I heard a story years and years ago. I don't remember who told it and I don't even remember the details. I just remember the point of the story, which is good. So I'll make it up and try to fill in the gaps (I'm really going to make it up cause I don't remember anything about it.). There was a group of women who were preparing themselves for the groom. A man was coming to pick a bride form among them. They all went into a frenzy and started making themselves beautiful, doing their hair and wearing fine clothes and making sure their bodies were in tip top condition, so the groom would pick them. When the day came, one lady was a little embarrassed because her hands were very beat up and she didn't have nice clothes. Her nails had little nicks on them, scrapes and her nails were different lengths. The groom came and choose his bride. All the women were anxious to hear who it would be, and to their surprise he chose the lady with the beat up hands and old clothes. "Why?" they all wanted to know. The groom explained that this woman's hands showed her character; she was not afraid of hard work and dove into it, despite what it made her look like, what it did to her reputation, or how it made her feel. Her hands showed that she was a woman who sacrificed her own comfort to suit others' needs. They held more promise than any nail design or latest fashion.
Proverbs 31:13 "She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands."This verse says so much about the P31W. If we want to be one, this is a great place to start - being a servant and working hard. It is so hard to put aside every one of my desires and needs to serve other people - especially when no one notices.
I'll admit it, I can be pretty selfish. There have been so many times when I have let something go unfinished or undone in hopes that someone else will take care of it. Or times when I haven't extended the emotional care/comfort that someone needs in a time of trouble. Or when I wasn't a friend when I should have been. Or when I should have done the dishes for mom, but chose to do my own thing instead. All those instances are forms of service and we pass them up every, single day. I would much rather him/her take care of it, or better yet, take care of me!
When dealing with service, this passage come to mind. Sadly, the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest when the Lord Jesus was in their midst. Jesus rebuked them.
Mark 9:35 "Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."Notice that Proverbs 31:13 uses the word, "willingly". If it just said, "she works" it would lose a lot of the meaning and instruction. The key is that she willingly works with her hands. She doesn't complain and she doesn't have ulterior motives. But being willing is hard. God has really been teaching me this. Let me tell you the answer: PRAYER. Now, I wish that I was, but I can honestly say that I am not a prayer warrior. Prayer is very hard for me. But, trust me, whether praying is like pulling teeth or breathing to you, it does not go unheard or unanswered. I have prayed, "God, make me a servant today." And boy, He gave me an opportunity to serve. If we ask God for opportunities He will send them - whether we dive in or hem and haw about the situation for a while.
When it comes to hard work and service, I don't think we are capable. Not you. Not me. But, God is. I found out that I have to stop putting the pressure and stress on myself to serve while managing a smile, but rather, let God just be God through me. If I want to be a servant, I have to stop acting like the strength to serve comes from myself and give credit - all of it - to God. If I try to do it any other way, the acts of service just become meaningless blobs of...nothing. They get tainted by my pride (which ruins literally everything we try to do) and all misconstrued by my motives. In order to truly be a servant, I have to "set down my cross (all the earthly things with no lasting impact that I am so obsessed with) and follow Him (Christ)." Service requires me to point people to Christ, humbly accepting that I will never do the job like Christ does, but determining to do better every time.
Wow. That's a hefty demand. One time, I had a little note on my door that said, "Make me a servant." I took it down eventually...I don't know why...but it reminded me that "servant" isn't something I decide to be, but rather something God transforms me into, little by little. I can say, "God, use me." And He will, even when I feel inadequate, stupid, or incapable.
Now don't get me wrong, forcing yourself to serve toughens you - even if you do grumble. Kinda like lifting weights. I mean, who actually LIKES lifting weights the first time? But then you start getting muscles, you like the results and it gets easier and easier. HEY! What do you know? You could be a professional weight lifter someday. Same goes for service, it's hard at first, but as you serve you will develop a love and passion for it.
A P31W will always be looking out for the needs of others and actively meeting them. Whether the needs be emotional, physical, mental or spiritual.
Galatians 6:9 "And in due season, we will reap if we faint not."