This verse points out some visible qualities: her charity, a generous heart, her benevolence towards others, and mercy for those who are less fortunate than she. As Jesus told the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21, she is storing her treasure in heaven; and, as Proverbs 19:17 tells us, in pitying the poor she is lending to the Lord.
Notice that there is an active element in her giving. She "opens her hand" and "reaches out" to the needy, always anticipating someone who needs aid or support; she doesn't simply wait for them to come to her. It is part of her nature to give, and it is rooted in love. The King James translation of this verse says that she "stretcheth out her hand" to the poor. This implies an open willingness to give, and to give whatever is needed, abundantly. She gives from an open and willing heart.
We get the sense that she knows, either inherently or directly from Scripture, that God will repay when one gives to the poor (again, Proverbs 19:17). Not as in one waiting for payback, but a flowing and and flowing out, much like what Paul told the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 9:7,8. In this passage, Paul explained that in their giving and willingness to give, God would supply their every need, and see to it that they were furnished over and above those needs in order that they might continue in their charity. Not only in money, but in their time and energy as well. God does this for any and all of His people who have giving hearts: as it says in 2 Corinthians 9:7, God loves a cheerful giver.
In the Amplified, Proverbs 31:20 tells us first that "she open her hand to the poor." There is the giving itself. But in the King James translation, it goes on to say, "yea," (or "yes", an emphasis) "she reacheth forth her hands to the needy." The word "yea" is a solidifier, giving greater implication of how strongly and deeply imbedded this quality is in her nature. The Amplified translation tells us that she gives of her body, mind and spirit; she doesn't just give a monetary donation and let it go at that. She also gives of herself, whenever and wherever she finds a need. Does someone need some sort of physical help? She's there for them (her body). Does someone need assistance in sorting out a problem? She might lend advice or possible solutions (her mind). Does someone need prayer, emotional support, or spiritual guidance? She's available to provide what she can (her spirit). Giving in this way goes far beyond surface giving; it's rather a giving of her very being, a total involvement, pulling from the deep, abundant resources to fill the need, whatever it may be. Importantly, her charity begins at home, and this is an accurate picture of what she provides for her household and family, and her heart towards them.
Let's look closely at 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. We'll see that the Proverbs 31 woman is a thorough example of what Paul describes in the passage:
6 "[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously and that blessings may come to someone, will also reap generously and with blessings.
7 Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compusion, for God loves (that is, He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or do without) a cheerful (joyous, prompt-to-do-it) giver -- whose heart is in his giving.
8 And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need, be self-sufficient -- possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation.
9 As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever!
10 And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for the eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodnes, kindness and charity].
11 Thus you will be enriched in all things and in every way, so that you can be generous, [and your generosity as it is] administered by us will bring forth thanksgiving to God."
In the "flowing in and flowing out" mentioned earlier, and in the "openness" of her arms, an absolute fullness is implied in her giving. We give, we reap blessing, we grow in our spirits (become "fruitful"), we receive back from the Lord (He repays), and continue to give again and again. One of its promised results is that we shall require no aid or support in order to live here on earth. Our society has been reduced to thinking "credit" for even the barest essentials; and the deeper into the credit cycle one goes, the more difficult it is to pull out, leaving less time and mental energy for the things of God. We're then reduced further to thinking that we can't help others because there just isn't any to spare.
The Proverbs 31 woman, by contrast, lives in a household that is abundant in every way. She doesn't live beyond her means, but has what her family needs. It is one of the results of her giving heart. If one can let go and step out just a little, God is watchful to honor each small act done in faith and out of love. Giving from the heart to someone in need reaps tremendous blessings.
Jesus promised us abundant life in John 10:10. One can see Him standing with His arms outstretched to the world. He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice. As Christians, we are to follow His example and emulate His way of living and giving as He walked on the earth. We need to make some time each day to pray, to study, and learn from God's Word. Developing a giving nature is important.
As James Allen stated in his now famous book, As A Man Thinketh, "Loving and unselfish thoughts crystallize into habits of self-forgetfulness for others, which solidify into ... true riches." 1 (see Notes) Note that I don't agree with the "prosperity gospel" theme in his book, but giving does render blessings from God.