The Home – A Canvas Awaiting a Master Painter

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Last week I concluded the blog posting with this paragraph: “On the other hand, a full time homemaker can see her home as a destination stop, not a place to eat and sleep on the way to somewhere else. As she creates her “work-place” to be an expression of herself, rather than a house with furniture in it, it can become the hub of a potentially powerful, natural, spontaneous, unconscious ministry, first to her family and then to the world around her.”

Today, I want to address these two aspects of the wife’s calling as a homemaker—the natural two-fold ministry that will flow from her as she functions in her unique role. 1) Her ministry to her family, and 2.) Her ministry to the world. This will be a very brief summary, with a modern setting, of Proverbs 31:10-31, what Solomon calls a description of a “virtuous woman,” or, what we might call, a “biblical homemaker.” 

But before I do so, I want to remind us all of the power, the driving force, that supplies the desire and the motivation energizing this homemaker: it is THE AGAPE LOVE HER HUSBAND HAS FOR HER. 

That is why she is married in the first place. This man found himself loving her initially, unconditionally and sacrificially, with a love that he could not understand, a love that did not even demand that she love him back—and she could not help but do so! Now she finds herself looking for ways to please him, i.e., eagerly join him as his helper as she bears his children in his mission to rule over the earth in the kingdom of God. 

This agape love of the husband is the foundation upon which the biblical vision I am sharing in this posting on being a homemaker is experienced, not perfectly, not fully, but the standard by which we husbands can realize our failures and repent—which, ironically, moves us ever closer to that standard in our experience. 

This homemaker’s first mission in her task to help her husband rule is: 1.) Her ministry to her family, and that begins with making a “home” out of the “house” they occupy, thus the title “homemaker.” If she is talented artistically, as is my wife, Jill, it will be comfortably and stylishly furnished, beautifully decorated and orderly; if she is more functional, it may be more spare and organized, but in either case, it will be warm and welcoming to all who enter. Both pictures these homemakers are painting on the canvas of their homes are great, beautiful works of art, although they are different artists painting with radically different styles!

Each has been delegated the responsibility for the creation and care of her home, under the leadership of her husband, and she directs and oversees what happens there. This will include being sure the family is properly fed and nourished, anchored each evening with a big, nourishing meal, where the whole family gathers to share their day’s activities and discuss family plans together as a unit. 

Being sure the whole family is properly, and attractively dressed is another responsibility the homemaker takes upon herself. This becomes more and more important as the children grow and increase in number. Finding bargains to fit the family budget and keeping up with who needs what as they grow is not an easy task to do well, and the diligent homemaker is on top of it all.

The decision about the overall direction of the family is the role of the husband as its leader, after always considering his wife’s wisdom and insights. However, the day-to-day planning and execution of what occurs in the home will be up to her. This includes education, after they determine to take back that responsibility that the state has stolen, and homeschool their children.

The homemaker may be neither well-educated nor confident she can teach her children, but fear not! First, no one loves them, is as interested in their education, and only wants the best for them as much as does their mother. This is absolutely the most important quality the one who will be with them all day, every day, can have, and it covers a multitude of short-comings. 

Secondly, there are a plethora of homeschool conventions, conferences, course materials, and on-line assistance to help the homemaker mom learn to become an excellent teacher. I had a good friend who was a highschool graduate, and after homeschooling her own three children, became a renowned, much-consulted expert on the subject.

Home education also provides an excellent opportunity for the mother to continue consistent child training on a daily basis. This is a tragically ignored topic in the church today. Even though it is one of the most crucial and life-affecting things we can do for our children as parents—train them as the Bible instructs us—it is missing from the agenda of the vast majority of churches. 

The homemaker’s second task as she helps her husband rule, after her ministry to her family, is: 2.) Her ministry to the world. Shockingly, Solomon tells us, in his description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:10-31, dependent on her gifts and abilities and the opportunities that arise, the world, indeed, is her oyster!

These verses, interpreted in the current culture, tell us that the opportunities for the homemaker to display her abilities are almost limitless. In verse 16a she is seen to purchase a piece of real estate, and her deliberations before the sale are mentioned as if to let us know that she was not simply acting as her husband’s agent. He must have recognized her proficiency in this area and given her free reign to make real estate decisions herself, probably using his family capital. This must be the source of “he will have no lack of gain” in verse 11. By her purchases their estate is growing.

She plants a vineyard, probably on the land she has just purchased (vs. 16b). This means the land will be productive and justify its acquisition. She is wise enough to use its harvest either for the family, or to continue to build the family estate with the sale of the grapes.

This homemaker somehow finds the time to “gird herself with strength,” and to “strengthen her arms,” in verse 17. These terms are redundant if they both refer to the same thing: exercise sufficient to keep the virtuous wife in physical shape. The second phrase refers to just that, but the first phrase, I believe, is a reference to the supply of spiritual strength she draws from God to accomplish all she must do as a homemaker.

“She opens her mouth with wisdom,” in verse 26a, implies some form of teaching, either the instruction of her own children at home, or teaching, both formally and informally, in her capacity as an older woman in the community (Titus 2:3-5). She is certainly qualified, because “on her tongue is the law of kindness” (vs. 26b), not malicious gossip. She is an example for the younger women in this regard, for the area of the tongue is the most difficult area of life for us to master (James 3:8).

The final task mentioned in the job description of this ideal homemaker is in verse 27a: “She watches over the ways of her household.” This indicates her administrative ability to coordinate the efforts of all that help her: her children as well as her servants. They are all responsible to her, and she leads them with grace and kindness. She does not use her children and servants to evade work herself, for she “does not eat the bread of idleness” (vs. 27b). Her leadership is by example.

Next week we will wrap up this little journey down the seldom-used road of the divine calling of women. 

This has been but a brief summary of Chapters 10 and 11 of my book The Family – God’s Weapon for Victory. Simply request them via email and I will send you the PDF version of these chapters.

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