One of the most interesting stories of the Bible is regarding the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. "Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom" (Matt. 20: 20, 21) . When the disciples heard this request they were indignant, for each one of them longed for the highest place in the Lord's kingdom.
This story teaches a truth regarding mothers. Every ideal mother longs for the very best for her children. Sure that they are gifted, she usually is a bit unrealistic about their talents 'and abilities. Her pride and her love prompt her to deny herself for them.
Victor Hugo tells a beautiful story about a mother. When the French people were starving just after the French Revolution, a captain and a corporal were walking through a devastated field. Noticing a stirring in a brier patch, the captain loudly ordered the corporal to run his bayonet into the briers. Before he could do so, an emaciated mother with her two children walked out. It was evident that all three were starving. The French captain reached into his knapsack, took out a long loaf of bread, and handed it to the mother. Immediately she broke it into two pieces and gave one to each child. The astonished corporal turned to his captain and said, "It is because the mother is not hungry, sir." The wiser captain replied, "No, it is because she is a mother, corporal."
Unselfishness and thoughtfulness seem to go with ideal motherhood. Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the famous Labrador doctor, recalled something about his mother in his book Forty Years for Labrador. Speaking of the time when he was a youth attending Marlborough College, in England, he says, "My dear mother used to post me a little box of flowers each week. The picture of my mother, with the thousand demands and worries of a large school of boys on her hands, finding time to gather, pack, address, and post each week with her own hands so fleeting and inessential a token of her love has a thousand times arisen in my memory and led me to consider some apparently quite unnecessary little token of my love as being well worth the time and trouble."
Probably all of us can remember unusual, unselfish, and thoughtful things that were done for us by our mothers during childhood and young manhood. I shall always remember the boxes of food that were sent to me by my mother when I was away at college. I shall always be amazed at the speed with which she was able to get my laundry back to me when she could save me a few pennies each week by doing it herself rather than have me send it out elsewhere.
There is no doubt that the best mother is one who is a Christian, one who rears her children to love the Lord. Many of us can understand and appreciate the words of Augustine St. Claire who in speaking of his mother to his cousin said, "The Bible was my mother's Book. By it she lived and died. . . . Why, cousin, that mother has been all that has stood between me and utter unbelief for years. She was a direct embodiment and personification of the New Testament, a living fact to be accounted for, and to be accounted for in no other way than by its truth."—HOWARD TILLMAN KUIST, These Words Upon Thy Heart.
There are those who think the church can do a great deal to guide the young people of a community and put a spiritual stamp upon the lives of those who come within its doors. However, I am reminded of an old Spanish proverb that says, "An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy." Without a doubt, all clergymen will agree. The church could not possibly have the influence upon a child that its mother will have. Others look to the school to mold and shape the lives of the children, but someone else has wisely said, "One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters." How true!
A mother who knows Christ and who has brought up her children to love Him will always be remembered with thanksgiving and appreciation. As the writer of the Proverbs has said in Proverbs 31:28, "Her children arise up, and call her blessed." During this month when Mother's Day is being celebrated in many lands, may God make every mother a God-fearing, ideal mother to her children. And may all of us who have known the blessings of a good mother remember at this time of year her unselfishness and the godly example of her teachings, and may we rise up to call her blessed.