Listen to Your Mother (Proverbs 1:8)

Sunday, May 8, 2022

What is in a name? A name can be powerful:

Set in A.D. 180, Gladiator tells the story of General Maximus Decimus Meridius (played by Russell Crowe), who was about to be given reigning authority in Rome by the aging emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before this could take place, however, the emperor’s son, Commodus, killed his father in order to establish himself on the throne. He then ordered the murder of Maximus and his family. Maximus escaped, and the movie follows him as he is sold into slavery, becomes a nameless gladiator, and finally seeks justice against wicked Emperor Commodus.

The turning point comes late in the movie. After Maximus wins a great battle in the Coliseum, Emperor Commodus decides to meet this unknown gladiator face to face. The crowd watches as the emperor in full pomp strides with his soldiers onto the sands of the Coliseum.

The emperor asks the simple question: “What is your name?”

Maximus, streaked with blood and dirt from the battle, takes off his helmet and says: “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, general of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

The crowd erupts with a deafening roar, while the emperor visibly shakes under the weight of the true identity of a man he thought was a mere slave. The emperor flees the Coliseum, only to face defeat and death later at the hands of Maximus.[1]

Okay, that clip does not come from a chick flick, but an action movie, but it does make my point. The name. At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow (Phil. 2:5-11). That is the most important thought on a name. But mothers have always had such an impact on a child’s life. Mothers have always had such an impact on an adult’s life.

My theme: Listen to your mother’s teaching.

Let’s read Proverbs 1:8:

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.

  1. Let’s begin by talking about the influence of mothers.
    1. This passage was written in a day when women were not, or seemed to not, have the value of men in society. The society was certainly more male dominated; it was a patriarchy. And though I am for men stepping up in society, that is not to be at the expense of mothers and women.
    2. As I talk about mothers today, understand that I am not only meaning the biological mothers. God has used many maternal influences who were not the actual mothers.
    3. But in this passage, Proverbs 1:8, mothers are included right alongside the father. It seems as if they are really listed as equals. As we read through Proverbs we see the mother’s teaching expressed.
    4. Actually, if we turn to 1 Kings 2:19 we see the influence of the mother: When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand.
    5. The mother was very involved in the life of ancient Israel. The mother had a throne and the mighty king Solomon bowed to her.
    6. That is wonderful.
    7. Just think about the influence of your mother, maybe your grandmother.
    8. From a very early age, I noticed my girls using the term, “Mamma.” They would call Meagan, “Mamma.” I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know how it started, but it was the cutest thing to hear Abigail say, “Mama.” It was not “Mommy,” “Mom,” or “Mother,” but “Mamma.”
    9. They also wanted their mother more than anything. When they were younger there were many times when I would pick up Abigail and carry her to bed and she would be saying, “I want “Momma” to carry me.”
    10. About eight years ago, Mercedes was almost two and a half and Abigail was just born and I was taking Mercedes with me to a fish store. Wouldn’t you know as we got out of Alliance, heading towards Canton, she began to cry wanting, “Mamma.”
    11. Mothers are more than important in God’s plan.
  2. Listen to your mother.
    1. This passage is about listening to your mother.
    2. Exodus 20:12: Honor your father and mother.
    3. But I think there is another important thought here.
    4. Teaching and instruction begin at home.
    5. John Piper writes: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” In other words if we ask, what’s the basis and beginning and integrating theme of the father’s instruction and the mother’s teaching—what is it that runs through all their daily modeling and counseling and explaining and correcting and disciplining that give unity and meaning to it all—the answer is “the fear of the Lord.”
    6. The family isn’t just a place where children learn to hold spoons and walk on two feet and say “please” and tie shoes and read and look both ways and cut grass and put on makeup and drive a car. The family is where all of this and more begins in God, is guided by God’s Word, and is shown to be for the glory of God. The fear of God—the reverencing of God, the standing in awe of God, the trusting of God—is what family’s are for.
    7. The family is God’s idea. The family is a school. And the unifying theme in the curriculum of this school is God.[2]
    8. As I think about this, I notice that many times it is the mother who teaches the fear of the Lord, it is the mother who encourages Bible reading and prayer.
    9. I believe there are so many things we learn from our mothers that we really may not even think of.
    10. I remember learning how to spell certain words from my mother.
    11. Interesting thing is that as we look at Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman.
    12. All too often, it is the mother who is there for the children, more even than the father.
    13. So, we are to listen to our mother’s instruction.
    14. I know for many of you your mother has passed away. I would say, listen to your mother’s teaching even when she is in heaven. Remember her sayings. Remember what she would say.
    15. I know that for many mother’s day is a sad day as it reminds you that your mother has passed away. I would encourage you to honor her by listening to her teaching.
  3. So, what’s in a name?
    1. What is in the name: “mom,” “mother,” “mamma”?
    2. I believe that is the most powerful name on earth.
    3. If we see who shapes societies more than any other person, I believe it is the mothers.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:5, I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.

Then in 3:14–15 Paul says, You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them [that is, your mother Eunice and through her from your grandmother Lois]; and that from childhood you have known the holy scriptures [because your mother taught them to you] which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Now that’s a remarkable testimony. Timothy’s father was a Greek (Acts 16:3). He probably didn’t know the Scriptures. So Paul celebrates the great heritage that Timothy has through his mother and his grandmother. They did what his father could not or would not do. They filled him with the Scriptures, and the Scriptures brought him eventually to faith in Christ, and faith in Christ brought him salvation.

Timothy will live forever and ever because his mother and his grandmother were faithful to Proverbs 1:8.

So, for all of us, respect our mothers, listen to our mothers, honor our mothers, the name “mother” is powerful.

Prayer


[1] Gladiator (Dreamworks, 2000), rated R, written by David Franzoni, directed by Ridley Scott; submitted by Bill White, Paramount,

[2] http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/do-not-forsake-your-mothers-teaching

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