On May 8, 1914, President Wilson designated the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day - "For displaying the American flag and for the public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of the country." Moms, happy Mothers day!
As significant as political, military, educational, or religious public figures may be, none can compare to the impact made by mothers. There is no more influential or powerful role on earth than a mother's. Their words are never fully forgotten, and the memory of their presence lasts a lifetime.
We see the power of a mother's influence over and over in the Scriptures. Particularly in the books of 1 & 2 Kings where the mother's influence over the kings is stressed.
1 Kings 22:42-43 (NKJV) Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 And he walked in all the ways of his father Asa. He did not turn aside from them, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for the people offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
Why does God give us the name of the king's mother? I think it is because she is the greatest influence in the lives of her children.
The phrase, "His mother's name was," is found 23 times in Scripture, and in 22 of them, the verse also says, "And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD," or "And he did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD." Now, I don't know about you, but that strikes me as interesting. The Scripture tells us who his mother was, and then it tells us they either did evil or good in the sight of the Lord. I think that the Scripture is trying to emphasize the influence of the mother.
Now, I'm not saying that how children turn out is totally dependent upon the Mother. Some good mothers raise bad children, and some bad mothers raise good children. But what I want you to see here is that the mother has a tremendous influence on her children.
Abraham Lincoln said, " All that I have ever become, I owe to my angel mother" and "No one is poor who had a godly mother." Napoleon said, "Give France good mothers and France will bare good sons." Thomas Edison said, "It was at critical times in my life that my mother believed in me, and because of her faith in me, I became a great inventor."
In our society, the role of motherhood is not so highly exalted; as a matter of fact, it is almost looked down upon. But when was the last time you remember our society pulling for the highest, most important ideals?
Mothers, who are truly committed to the task of being mothers, have been disrespected and ridiculed for years. Many mothers let that negative propaganda get to them, and go to great lengths to cast themselves in the "supermom" mold that is honored and respected by our society. They throw themselves into demanding careers; and they sacrifice the privileged task of being godly, influential mothers in the process. I'm not denying that many mothers have no choice but to work in order to support their families; but I am saying that Mothers, if God has given you the privileged opportunity of being financially able to stay home with your children, don't let society talk you out of it. It's the most meaningful thing you can do, and it'll produce rewards that will last far longer than anything any of us can ever do working at a one of the world's so-called "real jobs."
Mothers, I want to encourage you today to commit and recommit yourselves to the privileged tasks God has entrusted you with. The task of building a home according to the plan of:
Proverbs 24:3-4 (NKJV) Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; 4 By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.
Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, passed on to your children, so that they might build their lives on a foundation that is sufficient for all their needs.
There were once four scholars who were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beautiful, eloquent old English. Another said he preferred the American Standard Bible for its literal treatment of the text. A third man preferred a translation called the Moffatt translation because of its quaint, penetrating use of words. After giving the issue further thought, the fourth scholar said, "I have personally always preferred my mother's translation." When the other scholars chuckled, he responded, "Yes she translated it. She translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I ever saw."
There was another man who saw such a translation of God's word in his lifetime. His name was Timothy, he lived in the first century, and it is to him that Paul's New Testament letters of 1 and 2 Timothy are addressed. Paul was Timothy's older friend and mentor. As Paul lay in a Roman dungeon, facing his impending death, he wrote to Timothy to encourage and challenge him about Timothy's own ministry that lay ahead of him. In these letters, Paul draws upon his memories and recalls the examples of faith and commitment that he observed in the life of his young friend, Timothy. Particularly in 2 Timothy 1:3-7, Paul reminisces about the way Timothy's faithfulness is largely a reflection of the examples and instruction which Timothy received from his mother and from his grandmother. And, in the process, Paul pinpoints five contributions a mother makes in her home. Five contributions that we'll consider this morning.
Now, as we consider these contributions, I want to begin with a sort of disclaimer; just because I'm specifically talking this morning about mothers who are in the process right now of raising children, it in no way means that I expect everyone else to tune out! Because, there is something here for everyone. And every one of us can benefit from, and learn from, the contributions which Timothy's mother made to him through her example.
It's true that I'm talking to mothers - but to you who have no children, look around you today, literally and figuratively, and take note of those who may be looking to you as a "parent figure," as a "second mom or dad."
As we talk about these contributions of mothers; these character traits that godly mothers are so consistent in exemplifying, those of you that are children, be thinking about ways that you can thank her. Be thinking of ways that you can let mom know that her efforts have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NKJV) I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. 6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
This entire passage is an account of the influential contributions Timothy's mother made to him. The first contribution of mothers that is found here is:
Paul begins his reminiscing in v. 4 by saying,"being mindful of your tears." And, Dads, let's face it, most of us learn tenderness from our mothers, and from our children's mother. Your children learn tenderness from mom. Ideally, from your dad you'll discover the necessity of hard work, the significance of honesty, the importance of standing firm and being responsible; but we learn tenderness from our mothers, and from our wives as they themselves become mothers.
Boy, this is certainly true in our home. My wife is constantly giving me suggestions as to how to be more compassionate.
Dwight Eisenhower got mad often, and once when growing up, his brothers and sisters were going to go somewhere; but he couldn't go, and he went into a fit of rage and went out and begin hitting a tree with his fist and bloodied them up; and his father came out and disciplined him and sent him to his room. Later his mother came with some cream for his bruised hands, and as she put the cream on, she began to tell him and teach him about controlling feelings and having self control in a very loving way. He said, "Of all the peace treaties I have ever been in, non compare to that which my mother and I had when she loved me so much that day."
God commands us to be tenderhearted:
Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Moms, that's one of your greatest contributions. Don't lose your tenderness. If you buy into the feminist message of today, you'll become masculine and militant, rough, harsh, even a little mean. But Timothy found tenderness in his home, and that is the first thing Paul remembers about him. He was man enough to shed tears. Where do you think he learned that? Timothy's mother had most likely influenced him in this area.
The second contribution mothers make is:
2. Genuine Faith.
In v. 5 Paul says, "I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you." This genuine faith was passed down to Timothy from his mother, Eunice. The word "genuine" here is a word that literally means: "without hypocrisy." In essence, it's faith that has been applied realistically and consistently to the issues and situations of life. Mothers, if you do nothing more than pour the words and facts about faith and truth into your children's heads, you're doing nothing more than their schools are doing, their friends are doing, even TV is doing. You have the privilege of being able to show your children where faith hits reality.
Deuteronomy 6 gives a description of how we show our children how faith hits reality:
Deuteronomy 6:20-25 (NKJV) "When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God has commanded you?' 21 "then you shall say to your son: 'We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; 22 'and the LORD showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. 23 'Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. 24 'And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. 25 'Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.'
Talk about your faith. Not simplistically, as if your children will never be old enough to understand; not technically, as if they were in seminary. Talk about it realistically - like the people of Israel are commanded to do here in Deuteronomy 6. God has them tell their story; not someone else's - theirs. And they tell how its changed their lives. This kind of real-life faith is what you, mothers, should demonstrate to your children, through your actions as well as through your words.
Mothers, one of your major contributions is to be able to help your family make those connections. Let them know the "facts" of the truth - but, more importantly, let them know what the truth means, and how it "works" as well.
The family is God's basic school for instructing children how to live in the world.
Proverbs 1:8 (NKJV) My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother;
The father is an instructor, and the mother is a teacher. Therefore, the family is a school. The family is God's school for this huge undertaking - teaching the next generation how to live in this world.
A third contribution of mothers is given in v. 7. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power..."
The term for power is the Greek word dunamos - the word from which we get "dynamite." The word suggests: "inner might." Mothers, as you demonstrate this kind of inner strength, confidence that is ready to tackle life's needs, your child will begin to sense security and confidence and will begin to demonstrate the same kind of confidence himself or herself.
Harry and Ada Mae Day lived in a four-room adobe house with no running water and no electricity, hundreds of miles from the nearest city. There was no school within driving distance. It seemed that the future for their daughter, Sandra, was slim. But Ada Mae scrimped enough to subscribe to urban newspapers; she started an intense program of homeschooling; later, she saved enough to send Sandra to the best boarding schools available to them. Sandra went on to Stanford, then to law school, and eventually, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman Supreme Court justice in the United States. Intelligence and inner drive have much to do with that-but much of the credit must also go to the determined confidence of her mother; sitting in her adobe house at night, reading to her children hour after hour, not giving in to the "spirit of fear" that Paul describes here. Mothers, God's Holy Spirit can infuse your life with power, unimaginable to you otherwise. Allow the Spirit to build you into a model of Confidence in the face of life's obstacles.
Fourth, a mother contributes:
Paul says, in v. 7 also, that we have been given a spirit of "love." And this is not just any love, this is agape love, it's love that has to do with seeking the highest good of the other person. It's selfless. It's love that's done when it hurts; when you're tired; love when it means discipline; when it means staying at the task longer than you anticipated. Love when it means caring in ways you had not planned, at times you had not planned.
Is it not true that there are times when mothering wears thin? Think of the mothers with children you see in public, perhaps at church. Often they will look tired, perhaps hurried or worried. A testament to the fact that she has her hands full loving those young ones. But, Mothers, that love which you put forth for your children makes a difference.
In The Velveteen Rabbit, the Skin Horse doesn't have any hair because, he says, it had all been "loved off." But how valuable he was! Mothers, do you feel this way? Do you feel that your stuffing is coming out because of all the love you're dishing out to your children? That means you're making the contribution God desires for you to make! A godly mother is a model of sacrificial Love.
And fifth, a mother contributes:
As in v. 7, God has given us a spirit of a "sound mind." The words "sound mind" come from the Greek word sophronismos, which means: "discipline, or self-control."
Dr. Stanley Coopersmith, in a study of normal middle-class boys, found that, consistently, children have higher esteem and become more successful and independent when they have a home where consistent discipline is present. It's been said that children need two pats on the back: One high enough to encourage them when they do right, and one low enough to discourage them when they do wrong. Dorothy Nolte says, "If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice." The only way to be fair to our children is to praise where praise is appropriate, and to discipline where discipline is appropriate. Mothers, for the ways that you have done this, and continue to do it, know that you are making a difference.
Now, there's an objection that you might want to make as we look at these five contributions that you mothers can make. That is: "But I'm just one person. I can't do anything special." Understand this: Whenever you invest yourself in the life of another person, it's impossible to do it in a way that's not special. Who has been entrusted to your care today? A young child? An adult child? Will you commit today to make the contributions that God desires for you to make in that person's life?
Mother's, you can be a godly influence even in less than ideal circumstances.
King Lemuel wrote the famous Proverbs 31 portraying the beauty of a good woman. This chapter contains the teaching, which a mother had imparted to her son Lemuel. Many commentators believe that Lemuel was a name given to Solomon by his mother and father. Lemuel meant "belonging to God."
Do you remember how David acquired Bathsheba as his wife? Bathsheba was married to Uriah, the Hittite. One day as her husband was off to battle, King David saw Bathsheba taking a bath and decided he wanted her. He had her brought to the palace and slept with her. David sent her home, but she became pregnant with his child.
David sent Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, into battle to be killed in the line of duty. Then David married Bathsheba. The baby conceived prior to their marriage lived only a few days after its birth.
When God rebuked David for his sin, he confessed, and Bathsheba was disgraced in the eyes of the people. The amazing thing about Bathsheba was that she became a great mother. Bathsheba taught her son, Solomon, Proverbs 31.
Proverbs 31:1 (NKJV) The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:
In this chapter, the wisest man in the world, Solomon, reveals the things his mother, Bathsheba, taught him that a good wife and mother would be.
Charles Swindoll said this, "If you were blessed with a good mother, you will reap the benefits the rest of your days. If your mother neglected your needs and failed to support your dad, unfortunately, much of what you suffered cannot be erased. For good or ill, a mother's mark is permanent." ( Family Life, Multonomah Press, Portland Oregon, 1988, pg. 69.)
In our culture, motherhood is not held in the highest esteem, but it is held in very high esteem by God.
Moms, if you're tired of all those ignorant people who come up you and ask you if you have a full-time job or if you're "just a house-wife." Try this response. Tony Campolo, in his book, THE POWER DELUSION, tells about his wife, and how she is a stay at home mom. But sometimes she has to go to parties of some important people, and she said that inevitable some woman will come up to her, and this woman is obviously a lecturer, writer, sociologist all in one and will ask Tony's wife, "My dear, what do you do?"
She says, "I am socializing two homeosapeans in the dominant value of the Judiao Christian Tradition in order that they might be instruments in the transformation of the social order into the Teleologically prescribed utopia inherit in the echelon." Then she says, "And what do you do?"
We must never diminish the roles God has assigned each of us in life. Wives and mothers, you must understand that you are the most influential people in the entire world. That is the role God has assigned you in life. It was through the woman that God chose to shape us, give us form and substance and life!
Mothers, you are an influence in the lives of your children, that is without question. The question is, "Are you being a godly one?" If you are looking for meaning and purpose in your life, God's word says it is found in motherhood. Nobody influences society more than its mothers. Mom's, please take to heart the words of pastor Caldwell, spoken in his 1928 message to a mother's day audience, "No nation is ever greater than its mothers. For they are the makers of its men." Mothers, please understand this, please let this grasp your soul. Mothers, your influence is great!