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.
Thank you for sharing all of this. Your tip about reading the Proverbs… I have never heard that, and now I hope I never forget it. Also, I especially like this part “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.” When speaking of already marginalized communities, making/giving room to speak is important work. Praying I can find ways to use those words in meaningful ways.
ps I just finished For those who Wander. Couldn’t put it down, your words resonated in so many ways. Shared with my MIL.
Robin Dance says
Bonnie! You’ve made my day several times over. It was actually my husband (boyfriend at the time, over 30 years ago…!) who suggested the Proverb-reading practice to me. I just read him your comment and told him that I remembered that from our dating years and had written about it…and now it would impact others. xo Thank you for taking time to process these thoughts and consider how they might apply to YOU. (I’m praying for you, too, right now.)
And, thank you, too, for letting me know how For All Who Wander impacted you. Having a book release just before COVID closed us down is odd timing…and to learn that its message is finding people no matter what is encouraging. Be encouraged, dear one!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Defending the cause of the oppressed and needy was and continues to be my rally cry for starting and overseeing Redeemer Christian Foundation, (http://redeemerinc.org) which brings Jesus, education, humanitarian aid, and safety to the orphaned and impoverished children in Pakistan. During the pandemic, our students were denied food and humanitarian aid by their government and NGO’s because they were Christians. If they converted to Islam, then they would have been given food when they were hungry… my faith? or food? It made me think about how we all marginalize and judge others who are not like us. I have asked God to show me where and when I need to accept unconditionally, and not insist on someone meeting my “qualifications” to be considered worthy. Jesus certainly didn’t do this, nor should I. Thanks for a needed reminder.
Robin Dance says
Bev, your point is something we all would do well to consider; at its heart, to ask God to give us the ability to LOVE without condition, and truly, to consider others. Your heart for ministry is inspiring.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Robin thank you for the excellent reading. It reminds me of a song. That teaches us as followers of Jesus. To do as the songs says. It not sang that often. But one of my favourites. It was taught to me as child at Sunday School. It is “Jesus Love Me This I Know For The Bible Tells Me So” how true that is. Plus the words of that song are. If we listen to that song. It reminds us about his love it goes on to say. Little one belong to him they are weak but he is strong. Yes Jesus Love Me This I Know For The Bible Tells Me So. We his Followers to the same. When it comes showing the Love of Jesus to others do as the Jesus did in the Bible. Jesus helped all people of all walks of life. If we can we are to follow in Jesus footsteps. Do the same. By showing Jesus love to even just one person. Who we know could need it. Even if that means taking them for coffee. Listening to them. If they know they can trust you. If they need help you know we’re they can get lead them to it if they ask you for it. Telling them you will pray with them if get the chance to say that if not saved. That person might not have the money to go for coffee so you taking them my be a treat they hardly ever get. You are showing them the love of Jesus. Especially if no one else would bother with them. They feel alone you could make their day. As Jesus always wanted to be with people no one else wanted to be with. He loved them and was friends with them when no one else was. We the followers of Jesus are to do the same. You never know doing things like this can make a big difference in a person life. If not saved they could ask what it is you have. You can tell them the Love of Jesus in you. Everything you do you do. You do for the Love of Jesus. As it is right thing to do. Jesus even helped a Samantha woman by showing her love and who he was. In John 4 we find the story. Jesus didn’t care who she was he showed the Samaritan woman love. Nor what had happened in her life. We the Followers of Jesus are to do the same. Not Judge people for what they done or who they are. Plus we are too always do the right thing pray for them and love them like Jesus did be friends with them. If we do that we in turn will be blessed. Not Judge them. Jesus would not want us to do that. Love today’s reading. Another good one Love Dawn xx
Thank you, Robin! I, too, struggle with some parts of Proverbs 31. Leave it to you to find a portion that points us in the right direction! Using our voices to support others is certainly part of our assignment as Christian women. A reminder and an encouragement to move in that direction!
Ruth Mills says
I was surprised “Because we are loved by God we are empowered to love others.” wasn’t the highlighted sentence. (Not that there weren’t plenty of great truths to highlight). Because God loved first we can do all things as He enables us. God set the standard of not marginalizing, of valuing, of loving justice & mercy for all. Thank you for the reminder and maybe if we keep Prob 31:8-9 keyed in the rest of the chapter won’t seem so daunting. Blessings!
Beth Williams says
My job allows me to love on others easily. I get to help RNs, CNAs, patients & their families. It may be a simple smile, getting furniture they need or making appointments for when they leave the hospital. Each little thing I do is important in the grand scheme of things. I love Stephen C. Chapman song “Do Everything”.. Chorus: As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you ‘Cause He made you to do Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face Tell the story of grace with every move that you make And every little thing you do.
God delights in work done with Eternity in mind. I believe my job is a ministry. I get to spread some of God’s love to ICU Step Down.