Summary: A Mother’s Day Sermon.
A REAL WOMAN
INTRO: Meryl Streep has played the role in movies of several far-from-perfect mothers. She has portrayed Joanna Kramer, who left her husband and son to go to California and find her true self. In “Sophie’s Choice,” she was a mother who gave her daughter to the gas chambers at Auschwitz so her son might have a chance of life. In “Silkwood,” she played the role of a nuclear plant employee who did not have custody of her children.
The mother of two children herself, Meryl Streep was asked about being cast as a bad mom. She said: “Well, those are the ones they make movies about. They don’t make movies about regular mothers, do they?”
The Bible gives us several images of womanhood and motherhood. One of those images is found in Proverbs 31:10-31. There it is noted that the real worth of a woman is her devotion to God. A woman who devotes herself to God and to the things of God is a real woman. She is identified in at least two ways.
I. A REAL WOMAN IS IDENTIFIED BY HER NERVE IN TRYING THINGS.
The writer of Proverbs detected an element of venturesomeness in a real woman. There was boldness evident in her life. In v. 13, the writer noted her willingness to work “with willing hands.” (RSV). She was willing to get up “while it is yet night” (v. 15, RSV) and secure food for her household.
She had a sharp eye for business opportunities, especially in real estate. She knew the value of goods she produced. She worked late into the night. She was a woman willing to dare. She was a woman who risked. She was a woman who saw the needs of her family and was willing to expend herself and her energies on their behalf. She was a real woman, a woman who had the nerve to try!
In our society, a real woman is portrayed in glamorous ways. She is the woman whose closets are filled with the hottest new fashions. She carries three colored disks of eye makeup, a different color for each occasion. She is the woman whose hair spray holds up all day.
But that is not necessarily what a real woman is. The biblical concept of womanhood focuses on something deeper. The Bible lifts up the woman whose life is devoted to God and to the things of God. It exalts the mother whose commitment is to the Lord. The Bible emphasizes the internal and the eternal, not the external and the temporal.
ILLUS: The woman was very tall and wore a black peasant skirt with heavy woolen socks on heavy legs and black rope-soled shoes. She had a brown face like a model for a granite monument. She had big hands, and her thick curly black hair was twisted into a knot on her neck. She once said: “I was born ugly. All my life I have been ugly… Do you know how an ugly woman feels? Do you know what it is to be ugly all your life and inside to feel that you are beautiful? It is very rare.” (From Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls).
A real woman is beautiful on the inside. Her devotion to the Lord is obvious in her willingness to try things. She possessed a godly soul, an godly drive which makes her beauty shine forth even when the years have taken away the beauty of youth.
II. A REAL WOMAN IS IDENTIFIED BY HER WILLINGNESS TO HONOR GOD IN HER HOME AND COMMUNITY.
ILLUS: Alice Cowan is a retired nursery school owner in California who remembers her mom as someone who honored God. Her mom got the family up on Sundays and saw to it that all the children got dressed and that the family went to Sunday School and church together. Alice’s mom gave each child a nickel which she had earned that week by sewing for neighbors. Those nickels were for the collection plate. Alice’s mom loved her family and her church so much she would sacrifice for them.
That picture of a woman honoring God in her home and community reflects Proverbs 31. In these 22 verses, the writer gives us an acrostic poem in Hebrew which teaches about a model woman, a woman devoted to honoring God where she lived life.
A real woman is devoted to her home and to her community. If Baptists ever were to canonize folks as saints, we would need to start with the women. They are the ones who have prayed for and raised money for home and foreign missions. They are the ones who have taught us in Sunday School and have taught us the words, “Jesus loves me, this I know.”