by Cooper Abrams
Proverbs 31:10-31 The Key Verse is Verse 30
Did you know that the idea for Mother's Day was born in a small Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia?
It was 1876 and the nation still mourned the Civil War dead. While teaching a Memorial Day lesson, Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis thought of mothers who had lost their sons. She prayed that one day there could be a "Memorial Day" for mothers. The prayer made a deep impression on one of Mrs. Jarvis's eleven children. Young Anna had seen her mother's efforts to hold the war-split community and church together. As she grew into adulthood, the younger woman kept Mrs. Jarvis's dream in her heart. On the day of her mother's death, Anna was determined to establish Mother's Day in her honor.
On May 12, 1907, a local observance was held which later spread to Philadelphia. By 1910, Mother's Day was celebrated in forty-five states, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Canada, and Mexico. Elated, Miss Jarvis told a friend,
"Where it will end must be left for the future to tell. That it will circle the globe now seems certain."
On May 8, 1914, President Wilson designated the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day "for displaying the American flag and for the public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of the country."
I want us this morning to look at the Bible, and hear from God Himself, to see what is His Will for Mothers, and yes, all women.
It applies to us all, mothers, fathers, all men and women. But here the God addresses specifically His will and purpose for Mothers. This is the highest calling and purpose of women. This is basic to a full and happy life. To ignore it, means heartache and sorry and great disappointment. To ignore it means to live a life that is less than what God intended for you.
I received a letter a week before Mother's Day in 1992, from such a woman from our home church, Calvary Baptist in King, NC. Her name is Linda Tise. She loves the Lord, it is so apparent that Christ is the center of her life. I was her Sunday School teacher for about three years. I would like to share with you some of her letter.
About her daughter she said, "I feel like I've seen my daughter grow up in the Lord this year, and that's one of my greatest blessings." She explained about the influence of one couple, in the church, on her daughter.
She talks about the Revival they had and how many were saved. Several church members were saved including the Pastor's young son. She encouraged us to stay close to the Lord. She warns of the Devils attempts to destroy us and our usefulness for the Lord. She asks for prayer for several who have needs in the church. She asks for prayer for herself that "She and her family would be used of the Lord."
Some would consider her simply a plain country girl. She is always modestly dressed, very respectful and has a beautiful smile. She is a jewel in God's crown. If you attended the church you would not notice her. But she is always faithful, there at every meeting, ready and doing all she can to serve her Savior.
That church has a number of women such as this. You will drop by in the week and see her car outside the church. She is inside cleaning. Unnoticed yet she is faithfully serving the Lord. In 1977, when we first started attending there were only about 40 people. Currently the church attendance is around 700-800 people.
Another young mother, named Carolyn, and her two daughters, had received Christ as their Savior. They longed also to see Carolyn's husband saved. She would regularly ask the congregation to pray that he would received Christ. At the close of many a service she would be found at the front of the church on her knees praying with her daughters for her husband to be saved. She was not ashamed to come forward and pray for her loved one and her family. She faithfully attended church and taught a children's class. Year by year went by without any change on her husband's part. But she remained faithful to the Lord, devoted to our church and lived a godly life.
In 1986, in July...on Sunday morning at the close of a service the invitation to receive Christ was given and her husband Junior Martin came forward and was gloriously saved. The family was then complete in Christ. God greatly used them there in that Church. They are not in the lime light, you would not notice them, but they love the Lord and faithfully serve Him.
Years earlier a another dear Christian lady loved her husband and prayed that God would save him. She never nagged at him about it or argued. Each Sunday she would get her son and herself ready for church and faithfully attended year after year. Her husband showed absolutely no interest in God. She was always modest in her apparel, a loving wife and mother and lived a godly life. One day God touched her husband's heart and he came to Christ. An important part in that was his wife's testimony. Her husband stands before you today as your pastor.
Why has God used these three women? They love God and He is the most important thing in their lives.
I. A WOMAN WHO FEARS THE LORD SHALL BE PRAISED. Prov. 31:30
A. Verse 30 of Proverbs 31, is the heart of the matter. "A woman who feareth the Lord shall be praised."
B. What does it mean to fear God?
1. The introductory illustration shows the practical working of a Godly woman who feared God.
2. The Hebrew word is "yir'a" and means an "emotional reaction, terror, or to be afraid, and to have reverence for God, a deep respect."
3. In many places in the Old Testament the use of the terms, to fear God, and proper living, are so closed related they are virtually synonymous ideas. If a person feared God, it resulted in living a godly life. The fear is seen as the motivation which produced righteous living.
4. Exodus 1:17 The midwives feared God and would not kill the new born baby boys. In Exodus 1:21 God richly rewarded them.
5. Godly fear is the result of believing in God! When one's sees who God really is it will bring about a godly fear of God. Most people have such a small view of God. Yet, He created all the Universe...the Bible says he spoke it into existence out of nothing. Compared to us He is so much more than we can even fathom.
6. True belief, causes a deep reverence, and respect of God.
When I was in Germany, 1962, we had an IG (inspector general)inspection. This man was the final authority over all of us including our Group Commander. We were not in one sense terrified of him as he would not kill us, or harm us....but he had the power to approve us or fail us as a Combat Missile Group. If we failed...it would be really hard on us all. But because we respected his authority and power over us we worked really hard to prove ourselves as Combat ready.
As we stood in ranks, he inspected me, and ask when I was from. I was not terrorized to the point that when I saw him I wanted to run and hide. I was not afraid of him, because I was sharp! I was spit-shined head to foot....I knew my general orders, my uniform was perfect...because I was prepared and a good soldier there was nothing too be afraid of. I was the Groups Communications Center Chief and when he later inspected my center there was no problem...why? By Army standards I and my center and people were living righteous! That means we were obeying our orders and doing right. Yes we feared him, but we were not afraid because we were ready.
I believe it is similar with God. When a person comes to the knowledge of who God really is....they quit all the rebellion and fooling around. They get serious about serving God who created them!
They then want to obey God, follow Him and live their lives to His glory. As examples of His Grace they will show God to the rest of the world.
A man or woman who will not live for God, should really in all seriousness examine their lives, to see it their really believe in God with their heart or merely have a head knowledge of the fact of God's existence.
II. THE WOMAN (OR MAN) WHO TRULY IS SAVED IS MOTIVATED BY A GODLY FEAR OF GOD.
A. The overwhelming examples of the use of the word in the Bible, is most always used as the reason, or motivation, of why a person would serve God.
B. Look at Prov. 31:10. "Who can find a virtuous woman?"
Ladies are you a little intimidated by this description that follows?
Verse 30, is written as a question, that answers itself. The answer is very obvious! All my commentaries on the subject say it is a rhetorical question and the answer is NO! However, I strongly disagree. To say the answer is no, is to deny the power of God in a woman's life. I say YES! The key is Verse 30, a woman, a mother, will be a glory and praise to God if at the center of her life, Christ Jesus is first...she fears, reverences and loves God and that motivates all she does. Yes, there are many virtuous godly women who love God and honor Him by their lives.
The word "virtuous" refers to a woman's character of being a woman of strength and real ability. The Hebrew word is "chayil" (khah'-yil) and means strength, valiant, virtuous, one of valor, power and strength. Her strength or virtue is in her character of being a godly woman therefore she can be used of God as a blessing to others.
C. The woman that fears God will be praised. Both by God and among those who know her. The virtuous woman was a hard worker. She was not lazy, she kept her family and home in order. And that was a testimony of her love of her family and love of God.
III. The Virtuous Woman is Trusted by Her Husband.
A. Trust is something that is earned.
Trust does not come automatically to anyone or to a person simply because the hold a position. Many parents are not respected by their children because they have not earned their respect. Many wives and husbands suffer greatly because their spouses do not have confidence in them. I believe everyone initially wants to trust other people. But trust will only come from the experience of observing the person and how they live.
B. A godly woman will earn the trust and respect of her husband as she lives a consistent righteous life before him.
She honors the Lord and that manifests itself outwardly to others so that they trust her. One the of the great benefits in living for the Lord is that you live a life of character and people learn you can be trusted. Think about that in the context of a woman winning her family to the Lord and influencing them to serve the Lord. If her husband is lost, her virtuous life will be an positive influence and a testimony for the Lord. Her godly life will be a testimony and example to her children of God's saving and life changing grace. God's influence in a woman's life will show her family how good it is to live for the Lord.
The opposite is also true. A nagging, never satisfied, always complaining and unstable wife will not gain her family's confidence. It boils down to a matter of love. True love puts aside one's own desires and seeks the others well being. A selfish wife or mother shows she really does not have a deep love for her family. They in turn will cannot return a love that they are not shown.
There is a comedian whose is always saying "I don't get no respect!"Listening to his sinful statements that are supposed to be jokes will show you why he gets no respect. He does not deserve any respect because he is disrespectful. You cannot expect people to respect you when you do not respect them. Speaking down, being overbearing, complaining, or mistreating a spouse is a sure sign you have no respect for them and in turn...what goes around comes around. Respect and confidence are earned by one's behavior.
C. Verse 26 says the virtuous woman is wise and kind.
Where do you think this woman will get her wisdom? Psalms 111:10 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever." Wisdom comes from a fear of the Lord and understanding His commandments.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 instructs the believer about the effects of love. "Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil."
IV. FAVOR IS DECEITFUL, BEAUTY IS VAIN. Prov. 30:30
A. Favor is deceitful.
It is referring to living one's live seeking the favor or approval of others. Means living to impress others. Sure it is all right to look nice to look one's best. But dressing to attract attention is sinful because it is based in pride.
B. Beauty is vain.
The word "vain" means worthless or of no value. Over dressing, and making one's appearance the driving force in a person's life, is worthless says God.
Seeking to impress and gain favor and to hear "Oh, isn't she pretty!" is vanity. Think of the sorrowful life so many women live trying to look like a Barbie doll? What wasted lives.
I watched a few minutes of a TV program on the problem of Anorexia and bulimia in young girls and women. These woman were obsessed with the way the look and they starved themselves sick trying to look good to others. Sometimes their obsession kills them. The reporter told them as had their family and doctors that they look nice, but it did not matter. Their pride in their appearance controlled them.
C. This passage is written in Hebrew poetic form, which has two negatives, and two positives. The two negatives are the same thing.
1. The word "praised" is taken from a word that means to "shine."
2. This is true praise, virtuous praise, deserved praised, reward that is lasting. Because the actions produced came from a deep reverence, love and fear of God. Did you notice that her children and husband also praise her.
3. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 says, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."
The context of this instruction begins in 1 Timothy 2:1 and is Paul's exhortation for believers to pray,
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:1-5)
The word "modest apparel" means in clothing that is modest, in good behavior, and seemly. The word "shamefacedness" means a having a sense of shame or honor, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect. The word "sobriety" means having self-control and sobriety. The phrase "not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array" refers to dressing to advertise a woman's sexuality.
In biblical times the women who wore these things were prostitutes. Today a woman can dress nicely and were her hair braided. She can wear jewelry and nice clothes, but as a Christian she should dress modestly. I do not think we need to go into specifics about what is modest. If it is worn to draw attention one's body is it immodest. If it is tight fighting and or short it is immodest. Shamefacedness means having a sense of regard for others and respect for one's self, for husband and family.
If you want an example look at my wife. She always dresses modestly because she loves the Lord, and she loves her husband. I am proud of her, and to me she is the most beautiful woman on earth.
1. The woman whose life is truly meaningful, is a woman who loves and fears God.
2. What influence is a God fearing Mother? What greatness and good can she inspire in her family and those who know her?
3. When you study some of the great, positive, history-making figures, you will often find they speak of the influence of a parent.
Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, "All that I am I owe to my angel 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."
The great preacher G. Campbell Morgan had four sons. They all became ministers. At a family reunion a friend asked one of the sons,
"Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?"
With his eyes beaming with delight, the son looked over to his father and said, "Why, it's Mother!"
God wants women with open hearts who will be faithful Him, and live lives that honor and bring glory to God. Women willing to raise their families, to guide their households towards God.
Maybe you do not match up to the woman of Proverbs 31: Few do...but that does not mean you can't?
Maybe in the past you have not been the Mother you needed to be. We all look back and see our mistakes...yet God is the God of new beginnings!
Today, you can make that full commitment to the Lord!
To read more inspiring teaching by Cooper Abrams click here on Bible Truth