“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:30-31). With it being mother’s day this last Sunday (I totally slacked on writing this), it’s only natural to give a shoutout to all the moms--especially mine. I know my life would be very different if I did not have the love, guidance, and care given to me by my mom. What a blessing a mother’s love is, and I thank God for having my mom in my life.
And it is in the love and care of a good mother that we can put a face to the tenderness and gentleness of God’s love. God made man and woman, and in many ways, I believe He intended the family unit to be one of the--if not the most--powerful illustrations of who He is. We have the father, mother, and children, all playing a role in the family unit; the mother provides a refuge of care and comfort that sustains the household and brings warmth to the home. Without a mother’s love, one can grow up to be cold and indifferent, and struggle in finding and cultivating intimacy. And it is in intimacy with God that we are all truly longing for--in this way, a mother’s love is a powerful guide and compass that points to God’s true selfless and abounding lovingkindness.
1) The fruit of her hands
While a mom’s love is crucial to the raising of children and their development, we as people--including all moms--are called to an even greater love. Once again, a mother’s love for a child can provide a powerful display of God’s care and kindness; I have borne witness to this truth through my mom. But, we as humans--with moms included--all eventually find ourselves pressed and pushed towards breaking-points; we don’t love perfectly. A mother whose love can be so caring and gentle, can also become stressed and irritable as a child grows up (understandably so, in many ways *thinking of teenagers here*).
The time and effort required for raising kids is a great responsibility (not that I know first-hand yet), and it is a serious matter in the grand scheme of things. It is no surprise when Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” If we can train up a child in the right manner, then that means we can also train them up in the wrong manner. This places great importance on how a child is raised, and on the role of a mother/parent.
We know from 1 Corinthians 13:8 that love never fails, and it is by love that a family will truly prosper. But as the verse from Proverbs states that was referenced at the beginning, “Give her of the fruit of her hands” (Proverbs 31:31). The love that is shown by a mother will in many ways be the love that is reflected through her kids. This, of course, is not a blanketed statement, and there can always be instances that are more complex. Nonetheless, the concept still holds weight in many ways--for all people, not just moms. The way we love will be reflected through the people that we encounter and the relationships we have, and thus we will reap the fruit of our hands.
2) A greater love
There are many instances of fractured relationships between children and their moms, children and their dads, or between siblings. With relationships in general, conflicts and disputes will naturally arise--we are, after all, imperfect people. This is why we must be centered on a greater love if we are to live in the light. Where we are imperfect and unable to show love at every moment of our lives, Jesus was, and is, different. Jesus is perfect and does not ever waiver from being loving; it is who He is. Thus, in Proverbs 31:30-31, the passage doesn’t commend a woman for buying her kids the best gifts, or for always taking care of her children, or for working hard to provide for her family… The passage simply praises the woman who fears the Lord. The woman that fears the Lord is one to be praised, and the fruit that she will receive because of her faith will be beautiful. It is with God that everything will fall into the right place, including our love.
And it is in the fear of the Lord that any mom, woman, man, or whoever, can receive a fruit that is far greater than what we ourselves can produce. The Bible is not designed to give us easy tips, quick how-to’s, or a fast track to become a great mom, a good person, or a nice friend; the Bible provides a narrow path that leads to one destination: the feet of Jesus. And it is only by humbling ourselves and kneeling at His feet that we find true life and the answers to all of our needs. And true life is an overflowing of living water; an abundance in the fruits of the Spirit; an outpouring of the breath of life.
Let us appreciate our moms and love them, for it is written: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NIV). We should honor our mothers--we are commanded to do so by God. And while it may be easier for some to honor their mom than others, to truly honor others is to honor the Living God. Because, as we have previously addressed, our natural path without Him leads us to destruction; without God, all of our relationships will suffer.
3) Fear of the Lord
We often forget--if we know at all--that there is a lady that is a mother to us all. Many of us, however, choose not to be in her family, and we all have neglected her at one point or another. Our failure to honor her leads us into a travesty of knowledge, and those who refuse her will lie in a bed of calamity--the making of their own hands. This lady “raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out from the tops of the walls, at the openings of the gates in the city” (Proverbs 1:20-21). Those who hear her voice can choose to enter into her family and receive her counsel; those who listen will dwell in the safety of her hands. The mother that seeks to guide us all is wisdom, but so many of us choose not to listen; “I can revise your life. Look, I’m ready to pour out my spirit on you; I’m ready to tell you all I know. As it is, I’ve called, but you’ve turned a deaf ear; I’ve reached out to you, but you’ve ignored me” (Proverbs 1:22-24 MSG). Wisdom calls out to us all, but how often do we heed her voice?
To those who seek to hear her what she says, these are her words: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). Who is truly wise but Him whom wisdom proceeds from? When we deny wisdom, we set ourselves up for disaster. When we walk a path without the Almighty, we inevitably fall victim to ourselves. Foolishness comes out of our own heart, and “Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies” (Proverbs 1:29-31). If we walk our own way, we will be filled with the fruit of our own making. If we walk with wisdom, then we will follow a path that leads to life; the way is open to any who seek it. While we are unable to choose the family that we enter into within this world, there is a family that we can choose to be a part of that goes beyond ourselves--a family that is the kingdom of God.
To fear the Lord is the most important step we can take for ourselves, and for any generations that may follow us. As God says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV). When we fear the Lord, we are not just blessed individually, but God blesses the generations to come after us; He blesses our children, and their children’s children, to a thousand generations (and if no children, God will still bless others through you…). The greatest act of love was committed by a loving God; He who sent His Son to die for us, that through Him we might be saved. And it is in the sacrifice of Christ and His love that we see a greater love--a love that is able to wash us clean and give us power over darkness.
4) The will of God
For Jesus says it Himself, “‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:48-50). When we believe in Jesus Christ, we enter into a family that is beyond blood and beyond the categories of this sinful world. With God, there is an opportunity to partake in a love that is greater than any relationship we have on this earth. And it is through this relationship with the Almighty God and His love that all our relationships begin to change for the better. We will reflect the love of God when Christ lives within us; “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14 NIV).
In order to honor our mothers in the best way, we must first honor the Living God, for it is out of His love that we are able to more fully love those around us. As Christ said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). We should be honoring our mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, and strangers, every day of our life. There does not need to be a “Mother’s Day” for us to love and appreciate our moms; there does not need to be a “Father’s Day” for us to love and appreciate our dads.
Christ’s promise of eternal life is a promise with eternal ramifications; eternity does not have a beginning or an end, it just is. And that is who God is: He simply just exists. And when we follow this timeless and loving God and believe in Him, we can receive the gift of eternal life right now. Christ’s gift of life isn’t something to only look forward to, but it’s a gift that is living and active in this very present moment. And just like the love we can have for our moms, the love of God is not restricted to any one day--it is something we walk with day-in and day-out. May we abide continually in God’s faithful lovingkindness, and may we share it with all those who come across our paths in life.