Thursday, August 27, 2015

She Dresses Herself with Strength

How many have read Proverbs 31 and have been inspired by the woman who has become one of the main role models for Christian women?  I have.  Although, I would have to admit, I also become intimidated by all the things she does. I have to remember I can't do anything without the strength of God.  I must remember that I will fail no matter how hard I try, but God gives grace, and I must give myself grace too.

With that in mind, I'm going to focus on the two verses that jumped off the pages this morning as I was reading Proverbs 31.  The other day, while considering moving a full sized deep freezer on my own, I realized that I have the physical strength to do that, and I was reminded of the purpose of strength and how easily swayed we are from that due to vanity.

The first verse that jumped out at me in Proverbs 31 was in the middle of the passage explaining the woman's physical work that she did for her family.  Proverbs 31:17 says,

"She dresses herself with strength

and makes her arms strong."(ESV)

In context, the passage is speaking of this women, this wife, buying fields and planting them.  When it says "dresses herself" it actually is referring to "girding her loins," which is what they had to do to prepare for physical activity.  They wore long robes and had to tie them up.  This supports the view of getting fit for the purpose of functional fitness---being able to have to strength to carry out everyday activity.  And, if you need to move a freezer or a wood pile, you have the strength to do that as well.  This is actually quite inspiring!  The value of a woman's strength is in the Bible!  It is good for a woman to be strong.  It is good for her to have strength to do the things she needs to do in order to take care of her family and household!  

Contrary to this functional fitness, I see a lot of woman who seem to be fit for vanity's sake.   Proverbs 31:30 says, 

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." (ESV)

What exactly is vanity?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as, "the quality of people who have too much pride in their own appearance, abilities, achievements, etc. : the quality of being vain."How can we take pride in our strength, yet not become vain?  The answer is simply giving the glory to God---truly giving it to him.  Understand that He is where your strength came from.  God created us in His image.  The human body is a beautiful creation. Give Him the Glory.   Praise the creator, not the creation. (Read Romans 1:25)

Beauty can be vain.  It shows in many areas of the fitness world where there is no sign of God truly being praised for His magnificent creation.  It's a challenge to remember to give Glory to God, even on "Flex Friday!"  As humans, we all will naturally be inclined to vanity.  Vanity can deceive you.  It can deter you from keeping your eyes truly on Christ and your purpose as a Christian, to bring glory to God.

So how then, do we as Christians, stay clear of vanity when it comes to fitness and strength?   I'm not going to give you a list of "Do's and Don'ts."  Just examine your heart continually.  When you are posting that photo on Instagram, ask yourself, "Why?"  Is it because we know that certain kind of photo will gain followers?  Is it because we desire to bring glory to the One Who Made Us strong?  When you decide to join a competition, is it to reveal in your own strength, or His?  I"m not going to say it's wrong to post photos of yourself flexing, but there is a difference between posting modestly to encourage others verses posting photos that only your husband should see.  

What encouragement can we get from these passages?  There certainly is a balance.  The purpose of our strength should not be solely for showing off muscles.  It shouldn't be to show off our body.  That kind of beauty can be vain because we are not bring glory to our Creator, but the creation.  But, strength is a good thing!  Go ahead!  Do those deadlifts!  Run that 5k!  Do those handstands!  Gain strength and take the glory to our Mighty Creator who created such potentially strong and functional bodies!  

This way, if your car breaks down, you can push it to the curb!  If your freezer needs to be defrosted, you can roll it outside.  If your four year old needs a nap in the middle of Pike's Place Market, you can hold his dead weight of 40lbs for an hour.  You can go for an early morning run, pack your kids up for a whole day of errands, return home, cook dinner, clean the kitchen, bathe the kids, and still survive.  This is functional fitness.  This is the kind of strength that brings glory to God and honestly shows what we were created for.  This is the kind of strength that helps us live functional and active lives for our families.  It goes so much deeper than flexed muscles.  Go ahead, dress yourself, prepare for action, and make your arms strong!

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