Sunday, May 11, 2014

Her Children Will Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

This portion of the book of Proverbs begins with a question. Proverbs 31:10 asks: “Who can find a virtuous wife?” And then it tells us how valuable she is: “For her worth is far above rubies.”

May I take the liberty of expanding that like this? “Who can find a virtuous mother, for her worth is far above rubies.” And rubies are even more valuable than diamonds because they are even more rare. So the author is stating that a virtuous wife is the rarest of commodities. A good wife/a good mother – one who demonstrates true, godly virtue - is by far the greatest treasure you can ever have. A virtuous wife is the most precious possession a man can ever have, or can ever find. And a virtuous mother is truly like finding buried treasure. A godly mother is irreplaceable in a child’s life.

Society has long recognized that fact. That is one of the reasons we have this very special day each year called Mother’s Day – a day set aside to honor our mothers. We recognize their infinite worth. So, honor is appropriate. As it is often said, “Give honor where honor is due.” Well, Scripture wholeheartedly agrees. A virtuous wife mother deserves reward.

Proverbs 31: 28-31 lay this all out:
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
The first reward mentioned is praise from her kids, “Her children rise up and call her blessed.” Do you know what this tells me? It tells me her children must be all raised up. They are grown-ups now. Mothers of little children don’t receive this praise. Their kids rise up and cry, “What’s for breakfast, Mom? I’m hungry.” And the typical teen; what will they do? They will grunt, and lay in bed as long as you will let them with their heads buried under their pillows.

But adult children? Those who have gone out on their own? They will lavish their mother with praise, at least if she was a virtuous one. “My Mom was so smart. I always look to her for advice. I’m so glad she cared so much for me.” And they will call Mom with questions. “Hey, Mom, my three year old has a fever. What should I do?” Or, “Hey, Mom, remember that special dessert you always made at Christmas? Can you share the recipe?”

Grown up children can now view their mothers from the perspective of being parents themselves. As a result, they gain a new perspective. They understand the sacrifice and commitment it took from Dear Old Mom, and they can rise in the morning and express their new-found appreciation to Mom. How often do adult children call her in the morning to just check in and chat for awhile? Or they begin patterning their own parenting after Mom’s example? Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say.

Do you see? While the kids are little, that is when it’s all work. When they are raised, that is when the reward comes, not only from the kids, but from the kid’s father too. So, as the verse continues, a virtuous wife also gets praise from her husband. Proverbs 31:28 says, “Her husband also, and he praises her.” Praise means more than just telling her, even though that is part of it, but it means telling everyone else too. It means bragging about what a good wife and mother we are married to. Just like we praise God together, and we express our praise to Him, and we tell each other how great our God is, we, to a lesser degree, let everyone know how much we appreciate our wives. Many of you do that very well – I’ve heard you.

And, truly this is where the blessing of motherhood comes in. This is what makes the toil of all those years of raising the kids worthwhile - the changing of diapers, the cleaning up puke, and rushing them in for stiches. And as they get older, there is the worry of watching them make choices and choose relationships that can affect them for life. Yes, it is worth-while.

Ruth Benedict, one of the first women to attain recognition as a major social scientist, one who truly has it made, according to the modern, feminist view of life, candidly writes this:
“To me, it seems a very terrible thing to be a woman. There is one crown which perhaps is worth it all – a great love, a quiet home, and children. [Her childless marriage to Stanley Benedict ended in divorce] We all know that is all that is worthwhile, and we must peg away, showing off our wares on the market if we have money, or manufacturing careers for ourselves if we haven’t. We have not the motive to prepare ourselves for a ‘lifework’ of teaching, of social work – we know that we would lay it down with hallelujah in the height of our success, to make a home for the right man. And all the time in the background of our consciousness rings the warning that perhaps the right man will never come. A great love is given to very few. Perhaps this makeshift time-filler of a job is our lifework after all.”
Don’t you feel sorry for her? She has achieved everything the world says is important, but she is unhappy and unfulfilled. Even while she pursues her high level career, she pines to be a wife and mother. She longs to be all those things that God has programmed her for.

But the truth is, that dream of a great love, and a quiet home, and children - that can be a reality because that was God’s plan from the beginning. And a woman who experiences that, with the expected blessing from her children, and the praise of her husband is the most fulfilled woman there can be.

But, the one way that she can achieve that status in life is by being a virtuous woman. We have always told our daughters this. If you want to find a good, godly husband, you have to become a good, godly woman. Those are the kind of women that godly men will look for to marry. The tramp wearing the attire of a harlot may catch their eye, but she isn’t the type a godly young man wants to marry. He wants to marry a virtuous young woman.

But, back to the point: in encouraging mothers, there is no other higher calling in all of life. Being a wife and mother is why you were created. The Satanically influenced world may down-play that calling, but God upholds that calling. And husbands and children (at least adult children) appreciate you for doing it well. And it should you bring you blessing and praise – your “children [will] rise up and call you blessed.”

The world has downgraded motherhood for years - down-grading it to second class status behind careerism - but God hasn’t. God still means what he said in 1st Timothy 5:14 where He said through Paul, “I desire that the younger [women] marry, bear children, manage the house.”

Or, we can read in Titus 2:3-5 which says that the older women are to teach the younger women “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers.”

Motherhood - It is so important. It is true that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” It is the home that shapes the thinking of the next generation. And it shapes the morals and values that will rule in our kid’s lives. That is how important the role of Mom is. Hillary was wrong when she said that “It takes a village to raise a child.” No! It takes a family. It takes a mother and a father – they are critical - which is why Satan attacks the home so much.

First, the father was taken out of the home by the Industrial Revolution. No longer does he work out of the home as a farmer or a craftsman, but now he works down the road at a factory for some big company. And now, as feminism and materialism gain sway, the mother is expected to join him at the factory so she can be “more fulfilled” than the dreary soul who just takes care of a home and kids and so she can help maintain their luxurious standard of living. Fortunately, the real fulfillment comes at home (God built that into the woman). The real fulfillment doesn’t come from a career.

Elizabeth Elliot commented on this, writing:
“Any nine-to-five job, no matter how routine, monotonous, or boring, is elevated by the feminists to higher status than being a wife and mother, as though the wife and mother’s work were more demeaning, more boring, less creative and exciting, or allowed less latitude for one’s imagination than being a lawyer or fitting parts on an assembly line. (Granted, feminists nearly always pit the prestige jobs rather than assembly-line jobs against housework, ignoring the fact that few of the women they would like to ‘liberate’ would end up in prestige jobs.) I’m afraid it’s a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence. How many of them have had a fair chance to compare?”
No, the job of being a mother is far more important than putting parts together on an assembly line. Creating children and raising them to be productive adults is far and away more challenging and fulfilling.

The simple fact is, much of the problem with the disintegration of our culture can be traced to the disintegration of the family. It is a simple fact that children need a stable home environment, and a mother is pivotal to building one. As Proverbs 14:1 says: “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”

The woman who does build her home deserves the praise of her husband and children. “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Praise God for a woman who dedicates her life to serving her husband and her children - to building them a stable home environment.

This is important to the emotional health of our kids. In “Emotional Intelligence,” written by Daniel Goleman, the following findings were reported from brain stem studies: Children from unstable environments function in their thinking near the base of the brain stem – the area given over to non-thinking, reflexive processes, so that leaves only two psychological responses - either fight or flight, neither of which is very socially productive.

But, once their lives were stabilized, their brain function climbed to higher levels where thinking and learning can take place. Often, a kid’s failing academic performance can be turned around just by giving them a stable home environment. Do you see how critical this is for a child? Can you see how a mother’s presence and influence can effect that? Which is why any child who has that kind of mother should “rise up and call her blessed.”

The second insight from the study was this: stability came when the child connected with an adult who cares - who loves them with an unconditional love. Doesn’t that describe a mother? Can you imagine anybody being surprised by that? Can you imagine anyone thinking this is some kind of new revelation or something? This has been Scriptural truth from creation.

But that’s the good news: Children don’t need to go through life alone, since God gave them a mother and a father. The same God who gave them their psychological peculiarities also gave them you. God gave them parents to love and care for them. God gave them you to provide them the stable environment they need to thrive. And just because many parents have abdicated that responsibility doesn’t mean you will. And when you don’t, you deserve praise. Her “children [shall] rise up and call her blessed.” Because, Mom, your presence and love, your time and affection, go far further than designer jeans and sneakers with the right logo, and further than any amount of expensive playthings like bikes or skateboards or skiing trips.

The greatest poverty a child can ever experience is not the poverty of material things, but it is the poverty of Mom and Dad’s affection. A kid may have a life of material affluence, but be living with a great deficit of affection. So many kids in school are in trouble, not because the schools lack computers or electives, but because students lack a mooring at home. They’ve never had the stability of Mom and Dad’s time and example. They aren’t rooted anywhere, with nothing solid in their lives to cling to. And that breeds hopelessness, gloom and doom; and they are ripe for depression. Who knows what can happen then. Columbine style shootings have become all too common.

Praise God for a mother who works to build a stable home. She deserves the praise of her husband and children, and we must give it to her. Her “children [will] rise up and call her blessed.”

Children can’t raise themselves, you know. It takes effort, and lots of time, Mom and Dad, and you must be willing to provide that. Just think of a garden. A gardener must carefully prepare the soil. He must plant the good seed, and he must continually pull out the noxious weeds. Kids need the same effort. You must constantly put in the good, training them in Scripture and morality - teaching them to love God and serve Him. But it also means dealing with the weeds in their life – the sins that can poison their lives and choke out the good seed. Like weeds, if you don’t pull the sins out, they will over-grow the entire garden and destroy that life.

Nobody ever knowingly plants weed seeds in their own garden. They just kind of happen, all by themselves. The wind blows in the weed seeds, but our kids are indwelt with sin as fallen, sinful creatures. Their desire to sin comes from Adam, and it was passed down to them through you. Like the bumper sticker reads: “Don’t lead me into temptation. I’ll find it myself.” And they will, because it is as close as their own hearts. They need a Mom and a Dad to weed their lives of sin, so the good character can grow. If a Mom does that, she deserves praise. A child who grows up without a life ruined by sin should “rise up and call her blessed” every morning.

The home also needs to be a place that provides direction in life. Our children don’t understand the world, or know which way to go. They don’t know how to navigate the shoals or avoid the pitfalls. They haven’t a clue what their interests are, or what career path to take, or what kind of friends to pick. But, you, Mom and Dad, you know your kids. You know their hearts. You know their strengths and weaknesses. And you can guide them – they need your guidance.

Without guidance, a boat will float aimlessly whichever way the wind will take them. Without a map, a hiker will wander aimlessly around in circles. And your kids will wander through life aimlessly as well without you to guide them.

A child without direction is ungrounded, undisciplined, and has no purpose. He will be pushed around by the winds of peer pressure looking for something, anything to pin his life on and give him meaning. Can’t you be their compass, Mom and Dad?

When you see a kid walking through the mall with his pink spiked hair and bad attitude, and he looks like he fell face first into an open tackle box, and he listens to music that isn’t, and he deliberately, repeatedly does anything and everything to offend your morals, just maybe he is crying out loudly to his parents to please love me enough - enough to set and enforce some boundaries and provide me some direction. He could be asking, “Do you love me enough to stop my self-destruction?” A Mom and a Dad who do deserve his praise. When the battle is over, someday he will “rise up and call [you] blessed.”

The sin they wallow in seems fun at the time, but it never gives them any satisfaction. But you can lead them to the real source of fulfillment and satisfaction – Jesus Christ.

And you be an example to them. They can hear the truth, sit in all kinds of religious classes, but if they never see you living out your faith – actually practicing what you preach - they will wonder why they should. Why follow some religious system that has no practical effect on a life? And how do they know? Because it hasn’t made any difference in your life, Dad and Mom. The road we travel effects the road our children travel except they will go further down that road than you do. Make sure the path you are taking is the one you want your child to take. Praise God for a Mother who realizes that more of life’s lessons are caught than taught. She deserves our praise. Her children should “rise up and call her blessed.”

One last thing, and definitely the most critical: lead your child to the feet of Jesus. Diligently teach him the gospel and pray daily for his salvation. This is so critical because your child’s spirit will exist somewhere forever, either in heaven or in hell.

As R.L. Dabney observed, “Under God’s providence, when a man and a woman conceive a child, they have kindled a spark that can never be put out” Don’t you want them experiencing the blessings of God in His eternal presence rather than experiencing the curse of eternal torment and punishment? There is no peaceful oblivion awaiting the products of our failed parenting. So do the best you possibly can – your kids are more important than anything - and trust God to do the rest, because salvation is of God. We can work on the outside of a child, manipulating their environment and controlling their behavior, but only God can work on their hearts. But He can work a lot easier if we control the exterior.

But that’s why God gave them parents. God’s program is for parents to train up godly offspring. And it usually works. Most of our kids should grow up to be obedient and faithful to God. The oddity should be for a Christian couple to raise a dope addict or an atheist. So have confidence that God will work. and let Him work – just do your part.

We don’t have to be frantically pressuring our kids to make a decision for Christ. Most any adult can get a child to “become a Christian, pray the sinner’s prayer, or whatever.” They can do that by either scaring him with hell or playing on his desire to please. But salvation isn’t about an event as much as about a relationship. It isn’t about praying a prayer, or walking an aisle, or raising a hand. That kind of event can too often be just emotion, and it can too often inoculate your child from catching the real thing. Salvation, real salvation, is a living relationship with a living Lord. It’s a life of genuine repentance and obedient faith. So do your best to lead them to the feet of Jesus and trust God to save him because only He can.

Many kids who grow up in a Christian home may never have a time when they don’t believe. So don’t look so much for an event, but look for evidence of salvation in your child’s life – a changed heart, a changed character, a love for God, etc. A man doesn’t need to know exactly when the sun came up to know if it is up or not, and you should be able to tell what is in your child’s heart. Know them well enough to be able to tell.

Well, Mom, whether or not your child becomes the person you hoped he would be or not, they will appreciate the love and the time you invest in them, and they may express it. As the verse says, your “children [will] rise up and call [you] blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” God always provides a reward for doing well. But, if not from your kids, Jesus Himself will someday say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And isn’t His praise and thanks worth even more? You’ll get it from Him providing you are a woman who fears and serves the Lord.

As Proverbs 31:30 says: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” It doesn’t say, “might be,” but “shall be praised.” You have God’s promise on that. It won’t come from your little kids, and probably not even from your teenagers, but it sure might come from your adult children who recognize the love and time you have invested in them over the years. And it certainly ought to come from your husband if he’s worth anything.

Then Proverbs 31:31 closes with this line: “Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates.” That is a command to the rest of us. A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised and appreciated. This should be part of the reward for the labor she does with her hands. One fruit her diligent hands and hard work should produce is praise from us. And we should let her good works be known wherever people gather. Shout from the housetops what a great Mom you have.

Today is Mother’s Day. Today is the day we have set aside to honor our mothers. But it shouldn’t be just one day, but a life-long habit. We must praise and honor our mothers for the time and effort they have poured into our lives.