“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15 ESV)
As a collection of sayings from a father to his sons, the Book of Proverbs contains the word “father” almost thirty times. But this father is not alone; in fact, many of the desires he has for his children are shared by their mother. The word “mother” appears about fifteen times. The mother is alluded to in several passages as well. The truth is, she is just as much a part of the rearing of children as the father is.
This Mother’s Day, we will turn our attention to the mother’s desire for her children. Proverbs 29:15 will be our springboard: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” The rest of the chapter will be surveyed to discover specific areas of her children’s lives for which she has expectations. But we will also consider this theme topically, beginning in the Book of Proverbs and looking to other portions of scripture, particularly highlighting key mothers.
All throughout our series in the Book of Proverbs, we’ve beheld the father’s desire that his children grow to be wise, God-fearing, profitable members of the community. To fail to be this, to be foolish, is to bring shame upon the father. Proverbs 29:15 says such a child brings shame to his mother as well. Consider this mother’s heart. She bore him. She nursed him. She loved him, weaned him, sang to him, instructed him, fed him. A mother’s investment is incredibly sacrificial and it takes her entire being. Some of the most intimate, most personal and memorable moments in the life of a child involves time spent with his mother. John Wesley testified to this when he said, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.”
Not every believer has been blessed with the faithful presence of a biological mother. However, just as men of God step in to assume fatherly roles in the lives of the fatherless, so does God bring into our lives motherly figures to lovingly, faithfully, prayerfully invest in our lives. In particular, many Christians throughout history have seen the church as a mother in our lives. As such, the church invests in and nurtures us, disciplines us and restores us back to health. Just as a foolish son is a shame to his mother, a foolish Christian is a shame to the church. In the end the hope of a physical mother is the same as the hope of a spiritual mother, that her children find, savor, and walk in wisdom!