Summary: God gives wisdom to those who need and seek.
We owe much to our mothers, including life itself. But for all they give and give, perhaps their greatest contribution is the things moms teach us:
• They teach us about receiving: “You are going to get it when we get home!”
• About logic, “Because I said so, that’s why.”
• Medical facts: “Stop crossing your eyes; they will freeze that way.”
• Religious devotion: “You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”
• Obstetrics: “Were born in a barn?”
• Time travel: “If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”
• Preparation: “Always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.”
• Contortionism: “Will you look at dirt on back of your neck!”
• The reality of the Resurrection: “If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, don’t come crying to me.”
Those are fun and silly and hopefully give you a bit of a chuckle as we hear the true story of two mothers who made a mess of their lives and needed a gift of God’s grace and mercy.
[Read 1Kings 3.16-28. Pray.]
Both the Bible and church history witness to the significance of mothers in the lives of faithful believers. For example, in 2Timothy 1.5, Paul tells his young apprentice: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
The fifth commandment requires that we honor our mothers as well as our fathers, a surprise demand delivered into a patriarchal society. The Proverbs, likewise, remind us that children are to please their mothers and give them joy as they labor to teach and raise them to love the Lord. And the New Testament makes clear that parents are to be obeyed and honored, not simply fathers.
God shows us how important mothers are in the kingdom as Hannah devotes her son, Samuel, to the Lord’s service. And Elizabeth not only gave birth to John the Baptist, but also was a New Testament prophet. And though we condemn the Catholic dogmas concerning worship of Mary and her sinless life as both unbiblical and offensive to God, we nevertheless recognize her as a paradigm of a godly woman and faithful mother.
Maybe the greatest honor paid women, however, is the way in which God compares his own ministry to that of a mother. Isaiah 66.13: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Augustine was probably the greatest Bible scholar the church has ever known. Apparently his mother, Monica, prayed for her son to become a Christian for years. When he was determined to travel to Rome she prayed earnestly that God would keep him by her side, and under her influence. She went down to a little chapel on the seashore to spend the night in prayer close by where the ship lay at anchor. But, when morning came, she found that the ship had sailed even while she prayed! But though the answer to that prayer was no, her true desire was granted. For it was in Rome that Augustine met the sainted Ambrose, who led him to Christ. God’s wisdom displayed in the devotion of a mother.
In contrast to those stirring examples, 1Kings 3 is not so obviously a great Mother’s Day passage! It does tell the story of a loving mother; mainly however, it tells us about God and ourselves and the wise and coming judge, Jesus.
1. Because of a Catastrophic Fall, We Seek God’s Wisdom
The first words shock us: “Now two prostitutes….” Are these the opening lines in a Bible story or a tawdry and tacky novel? Isn’t this inappropriate for a holy book?
But life is not all clean and neat. Real people have serious problems living in a fallen world, and God does not pretend otherwise. His word is not something we read and believe and act on when we are in a monastery, separate from sin and trouble. His answers work in the mess; his wisdom applies down in the mud.
On Friday we had the spring meeting of the Ohio Valley Presbytery. That is when churches of our denomination which are in this general geographic area gather to do the work we must do together. One of the things we did Friday was examine a young man who believes God is calling him to be a pastor. During the exam he was asked to explain and defend from the Bible the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. He did fine; he noted that the Bible contains everything we need to live faithful and pleasing to God. And he cited 2Timothy 3.16-17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Not some good works, but all of them. 2Peter 1.3 says something similar: God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence….”