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Over the past year, we have examined each of the verses in Proverbs 31, in-depth (10-26). (Verses 28-31 are coming soon), but today’s verse sums up the Proverbs 31 wife in one fell swoop!
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
The Bread of Idleness
We have seen her attentiveness to every aspect of a woman of noble character’s life by caring for her husband, children, servants and even the poor. We’ve seen her wake early, stay up late and work by lamp, when necessary. We’ve watched her plant a vineyard, sew her own clothes, her family’s clothing, tapestries and bedding. We’ve read about her selling goods to help with family expenses. As we learn more about this awe-worthy wife, we see that she strives for excellence in every one of her responsibilities!
The Proverbs 31 woman knew that her role as homemaker and wife was God ordained. She took this role seriously and she “slayed” it!
She didn’t idly sit by and watch soap operas (well, if they had TV back in biblical times) or let mount laundry grow. She was busy embracing her role as a wife of noble character. She did not “eat the bread of idleness”, but was busy managing her home, her family and her responsibilities. She rocked in time management!
Let’s unpack this verse, piece by piece:
In Hebrew, this is translated as tsaphah (tsaw-faw’) “to look out or about, spy, keep watch”.
This phrase means that she is keeping her family as first priority. She doesn’t worry about the new wash basin that the neighbor purchased or what those crazy Smiths are doing around the block. She doesn’t spend hours on Aramaic Facebook (hehehe what would THAT look like? :D). Instead, she closely watches her home, her family and prioritizes their needs and her responsibilities.
“to the ways”
The Hebrew translation is haliykah (hal-ee-kaw’) “a walking; by implication, a procession or march, a caravan — company, going, walk, way”.
“of her household,”
In Hebrew bayith (bah’-yith) “a house (in the greatest variation of applications, especially family, etc.”
Here, we see what she is watching over: her family’s ways – their health, activities, knowledge of God, what they eat, how they rest. She is overseeing how they live their lives and ensuring that it is good and God honoring. She makes sure that they are eating their vegetables and brushing their teeth. She ensures that they have clean tunics and feel loved. As the wife who is worth more than rubies, she manages the home by taking care of her husband and family and watching over their lives.
“and does not eat the bread of idleness”
‘akal (aw-kal’) “to eat”
lechem (lekh’-em) “food (for man or beast), especially bread, or grain (for making it)”
`atsluwth (ats-looth’) “indolence — idleness.”
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Whew! Ok, this Hebrew tongue twister is so powerful! The woman of noble character is not lazy or idle. She knows how to manage her time and seizes the opportunity to work and serve her family.
She is the one who makes sure that the home (and family) runs smoothly. It is because of her watchful eye and her care that her home is clean, organized, well-fed and honors God. She (YOU, dear friend) are irreplaceable!
If you struggle in this area, don’t fret. There are several small steps you can take to improve your time management. You can resist the urge to “eat the bread of idleness” and rock the role as wife and mom.
Here are my top tips:
Get Up a Bit Earlier
If you struggle with getting everything done in your already busy day, consider getting up a bit earlier. Just 30-60 minutes will give you the extra time to plan and organize your day and knock out some of your routines. I’ve written more on this subject HERE.
Reduce Screen Time
A July 2016 CNN report found that American adults spend an average of TEN HOURS per day in front of screens. While for many that includes work in front of a computer, much of it is staring at a smart phone or television. By reducing your screen time, you are gaining hours in your day. While I’m all for relaxing and watching a good TV show, don’t let screen time eat up all of your productive daytime hours. If this area is a struggle for you. Consider taking one night per week off from screen time and instead use that time to catch up on home projects or cleaning or spend time with your family.
Many of us suffer from “analysis paralysis”. We have so much to do that we don’t know where to start so we zip from this activity to that without real plan. This, in itself, can cause us to eat the bread of idleness! I encourage you, if you don’t already have routines in place, to start an evening routine and work from there adding more, as necessary. I’ve written extensively on this topic in THIS POST which includes printables to help you establish the best routines for you and your family.
Second to meal planning, routines are the number one reason my house is in good order and maintains cleanliness.
Try Block Scheduling
With growing to-do lists that include everything from food shopping to cooking and from cleaning and organizing to home bill paying, there’s no wonder we bounce from task to task, yet accomplish so little, at times. If this sounds like you, consider using a block schedule. For example, use Tuesday afternoon (or after work) to run errands, Wednesday you might block an hour out for household paperwork (paying bills, filing, reading mail, etc.). By setting aside time to focus on one task or a group of related tasks, you are more likely to complete the items on your to-do list.
Use a Planner or Calendar
This one seems pretty obvious, right? But the truth is that few people use them for more than a place to enter meetings and appointments. Find a planner that you like and use it to block out time for related tasks as described above. For some of us, having it in writing is the catalyst we need to ensure that tasks are done. I love crossing items off of my to-do list. I may have even written down tasks that I’ve completed after I’ve completed them just for the joy of crossing them off of my list 🙂
I use a combination of Trello for my lists and a paper planner. The paper planner that I prefer, which is peppered with Bible verses is sold out currently, but below is one that I have heard good things about. (click on the photo below to take you to the Amazon product page).
I’m also in the process of creating a “bullet journal” as it can be customized to my needs and provides an outlet for creativity. Later this week, I will be sharing a guest post by a bullet journaler that you are going to love!
How are you doing in this area? Do you eat the bread of idleness or do you need to work on improving in this area? Tell me in the comments below or email and let me know what kind of resources you would like to help with this.
I look forward to hearing from you very soon.
If you want to dig deeper, check out my book, The Complete Proverbs 31 Wife: A Verse by Verse Exploration of What it Means to Be a Proverbs 31 Woman in Today’s World.
Because of Him