SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2012
PORTRAIT OF THE VIRTUOUS MOTHER
‘The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.’ Prov. 31v11-21.
PROVERBS has a lot to say about women. How fitting that the book ends with a picture of strong character, great wisdom, skills, and great compassion.
Some people mistakenly think that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, servile and entirely domestic. Not so! This woman is an excellent wife and mother. She is also a manufacturer, importer, manager, farmer, seamstress and merchant. Her strength and dignity do not come from her amazing achievements; they are a result of her reverence for God.
In our society, where physical appearance matters a lot, it is surprising to realise that her look is never mentioned. Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character.
The woman described in this chapter has outstanding abilities. Her family’s social position is high. She may not even be an individual woman; she could be a portrait of ideal womanhood. Do not see her as a model to imitate in every detail; your days are not long enough to do everything she does. Instead, see her as inspiration towards becoming all you can. We can’t be exactly like her, but we can learn from her industry, integrity and resourcefulness.
Today is Mothering Sunday in the Anglican Communion worldwide. Mothers are being celebrated for their contributions to the growth of the family, the Church and the world at large. On this special occasion, their husbands and children honour them for their exemplary roles, Christian commitment and devotion.
One may ask: what is a home without a mother? Some homes are not so lucky to have good mothers. Some women unfortunately desire that their husbands would die so that they can take over their business empires. These are women of easy virtue and questionable character. Some feel that pleasure should not elude them at all. They dress gorgeously and compete with young girls over immoral men and boys. They have no regard for biblical teachings. I Timothy 2v9-10 says: ‘In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works’. Of course, this is not the type of woman Proverbs is talking about.
The writer of Proverbs is concerned with the woman who reverences her God, respects herself and has integrity at home and abroad. She contributes to the well being of her home and the Church. She is imbued with the spirit of industry and is not lazy to contribute meaningfully to the overall development of the family.
A family revolves around such a woman and society is not ashamed to accord her a worthy place. ‘She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet’.
It was said of France at a time: ‘What France needs is good mothers, and then you can have good children’. Nigeria today needs good mothers too. Many things have gone wrong in the social, political and economic sectors. People have sacrificed integrity for temporal things. Mothers no longer insist that children must flee the shame and scandal of prostitution, armed robbery, writing of examinations at ‘miracle centres’ or getting employed with forged certificates etc. But these ought not to be because God has positioned mothers as consciences for their families.
A home with a promising future therefore must have a mother who does not only fear God and reverence Him, but is hardworking with integrity. Such mother is not ashamed to run her home decently without cutting corners.
A mother in this mould, to all intent and purposes, is the bulwark of a home. What beauty!VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.