Ideal and Real

Proverbial Wisdom

Pastor Jerry Gillis - July 28, 2019

Community Group Study Notes

  • Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
  • Read Proverbs 31:10-31 out loud in your group. What wisdom did you gain from Sunday’s teaching on this passage?
  • Since the Church is the Bride of Christ, how does that change your perspective of yourself? How does it change your perspective on other believers?
  • How can you identify in your own life when you are giving attention to “other lovers” that are vying for your attention and affection? Why is it so easy for us to find ourselves in that spot, where we sometimes disregard the only and true lover of our souls, Jesus?
  • What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?


Sermon Transcript

How many of you have heard this statement before maybe from a young man, maybe if you grew up in a youth group, or you went to a college-age ministry, or maybe some single adult ministry, or just in church in general? How many of you have ever heard any young man utter these words, "The woman I'm looking for I want her to be a Proverbs 31 woman?" Anybody ever heard that phrase before? All right, cool. Maybe if you haven't grown up in church, or you weren't a part of any kind of youth group or any of those kinds of things, you may be going, "I don't really know what you're talking about when you say that."

Well, Proverbs 31 is this incredible description of this remarkable woman. When a young man is saying that, I get it. I like where he's headed. He's trying to say, you know, "I want a Christ-like woman. I want a Godly woman or whatever." He says, "I want to find a Proverbs 31 woman." Maybe sometimes in a marriage, maybe sometimes a husband will say to their wife, "Why can't you be a Proverbs 31 woman?" Do you think that's a good move or what? I kind of saw you jumping a little bit when I said that.

Well, here's the thing. I get why that's being said and all that, and I can imagine, ladies, that that makes you have like a little bit of angst, like there's a little bit of pressure. There's a little bit of, "I'm not sure what to do." Maybe I should say it this way. You probably have a lot of pressure when you feel this idea of, "Man, I'm looking for this Proverbs 31 woman," and you're thinking to yourself, "What? How can I measure up to that?" Here's something, ladies, just as a heads up. If you hear a woman say or a young man say, "You know, I'm looking for a Proverbs 31 woman," or if you have a husband that says, "I want you to be a Proverbs 31 woman," maybe you could simply respond by saying, "Well, I'm hoping to have a Proverbs 1 through 30 man."

Now, I'll be here all day. There's a tip jar down here. I didn't come here to give you a really great comeback in an argument, all right? That's not really why I'm here. It's not why I'm doing what I'm doing. I do want to take a look at this particular Proverb, but when we look at this particular Proverb in chapter number 31, the very last one, it's not a message that is going to be geared just for women. This is actually going to be a message for all of us. I know you're thinking to yourself, "Well, how can it not be a message for women?" You're going to see in just a few minutes that what we do with this Proverb you'll be able to understand this is not just a message for women. This is actually a message for all of us, so I would ask you not to hang it up real quick and not to checkout real early, particularly if you're a guy, because this message is going to be loaded with stuff for you.

Now, what I want to first to is I want to look at this woman's description in Proverbs 31 because it's really remarkable, and the more we read it, the more you'll be going, "Wow, it's incredible," so Proverbs 31 beginning at verse 10 says this, "A wife of noble character who can find? She's worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She's like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night, and she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.

She considers a field and buys it. Out of her earnings, she plants vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously. Her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed. She's clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is clothed with strength and dignity. She can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her, 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Well, well, well, that's a pretty incredible resume, isn't it?

You read that, and it is absolutely ... Potentially, I guess if you're a woman, it could be a little bit overwhelming. You read it, and you think to yourself, and all of us kind of think to ourselves, "This is like a description of like a godly Martha Stewart on Red Bull." You know, something like that, right? I'm imagining that ladies have mixed feelings when they hear this read because I'm sure that on one hand it's kind of this aspirational goal where you kind of look at this ideal Proverbs 31 woman, and you think to yourself, "Man, this is so great. It inspires me towards being more like that." And then there's probably this other part of you that is thinking to yourself, "Man, how do I even measure up to all of this?" And I'm guessing that maybe it can be a little deflating and maybe even a little discouraging to some people who are reading this, women who are reading about this Proverbs 31 woman.

Well, I'm imagining there's a little bit for women, a little bit of a love-hate relationship with this text. I don't mean hate in a really bad sense, but just this contrast of, "Yeah, I really love it for what it inspires me toward, and yeah, it really deflates me sometimes because I don't know what to do with it." That's I'm sure common for most women when they see this passage. There was one Christian author, a woman, who was writing about this particular passage, and I laughed out loud when I saw what she said. She said, "For me, as a Christian woman, the only way I can really drag myself out of bed is if I imagine that the Proverbs 31 woman had big thighs like me." I started cracking up laughing, I'm like, "This is what this woman is actually thinking about." "I can't get out of bed unless I picture this Proverbs 31 woman that has big thighs like me." That's what she said.

And then she also went on to say, "There was a time where I came for Mother's Day to church, and it basically took a police escort to get me there with my kids. I finally got there, and I'm harassed, and messed up, and exhausted, and I'm sitting in the pew. The pastor announces on Mother's Day. He's preaching on Proverbs 31, and I thought to myself, 'If the pastor says that she is a size six, I am gone because it already feels maybe a little bit overwhelming.'" I mean, listen to this. Proverbs 31 when we read about her she can really just about do it all. She buys real estate. She imports food from other places. She selects flax. Anyone a selector of flax? I'm not even sure what that is. I know you grow it.

I actually saw this satirical. It's a Christian kind of satire site. It kind of shows itself to be like a news site. The headline was this, "Woman wants to be Proverbs 31 woman, but now she doesn't know what to do with all this flax." Then the article went on to basically say, "This young woman was trying really hard to become a Proverbs 31 woman, so she could settle down with a husband who would provide for her and love her as Christ loved the church," so what's the problem? After working hard to be a Proverbs 31 woman for months, she's now the proud owner of an entire field of flax that she doesn't know what to do with, but inspired by this passage at the end of the wisdom book, she purchased a field and worked hard at harvesting all the flax, so that she might attract a male, but nobody even looked her direction as she labored day and night in the field.

She even bought some sheep and carefully sheared them, storing up stacks and stacks of wool, but she didn't get so much as a like on Instagram for her efforts. She then attempted to plant a vineyard, but nothing happened after close to a full hour of waiting for the grapes to grow. Finally, the woman purchased a merchant ship and sailed afar to bring back food, but still, tragically does not have a husband. I imagine that that's not the way that we read Proverbs 31. Obviously, that was satire, but we do have to think about how impressive this woman's resume is. She's industrious, she's creative, she's compassionate, she's caring, she's wise, she can teach, she's respected and honored, she has a character that people want to emulate.

All of these things are here, and you just go, "Man, she's diligent." All of these things are here, and you just go, "Wow, this is an incredibly impressive resume." I mean, Jewish men through the course of time would actually take this Proverb, and they would sing it to their wives on special occasions to honor her or sing it to their mothers to be able to honor them. Industrious, diligent, caring, compassionate, smart, able to provide. I mean, this is remarkable, a character to emulated. This character trait resume is really, really impressive, and there's one more maybe that I would want to add to these character traits, not real.

Let me say it a different way. Ideal. You see, what we're reading here in Proverbs 31 is not a checklist. It's an opportunity for us to see that this is written in a unique way. You see, we don't see that when we read it in English, but when we look at it in Hebrew like you were doing this morning before you got here. When we look at it in Hebrew, things change for us. You see, what this actually is, is this is an acrostic Hebrew poem or song. By an acrostic, I simply mean this. That of the 22 Hebrew letters each one of those starts one of those verses, so from verse 10 to 31, when you count all of those up, that's 22 verses.

Do you know how many letters there are in the Hebrew alphabet? 22. And what it starts with is the very first letter in the alphabet, aleph, and then it begins to go to the second letter, the third letter, the fourth letter, and each one of those begins a description of what this woman is like. You see, basically, in English it would be like us saying this, "It's a description of a woman that is excellent from A to Z." That's quite literally what we have here. In this particular passage we've got an acrostic poem or an acrostic song that describes this woman.

Now, this is a compilation over time. This is not talking about one snapshot at one moment. Obviously, this isn't talking about a young woman who's just gotten married, because we're talking about somebody with children and those kinds of things, and you're even seeing the fruits and the products of what she's done with her labor and all that. Do you think all that happened just in one moment when she was 24? No, this is a compilation of a whole lot of things that are describing a particular woman. This is why I want to tell you this because, ladies, when you read this, and you think that all of this has to be true about you tomorrow, here's what I want you to do. Take a breath.

Gentlemen, if you think that the woman you're looking for has to be all of those things on day one, here's what I want you to do. Take a breath because what we have here is we have the description of an ideal. We don't even have a name. This is just some unnamed woman, and we have the description of an ideal here. She's called the wife of noble character. She doesn't have a proper name because it's not talking about a proper person. It's not talking about one singular person. This is an ideal, and a Hebrew acrostic is used to describe an excellent woman from A to Z.

In being called the wife of noble character, that actually translates in a couple of different ways. You could say this is a virtuous woman. Some of your translations that you're reading say a virtuous woman who can find, a wife of noble character who can find? It also translates woman of valor. Now, some of you are thinking to yourself, "You know what, I'm not married. I don't know if this even applies to me." Listen, you can be called a woman of valor even if you're not married.

That same exact Hebrew phrase that's used right here about this ideal wife is also used about Ruth before she was married to Boaz. She was called a woman of valor, so whether you are a lady who is married, or whether you are a lady who is single, you can still be designated as a woman of valor. Eshet chayil in the Hebrew language is the term or the phrase that's used right there. That's a beautiful designation. It's actually something to aspire toward, ladies. That when you really walk with God, that God begins to make you into this kind of woman. It is definitely something to teach young women to be able to move toward, not away from. Absolutely.

Young men, if you're looking for a woman with godly qualities, you can look at this passage or scripture, and you can say, "These are some of the things that I see in this particular woman. That she fears the Lord. She loves the Lord. She's industrious, and creative, and she's intelligent, and she wants it now." She hasn't accomplished maybe all the things that this ideal woman has accomplished, but you want to be looking at that. Those things are perfectly fine, and that's a real live application of our text for sure, but to read this Proverb correctly, we need to know who it's being written to, and it's not written to a woman.

Every man just went, "I'm sorry. What?" It's not written to a woman. It's written to a king. You see, if I could back you up for a moment into the beginning of the Proverb in Proverbs chapter 31 verse number one. Listen to what it says. These are the sayings of King Lemuel, an inspired utterance his mother taught him. You see, what we have right here in this particular Proverb is we have the mother of a king speaking to this king, first of all, about what a king should be and then what kind of bride that king should have. That's what we have when we begin to look into this.

It's also interesting to note that when you look at Proverbs chapter one, and you look at Proverbs chapter 31, that makes up the first and the last book of the book of Proverbs. In proverbs chapter one here's what you have. A king giving wisdom to his son, and in Proverbs 31 here's what you have. A mother giving wisdom to her kingly son, so you've got this interesting bookend in the book of Proverbs where both are giving wisdom to their children, and what you see in the book of Proverbs often times is you see wisdom kind of personified as a lady, lady wisdom. You get that picture often times in the book of Proverbs, so it's fair of us to ask if we're talking about the sayings of King Lemuel to ask this question, "Who is King Lemuel?"

Are you ready for this? Hold. Here's who King Lemuel is. I don't know. Here's why I don't know. Because King Lemuel is only mentioned here in the bible and nowhere outside of it. King Lemuel was not a king of Israel. King Lemuel was not a king when the kingdom divided Israel and Judah. He was not a king of Judah. Some scholars have argued maybe it's a possibility that it's another name for Solomon because Solomon had multiple names that he was called like Jedidiah, or if he wrote Ecclesiastes, which some argue that he did, Qoheleth meaning the teacher, so some have argued maybe this is another name for Solomon. But here's the consensus of scholarship as to who King Lemuel is. I don't know.

Well, here's what we do know. The name itself, Lemuel, means, if you broke it down specifically or literally, it would mean to him, El, so El is another word for God. You could say it this way. The name actually means devoted or set apart to God. That's what the name means. Is this a real person? We don't have any indication that it is. There's a name here that's descriptive of someone devoted to God, but what it sounds like more and more is it sounds like an ideal king. But regardless of who this king is, this mother actually gives instruction to this king as to what kind of king the king is supposed to be.

Notice what it goes on to say in verses two through nine, "listen, my son. Listen, son of my womb. Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers. Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings. It is not for kings, Lemuel. It is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish. Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly. Defend the rights of the poor and needy."

This was the communication from mom to this king. She was basically saying, "Don't be overcome with things that will take you away from being the right kind of king." Things like if you got involved with women that you shouldn't have gotten involved with. That can take you down a wrong path, and you see that outlined in all of Proverbs over and over. Don't get so caught up with your wealth that you get all happy about yourself, but you forget the oppressed, and the powerless and the voiceless. Don't do that.

Don't be overcome with alcohol because if you are you may forget about the very people that you need to be a voice for and that you need to stand for, so don't do any of these things, and make sure that you give voice to the voiceless. Make sure that you care for the poor, and the needy and the marginalized. This is what a real king is supposed to do. Interestingly enough, when you read this whole Proverb, all of chapter 31, here's what you see. You see instructions about what an ideal king should be followed by what an ideal bride for that king should be.

Now, why do I point that out? I point that out because we have to be able to read this in that way because when we're looking at an ideal king and his ideal bride, while there are very specific applications that we've already noted and talked about, that's not all that's going on in the text. Sometimes we can see things that maybe we didn't see before. I don't know if you remember or have heard about ... Those of you who are art majors, you all know who Salvador Dali is. Salvador Dali was a famous 20th century Spaniard painter, a very eccentric. He used to say a lot of things to get himself in trouble, and he didn't really care but was a brilliant painter.

He liked to use imagery that was deceptive or illusion-type of imagery in some of his paintings. I remember one of his paintings. The highest-selling painting he ever painted went for $22 million. Some of you are going, "I need to pull out the Crayons." It's like $22 million. There was one a particular painting that he did, and the name of the painting is called The Image Disappears. It's an interesting painting because when you see it on its very front what you see is you see a woman in silhouette who's holding a letter. He keeps this silhouette there. There's her head, and then there's her arm, and she's looking at a letter. That was inspired by Vermeer, another famous painter.

But if you keep looking, what you see when you kind of back it up a little bit, and you can see it clearly. It's like my profile right here. There's the hair, the eye, the nose, the mustache, the goatee. Right there you can see it. Everybody see that? One image you see, and then it disappears into another image. I think when we start to look at this particular Proverb, that can actually begin to happen for us when we start looking at it a little more deeply.

Why do I think there's more going on in this Proverb than just, "Hey, men, here's a way for you to lead well. I know you're not a king, but hey, you still need to pay attention, and you need to put into practice some of these characteristics of what a good leader looks like. Hey, ladies, here's a way for you and some things for you to aspire to in terms of what a really godly lady should look like." Those things are real, those things are true, but I think that once we start backing up for just a moment, and we keep looking at the text, maybe we start to see another image emerge because we're talking about an ideal king and an ideal bride.

You see, the reason that I say that I think there's more going on in this text is because of what verse one says. Look at it again, "The sayings of King Lemuel." Listen to this. "An inspired utterance his mother taught him." You see, this word for inspired utterance is where we get the word prophecy. Some of your translations may actually have a prophecy from his mother. It's also where we get the word oracle or the phrase sayings of God. You see, this is important for us to understand because this is the same terminology that's used in the prophets, so when you read Isaiah, or Ezekiel or some of the prophets there. When they talk about the prophecies that they give, they're actually sayings from God about something that is going to happen likely in the future.

It may be the immediate future, it may be the long-term future, but these are sayings that God gives that say something about the future. This is the same terminology that's used right here. What we see is we see this mother of this ideal king who has taught him something that is related to prophecy. You see, that's why I would contend that the ideal king that we're reading about here in proverbs 31 is a picture of Jesus. This is a picture of Jesus. You say, "Huh, really?" Think about it. The ideal king is one who will not be overcome by wealth. Jesus was born into a family not of great means but instead was somebody who connected with people of lowly needs.

He was ministering to people all over the place often times dealing with people who didn't have a lot of means. In fact, he himself when he was ministering in his kind of vocational ministry from, you know, that three-year time period from about the age of 30 to about the age of 33 he said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nest, but the son of man has no place to lay his head." You see, he cared about the poor and the marginalized. It was prophesied of him by Isaiah that he would basically free the captives, that he would release the oppressed from their chains. This is exactly what an ideal king was supposed to do. He wasn't overcome with wealth and people of power but instead was clear-eyed.

He wasn't overcome by women as you know, and he certainly wasn't overcome by alcohol either. In fact, even though this prophecy basically says that leave wine for the dying so that when they're in their anguish they have something to deal with it, when Jesus Christ, the ideal king, was on the cross he refused the wine. Why? Because this wasn't about his anguish. This is about his role as the king. He refused the wine. Why? So that he could drink down clear-eyed the actual vocation for each he was dying, the full cup of the wrath of God, and he would drink it down to its dregs on our behalf.

You see, this is a picture. He was a voice for the voiceless. Better than that, those who were mute and couldn't speak, he would touch their tongues and give them a literal voice. This is the ideal king that we are reading about in this text as the image begins to get clearer, and clearer, and clearer for us. Now, I want you to imagine something. How do you think Jesus read this text? It was available to him. You see, Jesus was a long time. Hundreds of years after the writing of this was when Jesus came along. This existed. When Jesus, the ideal king, is reading this text, how do you think that he is reading this text? Think about that.

What would be the bride he would seek? Some of you are sniffing what's cooking here, right? Who would be the bride he would seek? You see, the ancient commentators, so many of them, when they read Proverbs chapter 31 they didn't just see it as a checklist. They actually saw the richer meaning that this is pointing to the bride of Christ. You see, ladies and gentlemen, we often times in our modern context want to be so pragmatic and so practical that sometimes we forget to see all the richness of the text, but the ancients they looked at it this way.

In fact, I was reading two months ago an article by Chad Ashby, and he was writing in Christianity Today. I want you to note something that he said in there. He said, "Ancient readers trace this Proverbs 31's inestimable value back to the one who pursued her to the ends of the earth." Caesarius explains, "Who shall find a worthy wife?" This means, who else except Christ? Indeed, he did not find her valiant, but made her so by finding her. Just as a famous painting's worth is determined by what a collector is willing to pay, the church's value is bestowed by her beholder. She is worth far more than rubies as it says in Proverbs 31.

Baptist theologian John Gill marvels, "She is bought with a price, but not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. The ransom price paid for her is himself." You see, this is how the ancients actually looked at this text. Some of us have gotten away from thinking about this text, and we've gotten so consumed with looking at it as a checklist that it can become deflating, or for a man it can be an impossible standard. We look at these things sometimes maybe not exactly the way that we should be looking at them.

Jesus did not find the church as a woman of valor but made the church so by finding her. You see, this reminds me of the incredible theology behind the statement from Cinderella. Cinderella said to Prince Charming once she had become a beautiful princess. She said to Prince charming. She asked him this question, "Do you love me because I'm beautiful, or am I beautiful because you love me?" You see, the answer to that question for those of us that are the people of God is very simple. When Jesus sought his bride he didn't seek his bride because she was so beautiful, but in finding his bride and loving her he has made her so.

You see, this is the richness of this text when we begin to look at it from every side, but since Jesus finds the wife of noble character, his wife must come from him if she is to be of noble character. This can't just be anyone anywhere. This actually has to come from him. Listen carefully to this piece of theology I'm throwing at you. Listen carefully. As Eve came from the side of Adam so too the church comes from the bleeding side of Jesus. As Eve comes from the side of Adam so too the church comes from the bleeding side of Jesus. Why? He's the second Adam. This is a picture of Christ and the church, and it's no wonder that Paul writes about this extraordinary mystery when he writes about marriage and about a groom and a bride.

Remember what Paul said in Ephesians chapter five. He said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh," quoting Genesis. He said, "This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church." You see, he's talking about a husband and a wife, a bridegroom and a bride, but says, "I know this is mysterious to you, but I'm actually talking about Christ and the church." You see, what we need to remember is this, is that Jesus fashions his own bride.

He purifies her. He's the one who makes her clean. Upon doing that, she begins to grow in being industrious, and diligent, and creative, and compassionate, and caring, and wise, and able to teach. These are all the things that are described here in Proverbs chapter 31, and when the bridegroom finds the bride this is what happens. You see, what we're dealing with in Proverbs 31 when we read the whole thing is we're dealing with an ideal king and an ideal bride. That's not only giving us some practical application for our lives that we can aspire to by the help of God, but under that is giving us this picture of the glory of the bridegroom and the bride of Christ, the church.

You say, "Okay, well, that's ideal, but can we make this real?" We will. Actually, we won't. He will. Write this down. The ideal becomes real when the king is revealed. That even rhymes. The ideal becomes real when the king is revealed. You see, just as surely as Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and lived, and died, and rose from the dead and ascended back to the Father, just as surely as that, he's going to return. He is returning ... Listen to this. He's returning for a bride. He's returning for his church. He's returning for his people.

When Jesus returns he is going to make all things new. The entire cosmos is going to be new creation. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. When Jesus returns, and his bride will be beautifully adorned, washed white as snow because of what he's done on her behalf, and you will hear the bridegroom calling out to this entire new cosmos the words of Proverbs 31:31, "Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Why? These are my people. This is my bride. That's what we have to look forward to. Listen, it's a picture of grace. We didn't do it. We will never do it. He's done it. He purifies. He makes beautiful. He doesn't love us because we're beautiful. We're beautiful because he loves us.

You see, this is the picture that we have here in Proverbs 31. It is a picture of extraordinary, overwhelming, mind-bending grace. The ideal King, Jesus has lived up to it. The ideal bride, we have not lived up to it, but we will because of him. He's going to make us who we're supposed to become. This is the beauty of grace, isn't it? Grace does so much in my heart. It brings me to a place of deep, deep gratitude. I think one of the ways that we can express our deep gratitude is for us to pause for a moment here and on all of our campuses to honor the Lord through the Lord's Supper.

I'm going to ask our ushers wherever they are they can go ahead and get in place on this campus and on every campus. As they get in place in a moment, we're going to receive the elements of the Lord's Supper, and here's what's going to happen. As we pass those elements out in just a moment on my instruction, I'm going to ask you to take those, and I want you to hold onto them because we're not going to take them individually. We're going to take those together, but what I want you to think about is this, is that the incredible price that was paid by the groom for his people, for the bride. It was the price of his life. He shed his blood. Why? Because Jesus came with a singular vocation, and he didn't let anything. Whether it was wine, or women, or wealth, he didn't let it take away from what he was doing as a king who was going to establish a kingdom and who was coming for a bride.

He came to lay down his perfect life for our sinful lives. That while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us. He did that to satisfy the justice of a holy God who doesn't just wink at sin or sweep it away but instead will deal with it in judgment as he should. Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, offered himself in our place, so that by his sacrificial death and his subsequent resurrection showing the satisfaction of his payment, we by faith in him can now be reconciled to God and forgiven of our sin because we could never forgive our own sin. We could never deal with the gap that we could not bridge between us and God, but Jesus has done that for us. Why? Because he loves his bride, and he gave us symbols to remember that.

Bread and wine for body and blood. This is a reminder to us that the groom loves his bride, the church. I'm going to ask you if you will to take the bread. We're reminded of this picture in the bread and in the cup of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. This is something that has most significant meaning for those of us who believe in Jesus as our savior, as our Lord. For those that don't this may just be for you some type of religious ritual. It's not intended for that. It's intended to commune in the presence of Jesus because of what he's left us and to remember that not only has he done this to rescue us, but that he has done this at great cost. Whenever we do this, we remember his sacrifice, but we also remember the promise of his return.

Paul writes to the church at Corinth, "For I receive from the Lord what I also pass on to you." The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and he said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Let's eat. If you'll take the cup, a cup of wine, a cup of grape juice is a reminder of the shed blood of Jesus. Paul writes in the same way after supper, "Jesus took the cup saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." Let's drink.

You see, Proverbs 31 is a reminder to us of a picture of grace. It's a reminder to us about an ideal king in Jesus who is making all things new and will make all things new such that we will be as his people a wife of virtue, a valor of noble character. We can certainly ask some practical questions here. Are you living as the husband or the wife that God intends for you to be, or maybe are you living as the person who may one day be the husband or the wife that God intends you to be? Maybe instead of looking at Proverbs 31 as a checklist, we would be more concerned with putting our attention on Jesus and letting him fashion us into what he wants us to become.

You see, what I want you to remember is this. Is that Proverbs 31, particularly when it regards the bride, is not a one snapshot in time. It's where we're headed. What if you looked at your husband? Sir, what if you looked at your wife? Young man, young lady, what if you looked at your prospective husband or a prospective wife not just based on what they are but on what they're becoming. What if you looked at them that way? That you were able to give grace knowing that they aren't all things, but they are growing in these things by the grace of God. What if we looked at our spouses or the people that we were dating in those ways as opposed to maybe creating a standard that we feel like is impossible in one snapshot in time, but we realize it's something that we will be even though we're not yet? I think it would help us in our relationships.

Maybe we need to ask this question. Are we being washed by the water of the word, so that as a people we are becoming without spot and without wrinkle? Some of us like that without wrinkle piece. Do you know what Proverbs 31 doesn't talk about at all? Physical appearance. You don't find that anywhere. What you find is a heart in a character that results in deeds done for the glory of God. This isn't about what we look like. This is about what we're becoming, and what we want to be spiritually are people that are becoming without spot, becoming without wrinkle. That is true positionally because of what Jesus has done, but practically, we still have things that we have to work out, and we need to let him do that.

What if the application of this text is asking this question? Have I been giving my attention and my heart's affection to other lovers? Have my priorities been other things other than Jesus who is the lover of my soul? Maybe I've given myself to the pursuit of wealth, and stuff, and possessions and status, or I've given myself to self-absorption to the point where everything revolves around me, and it's not thinking about others, it's not thinking about the kingdom, but it's about my own pursuits and interest. It's about my happiness instead of about my holiness.

Maybe we've given ourselves to that, and we need to repent, and we need to ask the Lord to help us and fashion us into the people he wants us to become, or maybe there are people here who've never received Jesus. You've never turned from your sin and put your faith and trust in Christ and believed on him and had your sins forgiven. Your life transformed in the now and secured for eternity. Jesus loves you. This I know.

If you want to know what it means to be in relationship with Jesus, that when we dismiss in a moment, I'd love for you to come by the fireside room. It's just right out these doors. You can see it there in the atrium. We'd love to take a moment and talk to you about what it means to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ to be a part of the church, his bride, the one that we're going to be united with for all eternity.

Father, how I thank you for the truth of your word and what it teaches us and for the overwhelming sense of grace that we get when we come to this text. Not only the practical side of what it means to live us men in this world who are leading well, women in this world who are following after Jesus with all of their hearts, but also what it teaches us about who we're becoming and who's making us that way. Thank you that it wasn't contingent upon our beauty as to whether you'd love us, but in loving us you make us beautiful. You make us pure and holy.

May we continue to give ourselves to you in time in the word, in time spending prayer, in time serving other people. That we continue to grow into what we're going to be, this beautiful, spotless, wrinkle-free bride, the people of God. Thank you for the grace that you've shown us in enabling that for us, and I pray that we would live as people of deep gratitude to you and deep gratitude in what you've called us to do in serving other people because what this does is it frees us. We don't have to serve other people for their affirmation or their approval. We are loved by the king.

We don't have to wait for them to approve of our life or the things that we do, or impress them with our stuff because we are citizens of the kingdom of our King, so may your love and your grace free us to live lives of mission. We pray that you would do this in Jesus name. Amen.

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