May 8, 2005 (repeat w/modifications from May 10, 1998)
ILLUS: Video “Highly Valued” from Sermon Illustrators, vol. 1, no. 2.
This video shows us some practical scenes from the portrayal of the ideal woman in Prov. 31 and her value to her children.
Indeed, it is impossible to overestimate the value of a godly mother to her children.
The future of the world is in the hands of each new generation as nurtured and taught to children by their mothers.
Mothers, more than anyone else, more than even fathers, have the greatest impact upon children because of a God-given bond from earliest age.
The first influence is the most endearing and far reaching.
The role of the father collaborates more and more as time progresses and steadily increases in importance, although it is the father who stands behind and enables the mother’s role from the beginning.
But the child who is set aside by his mother must surely wonder what went astray in the most basic and important of human relationships.
We just yesterday went as a church to the Caris Hike for Life to support and celebrate the value of children and their right to life – their right to at least a mother, even if not a father due to some circumstance.
The struggle in our culture, and all across the Western world and other developing and industrial nations, is a struggle to obey God in following his way and his desire for human reproduction.
He created us and wants us, and when we obey him, he sustains us.
ILLUS: Listen to this educational and convicting testimony by Tim Bayly entitled “Shepherd’s Pie” ---
But with this in mind, let us go back to Prov. 31:10-31 to queue in on the kind of woman that can make this happen – the qualities that God enables a woman to have in order to change the world if she seeks God for those qualities.
In a way, this describes “Wonder Woman”, but we must remember that we have a “Wonder-Working God”.
“8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."” (2Co 9:8-9 NivUS)
These verses are written as an acrostic poem for remembrance, each verse starting with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet - an organized arrangement of virtue - the ABC’s of wisdom (or in Hebrew, point Aleph, point Beth, point Gimel, point Daleth, etc.).
There is a fearful beauty in true womanhood. This ideal woman fears God. A woman who does this will have no time or inclination for sin. She will build a lasting legacy for her God, her husband, her children, her world. This passage does not speak of what this woman looks like, but speaks of what she does that flows from who she is. Perhaps this ideal “Wonder Woman” cannot be found. There certainly are degrees of approaching this ideal. But we must have an ideal of what this godly woman is like if we are to approach it. If she can be found, you will have seen the effective image of godliness, as God intended, in a woman, a wife, and a mother. What an effect this woman would have on those around her. She is a priceless model of womanhood. Every man wants a model for a wife. But there is a difference between the world’s model and God’s model.
What are the characteristics of value in a wife and mother?
What constitutes a woman’s irreplaceable value to a godly home?
A. She has priceless character.
10 ¶ A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Why is it that women like jewelry? Perhaps they have an innate understanding that that is how they are to be viewed - since jewelry has value. But we are talking here about what it is in a woman that is of the most value, and that is character. Character flows from the knowledge of God in the lessons of life, and who can put a price on God? Character has the most value because it has the most influence. Just like the man who finds the kingdom of heaven to be most valuable, so too the kingdom of heaven displayed in the life of a godly woman is most valuable.
B. She is her husband’s greatest treasure.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
The tribute begins here and this is her first priority. She is a wife, a career woman, and the mother of children. But neither her career not her children are allowed to come before the obligations of her marriage. She knows that a stable and loving marriage is basic to success and happiness in these other areas. She knows that marriage fulfills her as a person and that the first essential of motherhood is to create for the children the environment of a loyal and loving home.
So first of all she is faithful and supportive to her husband. She must establish and maintain credibility with her husband as a helpmate that brings him honor. Her character is proven and her husband trusts her. She makes herself indispensable - and she is. There is no need to look for greener grass elsewhere, he has all he needs in her in this life.
And if her husband is not a believer, he may well become one by her witness.
C. She is a consistent helpmate.
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She is not contentious. She sees the end from the beginning and runs the race to win. She is confident of what she can accomplish. She knows that she has value to her family and her society in each stage of life.
D. She is industrious.
13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She spreads out her assets. She has prepared herself with skills and ability to be industrious and contribute to the family welfare. She follows projects through from beginning to end. She doesn’t just delegate to her husband and children. She delegates herself as an example to all. She enjoys work and the outcome it produces.
E. She is resourceful.
14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She researches her options and learns from experience. She is an expert in her God-given, and willingly accepted, role as homemaker.
F. She is diligent.
15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
This woman is quite aware that many depend upon her and she plans ahead, knowing that a stitch in time saves nine. Note that her industriousness has acquired others to help her, but she is not a slave driver - she sets the example.
G. She is frugal.
16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She has accomplished much with her efforts. The profits of her labors are not spent foolishly but reinvested wisely. She doesn’t put all her eggs in one basket. She runs a well rounded operation.
Marriage does not claim all her time. She is too gifted for that. She is a business woman: she has an interest in real estate, and is also a dress designer and manufacturer. There is nothing old fashioned about her. She is a liberated woman, a person in her own right. Her life has significance quite apart from her relationship to her husband and children. And her family evidently respects her for it.
H. She is energetic.
17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
This woman doesn’t need to go to “Women’s Workout World.” She stays in shape by what she accomplishes. She is not a kept woman. She is truly liberated.
G. She is a wise investor.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
This woman is in touch with the economy and knows how to turn a buck. If need be, she burns the midnight oil to figure it out. And you can be certain that the lamp won’t go out because they run out of oil, or can’t pay the electric bill.
I. She is talented.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She is skilled at the things she does. She has worked at it. She knows her part in what it takes to raise a family.
J. She is generous.
20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
As much as this woman is industrious, frugal and resourceful, she is not a tightwad. She is generous and compassionate - works to have something to give. She knows that the tragedies of life befall others, and a much as she depends upon God, and her own abilities as directed by God, to provide for her family, she is savvy enough to know it could be her family in need. Remember, this is a woman of character.
K. She is prepared.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
The Proverbs 31 woman thinks and plans ahead. She is not caught with her apron off. She has credibility in her provision for her family.
L. She is well kept.
22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
She not only keeps her family well, but she understands that she herself is as much the temple of God as her home and each one in her care. She doesn’t waste time on herself, but she does take care of herself and her marriage relationship.
M. She adds to her husband’s reputation.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
Can you imagine a man with a wife like this? He’d be the talk of the town. He’d be a pretty special guy to have a woman who cared this much, not only about him but about her calling in life to the family God has given her. Any man with a wife like this must certainly be worth listening to because he has chosen a wife wisely. Their marriage may not be perfect, but it certainly is a model by all comparative standards. The fruit of their lives reveals it. Her husband is respected because she obviously respects him so much as her life and work attest.
N. She is diversified.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
Not just one or two talents, this woman cuts out the middleman and turns labor and foresight into profit at every turn.
O. She is confident.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
This is not the laughter of pride but the confidence of humble, hard-working character that has done its best. If anything goes wrong, it won’t be because she hasn’t prayed and planned and labored. We can have joy in knowing we have done our best under God with what he has given us to have and to do and to be.
P. She is a wise teacher.
26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
There is no idle gossip here, and she teaches her children well. Her words as well as her works come from God. Her life has a lasting impact and generations will call her blessed.
Q. She is a good manager.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
She may not shepherd a church, but she shepherds her little flock. She knows that you get out what you put in.
R. She is respected.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Her honor is well deserved. She has been faithful to the gift of life. She has given it the nudge it needed from her generation. She is a fond remembrance of godliness. The writer paints a picture of the woman as the leading character in her family drama, the focus of the family, the strength of her household. This woman in today’s world makes a distinctive contribution to society while at the same time giving her children the love and support that they need. And this adds to her husband’s strength as a public figure and a leader in society.
S. She is adored.
29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
Her place of esteem is unsurpassed in the eyes of those who know and love her. What more earthly, even heavenly reward, could one hope for than for the acknowledgement of a job, an eternally important job, well done? She has fulfilled her created place and passed it on.
T. Her inner beauty is breathtaking.
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
There is no greater description of beauty than that of God. And whatever of God within us that we cultivate will reveal his beauty in us. This woman has served life well because she knew she was serving God within it.
U. Her reward is well deserved.
31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
There is certainly a heavenly reward awaiting this woman of excellence. She has earned it. And the city gate is not only such a grand reputation in this life, but there is also such a city above. There will be many mothers there, and they will have with them many children who followed in their footsteps.
Now that we have outlined in such a methodical manner what Wonder Woman qualities the Bible says you are to have, how do you feel?
Do you feel a little uneasy that you could ever meet such a set of expectations in this lifetime, even though you agree with them, knowing the dust from which you are made – the weaknesses you carry from a long line of inconsistencies strung through the generations?
And you know that the fruit of the womb, of which you also are, having had your own mother, is not necessarily the same as the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) in either yourself or your children.
It takes time to reveal and develop.
In other words, there seems to be a disconnect from idealism and reality as you grow yourself and you raise your own children.
If you are or will be dealing with this, and I imagine so, then take encouragement from this closing video entitled “A Parent’s Reward” that takes the blessings where we find them and rejoices in what God has done, even in the ‘little’ things – which in reality can be quite huge.
Indeed, you can rejoice today, this Mother’s Day, knowing that you did and do have a profound impact upon the life of the world through your faith in God, no matter how you sometimes feel about it.
ILLUS: Video “A Parent’s Reward” from Sermon Illustrators, vol. 2, no. 3.
A mother is not a substitute for God, but neither is there any substitute for a mother. She can be an angel of God to her children, the instrument of God’s purpose and guidance and love and support. The truth is that nobody can take a mother’s place in the life of her family. She bears children in her body, ushers them into the world, feeds them at her breast, makes a home for them, rears them, gives them goals, teaches them ideals, fires their ambition, loves them, helps them, suffers with them and stands by them when all other forsake. They have every reason to rise up and call her blessed. She is still the focal point of the family drama. The international institution of Mother’s Day proves that time cannot wither, nor custom stale, the veneration in which we hold our mothers and their great wisdom in bringing us into the world. Today we give honor to you ladies in recognition of God’s perfect design for life. Without you, it wouldn’t happen. We need you and we love you. May God, and the men and children in your life, bless you.