The following message is based on Proverbs 31:10-21 and presents what a woman of great worth consists of. It was delivered on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2013
Today is Mother’s Day, a time in which we honor ladies in a special way. There is so much we could say in tribute to women in general. All ladies possess motherly qualities, regardless of whether you have children or not; all ladies deserve respect and esteem. I have been blessed with several motherly women in my life. I’m sure you have too. But what does it take to be a “Woman of Great Worth?”
Mothers are unique creatures. They seldom go about their jobs with the level of gratitude they deserve. No one can replace your mom. She is one of a kind. Good or bad, she is yours. Some things you may change, if you could. Others you dare not. Kate Douglas Wiggin once said: “Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the world.” No one could replace her. She is like a precious gem.
But what makes an admirable woman? What are some aspects of a lady who is upright? This morning, we will study some qualities of a godly woman. These qualities have application for everyone here. For our young people, I encourage you to strive for these with God’s grace. For our young adults and those of marriageable age, see these as attractive aspects for any woman, a true picture of beauty. For our older folks, look at your lives and see where you need to grow. The woman described by King Lemuel is a one we should all admire; one that you would be blessed to be compared to. She is of enormous worth. Why? Because…
A VIRTUOUS WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND.
Verse ten of our passage states: “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” The description here is that of a woman of rare quality. Just as precious gems are scarce, so women of excellent moral character are uncommon. They are of precious worth to a family. He who has one has access to a gold mine. What does the term virtuous mean, here? The Hebrew denotes ability, efficiency, often involving moral worth. The NIV states it this way: “a wife of noble character.” The New American Standard simply states: “an excellent wife.” All of these are adequate and state the foundation, the determining element of a good woman. The same term is used in a number of places such as Proverbs 12:4: “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness in his bones.” In other words, some women bring honor to their homes through godly character. This kind of lady loves her husband and loves God, making her worth exceed precious gems. The same word is also used in Ruth 3:11 where Boaz commented on the reputation that Ruth had. He states: “And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.”
It occurs to me that the definition of excellent today might be different than that of many years ago. An excellent wife today might be one who is able to shuffle all the demands placed upon her by her work, her children, with time to spare to go to the gym and be adorned with the latest style. One who is “supermom.” But is excellence defined by what we do, or who we are. God places emphasis on the latter, with consideration given to spiritual matters. Oh that we would have more women in this world who were in love with Jesus and thus carry high moral standards; to have more ladies who love God and the things of God; to know Scripture and share it with her loved ones. In many households, women carry the spiritual torches. Double is the curse on a home when the mother and the father are not interested in spiritual things.
HOW SHOULD WE DEFINE EXCELLENCE?
What I would like to do in the time that we have left is to give you an overview of what an excellent woman is. Here are a few qualities. For one, she is not afraid to share her faith. Timothy had a grandmother that God used to witness to him and eventually bring him to faith. Notice what Paul states in 2 Timothy 1:5: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” That faith planted a seed in Timothy’s heart and brought forth fruit to eternal life. That made these ladies’ lives worthwhile in that they also affected all those that Timothy ministered to.
I look back on my mom and how she was strategic in my spiritual formation. Not only was she faithful in taking me to church, she was also not afraid to correct me and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). By doing so, mothers mold, shape and invest in the next generation of Christians. And it is never too late to make a difference in someone’s life.
One organization that is dedicated to this is Moms in Prayer, International. In their advertisement, they ask the question: “If you are not praying for your child, who is?” Their purpose is “…to intercede for our children through prayer and to pray that our schools may be guided by Biblical values and high moral standards.” Those that would pray in such a way are compared to precious gems that bring value to the lives of those around them. When all is done at the end of time, God will show us the worth of such people in His grand, sovereign scheme. Are you a ruby for your household? A diamond in the lives of others? Will you commit yourself to being one today?
Another quality of a woman of great worth is her trustworthiness. Verse 11 of our passage says: “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” It strikes me that marriage is built upon trust. The goal of a husband and wife is that they can confide in one another and share from the depth of their hearts. If a man has this kind of woman, he is rich! Verse 12: “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Ladies, are you a friend to those in your home? Can your children confide in you? Do they feel like you are on their side without you compromising the truth? Can your husband trust you with all that he is and all that he has?
Another quality of a woman of great worth is her ability to persevere under trial; to live a life of sacrifice for those dearest to her. James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” This is the definition of a tough woman, one who never gives up. I think of my mother-in-law, who came to this country from South Korea in 1971. She spoke very little to no English and worked hard in manufacturing to raise two daughters alone. Maybe you’ve had women in your life that were resilient and had a can do attitude. Such women are examples to us and propel us, when we consider giving up.
Another quality of a woman of great worth is that she is not afraid to love, even when it makes her vulnerable, or she gets little/nothing in return. Many women do this. So we need to reciprocate their love. If not, we might get the attitude as exemplified by the woman that goes to the local newspaper office to see that the obituary for her recently deceased husband is published. The obituary editor informs her that there is a charge of 50 cents per word.
She pauses, reflects, and then she says, “Well then, let it read: ‘Fred Brown died.’ Amused at the woman’s thrift, the editor tells her that there is a seven-word minimum for all obituaries. She thinks it over and in a few seconds says, “In that case, let it read, ‘Fred Brown Died….. GOLF CLUBS FOR SALE.’” Virtuous women love, even when it is hard, and even when they get little in return. Martina Hingis, the Swiss tennis star said: “I was always at peace because of the way my mom treated me.” A woman set the tone of life for those around her, by their love.
Last night, my family and I ate at Chik-fil-a. They were giving out carnations in celebration of Mother’s Day. The giving of carnations dates back to the first official Mother’s Day service in 1908. Anna Jarvis of Webster, West Virginia, in honor of her mother Ann, sent 500 white carnations to her church to be given to the participating mothers. During the next several years, she sent more than 10,000 carnations there, red for the living and white for the deceased, became symbols of the purity, strength and endurance of motherhood. So, as you admire the beautiful flowers of God’s creation this weekend, stop and think of your mom. And what she did for you to make you who you are today. Then offer a prayer of thanks to God.
If your mom is living, stop and make sure she knows that you care about her. Say something like: “Thank you for loving me. Thank you for sacrificing for me. I love and cherish you.” There is no way you could know how many times she looked down at your face and felt love for you, or how many times she prayed for you, or the number of occasions you were on her heart. With this in mind, I read you a small poem called: “The Warrior,” by Larry Clark:
This morning my thoughts traveled along
To a place in my life where days have since gone
Beholding an image of what I used to be
As visions were stirred and God spoke to me.
He showed me a Warrior, a soldier in place
Positioned by Heaven, yet I saw no face
I watched as the Warrior fought enemies
That came from the darkness with destruction for me.
I saw as the Warrior would dry away tears
As all of Heaven’s angels hovered so near
I saw many wounds on the Warrior’s face
Yet weapons of warfare were firmly in place.
I felt my heart weeping, my eyes held so much
As God let me feel the Warrior’s prayer touch
I thought, “how familiar”, the words that were prayed
The prayers were like lightning that never would fade.
I said to God, “Please, tell me the Warrior’s name.”
He gave no reply, He chose to refrain
I asked, “Lord, who is broken that they need such prayer?”
He showed me an image of myself standing there.
Bound by confusion, lost and alone
I felt the prayers of the Warrior carry me home
I asked, “Please show me, Lord, this Warrior so true.”
I watched and I wept,
FOR MOTHER…..THE WARRIOR WAS YOU!