|Vol. 13 No. 5 May 2011||
Robert D. Rawson
When I began trying to preach the Gospel, there was no one stronger with words of encouragement than my mother. Encouragement gives motivation to try again and again to achieve. It provides motivation even now fifty years removed.
God planned this role. To Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Eve is so named because she is the mother of all living human beings (Genesis 3:20). Later, Abraham would seek a wife for Isaac (Genesis 28:53) during the patriarchal age by sending a servant to first see honor shown to Rebekah’s mother.
Even later in the Mosaic age, the wise man Solomon included the deep respect and love that King Lemuel held for his mother (Proverbs 31:10ff). The Law listed the mother first and the father next (Leviticus 19:3) in the son showing great respect for them and ‘whosoever strikes his mother or father’ (an act of resentment and anger Exodus 21:15) would be stoned to death. Later in this text (verse 19), the cursing of mother is prohibited. Whether words or deeds are used, the sincere respect and due appreciation for mom is held high in Scripture. The son is taught to heed the ‘law of one’s mother’ (Proverbs 1:8; 6:20). The value of motherhood is shown by obeying her.
Jesus taught the Pharisees of His day that by a process called “Corban” (Mark 7:10-12), they had neglected their responsibilities to aging parents due to a legality that had been invented to keep their money from being used for the parents.
Paul wrote of the honor to be held for parents (Ephesians 6:1) in this Christian age. Such honor is held as the “first commandment with promise.” By looking at the 10 Commandments of Exodus 20, we see the top four commands deal with man’s relationship to God. Then, the first of the next six deals with man’s relationship with man by pointing to the first human beings we know as we grow up here on earth: father and mother. Upon the request of Jesus’ earthly mother, He performed His first miracle in Cana (John 2). Their relationship was hallowed by service.
One of the saddest thoughts for me deals with my mother’s service and how she loved the work of the Lord going on where I preached for over thirty-two years; yet, when she came to live in my town, she suffered strokes, which incapacitated her, and she could not serve. What a good worker she would have been. However, others actually served my worthy mom who was declining in health daily. She was laid to rest March 30, 2002, yet she still influences me. Coach Bear Bryant of the University of Alabama cut a phone commercial in his later years, which caused a tremendous increase in phone calls with these words, “Sure wish I could call my mother.” Wonder why?
It is always good to remember a godly mother. Jesus while on the cross of shame and suffering thought of His mother and instructed John to care for her after His death (John 19:26-27). One of the sweetest words in any language is “Mother.” A dictionary is not necessary to possess an understanding of such a meaningful term. Not all mothers are wives but they should be and not all wives are mothers, but God permitting, they can be. One of the primary purposes of marriage is the propagating of the human race (Genesis 1:27). The role of motherhood should never be taken lightly nor should the status of being a mother be made light of in this modern age. There is no greater relation for a woman to sustain in this life than being a Christian mother.
Perhaps the crowning act of creation by the Lord God was the forming of woman from the side of man. God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, and thus, He gave to him a help suitable for him. Adam later named this woman “Eve” because she was the “mother of all living” (Genesis 2:18-25; 3:20). The wise man taught that “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing” and that “a prudent wife is from Jehovah” (Proverbs 18:18; 19:14). In the bringing forth of a child, the husband and wife truly become one flesh. There is the binding together of the two. Motherhood is the highest honor given to woman. No matter what else she may do in life, it should be secondary to her being the kind of mother that God desires.
A mother is greatly responsible for the spiritual training of her children (Proverbs 22:6). Her influence is great for good or bad. Abraham Lincoln said of his mother, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” An old Spanish proverb states that “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” Most of us have heard the old saying that “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” No doubt Queen Jezebel exerted a tremendous amount of evil influence on her husband Ahab and their wicked son Ahaziah (1 Kings 16:30; 22:52-53). Several years ago, “Ma Barker” trained her sons to rob, to steal and to kill. It was said that the infamous Nero had a murderess for a mother.
However, the Bible is replete with examples of godly mothers who influenced their loved ones to live for the Lord. Jochebed, the mother of Moses, guided that young heart in the right way because when he became an adult, he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Numbers 26:59; Hebrews 11:24-25). No doubt students of the Bible know of the beautiful story of Hannah and how she received a son from the Lord. This wonderful woman had promised that she would give the child “unto the Lord all the days of his life.” Hannah named her son Samuel. This young boy, at a tender age, was carried to the house of God to be taught and trained by Eli the high priest of God (1 Samuel 1). Samuel became one of the truly outstanding leaders in Israel, serving God and His people as prophet, priest and judge. If there were more Hannahs in the homes, there would be more preachers in the pulpits.
Jedidah was the wife of the wicked king Amon, but she was also the mother of the young and good Josiah (2 Kings 22:1)). In contrast to the wickedness of his father, it is said of Josiah that “he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left (2 Kings 22:2). We must conclude that his good mother and perhaps Jeremiah the prophet exerted a godly influence upon Josiah. Then, consider the mother John the Baptist, Elizabeth, who walked righteously before God, “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6). We also learn that she was determined to name her son John (Luke1:13, 60) Mary, the mother of Jesus, was blessed greatly by having been chosen of God to give birth to the very Son of God (Luke 1:42). Mary was a typical mother in many ways. For instance, she treasured in her heart the things said about the baby Jesus and later the things which He said (Luke 2:19, 51). Finally, we mention the grandmother and mother of Timothy. These two godly women, Lois and Eunice, had taught Timothy from his earliest childhood “the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15). These are some of the godly mothers mentioned in the Bible who are worthy of imitation by Christian mothers today.
A virtuous mother is industrious as is brought out by the passage of Scripture in Proverbs 31:10-31. Certainly, the daily chores of a mother are demanding. She is also considerate of the needs of others in her community. Dorcas was one who was “full of good works and alsmsdeeds” (Acts 9:36, 39). The widow who was to be enrolled by the church must have been “well reported of for good work, if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work” (1 Timothy 5:10). In addition, the Christian mother and wife will be hospitable. Again from 1 Timothy 5:10, “if she hath used hospitality to strangers, if she hath washed the saints feet.” From Hebrews 13:2, “Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” The Shunammite woman manifested a wonderful attitude of such hospitality in regard to the prophet Elisha as recorded in 2 Kings 4:8-37. This quality of hospitality makes the home pleasant where people love to visit.
We need always to show our respect and honor to our mothers whether they are living or have died (Ephesians 6:1-2). We can do this by living for the Lord and being the proper influence for good among our peers.