For the past several years we’ve had child dedications on Mother’s Day as a way to highlight the life-giving nature of motherhood. This year we decided to do dedications and baptisms as a means of highlighting the goal of dedication and motherhood (that the babies/kids we dedicate to the LORD would one-day place their trust in Jesus). What a sweet picture that was of God’s kindness and faithfulness to his people. And what a sweet picture that was of the God-infused, life-giving power of motherhood.
When we decided to do both dedications and baptisms, we also decided that we’d need to shorten the rest of the service, including the sermon. For that reason, this is a short sermon with two simple points and one simple objective. (Point #1) by God’s design, mothers are physical life-givers. (Point #2), also by God’s design, mothers are spiritual life-givers. In the next few minutes, I mean to root these two claims in God’s Word (show you where in the Bible we find these truths) and (Objective) encourage the moms in this room to recommit to finding joy in seeking these kinds of fruit in motherhood. Let’s pray that God would be pleased by my preaching, your listening, and our response.
MOTHERS ARE PHYSICAL LIFE-GIVERS
Mothers are physical life-givers. I imagine that this is among the most obvious points I’ve ever made in a sermon. I say that because it is confirmed by basic observation, biology, etymology, and the first few pages of the bible. It’s simple, but it’s also foundational. For that reason, there are a handful (6) of things that I’d like to draw your attention to about the physical life-giving nature of motherhood.
Mothers being physical life-givers was part of God’s design from the very beginning. The most straightforward passage comes in Genesis 3:20.
The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
The very name of the first woman meant (or sounded like) “life-giver”. Every human being who has ever walked the earth has come from Eve, the very first life-giver on earth and the very first mom. The simple fact is that a mom is one who gives physical life to another.
Again, to be clear, this is not something contrived by any creature, but the Creator himself. And as is the case with everything created by God, it was/is very good. It’s a great tragedy that many today reject these things—God as the author of mothers as physical life-givers and the very goodness of that design. Let us settle our hearts and minds on this afresh this morning, Grace Church: the unique ability of moms to give physical life is from God and, therefore, it is also very good. Be encouraged moms. In bearing children, you are tapping into the very beginning of time and the very deepest good. Be encouraged.
Physical life-giving (along with everything else) is made harder by the fall (Genesis 3:16). As a result of their rebellion against God, Adam and Eve brought death into the physical world. At the moment of their sin, they immediately died spiritually and eventually they died physically as well. This consequence was not only for Adam and Eve, but for all of their offspring as well. In addition to these steep consequences, God gave them each a particular curse as well. This too passed from generation to generation.
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.
It is likely that this particular curse is not limited to the actual act of delivering a child, but includes every aspect of bringing forth children—pregnancy, delivery, and the raising of children.
Moms, have you ever wondered why something so good could be so hard at times? Have you ever struggled with feeling like a failure in your attitudes and actions toward your kids? Have you ever felt overwhelmed by motherhood? Remember the curse and then quickly remember the gospel. In your mothering struggles, remember your own rebellion against God and the hardship that causes, confess your sin, and then let the good news of the gospel wash over you. Remember that by the grace of God, through your faith in Him, all of your sins are forgiven and the Holy Spirit of God now lives in you to strengthen and sustain you. The curse makes mothering hard, even as the gospel is the power of God to curse the curse.
Motherhood is a gift from God. One of the most recurring themes in the Bible—from Sarah, the first woman of the promise (Genesis 16:1; 21:2), to Mary, the mother of God (Matthew 1:20)—is the fact that bearing children is a gift from God. While physical-life giving is God’s good design for women, so too is it God’s good gift to women. As we’ve seen in Genesis, God has chosen to ordinarily give babies through a predictable, “natural” process. At the same time, we’ve also seen God give children through “miraculous” and “supernatural” means as well
Here’s the point, Grace Church–predictable and natural or miraculous and supernatural, every child who has ever been conceived has been conceived as a gift from God (Psalm 127:3). This means that we need to love all the life that God gives and acknowledge the fact that it is His alone to give. This is hope and comfort for those struggling to conceive and humility and perspective for those who don’t. Men and women of Grace Church, let us praise God from whom all blessings flow, including children—even as we acknowledge that we do not deserve that gift or any other. If it is ours, it is on account of God’s mercy and grace. If it is not ours, in Christ, it is a different grace and mercy.
As such, motherhood is a noble aspiration. Contrary to what the world around us often says, because motherhood is part of God’s very good design and among His very good gifts, it is a noble desire for women to want to be moms. As a Church we ought to promote and encourage motherhood and its goodness. There are other noble desires for women, but in the Bible, motherhood stands out among almost all of them.
Ladies, as I’m sure you’re all too aware, there are countless millions of marketing dollars spent every year trying to convince you of the nobility of countless other more commodifiable pursuits—having lips that look a certain way, weighing a certain weight, wearing certain clothes, holding a certain job, having a certain amount of education, possessing a certain amount of happiness, having certain friends, going on certain vacations, shopping at certain stores, having a certain Chip and Joanna looking house, and on and on. If you haven’t realized it yet, people are trying to steer your aspirations in order to make money off of you. They call these things noble, not for the sake of your good, but for the sake of their pocketbooks.
On top of that, and even more significantly, there is a spiritual battle going on for your understanding of nobility. There is a conspiracy of sin to make you believe that things not of God are good and the things not of God are.
But remember today, God’s Word alone tells you what is noble and worth pursuing. Would you give yourself, therefore, to asking God to weed out any ignoble pursuits that you’ve given yourself to and to ignite a fire in you to go after those things you’ve truly been made for? Motherhood is among them.
As such, motherhood is praise-worthy. Again, because motherhood is God’s design and gift, the pursuit of it is noble. And because of the coming together of all three of these, we ought to praise the moms in our lives who mother well. Proverbs 31:28 says of a godly mom, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…”.
Proverbs 23:22, 25 commands, “do not despise your mother when she is old… 25 Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.
Even King Solomon bowed before his mother in honor (1 Kings 2:29).
C.S. Lewis has famously said that we praise what we delight in. Praising something is a natural and necessary follow-through of our delight in it. We all ought to delight in all that God has called good and so we all ought to delight in good mothering. And in our delight, we ought to praise the life-givers among us.
Along those lines, a realization came to me recently, we usually pursue that which is praised. If the people around us praise athletic accomplishments or physical beauty or financial success or academic acumen or a certain clothing style or profession or restaurant, we will most likely pursue those things because we are drawn to the praise of others. As we just saw, God has called us to praise the godly mothers in our lives, because they are acting according to His good design. But it would also seem that He does so in order to draw the women in our lives to it. It is by praising that which is truly praise-worthy, that we best commend those things to the next generation. This ought to be true of everything God calls us to, but (perhaps) especially motherhood.
Let us consider this carefully today. What do you praise most in the women in your life? If they were to pursue what you praise, where would they end up? It’s an important question to consider carefully as it reveals what we most desire and what the girls and women in our lives are most likely to give themselves to.
Finally, God’s design is such that mothers are not only physical life-givers, they are also physical life-sustainers. It is hard to find a passage in the Bible containing a mother where this truth is not on display. Repeatedly, it is the moms in the bible who are described as most committed to the ongoing well-being of their children. In, perhaps, the most famous passage on this subject (Proverbs 31) we read,
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
It is astounding to me—truly—how good moms are at keeping kids alive and healthy and in the right size clothes and fed and educated. I had Presley for 24 hours yesterday and I brought her home without pants. Moms, it probably seems simple to you, but where it is easy, it is the kindness of God and the goodness of His design in you. Praise Him for that. Men, let us not grow tired of encouraging and supporting and praising the moms in our lives for this.
Mothers are physical life-givers by God’s very good design, it is harder because of the fall, bearing children is a gift from God, it is a noble pursuit, it is praiseworthy, and it continues on until you or your kids are with Jesus.
MOTHERS ARE SPIRITUAL LIFE-GIVERS
The second simple point of this sermon is that not only are mothers physical life-givers by God’s design, they are also spiritual life-givers. All six truths from above apply here. Spiritual motherhood was God’s good design from the beginning, it is made harder by the fall, any spiritual fruit is a gift from God, spiritual-life giving is a noble aspiration, it is praise-worthy, and it includes both an initial birth and ongoing sustaining work.
In addition, I’d like to draw your attention to a few things that are unique to spiritual life-giving.
To be a mother in the fullest sense is to be a spiritual life-giver. And to give spiritual life is to lead someone to Jesus. Spiritual birth happens when someone hears the gospel and puts their trust in it. This is the highest calling of a mom—to pray for and work towards the salvation of her children. I love the simple picture of this we get in Paul’s description of Timothy’s faith coming from the faithful ministry of his mom and grandma.
2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
Moms, don’t settle for a lesser aim. Again, the dedications and baptisms today were meant to give a clear and beautiful picture of this. Pray for your kids. Share the gospel with them whenever you can. Point them to the greatness of God in everything you see. Help them to see their rebellion in light of the cross. Urge them to trust in Jesus and know true life. Work to cultivate a heart—your own heart—that cares more about the spiritual life of your kids than anything else. If you’re not sure what this means, let us help you. We’re in this with you.
To be a mother in the fullest sense is to be a spiritual life-sustainer. To sustain spiritual life means helping people (in the power of the Holy Spirit) grow to be more like Jesus. Moms play an unbelievably important role in this. Consider again the impact that Timothy’s mom and grandma had on his spiritual growth.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Lois and Eunice not only shared the gospel with Timothy that he might be saved, they also trained him in the scriptures.
Another clear example of spiritual mothering is found in Titus 2:3-5, Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
This is spiritual life sustaining and motherhood in the fullest sense. Ladies, give yourself to nurturing the spiritual life of your kids, the other women in your life, and everyone God puts in your path. Do your best to grow in Christ yourself and model it for your kids and the people in your life. Above all, pray with them and read the Word of God to them. Again, if you’re not sure what this means, let us help you.
Finally, perhaps surprisingly, in these ways, all who seek the spiritual life and growth of others are engaged in a kind of spiritual motherhood (men, women, children, young and old). There is a way in which mothering is not unique to women who give birth, or even to women in general. Consider one last time the words of Paul in describing his ministry to others.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
Paul describes his own gospel ministry in terms of motherhood. Among other things, moms, this means that your calling is even higher than you realized. When you mother well, you are painting a picture a key component of gospel ministry. To engage in the highest calling on our lives (making disciples for the glory of God) is to care for people like a good mother does her babies and children; to care deeply for them in the most personal way, to the end that they would grow to maturity in Christ. To mother well is ministry training for the Church. To mother well is a form of discipleship of others. To mother well is to strengthen God’s people for God’s mission.
Do you get this, moms of Grace? Your calling as mothers is ultimately to provide a living picture of the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ for all to see and emulate. That’s awesome.
Look to the Word of God, moms. Find in it the nature and glory of your calling. And then give yourself to it in the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God and the good of the world, and in this you will find great encouragement and joy and fruit, in yourself and in the people you’re privileged to mother! Happy Mother’s Day.