The fifth life practicum older women are to teach younger women is to be "homemakers." That's how the NKJV translates the compound Greek word. There is some debate over what word is actually used here. Some say it is the word oikouros, and some say it is oikourgous. Both words fit the context and are significantly instructive. So let's take a deeper look at both of them.
Both words are made up of two Greek words. The first word in both of them is oikos, which means home, dwelling—particularly a family dwelling—or household. In a very practical way, older women are to teach younger women about home life. The place in which we live speaks about who we are and what our priorities are. It is a reflection of our inner person.
The second words in these two Greek words are slightly different. In oikouros the second word is ouros. It means to guard or to beware. In some Bible translations this word is translated as "keepers at home." We women are to be watchful over our homes, to protect or keep our homes and our children from the ungodly influences of the culture around us. We are the sentinels, the guards at the gate who allow nothing to enter without first passing our inspection, the watchmen in the tower on the lookout for approaching enemies. Be alert, be aware—and beware. Only God can give us this kind of spiritual awareness and discernment as we wash our souls with the water of His Word and cry out to Him in prayer. The enemy wants to steal and destroy our homes, our marriages, and our children.
The second word in oikourgous is ergon, which very simply means work. Accordingly, some Bible translations say "workers at home." Our culture has gone through a major shift in the past one hundred years. Women have become primarily workers outside the home; they find more fulfillment and identity in accomplishments or job descriptions unrelated to home life. Our culture now looks down on a woman whose life is centered in her home, as if being a worker at home requires no effort or work. Consequently, many stay-at-home moms seek to find fulfillment in home businesses. In this way they can reply to the question, "What do you do?" with a more culturally acceptable answer, a "real" job that makes money.
Now, there's nothing wrong with a home business—don't get me wrong here! That superwoman of Proverbs 31, whom we vacillate between loving and hating (we'd sure like to live up to her, but, goodness, did she have to raise the bar so high?? How in the world did she do it all? More on that at a later time!), seemed to have more than one home business going on: considering fields and buying them, making linen garments and selling them, and supplying sashes for merchants, etc. So, being industrious or earning some money is not really the issue. The real issue is our hearts, our priorities, and our alignment with God's Word.
As counter-cultural and "extreme" as it may sound nowadays, God is telling us that a woman's place is in the home. There is work to be done there—real, genuine work. Any woman who has raised a family and managed a home can attest to that. If the woman of the home is not home to do the work required for a well-functioning home, who is to do it? This is a God-ordained balance of function and labor. Women who stay at home to attend to their children and to the management of their house are not sitting around eating bonbons and wasting their lives on television, movies, and surfing social media—at least they shouldn't be! There is much hard work to be done in keeping a home—just as there is much hard work for the man in providing for his family and home.
The longer explanation or definition of ergon is this: an accomplishment, deed, or action that carries out or completes an inner desire, intention, and purpose. That gets to the heart of God's counsel here. As a woman, what is your inner desire, intention, and purpose? Is it to have a home that reflects the beauty and peace of Christ? Is it to have a home protected from the influences of the world? Is it to have a home that speaks a different message than that of the world? This will take WORK and GUARDING.
Our homes are to be the focus of our attention, the place around which our hearts and lives revolve. This is where our creative energies are to be spent. Our homes are what we need to bathe in prayer. In our prayers we should be asking God to keep us on "high alert" for the insidious inroads of the enemy of our souls and the corroder of our homes. And we should daily pray for the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual strength that working at home requires. It is not a job for the faint of heart nor for the slovenly or careless. It is a task of monumental importance with cultural, historic, and eternal consequences.
May we women "strengthen the hands that hang down and the feeble knees" and take up this task with renewed vigor and virtue.