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A Portrait of a Mother

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2023 10:04 am

A Portrait of a Mother

The Verdict / John Munro

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May 15, 2023 10:04 am

Dr. John H. Munro May 14, 2023 Proverbs 31:10-31


This Mother's Day, I want to paint a biblical portrait of a mother, of a godly mother.

Well, it's more of a sketch than a portrait. It's found in Proverbs 3 — Proverbs 31, rather. If you have your Bible, you can open it there. The last chapter in the book of Proverbs, and we're going to look at verses 10 through 31.

In the Hebrew Bible, these are 22 verses, and each begin with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which means that was probably written so that people could memorize it. This is all the Word of God, but this is a very important portion of Scripture. It's about a woman, and she's described as an excellent wife. This woman is mature in her faith. She's godly.

She's wise. And while we read it, clearly the particulars of the passage don't apply to every woman here. Not every woman has the same abilities, aptitudes, opportunities, gifts, and resources, but rather we're going to read about a woman who is an example of mature wisdom and godliness in that particular social and historical context. So my goal this morning is to paint that portrait of a godly mother and to encourage our mothers, our grandmothers, our sisters, all the women here, but also there are lessons for us who are men.

I don't want to paint an unrealistic picture, but to be true to the Word of God. One young mother writes, "'I often feel tension between the myth and reality of motherhood. Before becoming a mother, I had blissful images of cuddling an adorable child, showering him with love and being greeted by gratefulness, cooperation, and love in return. I was unprepared and frankly shocked by the burden of changing diapers six times a day for a year, having to think about someone else's well-being 24-7, and the sheer amount of organization it took to go out with a small child.

I have come closer to the brink of insanity than I've ever been, driven there by bouts of inexplicable crying, toddler temper tantrums, endless silly stories, and a constant background noise interrupting my thoughts.'" That was from Focus on the Family. A struggle between the myth and the reality of motherhood. But the Bible is real.

It's not a myth. And here is a model of spiritual maturity which all women can aspire to. Paul, as he gives the qualifications of the elder in 1 Timothy 3, that is a picture of what a mature man in Christ looks like.

Here's a picture of what a mature woman looks like. So let's read from Proverbs 31, verses 10 through 31. We're going to think of this woman in her relationship to the Lord, her relationship to others, and then in relationship to herself. Here's the Word of God, Proverbs 31, verse 10, an excellent wife who can find. She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good and not harm all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant. She brings her food from afar. She rises while she is at night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it.

With the fruit of her hands, she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.

She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She's not afraid of snow for her household, for all of her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself. Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them.

She delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also, and he praises her.

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

Amen. First of all, I want to think of a godly mother's relationship to the Lord. That by far, of course, is the most important. As we read, a godly mother fears the Lord. Verse 30, charm is deceitful, and duty is vain. But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. That's her first priority. She is, verse 10, an excellent wife. She's virtuous. She's noble. She's strong. She's utterly dependable. The heart of her husband trusts in her. He's not worried when she leaves town to do some business. He trusts her. Can I say to her children and her students, the most important relationship in your mother's life is not you, not with your father, but is with the Lord.

Husbands, do you understand? The most important relationship in your wife's life is not with you, it's not with your children, but is with the Lord. Some advice to single men when you're looking for a wife, remember, look for someone whose most important relationship is with the Lord.

Not with you, not even with her family, but with the Lord. This woman in Proverbs 31, one thing above all characterizes her. She fears the Lord. Now what does it mean to fear the Lord? Go back to Proverbs 9, Proverbs 9, verse 10. Proverbs tells us in various ways what the fear of the Lord is. Here it is summarized, Proverbs 9, verse 10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

There can be no true wisdom without knowing God. And to truly know God, not just to talk about Him, not just to sing about Him, but to truly know God is to fear God. We don't like thinking of that. We think of fear in the sense of terror or despair. I'm afraid, the little child says, of the dark.

That's not the point. But it is, if you fear the Lord, it is to be in breathtaking awe of God in His presence. We overuse the word awesome. Let's keep it to God. God is awesome in the sense that He inspires awe. I am to fear God, not in the sense that He's going to judge me. I'm covered by the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ, but this is the God from everlasting to everlasting.

He's not my buddy. I don't speak to God the way I would speak to my buddy. He's the God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The one, as we were singing about, who was and is and ever shall be, everlasting to everlasting. And true wisdom begins with knowing this God. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. Here is a woman then, in Proverbs 31, who fears the Lord. In New Testament terms, she's saved by the grace of God. She has personally received Christ in her heart. So in her thinking, in her living, she is Christ-centered. She has a vibrant, living, growing relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. When she sings this morning, she's not just singing words.

She's not just singing a catchy lyric. She's expressing her great love for this God. The beginning of wisdom is to fear God.

One of her favorite hymns is Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. But you know this with John Newton, a very insight, with great insight, writes a verse. "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear." Really?

Yes. An understanding of the grace of God creates in us this awe. Brian quoted from Romans 5, 10, God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. That's God's grace. Doesn't that create in you a sense of awe, a sense of fear?

Newton was right. "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved." No, now I'm not afraid of God.

In Christ there is no condemnation. But he says, how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed. This godly woman then, this godly mother, fears the Lord. She trusts in the Lord. Proverbs 3, verses that some of you have memorized and I commend it to you. Listen to it again. Proverbs 3, verse 5, trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Do you do that? And do not lean on your own understanding. You think you're pretty smart to navigate yourself through life? No. You think you're smart enough to raise your children?

No. Don't lean on your own understanding. Verse 6, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. That's what this godly woman does. She trusts the Lord.

She doesn't lean on her own understanding. As she takes care of her home, as she does business outside of the home, she's constantly depending on the Lord. Verse 7, be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. What's going to prevent you from evil? The fear of the Lord, that I am trusting in God.

Every day, I am asking for His help, for His direction. And she understands, as David says in Psalm 19, that the fear of the Lord is clean and it endures forever. She loves the Lord.

She loves what the Lord loves, and she seeks to please Him. Do you know God? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the knowledge of the Holy One. Do you know God? You say, well, I believe there is a God. I'm talking about a personal knowledge of God.

Do you know God in a personal way that you're depending on Him? Listen to the words of Jesus Christ. This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you've sent. That the way to know God is not looking within, is not conferring with others, is looking up to Christ, who came, who died for our sins, was buried, and who is raised from the dead. And this Mother's Day, if you put your trust in Him, you will be saved. You will know God.

Jesus said, no one comes to the Father apart from me. The fear of the Lord. This woman fears the Lord.

What does that look like in action? Well, a woman who fears the Lord models godliness and wisdom. She displays the Lord Jesus Christ.

A couple of Sundays ago, we thought of putting on the armor of God. This woman has the armor of God on. She puts on the Lord Jesus Christ. As you look at this woman, you see something of Christ. No, she's not perfect. She has her feelings. She has her flaws. She has her bad days, but we see something of Christ in her.

Notice verse 26. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Well, you want to be around that kind of woman, don't you? One who is wise, but she's also kind.

Speaks the truth in love. How does she get that wisdom? Ah, she knows the Word of God.

She's not giving her own ideas. She knows God. She fears God. She knows the Word of God. I saw a cartoon of a woman reading her Bible, and it read, they will do what you do. Read your Bible. You expect your children, mothers, fathers, to read their Bibles? You've got children in Awana.

You've got students in youth ministry. You're glad they're in Scripture. Do they see you reading your Bible? Proverbs 1 verse 8, hear my son, your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching. What a security a child has.

Think of it. In the home, in our crazy world, in a home with the television off, and for a child to see their mother reading their Bible. That gives you security, doesn't it? It gives me security as a husband to see my wife reading her Bible. Man, don't you want a wife that reads her Bible?

What security that gives you. I grew up in a home, a busy home, but I saw my mother and my father reading their Bibles. Yes, they taught it, but they read it, and something of that radiated in the home.

As a little boy growing up, that gave me a tremendous sense of security. Think of homes where there's violence. Think of homes where there's drunkenness. Think of homes where there's cursing. Think of homes where they're arguing, or where the media is blaring all of its distortion out.

What kind of home is that? No wonder psychologists tell us that one of our greatest problems in America is insecurity. We are an insecure people. Part of it is, we come from insecure homes. But here's a woman who fears the Lord.

That gives stability to the home, doesn't it? And she's teaching her children. I praise God for Calvary Church that we are committed to teaching our children and students the Word of God. However, the primary responsibility for biblical instruction lies at the doors of parents. Moms and dads, they dedicate your children.

We rejoice with you. We want to partner with you. We want to help you in the nursery as they grow up. Some of them may go to Christian school.

Some of them may come to our development center, but the primary responsibility is yours. Mothers, read your Bible. Teach your children God's Word.

Daily, pray for them. A woman who fears the Lord will love her children and husband. Remember Paul says in Titus 2 that the older women are to teach the younger women to love their children and their husband, because a mother largely sets the emotional atmosphere of the home.

I know men are to be prayed, but a woman sets, you might say, the tone, the atmosphere of the home. And so children need to be taught the Word of God at home. They need to be prayed for. They need to be loved. They need to know that they're loved.

They need to see in front of them a model of what it is to be a follower of Christ. That's the kind of home, isn't it, we seek? You say, John, that's a very high ideal. We'll come short. We do come short.

We all have regrets. We all fail, but this is the model to which we should aspire and which with God's help, we will attain, albeit imperfectly. So first, a relationship to the Lord. Secondly, a godly mother's relationship to others. From Proverbs 31 it seems clear that a godly mother's primary responsibility, notice the word primary, is to her family and home. The home is the center of her life. Verse 11, the heart of her husband trusts in her. Verse 15, she provides food to her household. Verse 21, she makes clothes for her household. Verse 27, she looks well to the ways of her household. Verse 28, her children and her husband rise up and bless her. They don't curse her. They don't neglect her. They bless her. She doesn't neglect her home.

Now, please hear me. This is not to say that a Christian mother shouldn't work outside her home. We sometimes hear this from preachers who should know better. Some people seem to believe that the greatest goal for a young mother, a young girl, is to get married and stay at home.

That is God's calling for some, but it's not God's calling for everyone. This woman in Proverbs 31 takes care of her home, but she's also working outside the home. In fact, she's conducting business.

She has a real estate business. You say, really? Well, read again.

You weren't listening when I read. Look at verse 14. She's like the ships of the merchants. She brings her food from afar. She rises while she at night provides food for her household and portions for her nations. Notice the importance she gives to the home, but verse 16, she considers a field and buys it.

With the fruit of her hands, she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night. This is a very capable business woman. You say, really?

Yes, really. Here's the point. For the godly mother, the godly woman, the godly mother, the home is the focal point of her life, but it's not the boundary of her life. It's the center of her life, but it's not the boundary of her life. Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister who claimed to be a believer, very capable leader at a difficult time for Britain, and she said this. She's the prime minister. Pretty busy life. She said, a woman's home is the center of her world, but not the circumference of her world. I thought that is well put.

That is Proverbs 31. What's the center of this woman's life? Her business? No, it's not her business. Is it her real estate business?

No. The center, the focal point of her life, you might say the center of gravity of her life is her home, but it's not the circumference of it. She's involved in business. She has great influence beyond her home. It's possible for some women to be so preoccupied with their own home and family, they ignore the needs of others.

I've seen that happen. No, the influence of this godly woman in Proverbs 31 goes well beyond her home. I want to say to our young women here, allow God to use you wherever He leads you.

You have many opportunities in this country for education, for opportunity. Pray for God to guide you. Biblical balance is essential. This is a matter which wives and husbands, Christian wives and Christian husbands must prayerfully consider. Is a wife working to avoid her responsibilities to her family? That can happen.

That can happen with a man, can't it? Is she seeking self-fulfillment in her career rather than in a vibrant relationship with God? Is she neglecting her relationship with God because she is so focused on her career? Is she neglecting her relationship with her husband and with her children and others because of the career? On the other hand, is she so focused on her own family and home that she cares for no one else? It's very possible in Christian circles for our family almost to become an idol.

I've seen that happen. People say, well, we're a very close family. No, you're a very closed family in fact. You form this nice little cozy cocoon.

It's very nice being in it, but there's a world out there, and God calls us also to be salt and light. My own mother, until my father died, never worked outside the home. Raised six boys, and they weren't all as well-behaved as I was. No, she told me I was the most difficult.

I don't know why. But my mother ministered to people in the community. She would visit widows, people shut in, have people enter home. Her influence was beyond her home. Yes, the focal point of her life was her home.

And these questions are not easy ones, and they would, they should be prayerfully considered by husbands and wives. Can I say that? Are you so involved in your work? Are you so involved in your career? Are you so involved in your education, in your business that you're neglecting your home?

That's wrong as well, isn't it? Our relationship with God is primary, but if that is right, these decisions will fall into place. Jesus promised, seek first the kingdom of God and my righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. And a godly woman who is married, who has children, as she tries to balance these things, I firmly believe that God will give you all of the wisdom you need, not to neglect your home, but also possibly to have an influence outside the home. On the other hand, God calls many women like my mother to have a primary ministry in her own home and not work outside of the house.

These are decisions for each person. Here is guidance from Scripture that we seek a balance. Now finally, a godly mother's relationship to herself.

And I think this is very important, and I want to focus on one thing. A godly woman, a godly mother, realizes that her true beauty is inward and not outward. Do you know this verse 25?

I thought this is a wonderful verse. Strength and dignity are her clothing. This woman has a strength of character. This is not a woman whose husband dominates her, who's a cowering individual, who has no self-confidence as it were.

No, this is a strong woman, but she also has dignity. She has strength of character, but she also has an elegance. She can face adversity, says verse 25.

She laughs at the time to come. Her main relationship is with the Lord. She fears the Lord, but notice again verse 30.

Charm is deceitful. This is written about women. And beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

This society, like our society, could we say like all societies, puts a great emphasis on external beauty, particularly for a woman. But you know, when we begin to follow Jesus Christ, one of the wonderful things that happens to us, that there is less self-absorption. You know, there's people who are totally absorbed with themselves, particularly in social media. One photo isn't enough.

They put 20 of themselves up, right? Their life is all about them, me. But as we begin to follow Christ, it is, as Paul would say, it's no longer I who live, but Christ, the focus changes. Charm is deceitful. Beauty is vain.

But the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Who we are, and this is good news for some of us, who we are isn't based on how we look. I could select at random a hundred women from the congregation, put them up here.

They'd all look differently. Some maybe over six feet, others maybe five feet too, like my wife. I'm not criticizing her, by the way. I like small women.

I like a small woman. Well, I need to move on, don't I? But they'll all be different, all within the sovereign purposes of God. Think of the babies. I looked at them all. Yeah, you say they're all babies. Yeah, but they're all different. Different color of eyes.

They're going to go up differently with different skills, different abilities, different appearances. That's how we are. And as we grow spiritually, we accept who we are.

It's a great thing to do, isn't it? That's the security, I believe, that comes from a home, from a mother who communicates that to her children, who may be very, very different with different aptitudes, different skills, different abilities. I always used to wonder how my older brother could harmonize and he didn't need any music. And I said to him, how do you do that? He said, I don't know, I just do it. I thought, well, God didn't give me that.

I'm trying to keep the melody far less do some fancy part. And if we're insecure, we compare ourselves with others even within the same family, don't we? Turn to 1 Peter chapter 3. 1 Peter 3, verse 3.

This is very important. What is true beauty for a woman? 1 Peter 3, verse 3, talking to wives, do not let your adorning be external, the braiding of hair, the putting on of gold jewelry or the clothing you wear, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. This is how the holy women who opt in God used to adorn themselves by submitting to their own husbands. Peter contrasts inner and outer beauty.

There are three factors which women tend to emphasize externally, their hair, their jewelry, and their clothes. That's what Peter is saying. Peter is not saying that taking, a woman taking care of her hair or a woman wearing jewelry or certainly that wearing clothes is wrong, no. In fact, there's no Christian virtue in a woman being dowdy or slovenly, looking as if she was dragged through a hedge backward. I mean, that's a denial of a woman's femininity, isn't it?

Peter is not saying that. The question is one of emphasis. The question is one of priority, and I would ask our woman, particularly our younger woman, why do we allow fashion models and the media to dictate what true beauty is? Who's to say that some woman is more beautiful than others?

I mean, what's the standard? Why do we allow the so-called beautiful people in the media and on social media who are often very ungodly, who can never sustain a relationship for more than a couple of months, and they spend a fortune on portraying a certain image? You girls see the picture of this beautiful person. What we don't see is all of the makeup, all the cosmetic surgery, all of the tricks of photography to get that person to have that special look. And some 15-year-old girl is upset because she doesn't look like that.

That's a false image. Girls, young women, older women, listen to the Word of God today. Pursue inner beauty.

You say, what do you mean? Pursue your relationship with Christ. Have a godly attitude. Serve others rather than wondering what people are thinking of you, because they're not really thinking of you, they're thinking of themselves. Be less concerned with what other people think of you and much more concerned with what Christ thinks of you. Too many young women go through all kinds of mental agony because they think they don't conform to society's standard of beauty.

Don't do that. Accept who you are made by God in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made. If we saw these children we dedicated 20 years from now, they'd be very, very different, and praise God for that. Imagine if we all looked alike.

We're not clones. We're made in the image of God, male and female. And here's the wonder of this, and we see this at Calvary Church.

Men look around. A godly woman becomes more and more beautiful as she gets older. Do you believe that?

I do. Yeah, there may be a few more wrinkles, but the power of a living relationship with Christ overflowing and blessing to others is one of the most beautiful things on the earth, isn't it? You see an older, godly woman. I think of my own mother, died when she was 94, same size as Goodney, small, right?

Did I say that before? Small, but beautiful, incredibly beautiful. And as, and my mother, when I saw pictures of her as a young woman was physically very beautiful, but as she got older, yes with her ankles, yes with the gray hair, you saw the beauty of Christ, the Spirit of the person.

What is eternal? Have you ever had contact with someone who externally looks, you know, a million dollars? They look so glamorous and yet when they open their mouth or when you get to know them you realize there's no character. They're hollow, they're shallow, they're superficial people, and that is not the beauty that Peter is talking about, rather the inner beauty. Rather than the external beauty may fade, but the internal beauty, Peter says, is imperishable and he says it's precious in the sight of God. And can I say it's precious in the sight of men who have wives like that, and we thank God for the many godly women at Calvary Church who radiate that beauty and that grace and that elegance in serving Christ.

What am I saying? A godly woman's top priority is to fear the Lord. Do you know the Lord? Mothers, can you say in God's grace, I know God, I know Christ.

I know Him as my Savior, as my Lord, as my friend. If you haven't done that, He came in great love, but God commends His love towards you, not while you're yet sinners. Christ died for us. Provision has been made totally for your salvation if you turn from your sin and receive Christ as your Savior. He comes and there's a wonderful transformation, imperishable. We sang the song.

I was trying to think, how could that be? In heaven, it said there's no tears. He's going to wipe away all tears. In heaven, there's no sorrow. This is the future we have as followers of Jesus Christ. And a godly woman who knows Christ, she will relate to others with dignity and compassion. She will put the interests of others before herself. That makes a good mother, doesn't it? If she's out in the workforce as well, she'll be known as a woman of character, a woman of elegance, a woman of strong standards, a woman who doesn't compromise herself in order to get advancement within that company, but is shining for Jesus Christ. A godly woman, a godly mother pursues true beauty and elegance, which is precious in the sight of God. And for such godly mothers and wives and sisters and friends, we the men of Calvary Church rise up and bless you and praise you and say, many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. And I can say that of my dear wife, small as she is, that she has done excellently. And her beauty over the years has grown and grown.

That's a wonderful thing to see, isn't it? It begins in the heart. It begins with a living, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. And for such godly mothers and women, we praise God and say, Happy Mother's Day. We're going to pray. We're going to sing about a Christian home. And as we do that, reflect and ask God to bless our homes. We need it, don't we?

We need help. I think of young couples. I sometimes have the privilege of marrying. I think, well, what a different society.

I think of the society that my grandchildren are brought up in, very different from mine. And so we at Calvary Church are committed to helping families, to teaching children and youths the living Word of God, one of the reasons why we started Calvary Christian Academy, why we continue to have the development center, why we continue to put a lot of resources into the next generation, that they will be strong and that in the future, their children and their husbands will rise up and say, you surpass them all. Father, help us. We do pray.

We come short. I pray for our wives, our sisters in Christ, for those who sacrificially work in a home, raising little children, changing diapers, doing housework, doing the routine. Help them to see, Father, that they're doing this is unto Christ. And as they model Christ to their children and pray for them.

We think of women who are out in the marketplace as well. It's tough for them, Father. I thank You for them. Thank You for the gifts and abilities that You've given them, and I pray that they will be salt and light. And for the many girls and students and young women who are not yet married and may want to get married, Father, bring into their lives men who also fear the Lord, that we will have many Christian homes built on the foundation of Christ. We ask it in His name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-15 13:02:37 / 2023-05-15 13:15:45 / 13

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