The biblical proverb reads: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” Indeed, the worth of an excellent wife is beyond price, but an excellent wife is not born on her wedding day. She becomes excellent step by step, year by year, by walking in the direction of excellence. This kind of worth does not simply fall upon you, it is cultivated over time.
Charm & Beauty
There are many obstacles to becoming an excellent wife. The Book of Proverbs is littered with them. Proverbs 31 closes with two obstacles–charm and beauty. Not what you would expect. Doesn’t the excellent wife dazzle her husband with her beauty and charm, her looks and her wit? Maybe, but that’s not what makes her excellent.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov 31:30). A woman who fears the opinions of others runs to the refuge of “beauty” instead resting in the refuge of her God. Inadvertently, she makes a new god out of her looks. She obsesses with her face, her figure, and her fashion not with wisdom, faithfulness, and godliness.
Charm makes a bad god too. A woman who fears losing the limelight chooses charm over faithfulness. She attempts to lure the light—attention, approval, or applause—in discreet or overt ways. Her comments bend conversation in her direction. Her attire bends the eyes of men towards her body. Her preoccupation is not: “How may I bless others”, but “How may I capture their attention?”
The More Excellent Way
There is a way forward in becoming an excellent wife. It has to do with fear. The excellent wife, the woman who is worthy of praise (not who tries to get it) is a woman who fears the Lord. What does it mean to fear the Lord? Is it cowering in the corner in prudish silence? Or perhaps a general terror of the judgment of God? Neither. Then what?
There is a kind of fear that a daughter has of her father, a deep reverence and respect and admiration of his authority in her life. This fear isn’t sinful; it’s trusting, hopeful. It’s not the fear of a servant but the fear of a son. A woman who lives under God’s authority, who trusts in his providence, no matter how bitter it may be, is an excellent woman, a woman worthy of praise.
This kind of fear gets tested in marriage. My wife has had reasons not to trust me at times (seasons of confusion, anger, selfishness), but she knew that she had every reason to trust God, her heavenly Father. See, a woman who holds her highest respect for her Creator is freed under his protection and love to honor her husband. When her source of acceptance and love fits securely in the arms of an unfailing Father, she is freed to be an excellent wife. When her husband fails her, her world does not fall apart because she trusts in the God who put the world together. This kind of fear isn’t daunting; it’s delightful (Isa 11:3).
Many women have done excellently, but you my dear, you surpass them all. You bear the beauty, the trustworthiness, the wisdom, the enterprise, the mercy, the kindness, the strength, and the faith of an excellent wife. Thank you for fearing and trusting God more than you fear and trust me. Thank you for not relying on charm and beauty but on grace of God. Thank you for laboring to bless others and placing me in the center of your blessings. They are innumerable. Indeed, an excellent wife is hard to find, and I have found one. These ten years have been a gift I do not deserve, your companionship beyond what any man could imagine. I love you. Here’s to many more decades!