Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day! We are going to begin by asking our mothers to please stand. If you are a mother, grandmother, step-mother, foster mother or a woman who has wiped a child’s runny nose or changed a “poohy” diaper or kissed away an “owie” please stand – we want to honor you this morning. After all, it’s what the Lord commanded us to do.
Thank you! And thank you to all the moms who are no longer with us. Let’s read the 4th commandment together, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Ex 20:12
Not only is it the first commandment with a promise, it comes before, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal.”
So, thank you, mom! For all that stuff nobody sees except the Lord! There are no perfect moms. Moms fail, sometimes terribly. But so do kids and fathers. If your mom failed or wasn’t there for you, she was wrong, but her failures don’t change God’s commandment to honor her.
So this morning we are going to focus on these unique people we call “mom”. A third grader was writing his first essay at school. It was entitled “What Mom’s do”. He kept it short and sweet. He wrote “Moms are people who take care of you. If they weren’t there you wouldn’t know how to get your breakfast and you probably wouldn’t want to eat it anyway!”
Imagine a job posting: Needed: Professional caregiver, teacher, organizer, nurse, cook, chauffeur, comforter, security guard, disciplinarian, recreational supervisor, entertainer, housekeeper, dish washer, laundry doer, nutritionist, events coordinator, peace maker, lullaby singer, story teller, tickler, back scratcher, love giver, etc, etc. Hours 24/7. No salary but room, board, and some expenses provided as available.
Nobody in their right mind would sign up for a job like that - nobody but a mother. Motherhood is a calling from God. You could never buy what a faithful mother provides. She does it because it’s in her DNA – its part of her being created in the image of God. To dishonor motherhood is to dishonor God, because this is what God is like. Anyone who gives themselves so graciously and unselfishly deserves our honor and praise!
The Book of Proverbs begins and ends with a reference to mothers. Let’s read together. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Prov 1:7-9
The last half of the last chapter of Proverbs is an acrostic poem. Each verse starts with a consecutive letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The intent was that it be memorized. It concerns the honor we give to the mothers in our midst. Open your Bibles to Proverbs 31:10ff.
“A wife (mother) of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Pro 31:10 Not all women will be called to the unique role of wife or mother. That is no reflection on her worth or the respect that is due her as a daughter of God! But if a woman is called to the role of mother and wife, we need to recognize this is a holy calling and honor it as such. So what are the characteristics of a faithful wife and mother? Vs 11 “Her husband (kids) have full confidence in her and lack nothing. She brings (them) good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Prov 31:11-12
A wife/mother of noble character is trustworthy. It’s part of her being created in the image of God. She is the heart of a healthy home. She teaches her children to trust and be trustworthy. If your mother was trustworthy honor her; she has given you a great gift.
“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like merchant ships, bringing food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” Prov 31:14-15
A mother of noble character is a provider. She picks through the tomatoes to find just the right ones. She’s always on the lookout for bargains. She surprises her family with her finds! If your mom was like that, you should honor her. That’s the image of God being expressed in her.
A mother of noble character searches not only for physical food, but for spiritual truth to feed the souls of those she loves. She reads her Bible, spends time in prayer, she attends worship. If you had a mom like that honor her and thank God for her, it’s the image of God within her.
Vs 16 “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Prov 31:16-17
My mom taught us a lot of valuable but tough lessons out there in the garden, hoeing weeds and watering plants. She taught us about hard work and perseverance, responsibility and reward. Good stuff you can’t learn any other way than the discipline of hard work. If you had a mom that took the time and effort to teach you to work and stick to it, thank her. Honor her. Wisdom and perseverance are gifts from God and he used your mother to teach them to you.
Vs 19-20 “In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” Prov 31:18-19
A woman of noble character is selfless. She models generosity and compassion. No matter how modest her supply, she finds a way to share and bless those in need. She has room in her heart for the hurting, lonely, the needy. She finds her strength and supply, not in herself, but in the Lord. If you had a mom like that, honor her. She was created in the image of God and she is demonstrating for you what God is like.
“When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.” Prov 31:21-22
This doesn’t mean she dresses her family in all the latest fashions and fads, a woman of wisdom knows better than that. Scarlet was the clothing of royalty. The meaning here is deep. A mother of noble character doesn’t clothe her family in the façade of charm. She clothes them in authenticity, humility and dignity. She doesn’t tear them down, she builds them up.
She says things like, “You can’t leave the house dressed like a tramp. Go comb your hair, wash your face, stand up straight, don’t slouch, speak clearly! Things that drive us crazy! But, thank you, mom, for having the courage to cramp our style and confront us with the truth that eventually set us free.
“Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” Prov 31:23
A woman of noble character is tenacious! She refuses to allow us to be less than what God has called us to be. Like a great coach, she never gives up. She comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Guess where she got that? It’s part of the image of God in her.
Look at verse 25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Prov 31:25-26
The Bible says that wisdom comes from the Lord, but the first place we often encounter it is in the instruction of a godly mother. Vs 28 “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Jump down to verse 30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Prov 31:30 Things haven’t changed much in the centuries of human culture. From the earliest days we’ve had an enemy of our souls who persistently whispers in our ears – “A woman’s worth is judged by her physical beauty.” “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is fairest of them all.”
But the Lord doesn’t look at the outward appearance. He looks on the heart. And there is nothing more beautiful to him than a faithful mother’s heart. I don’t know what your experience with your mother may have been. I don’t know how she may have succeeded or failed.
What I do know is this, no matter what your experience, there was a woman somewhere in your childhood who loved you with a mother’s heart. If that were not so, you would have died!
Chapter 31 ends with these words, “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Prov 31:31
There is one more characteristic of a noble woman we haven’t mentioned. We find it in 2 Tim where Paul writes to his young pastoral assistant Timothy. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Tim 1:5
The word “sincere” means real, not phony. Mothers aren’t perfect - they never have been, never will be. But neither are any of the rest of us. My mother used to cry herself to sleep asking God for the wisdom to raise her 4 boys and 1 girl. My name was mentioned often.
Many times mom felt like a failure and she prayed for God’s forgiveness and for strength and wisdom to not give up, to keep at it. Every day she fought against the devil, the world, her own sinful nature, and the sinful nature in her children - and she gave all the glory to God. She was above all else sincere and for that reason she deserves great honor and respect.
God answered her prayers and blessed her sacrifice - not only in my life, but in the lives of my children and grand-children. So thank you, mom! You are a woman of faith. You have shown me what God is like. On this Mother’s day, who is it you need to thank, honor, maybe forgive?