On Mother’s Day, many children will try to do something special for their mom’s like give them a personal letter to express their love.
Angie, 8 years old, wrote: "Dear Mother, I’m going to make dinner for you on Mother’s Day. It’s going to be a surprise. P.S. I hope you like pizza and popcorn."
Robert card said: "I got you a turtle for Mother’s Day. I hope you like the turtle better than the snake I got you last year."
Eileen said: "Dear Mother, I wish Mother’s Day wasn’t always on Sunday. It would be better if it were on Monday so we wouldn’t have to go to school."
Little Diane wrote: "I hope you like the flowers I got you for Mother’s Day. I picked them myself when Mr. Smith wasn’t looking."
And then there’s this one from Carol: "Dear Mother, here are two aspirins. Have a happy Mother’s Day!"
APPLY: Each of these children appreciated their mother. You can tell from their letters that they loved their mothers. And while their gifts weren’t exactly perfect, they were trying, in their childlike way to show their mother how much they loved her.
Here in Proverbs 31, we have a King who trying to do the same thing.
Oftentimes, when someone preaches on Proverbs 31… they’ll skip over the first few verses.
They’ll read Proverbs 31:10 “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” in the belief that this is where this section of Proverbs begins.
But it isn’t.
This famous section of Proverbs (that tells us about Godly mothers) actually starts with King Lemuel repeating an oracle (literally “a burden”) his mother had for him
* He was reciting the advice that she gave him when he was younger.
* He was repeating the things she felt he needed to know to be a good boy.
It was her “burden” for him. She cared about how he lived his life.
In those first few verses, the king says his mother told him to…
• Be careful who he dates/marries. “Don’t hang out with questionable women.” (vs. 3)
• Not to drink alcoholic beverages it will cloud his judgment (vs. 4,5)
• AND (because he was King) to be sure to stand up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves. As King he stood between evil and good for the sake of his people (vs. 8,9)
Now, she might have told him a few other things as he grew up, like…
• stand up straight
• brush your teeth
• eat your vegetables
• clean your room
BUT those didn’t make the cut. It’s these pieces of advice that stuck with him as most important throughout his life.
Then King Lemuel goes on to describe what a noble/virtuous woman looks like, and as you can probably imagine… he’s talking about his mamma.
Now, as most of you know, my mother just passed away a week and a half ago. Proverbs 31 was the text that the preacher used for his funeral message, and he used this passage because my mamma was a Godly/virtuous woman.
As I was preparing this message this morning, I got to thinking – if King Lemuel felt it was appropriate to praise his mother in his message, I could do the same for mine. So, if you don’t mind… I’m going to use my mom for foundation for much of sermon.
(Of course, it doesn’t matter whether you mind or not, cause I’m going to do it anyway).
It seems fitting that I would honor her by using her life as the basis of what you’ll hear today.
My mom had three great loves in her life
• Her God
• Her husband
• And her children
IN THAT ORDER
Nothing else mattered to her nearly as much as those 3 things.
Someone once said - that people become what they train themselves to become as they grow up. And ever since she was a little girl, my mother trained herself to be a godly woman. She seemed to build her entire life around God.
She’d give chalk talks – where she’d teach while drawing picture on an easel
She would sing specials for church… and sing in church choirs. In fact, I remember as I grew up that she had the whole family up in the choir loft – we made up almost half the choir.
And she played piano for church worship
ILLUS: She recalled that when her church initially approached her to play hymns for worship she was hesitant, because she really didn’t know that many hymns at the time. But the preacher gently told her they’d start with the ones she knew and go from there.
Even a few days before her death she was still playing those hymns on the piano at my brother’s home.
My point is this – mom was sold out for God.
Every Sunday of her life that she could do so… she’d get up and go to church.
She was faithful to her God, and I believe that God rewarded her for her faithfulness.
She even met my daddy at church.
It was at a youth group function called “Christian Endeavor”. It was held in one of those old church buildings where the youth met in the basement and off in one room was a huge furnace. Mom says that got her off by herself and kissed her right there behind the furnace in the basement.
Now dad wasn’t much of a church goer
He was a man’s man - strong, self-assured, a natural athlete (basketball and baseball)
In fact, he was such a good athlete that he was offered a sports scholarship to a major university of that day, but he turned it down feeling that he needed to stay on the farm and help his folks with the crops.
But my point is – dad never felt much of a need for God. He was pretty much self contained - a force unto himself
He’d gone to the youth group that night because he’d been invited by a friend, and he’d kissed mom on a lark (he wasn’t real serious at the time), Dad was a popular handsome man that the girls kind of gravitated towards, and his girlfriend at the time was one of the local beauties.
But when dad found that girl sitting on another man’s lap/ kissing him, Dad walked away from her for good… and decided he’d take another look at this girl he’d kissed down behind the furnace in the church building.
There was something about mom’s godliness that appealed to him. This was a woman he could trust not to go kissing on another man.
And so –dad married mom (which was one of the reasons I was born)
Proverbs 31:30 says: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
And mom was a woman who feared God. She was a Godly girl, and dad was drawn to her because she was Godly - he still wasn’t all that sold out for God. In fact, she was faithful to God that Dad got a little jealous. It got to the point where Dad even tried to talk her out of going to church so much. Mom told of the time Dad tried shaming her into not going.
He asked her “Would you really be comfortable in heaven if I were in hell?”
Mom thought for a moment on that and replied: “Would you really be happy in hell if I were there with you?”
Jesus said “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” Matthew 10:37
Now that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love our families. What it does mean is that God honors us when we place our affection for Him above all else.
And God did that for my mother.
Over time, mom’s gentle and quiet love for God began to wear at Dad’s defenses, and one day - when they were at church - the invitation was given and dad surprised mom by suddenly getting up from his seat and walking down front.
On their way home from church the Holy Spirit had exerted such an influence on him that dad pulled over to the side of the road and began to weep. And from that day forward, mom says he never used a curse word again.
He later became a Sunday School Superintendant and even an Elder in the church.
King Lemuel says that a virtuous woman is successful if… “Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 31:23
That’s her objective: that her man is respected and highly regarded, and a virtuous woman does everything she can to accomplish that goal.
And in that, God honored my mother.
And God honored her even more when Dad died and assured her (in a very special way) of where dad was going.
Proverbs 31 also tells us that a Virtuous woman “… speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26
This is a woman who teaches her children about God.
She’s a woman who’s NOT satisfied if her son/daughter are just good at math/science.
She’s NOT satisfied if her children are ONLY successful in the business world.
Because until her children understand the value of God’s Will/ and His Word - she knows that their success in this world will be empty.
Jesus said: “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36
ILLUS: Every night before bed, mom read Bible Stories to me. She read them over and over again. In fact, I remember one night when I was about 10, she was reading one story where the name of the Bible character was difficult to pronounce… and she stumbled over it.
Without even thinking about it, in my childlike mind I wanted to help her and pronounced it for her. You could tell it shocked mom, but she’d been so faithful in telling that story that I knew that person’s name almost as well as I knew my own.
Mom’s faith in God has always been a touchstone for me.
And I’ve always valued her advice because I knew it would be built on God’s word.
ILLUS: At one church I served I was faced with a difficult decision. A group of troublesome members had worked for a couple of years to get me fired and finally succeeded in getting the board to get me to leave. But their methods and motivations were so corrupt that the church was on the verge of splitting in two because of this board decision.
I didn’t mind being fired as much as I hated the idea that it would split the church.
On Saturday morning, I was rocking my 2 year old son (Jonathan) and praying to God. I had a sermon for that Sunday, but given the circumstances, it didn’t seem appropriate. I asked God to help me come up with something better… when an idea for a sermon occurred to me. I was half-convinced that this idea had come from God, but the concept for the sermon seemed so dangerous that I was afraid it would only make matters worse.
So I told God that IF this were from Him – I’d need the permission of my wife and my parents. Now, getting permission from my wife wasn’t going to be hard. She was so upset with the church she’d have probably given me a loaded shotgun with instructions and given me permission to shoot whoever I wanted.
But the odd thing was that just a short time after I finished my prayer… Mom called. This was Saturday morning… we never talked on Saturday morning. Every week that I’d been at the congregation, we always talked on Sunday Night after worship.
“Well mom, why are you calling?” I asked
“Oh, no reason, just felt like calling” she replied
“Well, it’s funny you should call…” and then I went on to explain what I wanted.
“Let me talk to Dad for a moment,” she said and I waited while they talked.
She came back on the line and said “It’s ok… as long as you don’t mention any names”
That Sunday I preached one of the finest sermons I’ve ever given in my entire ministry. And I was publicly challenged by one man who accused me of having named names - but I knew I hadn’t done that… because I had studiously avoided that because my mamma had told me to.
But I preached that powerful sermon because my mother listened to the promptings of God one Saturday morning and called me just to talk.
ILLUS: Not long ago, I read about some research published in the October 2004 issue of Psychological Science that mother’s have a strong influence on
• whether or not their children have strong consciences.
• whether they instinctively choose between right and wrong.
• whether they are selfish and prone toward cheating or if they share with others and play by the rules of life.
Now - you might get the impression – because I’ve indulged myself this morning and used my mother as the focus of this mother’s day sermon – that I believe she was perfect in every way.
You’d be right.
I do think that.
But I know too much about Scripture to really believe it.
Mothers have a significant impact on what their children regard as being important, but Godly mothers are different from other kinds of mothers. A Godly mother realizes that - for all the strengths they can share with their children - they also have weaknesses that can also influence their kids.
ILLUS: Not so long ago, I read about research that told that mothers not only taught their daughters how to be women, and one of the things that caught my attention was that these mothers also seemed to pass along some traits that weren’t all that desirable. Without realizing it these mothers passed on their prejudices and character flaws.
Because, just like everyone else, every mother has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Thus, a wise mother realizes she PERSONALLY can only lead her children just ‘so far’ into so becoming righteous. Sooner or later, her own shortcomings will become part of what her kids imitate.
So, if they’re wise mothers/ Godly mothers/ virtuous mothers/ they put a high priority on God’s influence in their children’s lives.
ILLUS: Near a church in Kansas, there can be seen in a cement sidewalk the prints of two baby feet with the toes pointing toward the Church. It was said that 20 years ago, when the sidewalk was being laid, a mother secured permission to stand her baby boy on the wet cement. The tracks are seen today plainly. The Mother had wanted her little boy to start aright.
CLOSE: Some of the greatest men of our nation recognized the influence of their Godly mothers:
• Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, "All that I am I owe to my angel mother."
• George Washington said almost exactly the same thing: All that I am I owe to my mother
• General Douglas MacArthur said, "My sainted mother taught me devotion to God and a love of country which have ever sustained me. To her I yield anew a son's reverent thanks."
That’s my testimony to you this morning. Just like King Lemuel praised his mother in Proverbs 31… I praise mine before you this morning
And it’s my prayer that every mother here this morning might have the honor of having “her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:…” declaring "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Proverbs 31:28-29