October 11, 2007

Women of Grace and Virtue

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This morning while reading Proverbs 11 I came to a verse that I hadn't really noticed before.

" A kindhearted woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth." Proverbs 11:16

I looked in my King James Bible and the verse reads " A gracious woman retaineth honour, and strong men retain riches."

Hmm, similar yet different. As I began to study further other verses came up.

" A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones." Pr. 12:4

" Every wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." Pr. 14:1

" Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." Pr. 31:10

I started thinking about what does it really mean to be kindhearted and gracious? What is the definition of virtue? I went to the neatest website called blueletterbible.com. It has just about everything you need to study the Bible, even the Bible! You don't even have to own a Bible anymore because it's online for free. I looked at the Hebrew lexicon, which is the listing of the words of the verses in the original Hebrew, with it's meanings. Here is what that first verse is saying, according to the Hebrew:

The word gracious: favour, grace, charm

a) favour, grace, elegance

b) favour, acceptance

Related words were also pleasant and precious.

Retaineth: to grasp, hold, support, attain, lay hold of, hold fast

1) to grasp, lay hold of, attain

2) to hold up, support

3) to hold, keep

4) to take hold of each other

b) (Niphal) to be seized, be held

glory, honour, glorious, abundance

a) abundance, riches

b) honour, splendour, glory

c) honour, dignity

d) honour, reputation

e) honour, reverence, glory

f) glory

I also went to Webster's 1828 dictionary and looked up the word gracious.

1. Favorable; kind; friendly; as,the envoy met with a gracious reception.
2. Favorable; kind; benevolent; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings.

4. Proceeding from divine grace; as a person in a gracious state.

5. Acceptable; favored.
6. Renewed or implanted by grace; as gracious affections.
7. Virtuous; good.
8. Excellent; graceful; becoming

" A favorable, kind, merciful, good, virtuous woman attains, seizes, lays hold of abundance, riches, glory and honor..."

This brings me to the word virtuous and this verse:

" A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones." Pr. 12:4

In Hebrew "virtuous" reads :strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army

a) strength

b) ability, efficiency

c) wealth

d) force, army

Surprising huh? I know that wasn't at all what I was expecting. So virtue is really a stronghold or a force.

Here is what Webster says about virtue: The radical sense is strength, from straining, stretching, extending.

Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law. In this sense, virtue may be, and in many instances must be, distinguished from religion. The practice of moral duties merely from motives of convenience, or from compulsion, or from regard to reputation, is virtue, as distinct from religion. The practice of moral duties from sincere love to God and his laws, is virtue and religion. In this sense it is true,

Virtue is nothing but voluntary obedience to truth.

4. A particular moral excellence; as the virtue of temperance, of chastity, of charity.
Remember all his virtues.

5. Acting power; something efficacious.

Jesus, knowing that virtue had gone out of him, turned - Mark 3.

6. Secret agency; efficacy without visible or material action.

7. Excellence; or that which constitutes value and merit.

8. One of the orders of the celestial hierarchy.

9. Efficacy; power.

10. Legal efficacy or power; authority. A man administers the laws by virtue of a commission.
In virtue, in consequence; by the efficacy or authority.
This they shall attain, partly in virtue of the promise of God, and partly in virtue of piety.

I hope this isn't terribly long for you to read, but I thought it important to see all the definitions of the words. When one looks at these descriptions, it can seem overwhelming. It is a great responsibility of Godly women to be virtuous and wise and kindhearted. But the best part about is that the only way we can be those things is with Jesus in our lives. He was all of those things and more- in my flesh I could never be morally excellent and kind. My flesh is so selfish- me, me, me!

When we are walking with the Lord, these qualities will naturally flow out from us, as long as we are willing to be molded into His image. It is something we will always be working towards, with room to improve indefinitely. This brings to mind another verse which seems to confuse many,

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matt.5:48

Us being human, how can we be perfect? We can't, but we've been washed in the blood of Jesus without stain or blemish. When God looks at us, He sees Jesus.

The Greek word 'perfect' means-brought to its end, finished

2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness

3) perfect

4) that which is perfect

a) consummate human integrity and virtue

b) of men

1) full grown, adult, of full age, mature

It seems as if this is something that will take a long time, like a child growing into an adult, becoming "full grown" or "mature". The more I learn about God, the more I realize I don't know about Him. He is so infinite that my finite brain can't comprehend it all.

How exciting it is to know Him!

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