Hollywood, the media, and pop culture love to tell women what makes them virtuous. In the 1970s, a virtuous woman marched for women’s rights and equality. In the 1980s and 1990s, a virtuous woman took birth control and aborted her preborn baby so she could chase her career. In the 2000s, a virtuous woman ran for political office. In the 2010s, a virtuous woman tweeted the hashtags “#shoutyourabortion” and “#metoo.” In the 2020s, well, what is a woman anyway?
As you can see, the world’s definition of a virtuous woman changes with the times, and I dare say, becomes more detrimental to women and the society in which they find themselves. But God’s definition of a virtuous woman is unchanging. It never wavers, never falters, and never ceases to be good.
Examples of godly, virtuous women and mothers are found all throughout Scripture. Here are five of them and why they should be our example to follow rather than the world.
When Pharaoh declared that all Hebrew baby boys must be killed, Jochebed risked everything to save the life of her son Moses. Jochebed hid Moses in her home for three months before she realized she could no longer keep him hidden, so she resolved to cover a papyrus basket with tar and pitch and place her son inside. She then released him in the reeds along the Nile River and trusted that the Lord would protect him (Exodus 1:3-4).
Jochebed’s unimaginable determination, courage, and faith is an example to Christian mothers because her story reminds us that our children are not our own, but God’s. God is sovereign over their life and their death, and ultimately, this is why Jochebed placed the fate of her beloved son in His hands. She trusted that the Lord would take care of Him when she couldn’t.
Hannah’s story is one that many mothers today can relate to. For a long time, she was in despair because she was unable to bear children. Hannah went to the temple to pour her heart out to the Lord, weeping bitterly (1 Samuel 1:10-11). But because of her steadfast prayer and supplication to the Lord, God remembered her and gave her a son — Samuel. When Samuel was old enough, Hannah, in turn, surrendered Samuel to be raised in the temple. In 1 Samuel 1:27-28, she said, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”
Hannah is an example to barren women and mothers who have lost their babies too soon. She reveals the importance of submitting to the Lord’s will while letting her desires be known to Him. Her commitment to steadfast prayer is admirable, but even more so is her willingness to surrender the child for which she prayed back to the Lord out of love and gratitude to Him. What a faith she has to be willing to relinquish complete control over her most precious gift to the One who made all things!
The story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, is one of sorrow, encouragement, and faith. Despite the devastating loss of her husband and her two sons, Naomi served as a loving mother-in-law to Ruth, who was grieving the loss of her husband as well. Naomi was an example of the Titus 2 woman who is instructed to train the younger women to “love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands” (Titus 2:4-5). Her love for Ruth resulted in sharing wisdom with her and giving her advice, which ultimately led to Ruth’s marriage to Boaz (Ruth 4:13-17).
Despite the heartbreak that both of these women were enduring, Naomi stood strong as a great influence on Ruth, whom she viewed as her own daughter. This is an example to Christian mothers to be the Titus 2 woman both inside and outside of our homes. The role of training, teaching, and setting an example for our sons and daughters and the young women in our churches is a virtuous one.
From the moment the angel of the Lord visited Mary to tell her that she would be conceiving the Son of God, despite being a virgin, Mary submitted to God’s sovereign plan. She never pushed back, questioned, or argued with God. She simply said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” in Luke 1:38.
Although the Proverbs 31 woman is an archetype of a godly mother rather than a real, identifiable person, it’s necessary to include her in this article because there is so much in the Proverbs 31 passage that a woman should strive to be. Pertaining to motherhood, homemaking, and being a wife, it says, “She looks well to 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” (Proverbs 31:27-28).
According to Scripture, a godly mother, specifically, is one who is constantly working in her home, cleaning, cooking, washing, teaching, loving, hugging, reading, and sacrificing, from the moment she rises until she goes to bed — and, when necessary, in the middle of the night!
The reason Christian women can look to these mothers in the Bible for examples of how to be godly mothers is not because of them or anything they did, but because of Christ in them.
It is because of Christ that Jochebed knew her son would be safe in the hands of the Lord. It is because of Christ that Hannah selflessly surrendered her beloved son to the Father. It is because of Christ that Naomi could endure hardship and serve Ruth. It is because of Christ that Mary obeyed God and submitted to His will. And it is because of Christ that the Proverbs 31 woman could do her duty, selflessly and successfully.
May we remember that the goal is never to be like another believer, as inspiring as they may be, but to be like Christ — to grow in sanctification, to long for holiness, and to do our best to emulate the humble, obedient servant that Jesus was to the Father.
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