A Mother’s Love
Today is both Graduation Sunday and Mother’s Day. I always wonder whether I should speak to the graduates or the mothers on this Sunday, and this year I drew straws and the mothers won. Actually some of you graduates have already heard a baccalaureate sermon and the rest of you will hear one later today, or you will soon, so I’ll spare you this morning.
Mother’s Day is the one day each year that we men put aside to honor our mothers and the mothers of our children. And usually they are one of the few people we will buy a gift for, and as always, we will anguish over what to buy. If you have not yet purchased a gift for your mother or your wife, let me give you a couple of quick hints on what not to buy.
Do not buy her anything that plugs in. If something needs to be plugged in, she will only see it as a tool. Also, do not get her exercise equipment. If you do, it will lead to six months of her asking you why you think she needs to exercise in the first place. And I guarantee you will never come up with a right answer.
My suggestion is to buy her something that is only for her, and that shows you are thinking about her happiness. If you follow that rule, then whatever you get her will be appreciated and loved.
Of course, becoming a mother changes things for you, doesn’t it ladies? And, becoming a mother more than once changes things again. When a woman becomes pregnant for the first time, she will start wearing maternity clothes the day the doctor says she is pregnant. On her second pregnancy, she will wear her normal clothes for as long as she can, and by her third or fourth pregnancy, she will wear anything because she doesn’t have the money to go out and buy anything new.
Someone wrote, “Mother’s Day is traditionally the day when children give something back to their mothers for all the spit they produce to wash dirty faces, all the old gum they held in their hands, all the noses they wiped, and all the bloody knees they made well with their kisses.
“This is the day mothers are rewarded for washing sheets in the middle of the night, driving kids to school when they missed the bus, and enduring all those ballgames in the rain. It’s a day of appreciation for making your children finish something they said they couldn’t do, not believing them when they said, ‘I hate you,’ and sharing their good times and their bad.”
Mothers are many things to their children, aren’t they? Mothers teach us most of what we know in our early years. We have all heard the expression that it takes a village to raise a child. Today, more than ever before, babysitters and nurseries are raising our children. The tragedy in that is more and more children are being taught outside the home, and what they are taught is most often worldly rather than Godly.
Here are some of the things our children are learning today.
They learn the world’s morality – “If it feels right, it is right.”
They learn humanism – “God doesn’t exist and we are fully capable of everything ourselves.”
They learn that people descended from apes – “my question is; if we descended from apes, why are there still apes?”
We live in the society Jeremiah spoke of – a society that “does not know how to blush.” So, with these things in mind, I think it is better for a mother to raise her kids than a village to raise them.
We need Godly mothers and fathers who will stand and say, “I will teach my children to walk in the way of the Lord.” We simply can’t let the most important thing in our children’s lives be left up to chance, or up to somebody else’s false teachings. We need to stand up and be accountable as parents for our children’s spiritual safety.
In Proverbs 22:6, we are given some clear advice. Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. We know that being a good mother is helpful to our children as far as their physical well-being goes, but many don’t seem to understand the importance of a child being brought up spiritually sound in Jesus Christ.
In 2 TIMOTHY 1:5, Paul reminds us of Timothy’s family influence. 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.
Timothy had sincere faith, and he had that faith because of his grandmother and mother. Surely a mother helps form our spirit, and if she is a Godly mother, she will be the first introduction we have to our Lord.
Mothers are also protectors of their children, no matter how old her children may get. One of the mothers in the Bible, Mrs. Zebedee, was the mother of James and John, and like any mother, she wanted only the very best for her sons.
Mrs. Zebedee was aware of the teachings of Jesus about his kingdom. She was also aware of the fact that her sons, James and John, were close to him. They made up two thirds of the inner circle of Peter, James, and John.
So she was certain that when the Lord established his kingdom they would have positions of responsibility and authority. But in the first part of this same chapter, Jesus tells a story that must have disturbed her.
It was a story about a landowner who went out to find laborers early in the morning. They agreed on a fair day’s wage and started working. Then at noon he went out and found some more, and they started working. Then towards evening he went out and found some more and they started working. Yet, when the Lord paid them off at the end of the day they all received the same wage.
It must have caused Mrs. Zebedee to wonder, “Will my sons really have positions of authority in the Lord’s new kingdom?” So when the opportunity presented itself she came to the Lord. The Bible says that she bowed before him and made this request, When you establish your kingdom, please let my sons sit in places of authority and honor on your right and left hand.
We might very well criticize Mrs. Zebedee for her presumptuousness. But since today is Mother’s Day, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and try to think of some positive things about her.
We need to recognize that when she came to Jesus, while Jesus did not grant her request, neither did he deny it. He simply reminded her of the cost of being seated on the right or left and told her that it is the Father who determines who will be seated there.
Now, what are some of the good things about Mrs. Zebedee? Well first, she came to the Lord, praying that her sons might be a part of his kingdom. I can think of no more important task of motherhood than that to seek to ensure that your children are a part of the Kingdom of God.
I know that many mothers pray. Sometimes they pray out of necessity. Sometimes they pray because motherhood is not easy, but extremely difficult. James Dobson tells about a time he came home when his son was a small baby. It had been a terrible day for his wife. The baby had been sick, and had cried all day. Once, as she was changing his diapers, the telephone rang and she reached over to answer it before fastening up his diaper. Just then he had another bout of diarrhea.
She cleaned up that mess and put him in clean, sweet-smelling clothes. Then she took him into the living room and fed him. As she was burping him he threw up all over himself, and her, and the couch, too. Dobson writes, “When I come home I could smell the aroma of motherhood everywhere.” His wife cried to him, “Was all of this in my contract?”
Sometimes mothers pray just out of the frustration of it all. And sometimes in the frustration of trying to teach our children we realize the difficulties of communication.
A guy told about when he gave his two year old son, Steve, his very first responsibility. He told Steve to watch Susan, his baby sister, while he stepped out of the room. He had only been gone a few moments when he heard a thump, and Susan started crying.
He rushed back in to find that Susan had fallen off the couch and was stretched out on the floor. Meanwhile, Steve sat there, looking so innocent. The dad said, “Steve, I told you to watch her.” Steve answered, “I did.” He had watched her fall and he watched her cry. He did exactly what he was told to do.
Being a parent isn’t easy. Sometimes you’re full of joy and sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes your children make you so proud you want to pop your buttons. At other times you can’t find enough tissues to dry your tears.
I can understand the feelings of the mother with three children who was asked, “If you had it all to do over again, would you still have children?” “Yes,” she replied, “but not the same ones.”
Being a parent isn’t easy. It’s hard. But Mrs. Zebedee gives us a valuable example when she prayed earnestly that her sons would be a part of Christ’s kingdom.
We need that same concern for our children. What good is it if our children are successful in making money, driving nice cars, and living in good neighborhoods if they don’t know God? What does it matter if they gain the whole world, but lose their souls?
I hope that in the heart of every mother and father here this morning there is a burden to go to the throne of God and pray that your children will be saved – saved from eternal damnation, and saved for eternal life. That is the place to begin.
Now, not only did Mrs. Zebedee pray that her children would be a part of Christ’s kingdom, but she prayed that they would be actively involved in the work of his kingdom. Did you ever think that maybe it isn’t enough to just be saved? Churches are full of people content to just fill a pew on Sunday mornings. There are plenty of people willing to sit back and receive the blessings, but many of them never get involved in doing any of the real work of the church.
Where do you think the spirit of service begins? It begins at home, with moms and dads setting the example and praying that their sons and daughters might be involved in the work of the kingdom as teachers and leaders, discipling others to go out and find the lost to see that the church continues on until Jesus comes again.
Also Mrs. Zebedee had big expectations. When you’re working in a kingdom, there are no higher positions than those on the right and left of the king himself, and that’s what she wanted for her sons. She didn’t just pray that her children would be doorkeepers. She wanted them on the right and left hand of Jesus.
We may consider Mrs. Zebedee a little brash and presumptuous. But I like her boldness. Far too often people settle for mediocrity. Far too many have been content with just barely making it through the door. Far too long they have been content to just sit back and let things happen. It’s time for some of us to take our positions right next to the king and become leaders molding and modeling the outreach of the church, making sure the message of Christ goes out into all the world.
It’s time to strive for excellence and reach for the very best there is. The Lord has called us all to be his disciples, working in his kingdom.
You know, a mother’s love may be about the closest example we have to God’s love. It is a love that goes through the valley of the shadow of death to bring life into being. It is a love that sacrifices itself over and over again. It is a love that would even dare to lay down its life for its offspring.
A true story from World War II and the holocaust is that of a Jewish man named Solomon Rosenberg and his family. Solomon Rosenberg, his wife and their two sons, and his mother and father were arrested and put in a Nazi concentration camp. It was a labor camp, and the rules were simple. “As long as you can do your work, you are permitted to live. When you become too weak to do your work, then you are exterminated.”
Rosenberg watched his mother and father marched off to their deaths, and he knew that his youngest son, David, who was a frail child, would be next. Every evening Rosenberg came back into the barracks after his hours of labor and searched for the faces of his family. When he found them they would huddle together, embrace one another, and thank God for another day of life.
One day Rosenberg came back and didn’t see those familiar faces. He finally found his oldest son, Joshua, in a corner, crying and praying. He said, “Josh, tell me it’s not true.” Joshua turned and said, “It is true, poppa. Today David was not strong enough to do his work, so they came for him.”
“But where is your mother?” asked Mr. Rosenberg. “Oh poppa,” he said, “When they came for David, he was afraid and he cried. Momma said, ‘There is nothing to be afraid of, David,’ and she took his hand and went with him.”
That is motherhood. Mothers, this is your day. May God bless you in it. And I pray that if there is someone here who has never experienced the love of God that is so close to the love of a mother, that this will be your time of decision. I pray that if you have felt you have had to walk through that valley all alone so many times, that you will recognize there is a hand reaching out to you, saying, “There is nothing to be afraid of. I’ll go with you.” And I pray that you will recognize that there is one who has already gone through the valley of the shadow for you, and made it possible for you to live forever. He extends his loving invitation in much the same way that a mother opens the doors of home and calls her children in for supper. I pray that you will come as we stand and sing together.