Tucked away in the Proverbs 31 is this verse:
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
– Proverbs 31:10, NIV
The King James version uses the word virtuous, the English Standard Version uses excellent, and the New Living Translation expands on the King James and uses “virtuous and capable.” While the end of Proverbs 31 describes what men should look for in a wife, it stands to reason that being of “noble character” is something we should all strive for. That got me to thinking what exactly is meant by “noble character.” Today we don’t have much in the way of nobles in everyday life here in the United States. There are figurehead members of nobility like in England and Japan. We could consider “old money” to be America’s version of nobility. But ultimately, we know and understand this isn’t what God means by “noble character” because of that word “character.” Money isn’t the determining factor of what is considered “noble character” in God’s eyes. So let’s take a brief look at what is:
- Being trustworthy (v. 11)
- Bringing enrichment to those around you (v. 11)
- Bringing good to those around you (v. 12)
- Being dutiful (v. 13-15)
- Being efficient (v. 13-15)
- Being a self-starter (v. 13-15)
- Being responsible (v. 16-18)
- Completing tasks (v. 16-18)
- Caring for the poor and needy (v. 20)
- Taking care of one’s household (v. 21)
- Having (inner) strength and dignity (v. 25)
- Not worried about the future (v. 25)
- Speaks with wisdom (v. 26)
- Instructs with gentleness (v. 26)
- Isn’t lazy (v. 27)
- Ensures others’ laziness does not occur in the household (v. 27)
This is quite a list, and it’s not an easy one, either. One of the things that struck me is not all of it is related to being truthful and trustworthy. Quite a lot of it had to do with being able to work, work well, and getting the job done. But the more I thought about it, the more I see how this is part of being trustworthy. After all, if we’re depending on someone to get something done, if they are trustworthy, then we know that barring some unforeseen circumstance, the job is going to get done. The only way to reach that point is to be effective in getting the things of life done. Yet such a person doesn’t dwell on what is to do tomorrow. This also makes sense because if I’m caught up in tomorrow, I’m no good today.
This isn’t to neglect the aspects we would consider more “character” issues like being good to those around us, caring for the poor, speaking with wisdom, having strength and dignity, and instructing with gentleness. Those are crucial, too. It takes a blend of all of these traits in order to be seen as one of noble character in God’s eyes. But this list isn’t enough. There are non-religious and non-Christian people who could have a claim to fulfilling this list. So God tacks on one more requirement:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
– Proverbs 31:30-31, NLT
In addition to the list, we must also fear God. Everything else on the list is important, but not as important as believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, following Him, and being surrendered to Him. We cannot neglect that. It is of “first importance,” to quote the Apostle Paul.
Do you want to be seen by God as having “noble character?” I know I do. This list in Proverbs 31 isn’t just for women; it is for us all. I know I can’t do it alone. However, if I allow the Holy Spirit to mold me, to teach me, to lead me, He will help me work on this list and on the greater issue of my trust and faith in my Lord. Is this painful? Yes. But it is the process every believer is supposed to go through. We usually have another name for it in the church: sanctification. Whatever choice of words you happen to prefer, the fact remains that this is supposed to be the life for all believers. May the Lord work in us who desire to be wholly His, to be seen by Him as having noble character, according to His great purpose and for His greater glory.