We pay tribute to motherhood in many ways today – dinners, cards, breakfast in bed, jewelry; all of these are wonderful ways to express our gratitude. If, however, we are simply trying to assuage guilt for neglect, indifference, presumption, and a lack of thoughtfulness throughout the year, are we not being hypocritical?
Introduction: It is difficult not to look back and yearn for the simplicity of the past. Of course, it is stabilizing to know that God created us for such a time as this. But the so-called progress of society and development of technology that is supposed to make life easier certainly hasn't made life better. I long for the simplicity of yesterday when motherhood epitomized the virtuous woman.
Our text this morning is appropriate because it contains exhortations from a mother to a son who happens to be a king. She desired that her kingly son have a queen that did not shy away from a truly virtuous, and yes domestic, life. A virtuous wife and mother is one who excels in her character. She is morally strong and domestically able. Her character is unattainable to most women. Some women have read this passage and have secretly (some not so secretly) cried in despair. They think no woman could be capable of doing what this woman does. However, as one man put it, they fail to realize the passage "describes a woman who is living in a supernatural way with a supernatural God." (J. Hampton Keathley, III; Reflections for Mothers)
If you're a virtuous wife and mother this morning, you are very aware of your failings, but you are also dependent upon God's strength. This is what makes you strong. The relativistic culture and the immoral times in which we live further complicate the role of motherhood. Add to this an absent father (divorce, work-a-holic, disengaged, lazy, and addicted to some useless activity, still an adolescent - like another son) and matters become even more challenging.
However, if our society will experience a turning away from sin to God, then women will recognize the high and noble calling of motherhood once again. Fathers must lead but mothers must compassionately hold the family together.
Transition: My exhortation is that the mother and wife not become a superwoman, but rather a supernatural woman. Proverbs 31 contains three main character qualities of the virtuous, supernatural woman:
1. Supernatural Women are Diligent (13, 15, 17-19, 27)
· The diligence of this woman stems from the will but works with the hands (13).
· Her diligence is marked by rising early while it is yet night (15).
· Her diligence is marked by her physical strength gained by not expecting others to do the work (17). Her perception of a job well-done keeps her literally burning the midnight oil (18). Her hands busily weave clothing for her household (19).
· She is diligent not idle or lazy. She redeems the time she has to the full – not wasting a moment of it.
Application: Biblical motherhood takes diligence. When necessary, there are seasons (especially for the mother of young children) when you will rise early and go to be hours after everyone else. Your example will instill the character trait of diligence in the lives of your children. They see you willingly and consistently working to serve others. They see you do it all without becoming embittered because you’re so tired and taken for granted. They see it and store it. One day they will emulate it. But this diligence doesn’t belong to a superwoman; it belongs to a supernatural woman. She is supernaturally diligent because she relies upon her God for her work ethic.
2. Supernatural Women are Discerning (11-12, 15-16, 21, 26)
· Discernment marked by a husband’s trust. He is secure and knows he will not lack (11). Her enduring faithfulness (all the days of her life) does him good and not evil. Her thoughts, words, and actions toward him are good (12).
· While verses 15-16 were used to demonstrate her due diligence, they also mark out her discernment. She understands how to use her time wisely and productively.
· Her discernment enables a proactive stance toward the needs of her family. She does not fear the snow because she has foreseen the possibility and provided clothing for her household (21). But the clothing is of scarlet – not the bare minimum. It is of the finest quality and weight. It will keep her family warm.
· Her mouth speaks discerning words of wisdom and kindness. The way she speaks will more than likely communicate more than the what she speaks (26).
Application: Biblical motherhood is discerning. Diligence must produce something more valuable than material wealth. You can work extremely hard for all the wrong reasons and for all the wrong things. You must be discerning and utilize your labor within and without the home in such a way that you bring permanent benefit to your family. Your desire to bring comfort to your home is God-given. But He also gives you the ability to guard against excess. When you have stolen moments use them to strengthen your heart and mind. Build in the wisdom and kindness that you need to not only train up your children and delight your husband; conduct yourself with wisdom and kindness for the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. No superwoman is capable of biblical discernment; it belongs instead to the supernatural woman – dependent upon the wisdom from above.
3. Supernatural Women are Devoted (18, 20, 26, 30)
· Devoted to her work even if she is growing weary at night (18)
· Devoted to the poor and needy as evidenced by her outstretched hand (20)
· Devoted to her God as demonstrated by the inner beauty of wisdom, kindness and the fear of the LORD (26, 30)
Application: The one central premise you must learn about the book of Proverbs is the fear of the LORD (30). Biblical motherhood chooses the one thing needful – sitting at the feet of Jesus. You cannot be satisfied with devotion on the horizontal realm; while needful, it is vain without Christ. Your life must be compelled by a sense that God is near; He watches over you and delights in a relationship with you. Nothing and no one must stand in the way of your accountability to God. Devoted mothers are formed in the crucible of testing. No superwoman can withstand the heat; only a supernatural woman at the feet of her Savior comes forth as gold.
Transition: Diligence, discernment, and devotion to God are the three primary characteristics of the supernatural woman. The value of a supernatural woman's character is magnified as society grows more and more corrupt. Her worth is far above rubies (10). This value finds at least three expressions in our text:
1. Pinnacle of Womanhood (10, 29-30)
· Charm and beauty are deceitful, fleeting and temporal. Only one woman excels all in the eyes of God – the woman who fears the LORD (29-30).
· Who can find such a woman; her worth is far above the worth of rubies (10).
Application: A woman living in the fear of the LORD will not be viewed in most societies as reaching the pinnacle of womanhood. She is not praised at all. Nor does society view her as one excelling. That should come as no shock to many in her this morning. But if society is to ever rise to the higher ground of our Creator, the supernatural wife and mother must be set upon a pedestal and exalted by God Himself. But it is a rare find in our world. It ought to cause us great grief that the more worthy a woman is of godly esteem, the rarer she becomes. The pinnacle of womanhood is found in the supernatural woman not the superwoman of this world.
2. Praiseworthy within the Family (23, 28)
· Her husband is known in the gates; he sits among the elders of the land. He owes her a great deal (23).
· Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her (28).
Application: You strive by the grace of God to benefit your family’s reputation and character. They become overwhelmed by your ability to cause them good all their days. You’re able to extend them comfort when others have none. They garner respect from their peers. Your children love and honor you; your husband praises you. All is impossible for the superwomen of society, but with God, supernatural women are able to garner praise from a loving family.
3. Profitable to All (31)
A woman like this should be given the fruit of her hands, says the king’s mother. Her works signify that she is worthy of praise because she has been profitable to all (31).
Application: Who shall give to you as you live the Christ life (Gal 2.20); the supernatural life? The rich will provide wealth, the powerful will turn the tide with their influence on your behalf, the poor will reflect back the hope you gave to them, and all who see you will marvel at your conduct and character. They will follow your example. And you will owe it all to the grace of God!
· Fowler and House (Civilization in Crisis) – quoting Rita Carver, “In today’s world one wonders if mother is not headed for extinction. …Some of our feminist sisters have declared that as non-working mothers we are only maids doing the job any eight-year-old could accomplish.” Proverbs 31 clearly pictures a woman that is strong, intelligent, and full of godly wisdom. We can expect the wisdom of this world will reject godly wisdom as folly.
· Roles – is it true that women can do whatever men are able to do? If we affirm this statement, would we say that men can do whatever women are able to do? The fact of the matter is that we are different. Gender-based roles must be maintained if we are to obey Scriptures. I believe that many women who have chosen a high-powered career path in the world to the neglect of their family inwardly regret it and feel great unrest.
· Romans 12.2 warns against conformity to the world. Gender roles must remain distinct. That takes supernatural transformation and the constant renewing and washing of our minds with the water of the Word. Satan deceives women into thinking they must be superwomen. His motive is the destruction of motherhood and the home. The past abuse of men and the God-ordained authority they have to lead the home has been a powerful tool for Satan. He uses that tool as propaganda for the secular feminism we see today.
· A Word for Dads – care for your wife as Christ cared for the church; love your wives as you already love yourself. Do you want for your wife what you want for yourself? Do you want to avoid for her the unpleasant things you want to avoid for yourself?
· A Word for Children – do you rise up and call her blessed? Perhaps you take her for granted? Shuttling you around, providing good meals, enduring your rebellion and disrespect, suffering neglect because she doesn’t give in to your every little whim because she loves you? Note the command with promise (Eph 6.1-3).
· A Final Word to Mom – See Luke 10.38-42. Don’t become so distracted by serving diligently! Instead, have the discernment to sit at the feet of Christ. Experience the exchange of Christ’s life for your life!
Hymn: A Christian Home (525)