130512 Proverbs 31:10-31

Last Updated on Monday, 13 May 2013 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: Proverbs 31:10-31
Theme: The World's Greatest Profession

Forbes magazine recently came out with a list of the top ten jobs for 2013. They are (in reverse order): industrial engineer, mechanical engineer, web developer, sales representative, network administrator, human resources specialist, computer systems analyst, market research analyst, accountant. And the number one job for 2013 is: software developer.

This list was compiled on the basis of recent job growth in these fields, the potential for getting a job after graduation and, of course, starting salary. These criteria explain why the list is weighted so heavily toward technology. They also explain why domestic engineer (aka mom) didn't crack the top ten.

I don't know of any universities that offer a bachelor's degree in motherhood. Becoming a mom doesn't require years of specialized training. Being a mom does mean putting in long hours of work without receiving much in the way of tangible rewards, and yet there is no more rewarding job on earth.

And on this national holiday the rest of us want to say "thank you." We thank God for the gift of God-fearing mothers. We give thanks for their kindness and compassion. We give thanks for their giving and forgiving. And we recognize that, despite what Forbes says, motherhood could be considered...

THE WORLD'S GREATEST PROFESSION

I. Her value
II. Her work
III. Her reward

How valuable is a mother? A few years ago Massachusetts research firm set out to answer that question. Based on a survey of 40,000 moms it was determined that the average mother puts in a 92-hour work week doing at least ten different jobs. By figuring out the median salaries for each position and calculating the number of hours worked at each, the firm determined that the typical mom was worth $138,095 a year.

As impressive as that figure might sound, it is far too low according to Proverbs: "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life" (10-12).

It is impossible to come up with a number that reflects the real value of a God-fearing mother. She is worth more than precious jewels. She brings nothing but good. She inspires nothing but confidence. She is priceless to the members of her family, but she is even more precious to God.

Every person (including every mother) is a special creation of God. Every person (including every mother) has a soul, a soul God's Son died to save. The value of every human being doesn't depend upon what we do. Our true value is measured by what and who and whose we are.

God has determined that we are worth much more than the sparrows (Matthew 6:26). God's Word assures us that we are more precious than silver or gold (I Peter 1:19). Our lives are worth the life of his Son. Jesus paid the ultimate price to save us. Jesus shed his precious blood to redeem us. That is how valuable we are to God. That is how valuable mothers are to God.

The inspired writer of Proverbs understood that, but that didn't stop him from talking about the valuable contribution mothers make to society. And it shouldn't stop us either. In fact, I can't think of a better time or place to discuss the important work of Christian mothers.

The chapter continues: "She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness" (13-27).

Wow! Where do we begin? There is enough material here for an entire sermon series on mothers. Perhaps the writer did this on purpose. Maybe the writer dedicated so many verses to the work of mothers to remind the rest of us just how much work our mothers do.

Instead of trying to touch on every thought expressed in these verses, let's hit on three major themes. First of all, a God-fearing mother is industrious. She is the first one up in the morning and the last one to go to bed at night. She works hard. She works with purpose. She puts the needs of others before her own.

A God-fearing mother is also generous. Her number one priority is to care of her family, but she also looks beyond her family. Her prayer isn't for "Us four and no more." Instead "she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy" (20).

Finally, a God fearing mother is virtuous. This quality doesn't speak as much about her work as it does about how she goes about her work. She is clothed with strength and dignity. She speaks with wisdom that comes from above. She is content with her lot in life, and she is optimistic about the life to come.

Now I have a question for all of the moms who are here today. How does this glowing description of the God-fearing mother make you feel? Maybe some of you are thinking to yourselves: "That doesn't sound like a regular mom. That sounds more like Supermom. And as hard as I try to be a good wife, as hard as I try to be a good mother, I know in my heart of hearts that those words don't always describe me."

If you are feeling guilty right now because you don't measure up, that's because you don't. Christian mothers sometimes say things they shouldn't. God-fearing mothers don't do all the things they should. It's okay for you to admit it. It's okay to admit that you aren't perfect. It's okay to admit that you need help because help is on its way.

If you are struggling to make it from one day to the next, if you are weighed down by a load of guilt because you feel like a failure, if you are just plain tired, Jesus says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

And the best part about this word of comfort is that it isn't reserved for mothers. Jesus says to all of us: "Give me your fears and insecurities. Give me your failures and frustrations. Give them all to me, and I will give you rest. I will give your heart peace."

Jesus will never give us more than we can bear. Jesus will always give us everything we need. Jesus gives mothers the strength and patience and love they need to carry out their God-given responsibilities. And when the time is right, he will give them their reward.

The chapter concludes: "Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate" (28-31).

The final of verse of this "Ode to Mothers" calls us to give our moms the reward they have earned. That begs the question: How should they be rewarded? Is it enough to give them a day off from doing the dishes? Should we reward them with cards and flowers and maybe a nice Mother's Day brunch?

Moms treasure these small tokens of our appreciation. Moms deserve our thanks for doing so many thankless tasks. Our mothers have earned the right to be pampered and appreciated today, but their greatest reward is a reward they haven't earned at all. And the single verse I read at the beginning of this sermon gives us a hint as to what that reward is: "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised" (30).

A God-fearing woman deserves to be praised because she redirects that praise to her Lord. She doesn't say: "Look at me. Look at how wonderful I am. Look at all the sacrifices I make for this family. The rest of you are lucky to have me."

Instead of drawing attention to herself she says: "Look at my beautiful Savior. I am so blessed because he loves me. I am so blessed because he saved me. And the little sacrifices I make, those things are nothing compared to the supreme sacrifice Jesus made for me."

Mothers don't deserve to go to heaven because of all the good things they do. No one, not even the best mom in the world, can do enough to earn that ticket. Salvation is a reward of God's grace. Salvation is a gift God gives. Not on the basis of anything we do, but by trusting that Jesus has done everything for us.

The verses from Proverbs that served as the basis for this Mother's Day sermon are written in the form of an acrostic poem, which means that each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Following the inspired writer's lead, I would like to close this morning with an acrostic poem of my own. And in honor of the occasion, this poem is based on the six letters that make up the English word, "MOTHER."

M – is for Mary, the most famous mother in the history of the world, and more importantly, the mother of the Savior.

O – stands for others. Mothers are always putting the needs of others before their own.

T – is for thank you. Today we say thank you to our Christian mothers who have brought us up both physically and spiritually.

H – was a hard one. I couldn't come up with one word, so I came up with three. God-fearing mothers are helpful and hospitable and honorable.

E – is for ever-present. Moms are not omnipresent like God is, but they always seem to be there when we need them.

R – stands for redeemed. Mothers aren't perfect, but their sins have been forgiven by the One who was perfect in our place.

It is because of him that we are here today. It is because of him that we celebrate today. It is because of Jesus Christ that Christian fathers and mothers and sons and daughters look forward to a grand family reunion in heaven. Amen.

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