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Your Mother

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Introduction & the Big Idea
Slide #1
Happy Mother’s Day!
Today, in light of our mothers, we’re going to take a look at what the Holy Spirit says through the wisdom of Solomon about what it means to be a godly son or daughter.
Here's what we’re going to find – today I'm giving you the big idea of our passage right up front:
Slide #2
The Big Idea: The foundation for wisdom is a reverential fear of God, and ideally, our first teachers of Godly wisdom are both of our parents.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
Here some things I remember my mom teaching me:
“It takes two to tango.”
She said this to me every morning as I walked out the door to go to school: “Make it a good day.” She was teaching me that I had a lot more to do with the kind of day I had than anything else.
“Take it one day at a time.”
“Do your best.”
“Make your bed every day.”
“Always go to church and get involved.”
“Work hard and do the right thing.”
“Love God.”
These are just a few of the things that my mom taught me – her lessons go far deeper than these platitudes, of course. She went home to the Lord just a little over two years ago, but her impact on my life even now is immeasurable.
Many of us have our own list of valuable lessons from our mothers – and some of you children are learning them right now, every day. And by the way, when I say “mother,” I mean everyone from our biological moms to adoptive mothers and the aunts and grandmothers and even sisters who stepped in to fulfill that role for some of us.
Some of our mothers, like mine, were or are loving, caring and wise, not just in a worldly sense, but they also are wise in a Godly way – by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit their love for us is uncannily always expressed at just the right moment, in just the right way, with a compassion, mercy and even discipline that consistently depicts the character and nature of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But not all of us have had mothers like that. Some of our mothers were unable to demonstrate the character and nature of Christ simply because they didn't know him. Many of us in this room today are still trying to sort out how to be a godly son or daughter in light of who our mothers were or are.
But regardless of who our mothers were or are, what does it mean to be a godly son or daughter?No matter how old or young we are, we all have a mother, so as Christians, this is ought to be a central question for us.
That’s because family is the foundation of our lives. Family is so important that God defines our relationship with Mom and Dad in the 5th Commandment:
Slide #3
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
But the idea of honoring our parents might be a bitter pill to swallow for some of us. We live in a fallen world. The family has been corrupted by sin. But God wants us to understand that the 5th Commandment is still stands because of his great power and holiness. God wants you to honor your mother. That's because your mom holds a place of honor in God’s eyes.
God makes no exceptions based on her behavior or character. This is a command for sons and daughters, that we would honor God by honoring the structure and the roles that he established for the family. In other words, our attitude and behavior toward our mothers and fathers should reflect our love for God, whether we’re old or young.
Solomon understood this. He understood that living according to God’s holiness requires a great deal of wisdom. So the Holy Spirit compelled him to write Proverbs in order to teach young people about Godly wisdom and how to live accordingly.
In the first six verses of Proverbs, Solomon desire is that we would …
To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
Solomon and the other authors of Proverbs aren’t providing these lessons only for young children, either. Those who are already mature have a lot to learn, too.
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
These lessons are for everyone.
Slide #4
Dig In
So as we dig in to verses 7-9, this is what we will see:
1. v. 7 – Foundation of Wisdom: A reverential fear of God
2. v. 8 – Teachers of Wisdom: Ideally, should be our parents
3. v. 9 – Reward of Wisdom: Joy
Slide #5
So let's take a look at verse seven:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Point 1
Here we see our first point:
v. 7 – Foundation of Wisdom: A reverential fear of God
In the first six verses, Solomon told us that he wants us to gain wisdom. In verse seven – which is the big idea for the whole book of Proverbs – we find out the source of wisdom, which, perhaps surprisingly, is not our life's experiences.
In our culture we think that experience is our source of wisdom.
Leonardo DaVinci said famously that, “Wisdom is the daughter of experience.” In other words, experience is the father of wisdom.
It’s true that experience does teach us things. I remember the day our oldest son was born, and I realized how much experience I lacked! I can look back and see how much becoming a father has taught me.
But let’s think about this – Does true wisdom really come from our experiences? Solomon couldn’t disagree more! Certainly we can learn some things from our experiences, but what we learn and what we do with those lessons depends on a wisdom that has existed since before time began, a wisdom that will exist forever – not a wisdom that’s manufactured by our finite experiences and unreliable feelings.
That’s what Solomon is teaching us. He explains where wisdom really comes from – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge [or wisdom].
To put it another way, our reverential fear of God is the essence of wisdom. Reverential fear means that we have the most profound respect for God. We hold him in the highest esteem possible. And we bow in submission to him because he is the source of all wisdom.
Slide #6
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34  “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
And here’s what man’s wisdom is in comparison:
19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.
So what Solomon is teaching us is that real wisdom is impossible without God. Without God’s help, it’s not possible to know what our experiences mean or how to handle them. So we turn to God for wisdom about life, about how to handle the situation at work or at home or with our friends.
Slide #7
But the way of the world is reject God’s wisdom in favor of our own. Solomon says it best in our passage: Fools despise wisdom and instruction [v 7b].
A person who rejects God is the very definition of a fool. A fool rejects God’s wisdom and instruction. How many of us remember our days before we knew Christ, when we thought that lashing out at people was the wise thing to do? Or that looking out for number one was the important thing? Or that taking was better than receiving? How many of us thought that if we let go of our anger, the sins of another would go unpunished? Or that forgiving was only something weak people do?
Our experiences without God taught us those things. Our experiences gave birth to a daughter named “Worldly Wisdom.”
A person who does not know God thinks experience is the father of wisdom. But as people who bow before God in reverential fear, we are turning to the true father of true wisdom.
Slide #8
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
How does he give it to us? God generously gives us his wisdom every time we fall humbly to our knees in prayer, and whenever we open our Bibles. As the second article in the EFCA Statement of Faith asserts, the Bible is the “ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged.” Our experiences must bow with us before the throne of God. It’s God’s word that stands in wisdom and judgement over our experiences.
God's word is our ultimate authority because God is our ultimate authority. As such we hang on his every word. It's when we learn a reverential fear of God that we begin to gain the wisdom that Solomon wants for us. And God’s word becomes far more than a rulebook or handbook of platitudes. God's word becomes …
12 … living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
That’s the wisdom of God coming to bear on our lives, on our experiences. God’s word has that power because they are God’s words. As the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, he uses the Bible and the work of Christ to reveal God to us, and as we begin to really understand who he is, he gives us his wisdom.
So, God is the source of all wisdom, and we receive his wisdom through a reverential fear of God.
Slide #9
Point 2
That's our first point – now we can move on to our second point:
v. 8 – Teachers of Wisdom: Ideally, should be our parents.
The fear of the Lord is the foundation of all wisdom – and according to God’s design there are two people at the top of the list who should be introducing us to his wisdom:
Slide #10
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
Of the 800 or so proverbs credited to Solomon in the Book of Proverbs, this is the first bit of wisdom that Solomon shares with us – this is the thing that’s foremost on his mind: Ideally, our parents should teach us God’s wisdom – they’re the ones we sons and daughters should turn to as the experts on godliness.
You can hear the echo of “honor your father and mother” in what he’s saying. He’s saying in effect, “Do you want to be wise in God’s eyes? Then listen to your parents. Learn from them. Both your father and your mother are God’s instruments of his wisdom in your life. A fool will turn a deaf ear to them, but one who fears God will hear them.”
Solomon is also offering a nourishing morsel of wisdom for mom and dad. As moms and dads, the best way we can love our children is to impart to them the wisdom of God – God should be at the heart of everything we teach them.
He should be, but sometimes we parents forget that, don’t we?
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
That goes for mothers too, of course.
One of the things I regret most as I look back on raising our boys, both of whom are grown now, are those moments when I provoked them, usually because my voice was raised, my face was red and my mind and heart were ignorant of the grace my Lord wanted me to show them. In those moments I forgot my reverence for God and showed them a counterfeit god whose anger is kindled without reason. That’s what I was teaching them. And it’s an instruction I hope and pray that they both ignore and forsake.
But the point is that if we want our sons and daughters to walk in godly wisdom, we mothers and fathers must learn to behave according to our reverential fear of God. Our fear of God will cause us to repent, and to confess our sins to our children. And that’s when they’ll have a front row seat to the power of God as the Holy Spirit changes us.
But Solomon is speaking in an ideal sense, isn’t he? Embedded in verse 8 is the assumption that mom and dad are god-fearing people, and therefore that they’re worthy to teach their sons and daughters about Godly wisdom. Even though they might sin on occasion like I did, their fear of God drives them to their knees in confession and repentance.
But what if we grew up hearing our mothers say, “Do as I say, not as I do”? What do we do with our moms and dads who’ve never bowed before God? What if our parents introduced us to sin? What about fathers and mothers who have hurt us deeply, whether they know the Lord or not? Is God’s wisdom big enough to overcome those things?
In the 1980s and ‘90s DC was the murder capital of the US during a nationwide crack epidemic. The violence was a lot like what’s going on in Chicago today.
But the thing that struck me the most during that time was hearing about crack babies – babies who were born addicted to crack because their mothers were so hooked on the stuff they couldn’t stop using even after they knew there was a new life inside them.
That’s what it’s like to be born to parents who by example and instruction teach their children the way of wickedness instead of delight in the Lord. Many of us in this room understand this far more than I can. The world you were born into was as toxic to your soul as cocaine was to those poor babies born into addiction.
Yet all of us were born in sin, just as David says
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
We’re all addicted in some way to sin, our parents included. So I imagine that most of us experienced some hurt from our parents. That’s true for me. I’ve had to wrestle with some very real issues with my mom. But just as James pointed out, when I asked for God’s wisdom, he’s given generously. And I believe he’ll give you his wisdom too.
Slide #11
And one of the key components to God’s wisdom is his grace:
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
That's Godly wisdom, that we demonstrate the kindness and grace of Christ, even to our parents, or to our children, for that matter. God’s grace and power are even bigger than your pain, and even bigger than anything your mother and father might have done or neglected to do.
If our mothers or fathers have failed in teaching us Godly wisdom, then our own reverential fear of God reminds us that we have a heavenly Father who will never fail us.
Slide #12
Paul states the issue well when he speaks of the Jews in
3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?
And David proclaims
15  But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
God is a father who truly and faithfully cares for you, whose faithfulness is never nullified by anyone’s sin. That makes us read verse 7 in a whole new light doesn’t it?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge
God is merciful and gracious, and he’s full of steadfast love, which is to say that God is reliable and true to the end. He’s also faithful, which is to say that he’ll keep all of his promises to you in a way that’s true to his holy character. Since God your Father is all of those things, he’s worthy of your reverent fear, and you can be sure that he’ll be faithful to instruct you.
That’s wisdom. Ask, and your heavenly Father will generously give you his wisdom regarding how to be a godly son or daughter. His answer will never include permission to sin or ignore any of his commands, no matter how enticing it may be to us:
Look at verse 10 – Solomon is warning against a life of sin:
10  My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
So even if your mother and father were not worthy teachers of Godly wisdom, don’t consent to the temptation to hold on to your pain and anger because of your mother or father’s sin. Why? Because God’s wisdom is grace: Forgive, as Christ has forgiven you.
Slide #13
As people who reverently fear God, he calls us to holiness all the time:
15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
What does that mean today as you contemplate your mother?
It means this: That regardless of how your mother – or your father – may have hurt you, God’s commands still remain; their faithlessness doesn't nullify any of God’s commands, or his example of grace.
Think about it like this:
Does the fact that even Christians covet nullify God’s 10th commandment? Does the fact that many of us struggle with idols in our lives make the first two commandments go away? Does the adultery that is rampant in our culture reduce the sanctity of marriage in God’s eyes?
Or, is the fifth commandment, to honor our fathers and mothers, overruled by our parents’ ungodly behavior and character? Does their sin give us license to disobey God’s absolute command; does it mean that we are justified in dishonoring them?
You see, the bottom line has to do with our reverence for God as sons and daughters: Even if you’re blessed with a nearly perfect mother, and you rightfully and thankfully have nothing but warm feelings toward her, that isn't the real reason you should honor her. No matter who our mothers are, we honor them because to do so honors God. We honor our mothers today because of our reverent fear of the Lord.
That’s why you need the wisdom of God – you need his wisdom to honor your mother, who, I guarantee you, is a sinner. You need God’s wisdom given freely to you whenever you ask, whenever you seek him in the pages of your Bible or on your knees in prayer. By the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, he’ll help you to be holy as he is holy. He’ll give you understanding and guidance to become instruments of his grace, mercy, steadfast love and faithfulness.
That’s our second point: that God has given our mothers and fathers the role to be teachers of his wisdom. As such, even when they fall short, it doesn't give us an excuse to consent to sin – we’re still called to honor God by honoring our mothers and fathers.
Slide #14
Point 3
Our third and final point is:
v. 9 – Reward of Wisdom: Joy
Slide #15
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
That is, the result of hearing and heeding your god-fearing parents’ instruction and teaching – get this, kids! – is celebration and joy! That’s because they’re teaching you to fear God, and the ultimate consequence of serving God is joy. This is what happens when everyone in the family truly loves and serves the Lord.
Pastor John Piper explains it like this in a Desiring God blog post:
“What this verse makes plain is that the instruction of fathers and the teaching of mothers, rooted in the fear of the Lord, is good news. Kids don't always feel that. Sometimes parents have never grown up into grace enough to feel it either. But that's what the verse says: hearing a father's instruction and not forsaking a mother's teaching will be … like gifts and prizes around your neck. In other words it will mean triumph and celebration and joy.”
Joy comes even when our mothers and fathers aren’t serving God – no one can steal from us the joy of the Lord when we obey him. Honoring God always brings joy, even when it’s hard to do. Paul said in that the 5th commandment is the first one with a promise – that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Honoring our parents is a way to honor God, and the promise is joy in the Lord. Here’s what joy looks like:
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
That’s a person who is filled with joy.
Take Home
Slide #16
So how can we be godly sons and daughters?
First, we need the solid foundation of wisdom, which comes to us through our reverential fear of God, recognizing him as the true father of all wisdom.
Second, God calls on mothers and fathers to be his teachers of wisdom, but even when they fall short, we sons and daughters are called to rely on the wisdom of God as we strive to honor them, because to do so is to honor God.
Third, as God’s wisdom teaches by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to honor our mothers and fathers, we receive the great reward of joy in the Lord.
Slide #17
As we head now for home or out to a nice dinner with our mothers, we can turn to a little story about our Lord and let it resonate with us as we honor Mom:
At the end of , Jesus is 12 years old and his parents lose track of him during their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. They search for him for three days, and finally find him in the midst of the teachers at the Temple, where he’s amazing everyone with his questions and answers.
His mother is understandably a little upset, having fretted for so long about his welfare. And she says what any good mother would in a similar situation, in effect, “Son, come with me, right now.”
And even though Jesus was right in God’s eyes to be at the Temple – 49 Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? – he obeys his mother even so. He honors her and his father.
51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.
So understand this: The Lord of all creation submitted to his earthly parents; the greater submitted to the lesser; he honored them with his obedience. He perfectly fulfilled the 5th commandment and heeded Solomon’s proverb to hear his mother and father’s instruction. Since he did, so should we. That’s the wisdom of God. We bring honor to God when we honor our mothers and fathers out of reverence for the Lord. God has the power and the wisdom to show us how to do that!
Happy Mother’s Day! Your mother holds a place of honor in God’s eyes!
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