Originally published in the Midwestern Magazine, Issue 40
One of the most urgent questions mothers everywhere should be asking is, “How do we faithfully nurture our children in the truth of God’s Word?”
To answer this question and accomplish this goal, there’s a prior consideration: mothers must be women of truth themselves. Over the years, I’ve found Psalm 1 instructive in this regard.
We often think of Psalm 1 as a word to men, but godly women should pay close attention to it also. Psalm 1 teaches us about wisdom and folly, about good company and bad, about the way of truth and the way of deceit. We also note its rich promises: The way of truth leads to blessing and salvation, while the way of deceit leads to cursing and destruction.
As 21st century Christians, we read Psalm 1 in a particular cultural context and, unfortunately, a challenging context at that. In the last few decades, Christians in the United States have lost their home-field advantage. Instead of being culturally accepted, Christians are now culturally marginalized and even persecuted.
What is more, motherhood is often viewed as a trap, a prison of confinement that locks women into the home and away from the finer, more enjoyable things of life. These lies can be tempting to believe, especially after a hard day in the home with young children.
Therefore, as Christian mothers, it is crucial that we saturate our minds with the truth of Scripture. In God’s Word, we find our identity, our calling, and our day-to-day bearings. As our minds and hearts are in the right place, we’ll be best positioned to form our children’s minds and hearts in God’s truth. So, how do we accomplish this? Let’s look to Psalm 1.
First, we must meditate on God’s Word. As verse one teaches us, “Blessed is the man (or woman) who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” This verse rightly points out several negative things that we must avoid if we want to know God’s favor. Ladies, we must avoid foolish counsel, walking in sin, desensitizing fellowship with sinners, and using our mouths in destructive ways.
On the contrary, the righteous woman will avoid these things at all costs. As verse two teaches us, our delight should be in the law of the Lord, and on it, we should meditate day and night. The command to meditate is not a correction; it’s an invitation. As we delight in God’s Word, our hearts are shaped, our joy is filled, and our spirits are lifted.
Moreover, as we meditate on God’s Word and obey what it says, we will be able to point our children to the hope they can have in Christ. I encourage you to read the Bible aloud with your children. Pray the Scriptures aloud with them. Model for them what it means for the Word of God to dwell in their minds.
Second, draw spiritual nourishment from God’s Word. The psalmist points us deeper into the spiritual benefits of Bible intake. Verse three promises that we will be like “a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields is fruit in its season…”
Despite this rich promise, we must acknowledge that so often our attitudes and inclinations reveal we are attempting to nourish ourselves elsewhere. If personal chaos and spiritual dryness are normal, then we might not be rooted in the right place. If pride, envy, ingratitude, and other fleshly desires are prevalent, we most likely aren’t spiritually planted by streams of water.
Yet, the promise holds. If we are, by God’s Word, planted in streams of spiritual water, our lives will yield spiritual fruit. There’s also a word of encouragement here for mothers as it relates to our children. Over the years, I’ve been discouraged when I didn’t see the fruit of biblical teaching in the life of a child. But, ultimately, that is the work of the Lord, not an end I can ensure. I must point them to Christ and teach them His Word. God will be faithful, in due season, to bring fruit in their lives.
Third, we must heed the warning of neglecting God’s Word. On this point, the psalmist’s words are stark. He warns us that “the wicked are like chaff…they will not stand in the day of judgement…nor in the assembly of the righteous.” Again, this warning is harsh, but it is, nonetheless, so often ignored.
Whether due to a besetting sin or just motherly busyness, neglecting God’s Word always brings unwanted consequences. Some are more benign, such as a general spiritual coolness or lack of joy in our hearts and homes. Others are more severe, like misplaced priorities and worldly affections that lead our lives adrift and undermine our ability to serve our families and rear our children.
Fourth, we can cling to the promise of God’s Word. Psalm 1 ends with a promise that has anchored my life and has strengthened my mothering. The psalmist writes, “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous.” Though we are imperfect in our pursuit of Christ and may be inconsistent in our Bible reading and meditation, we can still draw great strength from the fact the Lord knows the way of the righteous.
This is a liberating word for Christian women and mothers. No matter how intense our daily struggle may be, the Lord knows and is gracious to our weary hearts. No matter how fatigued we may be by the long days and short nights of motherhood, the Lord knows our hearts. No matter how discouraged we may be by our own lack of spiritual progress or that of our children, the Lord knows our hearts. As we are rooted in Christ and given to His Word, we can cling to His promise that He knows the way of the righteous.
Psalm 1, at first read, depicts the way of the blessed man, but its message applies to women, too, and even to mothers. Sisters, as we draw near to Christ and prioritize His Word, we can rest in the promise of Psalm 1.
Motherhood is too weighty a responsibility to be built on any other foundation than the truth of God’s Word. We can—we must—build our hearts, and our homes, upon this impregnable rock. In the spirit of Psalm 1, lets recommit ourselves to this end. And, as we do, let’s not be surprised at the blessings that come our way—and to our children.
Karen B. Allen | President’s Wife, Director of Midwestern Women’s Institute