WASHINGTON, D.C. (BP) -- "God couldn't be everywhere, so He made mothers." While not theologically accurate, this old Jewish saying describes beautifully the significant role mothers have in our lives.
Motherhood is one of God's greatest gifts to humanity. A loving, committed mother is an indispensable person in our development. Just imagine a world without mothers. It would be a sterile place indeed. Mothers instill powerful social and nurturing characteristics in each generation. It is principally from their mothers that children learn the virtues of sacrifice, sharing, valuing others, compassion, community and a host of other interpersonal values and skills that enable humans to live together in peace.
Biologically, women are designed for self-sacrifice. When pregnant, a woman's body focuses its primary attention to nurturing that new, growing life developing within her. Her body will automatically prioritize the needs of her unborn baby. And this inherent gift for self-sacrifice isn't only biological. After her children are born, a mother will continue to sacrifice herself for the needs of her children. She will do whatever she can to assure her children have what they need.
Mothers are also designed by God to nurture. There is just no greater nurturing power on the planet than a mother. When the apostle Paul was describing his love for the church at Thessalonica, he used the metaphor of a mother's love to describe how deeply he cared for the Thessalonians. He reminded them that he was like a "gentle" mother who "tenderly cares for her own children" (1 Thessalonians 2:7). When God described His love for Israel, He did so with a motherhood metaphor. He told Israel that He would comfort them like a mother comforts her children (Isaiah 66:13).
I am reminded of the closing chapters of the great biblical book of wisdom, the book of Proverbs. The book that has helped billions of people through millennia live better lives closes with a great testimonial tribute to women. That's right; the last words of the book of Proverbs don't extend praise to God, or exalt manhood. They speak of the beautiful, indispensable role that women play in God's creation. After 30 chapters of directions on living the good, godly, noble life, the great book of Proverbs closes with these words to the godly woman: "Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying, 'Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.' Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:28-31).
The best of all that God designed a woman to be is expressed in motherhood. Not one of us came into this world without a mother. And in these days of abortion on-demand, motherhood is a conscious, deliberate decision by a woman to enter into that noble, God-like act of loving self-sacrifice to participate with the God of all creation to bring a new life into the world -- you.
This Mother's Day, I hope you will take the time to say thanks to your mother in a special way. No she isn't perfect, and no she didn't do everything right, but she gave you life. And if she is like most mothers, she sacrificed for you and did what she could to prepare you to be a loving, caring person. And to mothers, I say thank you for all you have done to prepare your children to be the good men and women of the next generation. Our world cannot make it without you. Thank you for all you do. Happy Mother's Day.
Barrett Duke is vice president for public policy and research for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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