May 9, 2021

The Qualities Of A Godly Mother

Passage: Proverbs 31:1-31

One of the earliest and the most influential leaders and defenders of the Christian faith was Augustine, the fourth century writer of the “Confessions of Saint Augustine.”  Young Augustine was a pleasure-seeker, a philosopher, an agnostic and a rebel.  But his mother, Monica, was a god-fearing person who had aspirations for her son to become an instrument in God's hands.  She pleaded with Augustine to let go of his pagan lifestyle and convert to Christ.  But the more she pleaded with him, the more he laughed at his mother's pious ways and mocked her faith.  When Augustine told Monica that he wanted to leave Carthage in North Africa for the bright lights of Rome, she feared for the worst.  But she was persistent and fled to the church for solace, prayer and advise.  In her despair, she would often weep uncontrollably for her son.  One day a bishop noticed her painful cries, and asked her why she was so bitter.  She told him of her wayward son, but the bishop assured her with these words: “Go in peace, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.”  For 30 years Augustine's mother wept and prayed and finally he surrendered his life to Christ.  He then became far more prominent than what Monica ever could imagine.  She wasn't the first mother who had aspirations for her child to change and become the person God wanted him to be.  Neither was she the last mother.  I believe that the mothers who watch this service on YouTube or who listen in by phone have been praying mothers and they will never quit praying for their children and grandchildren.  And like many mothers you cried for your children on occasion and you cried with your children.  Mother's Day is a very special day God gave us.  We are filled with appreciation for our mothers – most of them have gone before us.  I think we all can share our stories.  But then, we thank God for the mothers in our midst.  This is your day to know how much you are appreciated.

We read in Proverbs 31 of someone who appreciated the role his mother played in his life.  He was king Lemuel.  When people read Proverbs 31 they always want to skip verses 1-9, because it seems more like a burden a mother placed on her child and they don't want to focus on words that seem negative.   But you see, to Lemuel those were the things he first wanted to mention before getting to the characteristics of a noble woman.  I think Lemuel could have put verses 1-9 under the heading, “Things my mother taught me.”   Now some commentators tell us that Lemuel probably was the same person as Solomon and the mother mentioned was Bathsheba.  Others believe that Lemuel could have been Hezekiah.  A third theory is that Solomon created a fictional king Lemuel with his mother.  Whatever the true identity of Lemuel was, the truth was      1 Precious Advise Given By A Mother in Proverbs 31.  Just the name Lemuel gives a wonderful message,  It means “The one for God” or “Devoted to God.”  Let's look at what the king says his mother cautioned him about:
- “Don't spend you strength on women...”  The mother in Proverbs 31 basically wanted to say, “Don't be involved with the wrong women; be wise with who you associate.”
- “It is not for kings, Lemuel - it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer...” 
What the king's mother really meant was, “Don't let alcohol cloud your judgement.  You have to be clear minded to make decisions and bring judgement.”  And she wanted to emphasize that Lemuel had to live up to the reputation that was asked of a king.  Perhaps the king's mother had seen those kings who failed, because they allowed alcohol or other things to influence them.
- “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”  It came from the heart of a mother - “Your concern shouldn't be for those with power, but for those who are vulnerable.”  I think you will agree with me, it was only a Godly Mother who could give Lemuel, such advise.  And now most of us can think back to the advise our mothers gave us.  It was different from what the mother of Proverbs 31 gave her son, but it was advise that helped to form our character.  You know when I read this verse about speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves, I vividly remember what my mother told me when I was just in grade 2.  There was a boy all the kids made fun of.  My mother told me, “You should be his friend and when the children say bad things about him, you have to tell them that it's wrong.”                                    

Lemuel gave virtues of a woman of noble character, who was a mother as well.  First he talked about 2 The Work Of Her Hands.  In this passage we see all the kinds of work Lemuel's mother did:
- She sewed – We read in verses 13 and 21,“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.... When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.”  There are still the mothers who take up the art of sewing.  In my first ministry was a lady who made all of her family's clothes – dresses for her daughter and shirts for her husband and sons.  I asked her, “Why do you go through all the trouble making the clothes?  Why not just buying it like other people?”  Her response was, “I will clothe my family;  a clothing store isn't going to do it.”  There aren't many mothers in our world who would not sacrifice many things to make sure their families are clothed and warm.                                                                                                                                                      - Lemuel's mother shoppedVerse 14, "She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.”  You know the shopping list of a caring Godly mother is so different from the shopping list of other people.  They write on their lists first of all what their families need and more than that.  They would get the items their children don't even need, but they want to be sure they have provided for them not to go hungry.
- We see that Lemuel's mother cookedVerse 15 "She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family.”  When I read this verse I asked myself, “How many meals would a mother provide for a family in her lifetime?”  There are far too many to count.  All husbands and children have to be in appreciation for the mothers who get up when it's still dark to make sure that the meals for the day are planned and prepared.  Many people can vividly recall the words of a loving mother who already passed on, “Supper is on the table!”  A young boy got his first holiday job and told his uncle about it.  He said, “Like dad I'm working now.  It's just mom who doesn't work.  I get up at six each morning, because I have to be at work by seven.  It's after six at night I come home.”   His uncle asked him, “So, are you making breakfast for yourself and do you wash your own clothes and do you have to prepare supper for yourself?”  The boy answered, “Oh no, mom does all those things.”  The uncle replied, “So, she does work and doesn't even get paid.”  Mothers thank you for what you do – things we often take for granted.

There is another virtue Solomon shares about a Godly mother – 3 Her Mouth Speaks Discerningly.  We read about that in verse 26, “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”  What Lemuel expressed here was a continuation of what he said in the first 9 verses – a mother who gave advise in wisdom to her son.  We all know that there are many influential people in our world who reached a place in life because of what a mother spoke to them.  Leaders of nations would sometimes quote what they heard from their mothers.  So many people on Mother's Day can thank God for wisdom a mother spoke to them.  And mothers, God is calling you in a time where there isn't much spoken in our world about His ways.  We hear about what the world with it's advocates have to say, but people need to hear from your lips, “This is the truth, the wisdom in God alone.  Are you willing to speak that?” 

On Mother's Day and Christian Family Sunday, we thank God for the roles of mothers in their families and communities.  To me mothers are the engine room of families and other organizations.  Godly mothers always step up to be the instruments Gods wants them to be.  We have so much gratitude for all their sacrifices.  Let's pray for our mothers to succeed in their God-given roles.

Amen.

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Rev. Willem H. van de Wall