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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8am & 1045am svc, 2012-05-13

Text: 2 Timothy 1:3-5; 3:14,15

As today is Mothers Day, it would be most appropriate for us to consider 'A Mother's Love.' A mother's love for her child is one of the strongest kinds of love that the world has ever known. Some mothers have gone to very great lengths for the sake of their little ones.

In the 1860s a young mother was making her way across the hills of South Wales, carrying a tiny baby in her arms. During her journey however, she was caught in a big snow storm and she never reached her destination. When the storm had died down, rescuers found her body deep beneath the snow, but they also found that before she died, she had taken off her outer clothing and wrapped it around her baby. When they unwrapped the bundle, they were greatly surprised to find the little baby alive and well! The young mother had endured the terrible cold to the point of even giving up her own life for the sake of her child. And years later that child became one of England's greatest prime ministers - David Lloyd George (1916-1922) who guided the British Empire to victory during the First World War.

In the Bible we see similar manifestations of a mother's love. One example is Jochebed the mother of Moses. According to Exodus 2:2-9 she loved her baby so much that she defied the Egyptian king's order and kept Moses alive for 3 months. When she could no longer hide him at home, she made a special waterproof basket and put Moses in it. Then she placed it in the river Nile and instructed her daughter to watch what happened to it, trusting that God would somehow preserve the life of her son. Her faith was rewarded, for Moses was found by the Egyptian princess and raised up to become the deliverer and lawgiver of Israel.

Another biblical example of a mother's love is seen in Hannah, the mother of Samuel. According to the account given in 1 Samuel chapter 1, Hannah asked God to give her a son and promised to give him to God for His service. Her prayers were answered. Samuel was born, and when he was old enough to eat solids she brought him to the Tabernacle to serve the Lord there. Samuel grew up to become one of the greatest prophets in Israel's history. But what showed how much his mother loved him is a little remark in 1 Samuel 2:19: 'Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.'

A mother's love is truly great. And it is manifested in many different ways: Protecting her child from danger, nursing him when he is sick, and providing for his welfare, comfort and development. Listen to what Charles Spurgeon wrote about a mother's comfort 'Ah, this is tenderness itself. How she enters into her child's grief! How she presses him to her bosom and tries to take all his sorrow into her own heart! He can tell her all, and she will sympathize as nobody else can. Of all comforters the child loves best his mother, and even full-grown men have found it so.' I am sure that all of us will agree fully with Spurgeon.

I still remember how my own mother loved me when I was a child. She seemed to have a remedy for every ailment in life. When I had a cold, she would rub Vicks ointment on my chest. When I had a sore throat, she would brew cooling drinks like barley water or chrysanthemum tea. And when I was preparing for an important exam, she would spend hours to double-boil chicken essence or to steam a pig's liver.

But more than the physical care that I received from her, I cherish the spiritual care and nurture she gave to me. My mother came to know the Lord Jesus as her personal Saviour when I was four years old. She became a Sunday School teacher and brought many of her friends to church. And all the way until her promotion to glory 13 years ago, she faithfully attended worship services in church. As a Christian mother, she had done more for her children than most mothers would do for their children. I really been blessed to have such a mother!

So let me say this to you who are Christian mothers: You play an extremely important role in your child's life. Theodore Roosevelt, one of America's greatest Presidents, said, 'it is the mother, and the mother only, who is a better citizen than the soldier who fights for his country. The successful mother, the mother who does her part in rearing and training aright the boys and girls who are to be the men and women of the next generation, is of greater use to the community, and occupies, if she would only realize it, a more honorable as well as a more important position than any man in it. The mother is the one supreme asset of the national life. She is more important, by far, than the successful statesman, or businessman, or artist, or scientist.'

What President Roosevelt said here is true of all mothers. But you who are Christian mothers have an added responsibility that makes your role even more important than this. Your role is not only to care for the physical, intellectual and emotional well-being of your child. 

You are also to give top priority to the spiritual well-being of your child. And this morning we are going to consider three ways in which a Christian mother should love her children. The first way is:

I. By Setting a Christian Example for Them

A famous preacher named Campbell Morgan had four sons. They all became good preachers. At a family reunion, a friend asked one of the sons, 'Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?' While the son looked at the father, he replied, 'Mother!' What he meant was not that his mother actually preached sermons from a pulpit, but that she preached to them through the fine example she had set for them at home. And through that, she made the greatest impact on their lives. Christian mothers have the important role of setting a good example for their children to follow.

Mothers, when your children look at you, what do they see? What do they think about your character? Whatever qualities or characteristics you want you see in your child's life, be sure first of all that you show it in your own life. If you want your child to grow up to be honest and responsible, then you must be honest and responsible. If you want your child to grow to be faithful and obedient to God, then you must be faithful and obedient to God. The example of your life is the most important tool you have for shaping and moulding the character of your child. Doing this takes much time and patience.

Doing this is admittedly more difficult today, because mothers are unable to spend much time with their children. The careers of many working mothers keep them so occupied that they hardly have any time left for their children. Actress Joanne Woodward said, 'My career has suffered because of the children, and my children have suffered because of my career. I've been torn and haven't been able to function fully in either arena. I don't know one person who does both successfully, and I know a lot of working mothers.' We may become so successful in the corporate world, working over 50 hours a week and traveling overseas for business trips frequently that our children hardly get to see us, let alone benefit from our example.

Let me say however, that the Scriptures do not speak against mothers going to work. In fact Proverbs 31:16-18 praises the virtuous mother who buys a field, plants a vineyard, and works hard to sell her wares to merchants. But she knows her limits and never allows her work outside the home to make her neglect her responsibilities at home. As verse 27 says, 'She looketh well to the ways of her household.' And because of this her children rise up and call her blessed (v.28).

So if you are a working mother, please examine your motives for working outside your home when your children are at home. If economic survival is the reason why you are doing this, then your choice is right. But if economic survival is not an issue at all, and you are working merely to prove your worth or to escape the drudgery of dishes and diapers, then your choice to be a working mother may not be right. Please do not think that gaining success in the working world is the only way to prove your worth. Being a good homemaker, wife and mother is really the highest calling a woman can have! 

I thank God for one family in our church who asked me to pray last month that the husband would have a breakthrough in his job so that his income would be sufficient for the family to live on. The wife can then stop working and stay home to provide full supervision to their two young children. They are convinced that this is God's plan for their family. My prayer is not only for them to be able to do this, but also for all families in our church in similar circumstances to be able to do this, as it would enable mothers to spend more quality time with their growing children and set a good Christian example for them to follow. 

Staying at home instead of working will also enable mothers to do more than set an example for their children. They will be able to teach their children why they are living the way they are living. This brings us to the second way in which a Christian mother should love her children:

II. By Giving them a Christian Education

Christian mothers usually make the best spiritual guides and instructors for their children. They can effectively communicate the Scriptural principles, values and attitudes that their children need. The Bible provides a good example of this in the mother and grandmother of Timothy. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, their names were Eunice and Lois respectively. They were converted to Christianity when Paul came to their hometown and preached the Gospel there.

But even before their conversion they were already God-fearing Jews who loved His Word. And they taught Timothy the Scriptures very well. The Jews were well known for their high regard for the Scriptures and they really took the religious training of their children very seriously. Even while still in swaddling clothes, children were already taught to recognise God as Father and as the Maker of the world. 

Let us look at 2 Timothy 3:15 'And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.' Here Timothy was reminded how he had already known the Holy Scriptures from an early age. This means that his Jewish mother and grandmother must have taught him. I would like you to notice the word child in this verse. It refers specifically to infants, and not just children of any age. At the age of 3, Jewish infants could recite portions of Scripture. And at the age of 5, they began to read the Hebrew Bible. At 6 their formal religious education began.

In Proverbs 31 we have another example of a mother's spiritual instruction to her child. Let me read the first four verses: 'The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink.' Here King Lemuel tells us of the wise instruction he had received from his mother. She was apparently a godly woman who gave great priority to teaching her son God's Word. And Lemuel cherished it in his heart and mind even when he was old. The latter part of the chapter from vv.10 to 31 is the passage on the virtuous woman. Some believe this passage to be Lemuel's description of his own mother who not only taught him the Word of God, but also exemplified it in the way she lived!

From all this we learn that a Christian mother needs to spend much time to teach her children the basic lessons about God, heaven and hell, sin and salvation. If her spouse is also a Christian, she should support his initiatives to do his part in teaching their children. Since the father is the spiritual head of the family, his role involves leading the family in Bible reading time together or having regular family devotions. 

But if her spouse is not a Christian, then she would need to take the lead in having devotions with her children. She should encourage them to ask questions about the Word of God, and she can help them understand it. She can also reward them for memorising verses of Scripture and applying God's Word in the daily life. A Christian mother who loves and honours the Word of God, would surely want her children to share her desire to love and honour God's Word as well.

Perhaps some of you may think there is no need for you to do this because your child is already learning these things in Sunday School. And perhaps you have even placed your child in a good Christian kindergarten or Christian school so that he would also receive God's Word during chapel time. And so you think that your child's Christian education is taken care of by these things.

Well, it is true that God's Word is powerful and effective regardless of who teaches it. But a significant difference can be made in a child's life by whom the child learns the Scripture from. A child is more likely to remember and cherish biblical principles and values which are taught by his own mother or father than what is taught by a Sunday School teacher. To hear the same truths from the lips of one's father or one's mother adds assurance, confidence and familiarity to the child in what he learns. And so, if you have young children, please remember this. No matter how busy you are, please make sure that you spend time to teach them God's Word. You will not regret doing this, because they will grow up to testify how much they cherish all the biblical truths you have imparted to them out of your love for them.

Thus far we have seen two ways in which a Christian mother ought to love her children: Firstly by setting a good Christian example for them to follow, and secondly by giving them a good Christian education. Unfortunately, some mothers will find that despite doing these two things well, their children still do not turn out as expected. I have heard Christian parents telling me sorrowfully that they have done everything that they could possibly do for their child, but he still became self-willed, disobedient, rebellious and wayward. And so they ask, 'Where did we fail?'

Actually they may not have failed at all. The truth of the matter is that even when we have done everything we can do for our children, there still isn't full 100 percent certainty that all of them without exception will turn out well. We know that Proverbs 22:6 says, 'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' But this proverb is not a promise, but a general observation. Generally speaking, it is true that a child's early training will determine the direction that his life will take. But there are always exceptions. There are some who will depart from the way they should go no matter how well they have been trained in early childhood. This is because every child has his own unique personality; every child has his own heart, mind and will, that is sometimes beyond our ability to change, shape or influence. 

Is there any hope for a mother to reclaim a child who has turned out to be wayward? Yes, there is. That hope is found in One person who has the ability to change your child's heart, mind and will - and that person is God. Mothers, if you really love your child, ask God to work in his heart and his life. This brings us to the third and perhaps the most important way in which a Christian mother should love her children, and that is by:

III. Praying for Them Earnestly

Some children have been gloriously saved from sin and eternal death because of their mother's prayers. One of them was Augustine, a 4th century theologian. Augustine was 17 years old when his father died, and he was a terrible son who brought a lot of heartache to his widowed mother, Monica. He indulged in wine, women and song and he went astray, getting involved in a Persian cult for 9 years. But Monica never gave up praying for her son. She would fast, cry and beg God for her son's salvation. Her prayers were answered one day when Augustine was not only saved, but also consecrated to the Lord's service.

The power of a mother's prayer can be seen in Matthew 15:21-28. A Canaanite mother had a daughter who was constantly possessed by an evil spirit. How grieved she must have been to see her beloved child in such an awful condition that no teaching could correct, and no medication could heal. But when she heard that Jesus had come to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon where she lived, she immediately sought His help by crying to Him, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.' But Jesus just seemed to ignore her. However, out of the deep love she had for her daughter the Canaanite woman kept following Jesus and crying to Him 'Lord help me,' believing that He would eventually help her. Even the disciples of Christ asked Him to grant her the help she needed, because she refused to give up. Finally when her reasoning and answer revealed her great faith, Jesus said to her, 'O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.' And at that very moment her daughter was completely healed. 

J.C. Ryle made an interesting comment about this passage: 'Through the prayer of the mother, the daughter is healed. On her own behalf that daughter did not speak a word; but her mother spoke for her to the Lord, and did not speak in vain. Hopeless and desperate as her case appeared, she had a praying mother, and where there is a praying mother there is always hope.'

Mothers, do you know that the greatest impact you can ever have on the life of your child is through your prayers for him? And so if you really love your child, pray for him. Pray for him earnestly and regularly. Pray that God will work in his heart and cause him to realize his need for Christ to be his Saviour and Lord early in his life. Pray that God will guide him, protect him, prosper him, and make him a useful citizen of God's kingdom. Ask God for wisdom to raise him up to become a god-fearing person who will love the Lord and do His will.

However, some mothers neglect to pray for their child because they are too busy with many other things to spend any time in prayer. Please listen to this: In 18th century England there was a mother named Susanna Wesley who had 17 children. Although she was also a pastor's wife and was extremely busy, she made it a point to spend one hour each day shut up alone with God in her room, praying for them. Later on, two of her sons, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, gave their lives to the Lord as preachers and brought revival to England, and they became the founders of the Methodist church.

On this Mother's Day we have seen three ways in which a Christian mother ought to love her children: Set a Christian Example for them to follow, Give them a Christian education, and Pray for them earnestly. Let us be faithful to do our part then, while we trust in the Lord to do His part in the lives of our children.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25