Since childhood I've heard numerous sermons on what a woman, based on these scriptures, should be. Of course, I discovered that in real life the ability to apply all of the virtues of these scriptures were non-existent in any one woman I met, and of course, in me as well. This is not to say I haven't met some amazing women—women who are outstanding wives, mothers, daughters, educators, counselors, executives, artists, and gracious, generous with their time and talents in supporting others. Over the years in attending women's conferences the total-ideal one woman in Proverbs 31 was held up as achievable. Well, I disagree. In fact, I invite you to consider the following scriptures in light of the full Gospel with the intention of including men as well as women into the paradigm of Proverbs 31:10-31. NAS translation.

 The Proverbs 31 Woman is The Church

verses 10-13

* the prophetic, messianic nature as the future Church, the Bride

* the husband to the noble, virtuous wife (Church-Bride) is the Messiah, Jesus Christ (OT future; NT present)

verses 12-13

*the Church seeks to be practical and productive in her work

* the Church grows, waters, harvests, and puts to use what she produces by making clothing (aiding others)

* the Church is positive -- has an eager (attitude) in her work

verses 14

* the Church evangelizes (crosses local boundaries) with "food" (Gospel) on board with a crew (missionaries); she owns the business (entrepreneur)

verse 15

* the Church continues her work (prays, teaches) while it is "dark" and "feeds" (Gospel) her own as well (portions to her handmaidens)

verse 16

*evangelism brings growth and abundance as the Church continuously "plants" and multiplies; the Church reaps from her work (earnings)

verse 17

*the Church strengthens from the Holy Spirit abiding within (girds) to reaching with Holy Spirit power (arms) to others

verse 18

* the Church remains faithful even if it seems the results are not as expected (senses her gain in good)

*the Church keeps the lamp burning by Holy Spirit oil through trials (oil in the lamp at night); she makes sure there is plenty of oil (symbol of HS) to keep the light burning

* the Church is vigilant even when surrounded by dark times (night)

verse 19

* the Church is diligent in the face of trouble; the Church is not weary in well-doing; the Church continues to grab (grasp) the sharp spindle of its mission/commission

verse 20

* the Church has programs to help the needy, the poor, and finds her working in many "outreaches" to her neighbors (and since she owns "merchant ships she sends afar")

verse 21

*the Church keeps her loved ones warm by her authority against the cold, indifferent, perhaps even tyrannical, oppositional environment; those in her household are covered (anointed) with scarlet-riches-color of blood and of royalty

verse 22

*the Church, the body of Christ is clothed (covered-anointed by the Holy Spirit) and attached to the head, the King-husband

verse 23

* the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church because the husband-groom sits at the gates, which he owns, protecting his Bride

*the Church has leaders (elders) who rule and reign with the groom-husband over his land (kingdom)

verse 24

* the Church supplies (makes it her business) to bring truth by teaching and living out the what her husband says (holiness–linen; belt- truth)

verse 25

*no matter how difficult the circumstances, the Church trusts the future in a positive way (smiles); the Church is steadfast and calm in the face of torture, persecution, and death

verse 26

*the Church keeps her focus on what she is to do (open mouth), and grows in maturity (wisdom) in how she is to do it; her preaching is always in love (kindness) even in correction

verse 27

*the Church continues to refresh herself by the Holy Spirit and her focus on the groom-husband to please him; she does not lose sight of her mission(s) by becoming discouraged (idle)

verse 28-29

* the Church will one day have her reward both as Bride, wife, and also as children (heir-daughters) of God; the "well-done" of heaven with all that has been promised will be hers

verse 30

*the Church must remain true to the groom-husband and not be distracted or enticed by the world's (Satan's) programs (Christ's temptation in the desert); she will be rewarded if she continues to focus on (fears) God

verse 31

*the Church is rewarded for all that she does by and for her groom-husband who is King over his kingdom (gates); the King brings her in consummation at the "marriage supper" into a symbolic partnership (gates)

While we come to salvation as individuals, the work of the Church relies upon the unity of the whole body of Christ. No one individual can do what a Spirit-filled-on-fire Church can do—men and women working together.