By Gregg Bing
What makes a good mother? She loves her children and provides for their needs: physically, mentally, and emotionally. She works hard, unselfishly giving of herself for her children’s welfare. A good mother protects her children from harm, watching over them and providing a warm, safe atmosphere in which to nurture them. She prepares her children for life, teaching and training them, instilling in them values and morals, and modeling these values in her own life.
This is how most people would describe a good mother, whether they are Christian or not. While a “good mother” can be a wonderful blessing to her family, something more is needed, especially in the Christian home—a “faithful mother.”
A faithful mother does all the things a good mother does, but she recognizes two important truths: children are from the Lord and children are for the Lord.
The 127th Psalm describes how the Lord blesses homes with children.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5)
Children are a heritage, a possession acquired from the Lord. Eve recognized this with the birth of her son, Cain, saying, “I have acquired a man from the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). Hannah prayed for a son and when God answered her prayer, she named the child Samuel, which means “asked of God,” because, as she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:20). The birth of Isaac is described in Genesis 21 in this way:
“And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” (Genesis 21:1)
What an tremendous responsibility mothers (and fathers) have, being entrusted with these gifts from God. While children certainly provide pleasure and satisfaction to their parents, they belong to the Lord. God has a purpose for their lives, from the time they are conceived. Paul recognized this about his own life and ministry.
“It pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.” (Galatians 1:15-16)
A faithful mother acknowledges this vital responsibility she has been given: to help prepare her children to accomplish the purpose God has for their lives. Having this spiritual insight affects the way she raises her children.
A good mother loves her children and works hard to provide for their needs. A faithful mother does the same, not just out of love for them, but out of love and reverence for the Lord. She is like the virtuous woman described in the book of Proverbs.
“She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:27-31)
A good mother seeks to protect her children from physical harm, but a faithful mother is also concerned about the spiritual harms her children face. After Isaac was born:
“Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. Therefore she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.’ And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.'” (Genesis 21:9-12)
This may seem a harsh response from Sarah. Why would she go so far as to demand that Ishmael be cast out? Being a good mother, she was concerned for Isaac’s physical safety. Ishmael was clearly jealous of Isaac and, being older and stronger, might have been tempted to harm him in some way. Sarah was more than a good mother; she was a faithful mother. She knew Ishmael might have a negative influence on Isaac spiritually. She believed God had a purpose for Isaac’s life, having heard God’s promise to Abraham: “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” Sarah wanted Ishmael cast out to protect Isaac spiritually and to ensure God’s purpose for his life was preserved.
A good mother may pray for her children, even a mother who has never trusted Christ as Savior, but her prayers are primarily concerned with their physical safety and needs. A faithful mother will ask God to work out His will in her children’s lives. A good example of this is seen in the life of Samuel’s mother, Hannah. She prayed that God would give her a son, but she promised she would give the child back to the Lord to serve Him. After Samuel was born, Hannah cared for him until he was weaned, then took him to serve the Lord in the tabernacle with Eli, the priest. There she prayed:
“For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28)
Rather than being disappointed that she was to be separated from her son, Hannah rejoiced that Samuel was serving the Lord, and she gave thanks and praise to the God of her salvation.
“And Hannah prayed and said: My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:1-2)
A good mother seeks to be a role model to her children, living in a way that she hopes they will one day follow. The example of a faithful mother can have an even greater impact on her children. The pattern she provides for her children is based on pleasing the Lord rather than pleasing men.
Peter reminded wives (and mothers) that the greatest impact they have on their families is not through their words, but through their conduct—behavior that arises from a gentle and quiet heart for God.
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:1-4)
One of the most important things a mother can impart to her children is faith. Children need to see this faith in action in the lives of their parents. While Timothy’s father had very little influence on his son, Timothy was fortunate to have both a faithful mother and grandmother whose lives were characterized by a genuine faith. This faith was passed on to Timothy through their godly behavior. Paul reminded Timothy of this blessing.
“When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5)
A good mother prepares her children for life, helping them grow and develop physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally. A faithful mother equips her children not just for life, but for a life of service for the Lord.
Timothy’s mother and grandmother not only shared their faith in the Lord with him, they also prepared him to serve the Lord by teaching him the truths of God’s Word from the time he was just a young child (even as an infant). Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in the things he had been taught from the Scriptures.
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
Faithful mothers may not understand all of God’s purpose for their children, but they keep this purpose in mind while raising them. Mary did not comprehend all that Jesus had come to do, but as His life unfolded before her, she “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, 51).
A good mother keeps her children in her heart. A faithful mother does more—she keeps and ponders God’s purpose for her children in her heart.
“No one is poor who had a godly mother.” (Abraham Lincoln)