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What Makes Mothers Great

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Mother’s Day 2004                                       

** Eight-year-old Mary wrote her mother a note for Mother’s Day. "Dear Mother, here is the box of candy I bought you for Mother’s Day. IT IS VERY GOOD CANDY. I KNOW, BECAUSE I ALREADY AT 3 PIECES."

**Eight-year-old Carol also wrote her mother said, "DEAR MOTHER, HERE ARE 2 ASPIRINS. HAVE A HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY."

Six-year-old Johnny and his four-year-old sister Suzy presented their mom with a Mother’s Day present; a small, spindly house plant. While it wasn’t the finest looking specimen, they had bought it with their own money and Mom was thrilled. She hugged and kissed her children and told them she loved them for thinking of her.

Johnny said, "There was some other flowers we wanted to buy for you, Mom, but we didn’t have enough money." "Yeah," said sister Suzy, "they had a real nice bunch of flowers at the shop that we were going to buy."

"But I love this plant," said the happy mother. "I know, Mom," said Johnny, "but these flowers would have been perfect for you. They were in a wreath and they had a ribbon that said ’REST IN PEACE’ on it AND YOU’RE ALWAYS ASKING FOR A LITTLE PEACE SO YOU CAN REST."


2 Timothy 1:5-7

How do we measure greatness? Greatness is usually measured in terms of the end result. For example, a movie is considered a “blockbuster” by the amount of ticket sales it generates; the end result. An historical figure is considered great often by the sheer amount of information written about that individual.

We humans, all too often, fall into the trap of measuring greatness by what comes out. Today, our Lord tells us that he measures greatness not necessarily by the end result, but by all that goes in to making that blessed outcome possible. We will apply those truths this morning, as I ask this question: WHAT MAKES MOTHERHOOD GREAT?

God tells us it’s not just about what we see. Motherhood is: 1) more than the struggles of maternity. Rather, it’s all about the time and energy our Lord has placed into this earth-bound existence – motherhood included -- in order to make the end result so great. Motherhood is great because of: 2) the joys of eternity.

1)    Not the Struggles of Maternity

To be fair, the apostle Paul was impressed with the results in Timothy’s life. He thought highly of his young co-worker Timothy. The end result was that Timothy was a man of faith as well as a pastor sharing in the gospel ministry. Yet, Paul did not forget all that went into making Timothy the young man of faith that he was. He says, “ 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.” What went into Timothy was directly responsible for the end result. His mother and grandmother raised him. And they raised him well. And just like any mother-child relationship this one had its struggles and challenges. I’m sure there were the diaper changes, the midnight feedings, as well as the instruction and discipline, “No! No! Timmy! Don’t touch!”

Is that what made Timothy into the young man for which Paul was led to praise God? No. You see, being maternal doesn’t make someone a mom in God’s eyes. I’m reminded of an article I recently read in a recent publication. A high school student wrote it. He was on his way to a basketball camp. His mother was driving and he noticed that she slowed down and came to a complete stop. It was then he realized why; she stopped for a family of ducks that was crossing the road.

The mother duck patiently led her little one across the road. Other cars soon approached the scene. Suddenly, the mother duck stopped in the middle of the street, as if in shock. The son and mother were soon caught up in the drama. Would they make it across? How long would she sit there? They found themselves cheering the mother duck on, “C’mon. Keep going!” The mother duck finally regained her composure and guided here little ones safely to the other side of the street. Everyone in the car breathed a collective sigh of relief. The mother duck did it! She led her babies to safety.

That’s not the end of the story, though. As the mother duck confidently continued up the street, she approached a gutter that led down to a sewer. The mother, seeing no problem with the gutter, walked right over its grated cover with her large, webbed feet. She failed to realize her little ones were much smaller. Yet, the babies faithfully followed their mother, and one-by-one they fell in-between the cracks of the sewer grate. Plop … plop … plop. Everyone’s heart sank as they watched the mother duck boldly lead on thinking her babies were safely following in stride.

What can we learn from such a story? This Mother’s Day we learn one important thing from that mother duck: simply being motherly doesn’t always make someone a mom. As parents, we get caught up in our children’s life and the outcome of their lives. We want the best for them; the best doctors, the best schools, the best coaches, the best clothes, the best homes, the best toys. Just like that mother duck we worry about the seemingly “big” things in this life that we forget about the much more dangerous, and much more subtle dangers – the dangers to the soul.

A mom of greatness is more than motherly; she’s godly. A mom of greatness is not just concerned with the end result – making it across the “street”. She’s concerned about how to get there. A godly mom hopes for the joys of eternity made certain in Christ Jesus and shares it. Lois and Eunice were determined to share such a certainty with Timothy. This wasn’t easy. We learn from Scripture that Timothy’s father was not a believer. What a struggle those two women faced! Eunice’s husband probably didn’t offer any help in Timothy’s spiritual education. Certainly there were heated discussions, even arguments, over the topic of religion: “You have your religion, I have mine. Don’t force it on our son, let him decide for himself.” Such arguments echo throughout kitchens and living rooms today. Not every parent, not every mother, is concerned with spiritual growth. Too many parents just focus on the outcome. They want their children to grow up to be honorable children of the world; someone who is successful, popular, and even famous.

True greatness is not found in being a child of this world. True greatness is equated with being a child of God. True greatness is measured and exacted in the amount of energy and determination poured into such truth. In spite of it all, Lois and Eunice were determined. In spite the failures and setbacks godly determination inspired them. The forgiveness of sins and the hope of heaven, which the Holy Spirit placed in their hearts, made them determined. Their determination was simply a reflection of God’s faithfulness and determination. The Lord knows that we are naturally inclined to achieve the end results on our own. The Lord knows that we cannot seek him out on our own. We are inclined to seek the glory, the satisfaction, and the end results of this life alone. The reality is we find ourselves in the sewer spiritually.

When it comes to our salvation, it’s all about what God put into it. Our salvation – the end result – is all about his devotion. The Lord completely devoted himself to us. He devoted his own beloved Son to suffer, die, and rise again. His devotion is what makes the end result – eternal life – possible.

2)    But The Joys of Eternity

Such God-given determination, such faith, makes all the difference in this life. God’s faithfulness and loving kindness shown in Christ Jesus caused Lois and Eunice to be bold in the face of indifference and worldly distraction. Such faith in the Savior has enabled many mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and daughters to step forward in boldness and determination, and to share their faith in their Savior.

Timothy’s mother and grandmother responded to God’s faithful love and laid a good foundation for him. Paul knew first-hand the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. Paul was their pastor in Lystra, and he was led to rejoice in the faith that the Holy Spirit had granted those two ladies. It was a “sincere faith”, one that showed itself in the way Timothy was instructed to believe that all the Old Testament Scriptures were fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

Later Paul would encourage Timothy to that end: “But you continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it and how from infancy you have know the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

The apostle Paul knew he was building on a good foundation when he ordained Timothy as a pastor, laying his hands on him. And Timothy benefited. Paul encourages him, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” That’s the foundation he was given. Timothy heard about the power of God. The Old Testament evidences the LORD’s might and power. The signs and wonders proclaim his divine strength. The miracles of Christ also demonstrate God’s power and reveal Jesus as the Son of God.

Timothy learned these things Yet, Paul is really thinking about God’s power revealed in the gospel message of salvation. These are reminiscent to Paul’s words to the Romans: I am not a shamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for everyone who believes.” The word “power” is the root for the English word dynamite. The gospel – the good news of Christ – has the explosive power to change and transform sinful hearts and minds. Imagine giving your child explosives!

Yet, that’s what mothers do every time they remind their children of Jesus’ redemptive work! The gospel is so powerful because it reveals God’s love to us; the faithful, determined love which caused Jesus to save us. The power of God’s love is what molds and shapes a person to live a disciplined, thankful life to God.

A child who is confident of his Savior’s life and death – his determined love – that child will be apt to live for his Savior. Again, it’s gospel of Christ, which accomplishes these things. That means the gospel is to be applied to a child’s life in abundant measure. A determined amount of worship, Sunday school attendance as well as family Bible study is needed. The result will be boldness and confidence in God’s promises, not timidity.

Two mothers helped to make Timothy what he was; a young faithful pastor. The end result was based on Christ’s determination as Savior and on the willingness of those two ladies to share their Savior. Yet, it’s a matter of God’s grace throughout. For salvation was the end result.

The legacy of a godly mother is not found in the mountains of dirty diapers, the convoys to the kitchen for midnight feedings, or the myriad of messes picked up. And the child who becomes CEO of a successful business or a famous artist does not measure a mother’s greatness. Those are things the world would claim to be great and worthy to be printed on Hallmark stationary.

The true greatness of motherhood is measured by the hours one mom spends at the foot of her Savior’s cross, the patient discipline she administers in his Name, the fervent prayers she offers in faith, the devotion to God’s Word displayed.

In short, the greatness of motherhood is found in the Savior who gives moms the certainty of something truly worth sharing with their children – eternal joys in Christ. Thank God for a mom who cares about the end result – eternal joys in heaven; first for herself and for her family. And thank God for all he’s done and continues to do to make such things possible in your life.

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