Today, I happened to notice something that everyone else probably noticed long ago:
In the example of the Proverbs 31 woman, the second key that permeates every verse is her trustworthiness. (The first key would be her fear of the Lord.)
Of course, I've long thought that this is a beautiful statement:
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. vs.11 NIV
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. vs. 11 KJV
I've also connected this to verse 23 tells us that her husband is known in the city gates, where he sits with the elders of the land. In other words, he is a leader in their city. He can perform his role, because he can trust his wife to perform hers. He can do his work without worrying about what she might or not be doing in the home.
The husband of this woman can depend on her to take that part of the family finances for which she is responsible and produce increase. He can trust her to prepare her family for whatever type of weather is coming. He can trust her to teach their children and others with wisdom and kindness. He can trust her to look well to the ways of their household and never to bring about harm to their family through neglect, indifference, slothfulness, or ignorance of the state of their household.
He can trust her never to damage his reputation, which is an important quality in the wife of a leader. Not only does he trust her, but others must see her faithful conduct, as well or he would not be so respected in the city gates.
Where is the source of the worthy wife's faithfulness? She fears and trusts a faithful God. Out of respect for him, she is faithful in everything she does. She is also faithful not only to serve her immediate family, but to reach out to the poor and needy, as well. She knows that this is something the Lord would want her to do.
Yet, even though I have recognized this, I still didn't understand just how intricately this quality of trustworthiness is tied to every verse describing the worthy woman. I have sometimes looked at the long list of her accomplishments and have been overwhelmed when comparing my work to hers. Yet, I see that so much of her effectiveness springs from this quality of faithfulness. She is faithful in the big picture -- managing her time well and determining where to place her efforts. She is faithful in the small picture -- attending to little details.
How does the worthy woman accomplish so much? She works diligently, because she is faithful and trustworthy. She has important work to do in the home, and she is eager to do it well. She wants to be faithful to the trust given to her.
How does she do all that she does so excellently? Again, she is eager to perform all of her tasks in a faithful manner. Therefore, when she puts her hand toward something, she works at it with all of her heart. Thus, her work is never sloppy or unfinished. She carries each task to completion, attending to it with care.
I remember reading about a woman whose husband told her that the thing he appreciated most about her was her faithfulness. At first, she did not take this well, for she thought that sounded dull. Then, she realized what an important quality this is to men. Indeed, it's a quality that we all value, though we don't often realize how much we do. We are quick to be hurt if someone breaks our trust or lets us down in some area. Yet, do we notice how much we benefit when the people around us are faithful and trustworthy, day in and day out, in big things and in small? Likewise, how much do we meditate on the perfect faithfulness of the Lord toward us? When was the last time we thanked a husband or a child for their daily diligence?
Many times we are trustworthy in some aspects of our lives. For example, we may be honest and without deceit, sincere in what we do. Perhaps, we keep confidences well. Perhaps, we keep a pure heart, avoiding any kind of impurity that might damage our relationship to God or our marriage. Yet, we might be indifferent in some other area. For example, we may find it hard to stick to a budget. The truly trustworthy person will be trustworthy in all things, from the big to the little.
Webster's 1828 dictionary describes trustiness in this way:
TRUST'INESS, n. [from trusty.] That quality of a person by which he deserves the confidence of others; fidelity; faithfulness; honesty; as the trustiness of a servant.
It defines faithfulness as
I am more and more convinced that this aspect of being trustworthy, which spawns diligence and attentiveness in our labors, is essential to the degree of satisfaction that we have in life. If we think that the Lord has entrusted us with worthy tasks to perform, we will be eager to do them, and we will do them to the best of our ability. Even if we make some mistakes along the way, we can be at peace that these truly were mistakes, and not the results of sloth or neglect.
If, on the other hand, we have a lesser motivation, we may find that our zeal flags and we may do our work haphazardly. We will know in our hearts that we did not do our best. In such cases, we will be less than pleased with the results.
The smallest task becomes a noble one if we see it as part of fulfilling a noble trust.