I was reading through Proverbs 31 the other day and came across where King Lemuel’s mother says to him, ‘Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings.’ It struck me that even though that is obviously meant for men, it really applies to women too, but the other way around. As women we can voluntarily give away our strength to men by what we do, say or think. The word ‘strength’ here is translated as virtue in three other places in Proverbs, and also can mean valour, substance, wealth. Obviously the strongest meaning of this, with the worst consequence, is sexual immorality. But I really think there are many more subtle ways this can happen too. Samson lost his strength when Delilah cut his hair. In Nehemiah 13v26 it says that women caused Solomon to sin.
One way I believe this can happen is in our thought life – when I was single I often caught myself thinking too much about someone who I knew I wouldn’t want to marry. The danger in that is a waste of thoughts that could be better used planning how to serve God better, meditating on scripture, praying etc. And then of course the more you think of that person, the more likely it is that you might justify to yourself why it would be OK to be with them even temporarily and end up dating and eventually marrying someone that is not good for you.
Married women can give away their strength and virtue by thinking about men other than their husband, it might not be lustful thoughts but it is still wrong. And when you have wrong thoughts and keep entertaining them, it gives the Devil a foothold. Not that the first thought that enters your head is wrong, but to keep it there is! We need to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Another way is by having a close male friend that is not their husband, to quote Greg Laurie, ‘Girls, you can’t have a guy apart from your husband be your buddy’. Having lots of in depth conversations alone with another guy is asking for trouble – you may not even be attracted to him, but it takes away from the time you should be talking to your husband and can so easily lead to resentment when you find they are more sympathetic! And to quote Greg Laurie again, ‘Most adulterous relationships start with friendship, which leads to close relationship, which leads to seeking marital counsel from someone of the opposite sex – which is like putting a shotgun to your head’.
On a less sinister note I believe we can also give our strength to men when we put men before God, which results in all kinds of things that sap away our energy. One example I have seen in my own life is that we can expect our husbands to be all we need, when actually God is all we need. Then when our husbands don’t meet our expectations we are disappointed and depressed. We need to realise God can be our everything!
The Parable of the Sower explains how our fruitfulness can be choked by desires, cares and riches. We need to be careful to be chaste and pure and put God first in our thoughts and deeds, so that there is no room for our strength and virtue to be given away and for us no longer to be fruitful.