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Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day

A 4-year-old asked, “Mom, can we get a kitten?” “No,” she replied, I’m allergic to cats. We can not be in the same house.” “You could sleep outside, Mom.” Happy Mother’s Day!

A 6-year-old asked, “Mom, why do bad guys always try to take over?” The mother answered, “They want to be in charge and make all the rules.” “Then why don’t they become moms?” Happy Mother’s Day!

A 5-year-old announced to her mother, “I am going to marry Noah.” “Why?” “Because he is handsome and I like his shirt.” Looks are not everything,” the mother said. The daughter replied, “He likes to clean, too.” “Lock him in,” said the mother. Happy Mother’s Day!

Yes, Happy Mother’s Day! A day that leads to three things for this message. First, a look at a passage that deals with how women, including mothers, are to behave. The look will include all women since not all women are mothers. Then a passage that tells husbands, including fathers, how they are to treat their wives, in the case of fathers, the mothers of their children. Then a passage that teaches children how their mothers are to be treated.

The first passage for this message is in the final chapter of the Book of Proverbs. It is chapter 31, starting with verse 10, which begins with the question, “Who can find a good wife?” 

I feel very fortunate that I have found a good wife. What a wonderful thing that has been for me for almost 48 years. But the question seems to indicate not every woman makes a good wife.

That statement - that question - is not meant to be discouraging for any girl or woman. It is instead designed to be an inspiration to read on to discover what makes a good wife. The accompanying challenge is to work, with the help of God, to be like the description that is found in the passage.

That is most certainly a worthy goal, stated in the phrase that a good wife is “more precious than jewels.” I think most people strive for at least enough wealth to be comfortable, but for a man, having a good wife is even more to be desired.

So what makes a woman who is married a good wife? Might I suggest that if you are an unmarried woman, what is listed in today’s first passage is still important to pursue, but what makes a good wife.

Here is what I see in the passage.

Verse 11. She is trustworthy. The wording is that “the heart of her husband trusts in her,” but as I remind couples preparing for marriage, to promote trust, both parts of the couple need to be trustworthy.

That includes what? How about acting in ways that are appropriate, not allowing even a hint of immorality. How about working at being interested, not only in your own thoughts, but the wants and needs of your family. Those are two suggestions.

A good wife works hard. 

Verse 13. She “works with willing hands.”

Verses 14 and 15. She makes sure there is food for her family, sometimes getting food, other times preparing it. 

Verse 16. She is good at business. the wording is that “she considers a field and buys it.” 

Back when Proverbs was written, few if any women had the right to purchase property, so this must mean being willing to work with her husband to buy a field, being willing to add her knowledge or wisdom to the decision-making, including making sure the family budget is able to handle the purchase. 

Verse 17. Back to her willingness to work, a good wife is “strong.”

And what is the phrase? A man’s work is from sun up to sun down, but a woman’s work is never done. Verses 18 and 19. “The lamp of a good wife does not go out at night and she puts her hands” to her work.

Verse 27. “A good wife does not eat the bread of idleness.” There is another old phrase. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. One of the points of Proverbs 31 is that a good wife is one who stays busy with and for her family, thereby not having time to be tempted to do anything that would hurt her family.

This is getting to be quite a list, but it is not just her family that a good wife tends to. Her family is her first and foremost responsibility. But verse 20. “She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.” A good wife is charitable. Reaching out indicates she helps those in need, doing so freely and cheerfully.

Back to her family. Verse 22. She makes sure she and her family are clothed well.

Listen to a list of attitudes and behaviors a good wife possesses. Verse 21. “She is not afraid.” That is easier said than done, and I do not think this is meant to extend to not being concerned about life and family. Instead, it suggests a willingness to rely on God for the help needed day-by-day.

Verse 25. She is clothed with “strength and dignity.”

Still verse 25. “She laughs at the time to come,” meaning she is prepared to rely on God in the future as she does in the present.

Verse 26. She speaks “wisdom,” and her teachings are kind. In other words, she knows when to speak. When she speaks, she speaks kindly to others. This extends to how she talks to her husband and to her children.

Proverbs 31 gives a very long list of things women are to do, including women who are wives, including wives who are mothers. Again, the length of the list is not meant to be discouraging. It is instead to be a helpful teaching of things Christian women, wives, and mothers are to strive to accomplish, knowing that as the various things on the list are accomplished, wonderful rewards should come the way of women, wives, mothers. 

Including verse 23. Her husband will be happy. Verses 28 and 29. Her husband will praise her, saying, “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

It seems that in our current culture, women are so often instructed to not care what men think or say. Might I suggest that while each of us is important individually, life is better when we get along because when we get along we treat each other well. I would think women would like to be praised by their husbands, which should happen as Proverbs 31 is put into practice, which makes today’s first passage very important.

Still verse 28. For a woman, if she happens to be a mother, living properly, “her children will rise up and call her blessed.” How good that must sound to a mother.

Verse 30. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.”

Something else I share with couples preparing to be married has to do with promises that lead to impossible expectations. The most common ones I hear have to do with physical features, especially dealing with weight or staying buff. Of course, I guess you need to be buff before you can stay that way. That leaves me out. Such promises sound good and even doable at 20 or 22 or 25 years of age, but there are so many things that can alter physical beauty, including illnesses, accidents, and the aging process. I encourage couples to not make such promises, but to instead rely on what else is in verse 30. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD [a wife or a mother who relies on the LORD for guidance] is to be praised.”

Women, girls growing into womanhood, wives, mothers. God has provided for you Proverbs 31 as a guide of how to live. One more time, not to discourage you with how long the passage is, but to give you something to work at accomplishing.

And guess what. God’s plan is not for you to work on the list on your own. As mentioned, God wants to help.

According to the Bible, women with husbands are also to be helped by them. And here is another suggestion. May we who are men be good examples of proper behavior to women who are single. Not in a personal way. In a spiritual way.

But concerning the responsibility men have to help their wives, that is found, among other places, in Colossians 3.

Starting in verse 12 of Colossians 3, Paul, the author of today’s second passage, lists some good things  like compassion, kindness, and patience we who are Christians are to put on. It, too, is quite a list. It includes many, many ways of being nice to people in general. It also includes how to promote such behaviors in a group of Christians, such as teaching and admonishing each other to live accordingly. The list is summarized very well in verse 17. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Then Paul narrows the challenge to family situations. “Wives, be subject to your husbands.” We just considered in Proverbs 31 how to do that. Then verse 19. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”

What do you suppose it means to not be harsh? I found an online article on that subject that I think is interesting. Here is some of the article.

A husband is to love his wife above all other human beings.

A husband is to be considerate and tender, which can include not only telling his wife of his love, but demonstrating his love and concern. Maybe talk with her even when the newspaper or a mobile device or an interesting TV show seems important.

A husband is to show his wife respect.

I would think this would be understood, but since the article mentions it, I will, too. Be sure that as a husband, you do not ridicule your wife in public by making cutting remarks. I would add to not make cutting remarks in private either.

A husband is to be gentle toward his wife, which might mean controlling temper or restraining a sharp tongue.

For husbands who are fathers, another responsibility is to be active in the discipline and raising of the children, not leaving that to their mother.

The article includes this thought. Paul wrote, “Love your wife.” He did not add, If you want to or feel like it or only if she is everything mentioned in Proverbs 31.” No. The teaching is to love your wife. May those of us who are husbands and maybe fathers obey that teaching.

Proverbs 31 describes for women, wives, mothers what they are to be like, which can be achieved with the help of God.

In Colossians 3, there are instructions for men, husbands, fathers, which can be followed with the help of God.

There is one more part to the equation. It is the children of, for today, mothers. For those of you in that category, the Bible also has instructions, including a wonderful example, that being Jesus Himself. For that, let’s think about chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke, beginning with verse 41.

The passage begins with Jesus, at age 12, going with His earthly parents to Jerusalem for that year’s Passover celebration. I am sure Jesus enjoyed the celebration, but when it came time to return home to Nazareth, an interesting scenario played out. What happened was that when Mary, Joseph, and the rest of the group from Nazareth started home, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.

It was a full day before Mary and Joseph discovered Jesus’ absence, which can be explained. Jesus was 12, meaning He had the option of traveling with the women in the group, which is what children did, or traveling with the men, which was acceptable for boys beginning at age 12. As it turned out, Mary thought Jesus was with Joseph. Joseph thought Jesus was with Mary.

It was not until the evening it was discovered Jesus was missing. At that point, Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem, where they eventually found Him.

Can we imagine the panic of Mary and Joseph. Having a child go missing is critical enough, but Mary and Joseph knew who Jesus was, as in the one born to be the Savior of the world. And they had lost Him. That added to their terror.

How relieved they were when they found Jesus. They found Him in the Temple. I wonder how they reacted, as in what tone of voice Mary used when she asked Jesus to explain Himself. I suppose there was some correction mixed in with the relief.

But Jesus did explain, I think in a nice way, but a firm way. He said in verse 49 that He was doing His Father’s business.

As it is written in verse 50, neither Mary nor Joseph understood Jesus’ explanation. But then comes verse 51, which describes the example Jesus is for those who are children. Especially children still growing. Jesus “went with them to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.”

Jesus went back to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph. For all the rest of His growing up years, Jesus was obedient to His earthly parents. Meaning what? How about He listened to them, accepting their teachings without sassing them. How about doing as they said, whether He wanted to or not. How about being willing to spend time with them.

According to the last part of verse 51, Mary’s reaction was to keep “all these things in her heart.” She thought about who Jesus was and how good it was to be His mother and how every other child should be like her son. They did not have Mother’s Days back then, but if they did have such days, she would have been greatly honored.

And guess what. This is for any children who see no point in obeying. Listen to verse 52 of Luke 2. “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”

*       *       *       *       *

This message began with some things children have said to their mothers. The ones shared were humorous. Here are some other things said to or about mothers, these of a more serious nature.

“Mom, I know you have loved me as long as I have lived, but I have loved you my whole life.”

“Mom, being a successful mother does not mean you have never struggled, but that you never give up, despite the struggles.”

“A mother holds her child’s hand for a while, but their heart forever.”

“There is more power in a mother’s hand than in a king’s scepter.”

Proverbs 31, Colossians 3, Luke 2. Instructions for women, wives, mothers, for men, husbands, fathers, for children. God covers them all. May we, no matter where we fall among those categories, strive, with the help of God, to be what we should be as followers of Jesus. Happy Mother’s Day!

For today’s closing song, hymn #710. Take Our Love, Lord. I am not sure it is a familiar song, so we will listen to it once before singing it twice.

Take our love, Lord, make it Your love;

Take our life, Lord, make it Your life.

Take our home, Lord, make it Your home;

Take it all, Lord, make it Yours.

Lord, You never leave us wondering the best ways to live, to love, to run our homes. You tell us in the Bible exactly how to do each of those things. You tell us clearly. Keep us dedicated to learning and, with Your help, obeying what You teach. Help those who are women, wives, mothers to obey. Those who are men, husbands, fathers to obey. Those who are children to obey. Amen.

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