Today is Mother’s Day. A special day set aside in which we honor women who have raised, are raising, and will raise children. This day also includes women who may not have ever raised children, but have been a loving influence in a child’s life. A woman’s role in this life under the sun is powerful. An old Jewish proverb says “A mother understands what a child does not say.” Another person commented on the fact that “a mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go.” Today, let us show the women in our lives our utmost respect and appreciation. Let them know how much you love them and how blessed you are because of them. Godly women are a blessing from God and today we thank God for them.
What is a Woman?
Just a few years ago, I would never have thought to begin a Mother’s Day sermon by needing to define the word woman. Sadly, more and more people are either saying they cannot define the word woman or giving this doozy of an answer: “A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman.” Imagine this kind of answer given for anything else. “What is a hammer? Anything you want to call a hammer!” “What’s a child? Anyone who identifies as a child?” This circular reasoning assumes the conclusion and proves nothing. Consider: “What is a woman? A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman. Ok, but what do you mean by woman? A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman.” When we refuse to define what a woman is, it is women who suffer.
Thankfully, as of May 2022, the Merriam-Webster dictionary still defines a woman as “an adult female person.” Men (Male) and women (Female) are the two sexes created by God. A female is a human who is biologically distinct from a male. As Christians, we believe that God wonderfully creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). A doctor does not make an educated guess about a baby’s gender when the child is born. Christians acknowledge that since sin entered into our world (see Gen 3) there are profound physical, spiritual, and mental effects on us and our world. None of these diminish God’s creation of humans as male and female. Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
What is a Proverbs 31 Woman?
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss what we mean by a Proverbs 31 woman. What do you think of when you hear about the “Proverbs 31 Woman”? Do you think of a spiritual Wonder Woman? Do you see an unattainable standard that leaves you depressed? How should we understand Proverbs 31? Proverbs 31:10-31 is part of “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him” (Prov 31:1). In the original Hebrew, this is an acrostic poem where each verse begins with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order.
What Proverbs 31 is Not About.
We must be careful with Lemuel’s mother’s oracle. This acrostic poem is designed as a blessing for women and not a burden. In other words, Proverbs 31 is not a checklist for women to see how godly they are. It is not a “Noble Woman Quiz” designed to reveal how they rank in moral courage. For example, wives/moms, you are not a failure if you don’t buy imported food (14) or don’t buy property with your own money (16) or don’t have strong arms (17). You are not a failure if your children fail to appreciate you (28a) or if your husband fails to praise you (28b). It is also interesting to note that the Proverbs 31 woman rarely (if ever) sleeps (15, 18). Steven Altrogge has wisely noted “when we turn Proverbs 31 into a checklist to be rigidly followed, we crush the women in our churches.” Proverbs 31 must not be misconstrued as a burden for women.
What is Proverbs 31 About?
Proverbs 31 is a call for godly women to be appreciated. King Lemuel’s mother taught him this oracle that contains principles to help him (and us) better appreciate the godly women around us. For example, a godly woman:
- Fears the Lord (10, 30). She fears the Lord and has high moral standards. Her identity is not found in profit or praise. Her identity is not found in her husband, kids, or her beauty. Her identity is in Christ. She loves the Lord and serves Him first.
- Honors her Husband (11-12,23,26). If married, she is committed to loving and respecting her husband. Her husband trusts her and she desires good for him and not harm. Her conduct and character is known among those in the community.
- Cares for her Family (15,21,26-27). She deeply loves her family and is committed to caring for them. She works hard to provide for their needs and well-being. She desires that her teaching is done with wisdom and kindness. She wants her family to follow Jesus.
- Considers the Needy (20). Her heart is compassionate towards those who are in need. She is grieved when those around her are suffering and wants to provide for them. She opens her hands towards them and does not turn them away.
- Tends to Her Character (22-25). While her identity is not found in her beauty, she does not neglect herself. Her adorning is “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4). Because she trusts in God, she is not living a life of fear over the future.
Today is a special day of the year in which we show our appreciation for Mothers. A mother is special because she is specially created by God. God created women to be “like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace” (Psalm 144:12). God desires for women to grow gracefully and be like cornerstones which connect and unite families together. Godly daughters become godly women. It is a great blessing when they are graceful and beautiful both in body and mind. May they embrace their identity as nurturers. Lord, bless us with godly women.