GUEST POST: By Marsha Young
As a very young wife and mother, I would read this verse and could little relate to what it had to say. I was a full-time, at-home mom. Like most mothers, I worked hard, but I rarely had any money. I could not imagine buying a field or planting a vineyard “out of my earnings.” I had no earnings; I was an unpaid volunteer in the family business.
Then, through a series of unexpected circumstances, it became necessary that I go to work outside the home. My resume was pitiable. It had been fifteen years since I worked as a clerical assistant right after high school.
However, God opened a door for me, even though I was minimally qualified at that time, and from there … well, the rest, as they say is history. In my case, it is the history of my twenty-seven year business career, wherein I worked full-time. For nine of those twenty-seven years, I also went to school, eventually earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in a business related field. Now, I could relate to Proverbs 31: 16.
First, the woman in Proverbs 31 took the time necessary to give careful thought as to what she wanted and what she planned to do, before she took action. She considered the field; she didn’t do any impulse buying.
When she did buy something, it was not a “spending spree” – also euphemistically called “retail therapy.” She did not buy clothing, or cosmetics, or furniture. There is nothing wrong with these things in moderation, but as soon as they are purchased, they began to lose their value. They provide diminishing returns.
Instead, she purchased a field, an investment not an expense. Then she likely used that field to produce food for her household and for sale in the community. She may have also given part of the proceeds to the poor, since verse 20 tells us that she “opened her arms to the poor.”
A wise woman today will invest, when she has opportunity, in her family, in her education, in her own talents and the talents of others; she will make the most of her experience and be a role model to those who may be looking for some guidance in practical matters.
Again, she makes an investment, rather than an expenditure.
This purchase differs from the first one though. Buying a field was a near-term investment because its crops or sheep’s wool could be harvested in one season, or annually. The vineyard, however, was a long-term proposition. It takes years, after planting a vineyard, before the vintner can expect to harvest grapes or produce wine.
Thus, we can see that she was both a pragmatist, concerned with the immediate future, but she also diversified her investments, making some of them a long-term investment.
Another way to look at these two endeavors is that the field is about meeting basic needs, food and clothing. But the second, longer-term investment is about the potential for joy and fulfillment.
Land is required for sheep to graze or for a garden to grow. But you can live without a vineyard. However, the grapes and wine produced by the vineyard could represent the potential for joyful living later on. A vineyard can mean celebrations with family, friends, and neighbors.
Again, she has her priorities straight. Meet the basic needs first, but then take the time and trouble to plan long-term for joyful living.
This relates well to many of the struggles we face as wives and mothers today. During those early years, when we have children to raise, we can easily invest our all in the lives of our kids. But the day comes, sooner than you ever expect, when those kids grow up and start families of their own.
A woman of virtue has long-term plans as well.
Have you invested in both short-term and long-term plans in terms of relationships, education, career, and ministry?
After fifteen years as a stay-at-home mom, Marsha Young re-entered the work-force and went back to school. Twenty-seven years later, Marsha retired as Vice President of Human Resources with a master’s degree in business and human resources. Her many years as a wife, mother, and executive give her a wealth of experiences to draw from. She is a speaker and a writer with a heart for reaching others with the message of Christ’s grace. She’s also my mom. You can read more from her at Spots and Wrinkles.