There are radicals who scoff at motherhood, denouncing the role of mother as something inferior to the glamorized careers in the world. But in our nation there is still a day set aside each year when everyone is called upon to pause and render honor to motherhood, each one’s mother in particular. It is called “Mother’s Day.” It is not a religious ceremonial day, but it is a tradition when mothers are honored in special ways. While there is no Biblical authority to respect one Lord’s Day above another, and Mother’s Day is usually a Sunday, it is fitting and proper for us to meditate upon what the Bible teaches regarding motherhood.
One preacher honored his mother by saying, “My mother practices what I preach.” Surely motherhood is one of the greatest roles God has conferred upon any human being. It is the task of building a life. As is true with all tremendous honors and privileges, there accompanies it awesome responsibilities While father and mother are to share in bringing the child into the world and in the training of their children, the mother has a work and exerts an influence that cannot be done as effectively by any other person. She performs a service and looks well to her household where she reigns as queen of her castle, however humble that place might be.
The Lord’s Pattern
In order for a mother to be a godly mother she needs a pattern to follow, and the Lord has provided His pattern with both instructions and records of examples what mothers should be. There is Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was submissive to God’s plan and to whom even the Son of God was subject in His early years. There was Lois, the mother of the evangelist Timothy, who taught him the scriptures from his youth. We read of Sarah, Rachel, Mary, the mother of John Mark, each of them demonstrating exceptional qualities of character that go to making a woman and mother approved of God. There is another mother which shall be the center of our focus in this lesson of whom we read in the Old Testament and her name is Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, the mother of Samuel.
Hannah, though childless, longed for a child and prayed to God that she might have a child. She did not want the child for her own sake, but that she might consecrate her child to the service of the Lord and that he might live his life to the glory of God. Hannah’s child was the fruit of prayer, having prayed when she was at the house of worship.
At a very early age, Samuel was brought to the priest, Eli, where he would live, be trained in God’s service, and be used the way God saw fit. Hannah was certainly a godly mother in that she was a worshipper of the true and living God of heaven, a prayerful woman, unselfish, and one who realized that her offspring belonged to God and should be used to God’s glory.
The giving of her child the way she did was the utmost in personal sacrifice and self-denial. It was a heroic deed. She deprived herself the light and joy of her child’s face each day. While this kind of deprivation is not demanded of young mothers today, her self-abnegation reveals a devotion to the highest interest of both God and her son. She sought the best for the child, which is the manifestation of love. Every father and mother ought give their child to the service of God and when they do, both they and the child shall be honored.
Samuel became the great Samuel of Israel. His manliness, purity, justice, dignity, devotion to the best interest of his people, his dedication to the heavenly Father, his stout vindication and defense of the ways of God may be traced to the deep piety and supreme faith and devotion to duty that characterized his mother. There is the old saying, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” Hannah bent the twig and Samuel became a mighty tree of righteousness.
From the Home
We live in a threatening period of human history unlike that which has gone before us in many ways. We should be concerned that our nation and the freedoms enjoyed herein be preserved for our descendants. This conservative and preservative influence will not come from the law-making halls of Congress, or the state legislatures. It will not be from the factories and schools, or even the launching pads and computer panels. It cannot come through armies and weapons, though they have their place. It will come from our homes, the basic and fundamental unit of society. The homes of our nation bear the imprint of the character of mothers, just as all the rest of society bears the imprint of the home. The stream cannot rise above the fountain. The home is the fountain of the stream of national life. Mothers, more than any other special segment of society, can make the home as it ought to be. This is not to dismiss the father or other needed influences, but is said to emphasize the majestic and mighty role of motherhood in the land.
Need For Mothers
This role cannot be properly filled with mothers who love the sinful things of this world, who are given to their own selfish interests above the welfare of their households. Mothers who grant their children unlimited indulgence will not guide their children aright. Selfishness cannot get the task accomplished. Children cannot be abandoned to the follies and vices of a degenerate age. Mothers must implant in the hearts and minds of their offspring the standards of God.
Mothers will never do the work they must do when they deliberately leave their posts of duty to the neglect of their primary work in the home. While we realize this is a message that is unheeded and unwanted in our present society, it is still the message people need to hear and heed. The cultivation of selfish ambitions rather than cultivating in their children the ambition to do right and be right before God is to fail in the divinely assigned task of motherhood. What many females today have not realized is that what is called “women’s liberation” is more often a return to the bondage of sin, a government of self for self, a repudiation of the high and holy for the beggarly rudiments this world temporarily offers.
The trail of heartbreak and agony, ruined lives, broken homes, is too pronounced for us to ever expect that mothers can mold their children as they ought when they are in pursuit of lesser goals than godly motherhood. History as well as inspired Scripture bears this truth out to us.
While some complain that the stern quality of spirit and the rigor of discipline in the old Puritan homes was extreme, it obviously was vastly better than the lawless and indulgent homes of the present. At least there was the respect of God and the family. There was the dignity of the home, a reverence toward the sanctity of marriage, a righteous upbringing of the young, a relative absence of divorce and delinquency. In our modern “progress” we are being inundated with broken homes, selfish careers, “latch-key” children, immoralities, disrespect for authority, the murder of unborn children by abortion, and millions of run-aways who no longer can tolerate the sorry conditions imposed on them by those who should provide a wholesome home.
There is no denial that homes of the past as a rule produced firm and noble characters. Yes, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” but who has stopped to consider the direction you have been going? If there is no call for the stern ways of yesteryear and those other righteous qualities that were evident, there is a call to exercise greater vigilance than has been of late. There is the need for the maintenance of authority, the respect for which is learned at home. Disrespect for authority is also learned at home. There is the need for the cultivation of moral and religious training that must begin and continue in the home. There is the need for emphasis on an intelligent and fervent piety that will lead fathers, mothers, and children to reverence God. There is the demand that parents protect their children from the ravages of evil even as they teach them the difference between right and wrong. There is the urgency to show them the dignity of work and the danger of idleness, pride, dishonesty, and the attitude that everybody owes me something. What is most needful can and should be supplied by the godly mothers.
Sowing and Reaping
What we sow, we reap. That is true in every realm, and in no realm is it more evident than in the family unit and development in which the mother is a major component. Many mothers sow in tears, work, self-denial, pain and sacrifice but they will reap in joy and find their highest happiness when they can see the purity, nobility, goodness and Christlikeness in the lives of her children. Proverbs 31:28, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” Possibly in this matter above all others it can be said of the godly mother, “Thou excellest them all” (Proverbs 31:29). The world groans and agonizes in need of godly mothers who instill in the hearts and lives of their children the righteousness of God.
Rather than simply having the capacity to reproduce, or to be glamorous, greedy, grasping for gain and glory, we need mothers whose goal is godliness. The following parable, written by Temple Bailey, presents what should be the ambition of every mother regarding her children.
The young Mother set her foot on the path of life. “Is the way long?” she asked.
And her Guide said, “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.”
But the young Mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed with them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young Mother cried, “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this.”
The night came, and storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the Mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, “Oh, Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come,” and the Mother said, “This is better than the brightness of day, for I have taught my children courage.
And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the Mother was weary, but at all times she said to the children, “A little patience, and we are there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said, “We could not have done it without you, Mother.”
And the Mother, when she lay down that night, looked up at the stars, and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today I have given them strength.”
And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth--clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the Mother said, “Look up. Lift your eyes to the Light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an Everlasting Glory, and it guided them and brought them beyond the darkness. And that night the Mother said, “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”
And the days went on, and the weeks, and the months, and the years, and the Mother grew old, and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their Mother; and when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide.
And the Mother said, "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.”
And the children said, “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.”
And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: “We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a Living Presence.”
So as the world may honor mothers on “Mother’s Day,” we who are Christians go a step further and honor those mothers who show God to her children in word, attitude, and deed. Many of us have been blessed with God’s boundless favor by having a godly mother. Some hold them today only in memory. Many a lady has the privilege of being a godly mother. Some have children who are now grown and others still with infants. We pray that the influence of godly mothers might increase in our world. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” May we ever proclaim throughout the world, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30).
1. What has God provided for mothers to assist them in being a godly mother?
2. Who is presented in this lesson as a godly mother?
3. What qualities did she exhibit that depict her as godly?
4. What was her attitude toward her child?
5. Discuss a mother’s primary work.
6. What is meant by the phrase, “The hand that rocks the cradle rule the world”?
7. What is your attitude toward the contrast of the Puritan homes and homes today?
8. Whose imprint is most indelibly stamped on the home?