When I was young and needed some direction about where to start reading in the Bible – especially when I wasn’t taking part in a guided or group study – a friend suggested opening Proverbs and choosing the one that corresponded to whatever day it happened to be in the month. Since there are thirty-one proverbs and thirty to thirty-one days in most months, they pair up nicely.
Perhaps due to its simplicity, this practice has remained a mainstay of mine throughout the years. When I need to hear the wisdom of God, or on occasion when I’m looking for writing inspiration, or on those days when time is scarce, Proverbs is where I begin.
As I prayed for the Holy Spirit to lead me in writing this post, I sensed a nudge to share my simple Bible-reading practice. But then I realized what day of the month it was — the thirty-first. Ugh. Writing about the “Proverbs 31 woman” felt tone deaf in light of our world right now. And even though I absolutely believe “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV), it wasn’t a passage I would have purposefully chosen.
Despite my feelings and out of regard for this practice of mine, I flipped to the familiar proverb. Immediately, I was reminded that God is so good and He knows me well. I had forgotten how Proverbs 31 starts. The nine verses preceding the characterization of a “wife of noble character” had escaped my recall.
To refresh your memory, Proverbs 31 is attributed to King Lemuel (though there’s speculation it could’ve been King Solomon), and those first nine verses are strong advice offered by his mama about wine and women and doing the right thing. When I got to verses eight and nine, I was blown away, understanding immediately why the Spirit might’ve led me to share my reading practice today:
Speak up for those who have no voice,
for the justice of all who are dispossessed.
Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause
of the oppressed and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (CSB)
Isn’t it always astonishing to read ancient words that speak so specifically to our world right now? I never want to lose the wonder of God’s word or its relevancy regardless of time, place, or circumstance.
We have influence among the people in our lives. You have influence among the people in your life. Are you stewarding this gift well? Are you influencing others with intention?
Ultimately and consistently, I want my life to point others to Jesus. Though I’ve admitted how I wrestled with Him and inadvertently tried to rob Him of His glory, I’ve always considered it an honor for my words to be read. Using my voice for those who may not have a platform is precisely why I love advocating for Compassion International and one of the reasons I love writing for the (in)courage community. Indeed, ours is a hope-filled and encouraging family where we get to love each other with our words and actions. I deeply value your time and appreciate every comment, email, and social share (When y’all encourage each other in a comment thread? My favorite!).
And with the influence I have here, I want to encourage us to heed Proverbs 31:8-9. As racial tensions continue to occupy our headlines, we must “speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.” Because we are loved by God, we’re empowered to love others. And loving others demonstrates our love for God because it’s obedience to the greatest command: to love God and others (Matthew 22:36-39).
When we make space for others to speak and when we use our own voices to stand against injustice, we become part of the reconciling work Christ began. Let’s soak in the wisdom from Proverbs 31:8-9 and become women of courage and justice.