On this day that we honor mothers, it’s good for us to think about how much you really do. Being a mother is not a walk in the park…By the time a child reaches 18, a mother has had to handle some extra 18,000 hours of child-generated work. In fact, women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year in leisure time!
A Junior High science teacher lectured on the properties of magnets for an entire class. The next day he gave his students a quiz. The first question read like this: “My name begins with an “M,” has six letters, and I pick things up. What am I?” Half the kids in the class wrote, “Mother.”
That reminds me of the father who was trying to explain the concept of marriage to his 4-year-old daughter. He got out their wedding album, thinking visual images would help, and explained the entire wedding service to her. When he was finished, he asked if she had any questions. She pointed to a picture of the wedding party and asked, “Daddy, is that when mommy came to work for us?
A father and his son were talking about how influential mothers are. While they were talking, the son remembered hearing this quote: “If daddy ain’t happy, who cares? If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” The father laughed and said, “That’s true in our house.” I think it’s probably true in ours as well.
Ralph Waldo Emerson has said, “Men are what their mothers make them” and an old Spanish proverb says, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.”
There are some great portraits of motherhood in Scripture.
- I love the picture of the mother of Moses who cared so much for her son that she broke the law in order to teach him the faith of his people.
- We see the sacrificial love of the mother who appeared before King Solomon and told him that she was willing to have her son taken away by another woman rather than see any harm come to him.
- Or, the mother of James and John who loved her boys so much that she wanted them to sit by the Lord’s side in the heavenly kingdom.
- And, the mother of King Lemuel, who gave some advice to her son about godly living and how to pick a good wife, in Proverbs 31.
I’m aware that Mother’s Day is a difficult time for some of you.
- Maybe you want to be a mother but you can’t be for some reason
- Perhaps some of you have not had the best mother in the world
- Some of you have had a mother who has died
- Some of you mothers have lost a child to death
- Some of you mothers feel the pain of a wayward child this morning
- And, some of you are flying solo as you work hard to nurture your child’s faith
This morning I want to begin by giving you my thesis: A mother is not just ordinary but amazing…Amazing because she can make a significant spiritual impact on her children with or without the help of a father.
I’d like to introduce you to a young woman named Eunice. She was raised in a religious home and was greatly impacted by her mother Lois. She loved to learn the stories from the Bible when she was young and enjoyed going to services where she could learn about God. As she approached her teenage years, she was still focused on spiritual matters but she became attracted to a young man who was not into religion at all. Against the best wishes of her godly mother, the teaching of her faith, and the tug of her conscience, she married the man. Don’t get me wrong he was a nice guy but thought spiritual matters were for weak people.
After a couple years of marriage, Eunice and her husband had a baby boy who they named Timothy. In the meantime, Eunice’s dad had died so they asked her mother Lois to come and live with them. Little Timmy was a delight to everyone. Both his mother and grandmother spent hours with him, teaching him the stories of the Old Testament, praying with him and for him, and training him in the things of God. While they didn’t have any Veggie Tale videos or an AWANA club nearby, they created a spiritual environment where tiny Tim could flourish.
Then, one day, a preacher named Paul came to their town of Lystra and spoke about a man named Jesus. Both Lois and Eunice listened intently. They saw in Jesus the fulfillment of all the promises in the Old Testament and placed their trust in Him and were converted. These new believers in turn focused on teaching Timothy all about who Jesus was. We know from reading the book of Acts that Paul himself took a personal interest in Tim the teenager and, partnering with his mother and grandmother, led him to saving faith.
Later, Paul and Timothy partner together in ministry as the gospel continues to spread throughout the area. Many years later, while Paul is in prison, awaiting his execution, he writes two letters to young Timothy. These letters contain some teaching about how Timothy should behave as a church leader and are also filled with some reminiscing and nostalgia on Paul’s part. As Paul writes these letters, that we know as 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, he reflects on the mothers who made an impact in Tim’s life.
With that as background, I’m going to draw from three different passages of Scripture two of which are found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy — to show how a mother and a grandmother — can make a significant spiritual impact on her children.
- 1. INSTILL A RESPECT FOR SCRIPTURE
The first way a mother can do this is by instilling within her children a respect for Scripture.
In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul reminds Timothy that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Then in verse 14, Paul urges Timothy to hang tough when the tough times come: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.” Timothy not only learned things cognitively, he made a practice of owning what he studied by becoming convinced of its truthfulness. He didn’t just fill his head with truth but internalized it and then lived it out. I think Timothy did this because he saw it modeled in his mother, in his grandmother, and in Paul himself.
2 Timothy 3:15 shows us what this truth was: “And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.” In the manner of devout Israelites, grandmother Lois and mother Eunice taught the Holy Scriptures to Timothy from the very beginning. The word “infancy” in some passages refers to a newborn baby or a toddler. Lois and Eunice teamed up to provide high-powered Bible Study Fellowship classes for young Timothy even before he could crawl! They read to him, they talked about Samson and Samuel, David and Ruth, Abraham and Noah. They did everything they could to provide Timothy with the opportunity to learn all he could about the Bible.
In essence, they lived out the commands of Deuteronomy 6:4-7: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
These two mothers had God’s Word in their hearts. Because they had internalized the truth into their own lives, they could impress it upon young Timothy by talking about it throughout the day, showing Tim how the Scriptures should impact every area of life.
Mothers, it is never too early to start teaching the Bible to your children and, it’s never too late to start if you haven’t already. There is nothing that can replace your role in your child’s life. God wants to use you to instill within your children a respect for the Bible.
Thankfully, you do not have to do this all by yourself. We have a well thought-out, Bible-based Sunday School program for your children, DVBS this summer, a children’s program that is based on Scripture memorization, a Bible-centered Christian school, and a youth ministry that teaches the Word of God in a way that teenagers can understand and embrace. These programs are all designed to assist you in helping your children learn the Word of God. I love what Pastor Geoff said in a parent’s meeting: “My job is to supplement what parents are doing in the home.” These tools are available to help you make a spiritual impact in the life of your kids.
Four scholars were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beauty and eloquent old English. Another said he liked the New American Standard Version for its literalism and how it moves the reader from passage to passage with confident feelings of accuracy from the original text. The third scholar was sold on the New Living Translation for its use of contemporary phrases and idioms that capture the meaning of difficult ideas. After being quiet for a moment, the fourth scholar admitted: “I have personally preferred my mother’s translation.” When the other scholars started laughing, he said, “Yes, she translated the Scriptures. My mom translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I have ever read.”
Mothers, what kind of Bible is your child reading when her or she observes your life? Are you looking for ways to instill a respect for the Word of God into the lives of your children? Remember, you can make a significant spiritual impact on your children with or without the help of a father.
- 2. INSTILL AN AUTHENTIC FAITH.
The second way to make an impact in the lives of your children is by instilling within them an authentic faith. We see this in 2 Timothy 1:5: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
Even though Lois and Eunice were believers, Timothy needed to come to a point in which he put his faith in Christ. Faith is not hereditary, it is learned. At the same time, when mothers model genuine faith, an environment is set up whereby children will be motivated to want that same kind of faith.
The word, “sincere” related to faith means that it was “unhypocritical.” It was real, without any pretense or false facade. Faith had come and taken up residence in his mother’s heart and in his grandmother’s heart and was now alive in his own life. These two mothers were completely sold out to Christ. They were drop-dead serious about their faith. They were fully devoted and completely committed. And Timothy knew it. No one knows better than a child whether a parent’s faith is genuine.
Notice the chain here: Lois to Eunice to Timothy. Again, we don’t read of a grandfather or a father anywhere in this equation. That’s not to say that a father is not important he is. What I’m saying is this: a mother can make a significant spiritual impact on her children with or without the help of a father.
Moms, if you want to instill authentic faith in your children then you better take your own faith seriously. If you’re just going through the motions spiritually your kids will eventually see it, and tragically, may do the same thing when they are older. As you demonstrate your faith consistently by reading the Bible, praying, attending worship, bringing your kids to programs that help them grow spiritually, and by participating in the life and mission of the church, you will send a strong message to your children.
I read about a pastor who had a long conversation with someone about becoming a member of his church. When he was done the young man said he was ready to join. The pastor was curious so he asked him, “What did I say that convinced you to join the church?” The man answered, “It was nothing I ever heard you say. It was the way my mother lived.”
As I think about the kind of faith that was passed from a mother to a mother to a son, I’m convinced that a mother like this has to be more interested in having her children know the Bible than be able to speak another language before they are 5-years-old. She is also more interested in:
- Her children’s souls than in their bodies or in their clothes
- Her children’s eternal life than their success in this life
- Her children’s relationship with Jesus than their popularity in the world
- Her children’s standing before God than their social status
- Her children’s spirituality than their intellectual, musical, or athletic accomplishments
While it isn’t in the text, a mother who passes along a faith that is authentic is without a doubt a praying woman. Any home in which faith is passed on from generation to generation has to be a home of prayer. One cannot imagine Lois not praying for Eunice or Eunice not praying for Timothy. We read in Acts 12:12 that the mother of John Mark opened her home for a prayer meeting while Peter was imprisoned. In Acts 1:14, Mary, the mother of Jesus “joined together constantly in prayer” with the disciples. That’s the hallmark of a godly mother.
- The mother of George Washington taught her son the biblical ideas of political and social morality which Washington kept before the nation throughout his life. Family prayers were held twice a day with regular readings from the Scripture.
- The mother of Ferdinand Foch, the great general of World War 2, taught him to put his faith in God and to pray. As a result his men said of him, “General Foch is a man of prayer, a prophet whom God inspires.” Throughout his life he continued the prayer habits he learned in his mother’s home.
- James A. Garfield’s mother was an earnest Christian who taught her children that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” A widow with four children, she not only managed her farm, but built with her own hands a log house which was also used as a church. There she taught her own children as well as others the Scripture.
- My mom…
Timothy’s family environment was fertile to his faith development. Both his mother and his grandmother held their faith deeply and shared it freely. How fertile is the environment in your family for the reproduction and the nurturing of authentic faith in the lives of your children and grandchildren? Mothers, are you passing along a legacy of authentic faith to your kids?
- 3. INSTILL A DESIRE TO MINISTER.
The third way to impact your children is to instill within them a desire to minister. After Paul preached in Lystra, and Timothy was converted, he returned a short while later. Let’s pick up the story in Acts 16:1-3: “He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey…”
I see three qualities in Timothy that were no doubt passed down from his mother, and his grandmother:
1. First of all, he was a strong believer. He is referred to as a disciple. Luke, the author of Acts, could have referred to him as a believer or a Christian, but he chose to call him a disciple. A disciple is a learner and a follower. A disciple was one who was serious about Christ, not just one who was going through the motions. As we’ve already established, his mother modeled this type of authentic, no holds-barred kind of faith.
2. Second, he had a good reputation. The believers in the area spoke well of him. People knew him as a man of integrity and as a man of the Word. He was rock solid. Again, this had a lot to do with his mother and grandmother.
3. Third, he was available. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey. As you continue to read the Book of Acts, you’ll see that Timothy was eager to minister. He knew it meant leaving home and he knew it meant facing hardship. Friends, there is no way this kind of commitment to ministry develops if it has not been encouraged at home.
When Paul stopped in Lystra for this second time, he enlisted Timothy to be his special assistant to replace John Mark. Paul refers to Timothy as his “beloved son” in 1 Corinthians 4:17 and in 1 Timothy 1:2, he calls him his “own son in the faith.” In Philippians 2:20, Paul can’t think of anyone like Timothy when he writes: “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.” Paul thought very highly of Timothy and couldn’t wait to unleash him for ministry.
Mothers, part of your job is to instill a respect for the Bible, another responsibility is to instill an authentic faith. But these two elements are only preliminary for the most important job you have that of instilling within your children a desire to minister. Our kids are to learn the Bible and grow in their faith so that they can become difference-makers in their world. So they can share their faith with others. So they can minister in the church and in their school. So they can serve those who are hurting. So they can serve as missionaries. So they can identify their spiritual gifts and use them on a regular basis. The truth of the matter is this: we are saved in order to serve. We are to be disciples so that we can disciple others. We are equipped so that we can evangelize. We are sanctified so that we can be sent to a lost and dying world.
Susannah Wesley, mother of 17, two of which were John and Charles Wesley, spent one hour each day praying for her children. In addition, she took each child aside for a full hour each week to discuss spiritual matters. No wonder her children were used of God to bring blessing to all of England and much of America.
I came across some parenting guidelines that helped her as a mother:
- Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his soul.
- Teach the child to pray as soon as he can speak.
Let’s see if I can bring all this together. Mothers, you can make a significant spiritual impact in your family with or without the help of a father. You can do that by instilling:
- A Respect for Scripture
- An Authentic Faith
- A Desire for Ministry
I want to close this morning by reading a poem entitled, “My Mother.”
Your love, I know—I’ve seen your tears;
You’ve given to me my life.
You’ve walked through hours and days and years
Of heartache, toil and strife.
To see that I could have the best
That you could give to me,
You gave up needs and often rest—
You viewed eternity.
To do His will my highest call
And by your special care
I stood and walked and did not fall,
You held me up in prayer.
Though strands of gray may brush your hair,
And miles divide our way,
I know that by your quiet prayer
You’ve helped me day by day.
You’ve shown me how to give, to share
To put my own needs last.
You’ve helped me see and be aware
That life is so soon past.
To spite your love I would not dare,
For there’s not another
Who spreads her gentle love and care
Like you—My Loving Mother.
I want to applaud you mothers who take the task seriously of making a spiritual impact in the lives of your children. As Proverbs 31:28 says, “Her children arise and call her blessed…” We stand up this morning and call you blessed thanks for pouring your lives into ours.
[Have everyone, but mothers, stand and say, “You are blessed” to the mothers seated around you]
Proverbs 31:30 says that, “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” We praise God for those mothers who worship and adore the Lord and who pass this legacy on to their children.
[Have everyone applaud mothers and give thanks to God for them]
Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day.