains us with His grace.
Do you have what it takes to be an excellent mother? I sure don’t. That’s why I need my Savior. May we run into His arms this Mother’s Day and allow Him to clothe us with strength and dignity.