“Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.” Proverbs 31:25 (NASB)
They started small. So small, in fact, that we didn’t really notice them. They blended into the walls.
We had lived in our home for several years when we began to notice cracks in the walls. A little wrinkle here, a small chip there — but barely visible and certainly nothing to be concerned about.
After a while, though, the cracks expanded, and we finally decided to do something about them. With a bit of plaster and paint, we patched them and went on with the business of daily life.
But the cracks soon returned. And they didn’t just return — they kept growing. Pretty soon, everywhere we looked, we saw a crack. They sliced through the frames above doors and even stretched to the ceiling. This project had become more than just a paint job.
It turned out that our attention had been on the wrong thing. We’d been thinking about what we saw happening on the surface of our home when in reality, something in the foundation was weak and needed to be fixed. The cracks weren’t the problem; they were only a result of the problem.
In today’s key verse, we read about a woman who is dressed with strength and dignity, and she smiles fearlessly at what’s ahead: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future” (Proverbs 31:25). You may read this verse and, on the landscape of today’s world, feel like you could never smile without fear of the future. Or you may read some of the verses that surround our key verse and determine this woman must be some sort of spiritual superhero who doesn’t have anything to fear.
At first glance, the road to smiling without fear of the future might seem daunting. What are a spindle and distaff, anyway? (see Proverbs 31:19) But before you go searching the internet, let’s look at these verses through a different lens.
There’s a heart behind this … for the woman in Proverbs 31 and for us. The smile we desire to find is not something we work our way into. It’s something we receive as we respond to God.
Physically, the heart is a vital organ. Without it, we would instantly die. But the heart is vital not only to our physical lives; it is also vital to our spiritual lives. To live spiritually, we need more than just a beating heart. We need a holy heart.
With our hearts we believe in God and love Him. (Romans 10:10; Luke 10:27) Our hearts pour out truth, or they seep lies. (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 12:34) And from our hearts bubble springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
God is far more interested in our motives than He is in our motions. Yes, our actions are important, but before we can produce actions that glorify God, and before we can smile without fear of the future, we must have hearts positioned and conditioned to respond to God.
After years of bearing the weight of our house, the beams holding my house in place had begun to shift. That shifting caused everything to droop. As the foundation drooped, the walls and ceilings cracked.
We hired a crew of experts to come help us. It was tedious, loud and grueling work. But once the foundation was stabilized, we could finally repair the cracks for good.
Maybe your heart has spent years settling beneath the weight of sin, fear or the cares of this life. Maybe you’ve been exhausting yourself with daily plaster and paint, and you don’t know whether you have any energy left to consider your heart. I won’t lie to you; heart work is hard work. But God’s Word can lift our hearts into a stable place and make us capable of standing in uncertain times.
When we position and condition our hearts to respond to God, we will find ourselves on the path to becoming women who smile without fear of the future.
Dear God, I admit sometimes it can be easier to try to arrange a disaster-free future with my own efforts and plans. Today, help me first deal with my heart and trust You to handle my future. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
1 Samuel 16:7, “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.’” (ESV)
Katy McCown’s new Bible study, She Smiles Without Fear: Proverbs 31 for Every Woman, walks you through a step-by-step process to help you look forward to the future with joy. Order your copy now and make 2021 the year you smile without fear!
Stop by Katy’s website to receive a free resource: 7 Prayers to Help You Smile Without Fear.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
What is one thing you can do today to spend less time worrying about the future and more time prioritizing your time with Jesus?
We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Katy McCown. All rights reserved.
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