The strange thing about this passage is that for many Christian women it is the bane of their lives because they struggle to meet its standards. Yet in the Jewish community, it is used as a way to praise wives. We often think of the Jewish community as being one where laws are important and as such add boundaries that are crossed at your peril. Yet the Christian one is plagued by the idea of reaching certain standards despite the importance of grace.
The fact that these ideas are so intertwined to me is a sign of the mutual heritage of these two great world religions. Jesus was a Jew and for some Jews following Him is a completion of their religion rather than taking on a new religion.
The basic foundation of Christian teaching comes from the Old Testament. Think about how many times the coming of Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament, literally hundreds. The religious practices followed by Jesus and his disciples were definitely based on the Old Testament. There are so many links between them that the story of Jesus life just would not make sense without the Old Testament.
Comparisons or the struggle that comes from having two things that are similar but not the same
I don’t know about you but one of the problems with having a brother or sister is that horrible word comparison. They did this so why can’t you. So you have an older sibling fearful of stepping out of line in some way then the younger one behaves in a more normal way. The younger one is then told why can’t you be as restricted and fearful as the older one.
That to me explains a large part of the differences between the lifestyle of Jews and Christians. Except the difference is instead of the parents trying to course correct the children the corrections come from Jesus. Imagine adding a new idea to correct an old one. Then those hearing the correction go so far in the opposite direction to what was intended for them that they also needed correction.
It reminds me of a pendulum. Someone went so far in that direction so that they needed correction so now others go back in the other direction. The extremes of both sides are inappropriate. It is only the middle position that is comfortable and appropriate. In fact, that is where the one doing the correcting would like people to find for themselves but it is not an easy position to find.
That is how I understand the differences between the Jewish attitude to money i.e. gaining wealth is a good idea and the Christian idea that poverty is a virtue. You have the ones held up as an example going too far in ways. So then Christians hear the warnings and take them too far the other way. Somewhere in the middle is the perfect teaching.
One of the reasons why I wanted to look at this passage in detail is that it makes the idea of building a business and gathering wealth seem normal and natural. She is not greedy or trying too hard. Wealth just comes from following the right principles. That is what I would love to see more of within the Christian church.
My crazy idea.
What if that kind of balanced teaching on money led to people seeing huge improvements in their lives? What if those huge improvements made others want to find out more about what had happened to them so that they wanted to learn about such things? Add to that the idea that if people found out that following biblical principles related to money improved their lives and they tried other biblical principles and found that they worked as well. Then of course if the practical principles in the Bible had an impact on their lives then surely they could trust other things in the Bible as well. Those other things would include the idea that Jesus died for them and is their Saviour. That, of course, is the ultimate reason to rejoice. There would not necessarily be an immediate impact but learning to manage money wisely could be part of the pilgrimage to faith in Jesus for some people.