May 9, 2021
Mother’s Day is celebrated in cultures around the world – but where did our Mother’s Day come from? Some of you may be familiar with the history. In 1905, Anna Jarvis, who never married or had children, started a campaign to recognize mothers, specifically hers. Her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died that year and Anna wanted to honor her. You see, Ann Reeves Jarvis was known for caring for wounded soldiers on both sides during the Civil War. After the War, she founded what was called Mother’s Friendship Day, to bring Confederate and Union soldiers together, with their mothers, to foster reconciliation and peace. Who’s going to fight when mom’s around?
So, Anna Jarvis, wanting to honor her mother’s legacy, started a Mother’s Day campaign to honor mothers. The first big celebration came in 1908 in her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia. Slowly but surely, the annual celebration spread to more states. Finally, on May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation making the second Sunday of May, Mother’s Day.
By the way, Mother’s Day is intentionally Mother’s Day – apostrophe s, a singular possessive – one mother, not all mothers, but each family honoring their own mother for the sacrifices she makes. Anna Jarvis actually made a deal with florists to provide a single white or red carnation to be worn by mothers on Mother’s Day. A red carnation meant your mother was still living, a white carnation meant she was not. You may also know, Anna Jarvis later became quite discouraged/disgusted with the way Mother’s Day became so commercialized – with candy, flowers, jewelry, and cards – she actually tried unsuccessfully to have it removed from the calendar. Well, I for one think it’s a great day, even if it has become somewhat of a Hallmark Holiday. Here are some fun facts about Mother’s Day:
- There are about 50 million moms in the U.S. today, which account for:
- More phone calls made on Mother’s Day than any other day – over 120 million calls will be made today. You should call mom today.
- Mother’s Day is the second highest holiday for selling flowers and plants – behind, Christmas and Hannukah. Almost a third of all flowers sold this year will be sold for Mother’s Day. Valentine’s Day? Only a quarter.
- Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants – 90 million adults will eat out today, which means, we are in no hurry to get done today.
- It is estimated over $24 billion will be spent this year on Mother’s Day.
- The most popular gift on Mother’s Day is simply the greeting card – over 150 million will be sent.
- And finally, the first sound a child can make in most languages is ma, which accounts for the name, Mom. In fact, the word for mom in most languages begins with m. Dads, you don’t stand a chance.
Well, it is appropriate, given the place mothers play in most of our lives, that we honor mothers –I want to do so today. Specifically in three ways. First, by talking about what you can do as moms and dads to be godly parents. Not to worry – it is not my intention on this day of all days to beat up on moms. Rather, I simply want to encourage you with the massive responsibility you have to rear your children – to remind you of some encouraging ways to do that.
Second, I want to address children – young and old – to honor your mothers, and to suggest ways we can do that. And third is to address the painful reality that not all mothers are good mothers, and not all children are good children.
So, let’s turn to II Timothy. When Paul was in prison, facing certain execution, he wrote his final letter, the last one we have, to Timothy – whom he called his son in the faith. (II Timothy 4:9 – the Mother’s Day verse – Make every effort to come to me soon.) In this letter, I believe we can pick out several principles that transcend time and culture to help us – not just moms, but moms and dads, to be godly parents.
- The first principle is found in 1:3, and it is this – Express a Heart of Thanksgiving for your Children. Look at 1:1-3.
You must remember where Paul is at this time – in prison facing certain death. And in the midst of those less-than-favorable circumstances, he writes and says to Timothy, “I thank God,…as I constantly remember you in my prayers.” Sometimes, being a parent, a mom, may feel like prison. Timothy, I thank God for you. Our children need to know we are thankful them – that we thank God for them. And he says further: that he, and we, pray for them. Words are very powerful – use them to encourage your children – I thank God for you, and I pray for you. How many times have we heard stories of mothers or grandmothers on their knees, praying aloud for their children by name – and the impact that had.
- The second principle is found all over the book and I call it, Cultivate a Habit of Encouragement to your children. Be the kind of mom or dad that encourages your children to greater heights. Let me read some of those encouragements:
1:6 – I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God
1:8 – do not be ashamed to testify about the Lord
1:13 – What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching.
1:14 – Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.
2:1 – You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2:3 – Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2:8 – Remember Jesus Christ
2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
3:14 – But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of….
This is graduation weekend. What if we said to them as they cross the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas, Remember Jesus Christ; as you finally go get a job, do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who correctly handles the word of truth; continue in what you have learned – that’s word of truth, by the way. What a way to encourage our kids.
Well, the list goes on and on. The point is, Paul encouraged his son to move forward, and I would even say, he had an expectation that Timothy advance – notice, in his faith. Encourage them to mature in their faith – and give them the confidence they can.
Don’t miss, Paul’s words of encouragement involved his faith. He encouraged him to move forward in his faith, to advance in the cause of Christ. You say, “Well, of course Scott, it’s the Bible.” But what about us – what do we value most? We are quick to praise our children for their other accomplishments, and well we should. “That was a great hit, son.” “I’m proud of you sweetheart – three A’s on your report card – that’s great.”
But, do we demonstrate a value structure with our words of praise. Here’s what I mean: when was the last time you said, “I saw you listening in church today – great job.” “I heard you stayed and cleaned up after a youth event, keep up the good work.” “That’s fantastic that you invited your friend to church – I’m proud of you.” Or how about this, “I appreciate how much time you’re spending on the field, how about spending that much time in the Word of God?” or “Son, I want to encourage you to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” If they heard those words, would they fall off the piano stool or trip over the soccer ball? What are we ultimately encouraging our kids to be? Can I encourage us to regularly pull our kids aside and say, “More than anything else, I want to encourage you to follow Jesus.
If it sounds like I’ve got something against Little League or piano lessons, I don’t. I just agree with the Apostle Paul when he wrote these words in his first letter to Timothy, “For physical exercise is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Don’t miss that – this life, and the life to come. Do we encourage our children to godliness as much as to make it to first base?
- Third, Be a Herald of Warning to your children. In the book of II Timothy, we read words like:
- Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
- Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.
- Flee the evil desires of youth.
- Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
Loving parents who are concerned about their children will be heralds of warning. They will be vitally involved in their children’s lives, pointing out potential pitfalls. Don’t be seduced by the culture of today that tells you your children deserve their independence. They’ll get it – as soon as you die. And kids, you need to understand that your parents speak, not to meddle, but because through years of experience, they are wiser than you, and they love you.
Now, if we are going to be heralds of warning, then it requires, as parents, we walk the talk – we Set an Example of Faith. That’s our fourth parenting principle – set an example of faith.
Paul understood this truth. After he told Timothy to have nothing to do with ungodly people, he says, “You, however, know all about me, Timothy.” And he’ll also say, “And you know those from who you learned the Scriptures, namely your mother and grandmother.” What he’s saying to Timothy is this – you know your parents – they’ve set an example of faith for you. And to us, he’s saying, set an example of faith. If your children were like you in faith, would that be good?
You see, all parents are teachers – you teach your children. The question is not whether you are a teacher, but what is it you are teaching with your life? The saying is true, more is caught than taught.
- So, we are to Express a Heart of Thanksgiving, Cultivate a Habit of Encouragement, Be a Herald of Warning, Set an Example of Faith, and lastly, we must Build on the Foundation of Scripture. We see that in 3:14-17.
We see Timothy’s parents, his mother and grandmother, taught him the truths of Scripture from infancy – literally, from birth – when he was still a baby in the crib. And why do we build on the foundation of Scripture? Two reasons:
First, the Scripture produces life. Notice Paul said the Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Peter said it this way in I Peter 1:23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” The Scripture is the means by which God causes people to be born again. And the second reason we use Scripture is that it transforms life. They are useful, profitable for:
- Teaching – which speaks of the doctrines and principles of Scripture.
- For rebuking – which speaks of conviction of sin.
- For correcting – which carries with it the idea of restoring to a right state.
- And for training in righteousness – the word training speaks of discipline. The idea is that the person is taught how to apply the principles of Scripture so he may lead a holy life.
I know these are pretty basic thoughts today. I don’t know about you, but I need to hear them often to remember what’s important. In this world where success is measured in quantity, where it is often seen as more, the more the better, let’s pursue quality. You see, if we’re not careful, quantity can infiltrate our ideas of success. The more activities I can be involved in, the better. And before you know it, our children our gone. Just make sure when they leave, in addition to being able to hit a triple, in addition to being able to score a goal, in addition to being able to play Mozart, in addition to being able to swim the breaststroke, that they also know that you thank God for them, that their spiritual growth is most important to you, that you’re concerned about their walk in this world, and that they know the Scriptures. It is their playbook for life.
Let me take the next few minutes to talk to the kids this morning – both young and old. Now I know what you’re thinking. I could go to any of the following passages which speak of the responsibilities of children to parents:
In the Ten Commandments: “Honor your father and mother.” In a forward to a book titled, 5 Things to Pray for Your Parents, Tim Challies writes:
“A few years ago, I wrote a series of blogs called ‘The Commandment We Forgot.’ The commandment in question was one pertaining to the whole life of every human being. It was a commandment with application to the home, church, and workplace; a commandment that provides a stable foundation to all of society. Yet it was, and is, a commandment that is sorely neglected today. It is the fifth of God’s ten commandments to humanity: ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”
He goes on to write:
“But what is it to honor? Biblically, the word honor refers to weight or significance. To honor our parents we are to attach great wroth to them and great value to our relationship with them. It is to respect and revere them, to speak well of them, and to treat them with kindness, gentleness, dignity, and esteem…. Such honor can be expressed in a number of ways: forgiving our parents, esteeming them publicly and privately, seeking their wisdom, supporting them, and providing for them.”
Those are very good words. I know in this room, we may not know every parent. Not every parent may be respectable. But seek to honor them how you can. At the very least, you can pray for them.
I could also go to Paul’s letters, Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Or to Colossians 3:20, “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”
Or I could go to a number of proverbs, like Proverbs 6:20, “My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother.”
So yes, honor and obey your parents. But I’d like to go in a different direction. We are studying the epistles of John, and we will get to III John eventually. One of my favorite passages is in III John – verses 2-4. Now, John is talking about believers, those he considers his children because he’s old now. Perhaps he’s led them to faith in Christ, or discipled them, pastored them, taught them. We’ll talk about that in its context, but he uses a metaphor of father to children, parent to child, that I believe is appropriate for believing biological parents and children. Read it with me:
2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
3 For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.
4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
Again, this is John speaking of younger believers following the truth of Christ. But he uses the metaphor of children. Can we not apply the metaphor to us as parents, to our children? Children, listen – your believing parents have no greater joy than to know you are walking in the truth of the gospel. That you are following Christ. Nothing is more important than to know you are following the truth of the Christian faith – Christ and His gospel.
But even as I say that, pleasing your parents – your Mom on this Mother’s Day – cannot ultimately be the motivation for following Christ. That will never last. You must know and believe that Jesus is worth it. That knowing Him, following Him, trusting Him – believing the truth of the gospel is your greatest treasure. No amount of outside coercion, or even desire to please Mom is enough. You must understand and commit to the gospel for yourself. Having been born physically the first time, you must be born spiritually the second time – you must be born again.
And for a believing mom or dad – nothing is more important than that. Oh, we may not always communicate that. It may seem at times that graduation from High School, or college, seems like the most important thing to us. Getting a great job, making a good living, finding a good spouse, bringing us grandchildren. Great stuff – but the most important thing – the thing that will bring parents greatest joy is to know that our children are walking in the truth.
Conversely, if knowing our children walk in the truth brings greatest joy, then knowing our children walk away from the truth is our great sorrow – our greatest pain. Which bring me to the last thing I want to say on the Mother’s Day. I understand that many of you had great moms, and some of you did not – which makes Mother’s Day particularly difficult for you. Can I encourage you to look to your heavenly Father – and know that He is always good, and always has your best – in mind. When we can’t look to a flailing, failing parent, we can always look to Him.
I also know that some of you have wanted children, but by infertility or miscarriage, you’ve never known the joys of childbearing and rearing. Making Mother’s Day difficult. I don’t want to minimize your pain or sorrow. I simply want to grieve with you, pray for you, and trust Christ with you. God knows all things, and knows what is good and best – to that we must cling.
Finally, for those of you who have had children walk away, the pain is immeasurable. Again, if the greatest joy is to know our children walk in the truth, the greatest sorrow is to know they do not. They’ve walked away. In our study of I John, we got to 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” Maybe when I preached that, you thought of a child. Maybe when we talked about the three tests – the theological, the moral, the relational test, and you thought of your own son or daughter. They deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; they are living immoral lifestyles with no desire to repent; they have walked away from the church of Jesus Christ. And it causes you great pain and sorrow. I want you to know, I understand – not just with sympathy, but empathy.
So what do we do? The same thing we’ve always done – we do what Paul did, we pray. We pray that God by His Spirit would cause our lost son or our lost daughter to be born again. Or perhaps they are professing believers, but not acting like it. Again, we pray – that God by His Spirit would bring conviction, repentance, and return.
I want us to end our service today by praying for our wayward, lost children, or lost and wayward parents. Those who are walking well, bringing us joy – that they would continue to do so. That those who are not – either not living faithfully, or having walked away. I want to pray for them. I’m going to ask our elders and their wives to join me here at the front…