A burden of mine is to communicate with women that we must try to always operate with a spirit of excellence. As believers in our precious Savior, Yeshua the Messiah, we must not live our lives in a slip-shod manner, as if what we do doesn’t really matter.
Why does excellence matter?
- We are created in the image of a Creator God. Everything He created was “very good,” and we need to imitate Him in our actions.
- We should follow the example of those who fashioned the Tabernacle. When YHVH commanded Moses to build the tabernacle, two men were chosen to oversee the work. Notice that when they were filled with the Spirit of God, they did their work with excellence. If I claim to be filled with the Spirit of God, then should it not be evidenced in my “manner of workmanship”?
Then YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you…” (Exodus 31:1-6).
- Our everyday work should be offered as an act of worship to our God. Every sacrifice to God is to be the best we have to offer (see also Leviticus 1).
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1, NIV).
In our verse from Proverbs 31 today, we learn that she operated with a high standard of excellence.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night (Proverbs 31:18).
To “perceive” means to know from experience. It literally means “to taste.” She knew that her merchandise was good because she had tasted it, sampled it, and experienced it.
“Merchandise” in this verse means something from which she profited. (By the way, I’m simply using Blue Letter Bible and Benner’s Ancient Hebrew Lexicon for these definitions.) Her merchandise is yet another reference to the business that she operated. She didn’t just dabble in this business; rather, she spent enough time on it so that it actually earned money for herself and her family. She “tasted” and “experienced” these profits. Her merchandise was good, or it functioned well in the purpose for which she had created it.
The verse states that lamp did not go out by night. Stop here! This cannot possibly mean that she never went to bed at night. Nor can this mean that she went to bed late and got up early (see verse 15), getting very little sleep. This can’t be, because it contradicts other portions of God’s Word. (See my article about the importance of sleep.)
Rather, the idea here is that her merchandise was of such high quality that it would last. Her stuff is built to last! You didn’t have to worry that a candle purchased from her would go out, right when you needed some light. Again we see that a spirit of excellence pervades all that she does.
So let’s summarize this woman’s business:
- She has experienced the profit of her labor.
- She sees real profit to others (her family and others) from her efforts.
- She sticks with it. She’s not a quitter.
- She doesn’t put others at risk because of her negligence.
Let’s get practical. How does this affect us in our homes, as godly wives and mothers (and possibly, as business women ourselves)?
- Start at home, in the small things. Be faithful in a few things. “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21, NIV). How faithful are you in house cleaning, laundry, parenting, keeping promises to others, managing your time, and reading your Bible daily?
- Discipline yourself. Excellence starts in the details, but sometimes the details get overwhelming. Make a to-do list, and discipline yourself to cross off items as you do them. Don’t allow procrastination in yourself. (One friend shared that she takes her to-do list to God in prayer each morning, asking Him what He wants from her time. Then she makes sure to be obedient, since her “marching orders” are from the King of Kings!)
- Find out what would bless others. We are to be governed by the law of doing unto others what we would want them do to us (Matthew 7:12). We are to love others as ourselves. Our excellence is not to make ourselves proud; rather, it is an act of selflessness for others. To do this, ask questions of others. Be a good listener. What problems could we solve by our abilities? What answers can we give them from God’s Word? How can our actions leave others with a taste of God’s love?
- Evaluate regularly. The Bible says that we are to know the condition of our flocks (Proverbs 27:23). At the end of a day, do you take time to go over what has been done (in your homemaking, homeschooling, or business), to be sure it’s up to the quality you intended? Do you allow time in your schedule periodically for getting away and prayerfully evaluating your work?
- Know your limits. Do you know when to stop working? Don’t take on more than you can really do well. I like the command in the Torah about putting a balcony around your rooftop so that others won’t accidentally fall off (Deuteronomy 22:8). Our time and energy need a balcony, a boundary, as well. Why? For our own good? Not entirely. When you do too much, you harm others by your broken promises. You could cause hurt to someone else, and now your lack of discipline has overflown into hurt to others.
Sometimes I read articles like this and remember all the ways I have fallen short. Believe me, this happens to all of us! However, when a new week comes, it should be our goal to start again, to try anew. Don’t get discouraged! Keep going!
And if you need wisdom on how to get there? Remember that the same Spirit of God who filled Bezalel and Aholiab with wisdom and understanding promises to give you wisdom, too—if you’ll only ask Him!
“Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4).
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.