Calvary Road Baptist Church


First Thessalonians 2.7-9, 12

No one knows better than a mother that motherhood is a combination of pleasure and pain, a mixture of rejoicing and remorse, a recipe that includes Hallelujahs as well as heartaches.

Am I right, moms?

Before Mother’s Day in 1995, I received a letter from a missionary in South America. About 6 months earlier, he told me that his oldest daughter, Ruth, who was born with cerebral palsy, was finding it virtually impossible to get around any longer on her crutches. In the extremely high Andes mountain city where they serve as missionaries, there are no sidewalks or paved streets to speak of. So, as Ruth’s cerebral palsy affected her more and more, she found it more and more difficult to get around and invite the lost to church.

Because of that, Dennis asked a number of pastors to help him buy a motorized rough terrain wheel chair for Ruth, since he has a very bad back and his daughter was heavier than his wife was. Therefore, our church decided to take up a special Easter offering for Ruth.

Then, just before Easter of 1995, Dennis wrote me again to tell me that Ruth had been diagnosed with an aggressive and rapidly moving form of cancer in her ankle. Treatment would involve surgery and chemotherapy. Because it was moving so rapidly and was caught so late, Ruth decided that surgery, which meant amputating her foot, or chemotherapy, which meant severe nausea, would make her door-to-door ministry, which was already difficult and painful, totally impossible. Ruthie was both spiritual and realistic.

Sometime before Easter, Ruth asked her parents to forego treatment of the cancer so that her last days on earth would be days she could at least try to invite people to Christ. After much prayer, Dennis and Jan decided to honor their daughter’s wishes. As a congregation, we decided to go ahead and take up the love offering for Ruth anyway, knowing that expenses would mount as her cancer progressed. We raised almost $2,500 that Easter Sunday for her. But in a letter I received the Wednesday before Easter, Dennis notified me that Ruthie, his oldest child, had died.

As it turned out, her decision to forego treatment had no impact on the outcome, except to glorify God. And our church’s decision to give to Ruth was unknown to her. She died before finding out. However, God knows. What our folks did demonstrated our love for her.

Throughout the following weeks of thinking about Ruth, I was suddenly aware that my thoughts had never turned to her mother. What about Jan? What was it like for Jan, who since junior high school has known God wanted her to be a missionary’s wife?

A bit of her history. This young woman gets saved while in grade school and purposes in her heart to marry the man God brings to her. She marries a man who is likewise called to service as a missionary, and had been focused on preparation for the mission field since he was in junior high school. My, how she thanked God on that day she first knew she was going to have a baby. Moreover, how she rejoiced when her first child, a daughter she named Ruth was born.

But then came that dark day when the doctor, seeking to investigate and explain why little Ruthie fell down and hurt herself all the time, and trying to figure out why her little words were slurred when she spoke, told Jan that her little Ruthie had been born with cerebral palsy. How that young mother’s faith was tested. How hard it was for her to accept what her gracious and loving heavenly Father had determined for her daughter. “Why, God? For what reason? To what end?” What foolish questions we sometimes ask the Father, Who loves us and Who loves who we love more than we do. Did Jan ask such questions? I do not know.

Turn to First Thessalonians chapter 2. In this passage, the apostle Paul compares his ministry to that young church full of new Christians to a mother’s and father’s ministry in the life of their child. Concentrating on just you mothers, we will examine verses 7, 8, 9 and 12 in a bit. These verses, ladies, are what real mothering is all about, and what the goal of all real mothering is supposed to be.

You ladies can imagine, far more than I imagine, how much nursing, and watch care, and looking after a child with cerebral palsy would require. There must certainly have been times when Jan thought to herself, “I can’t take it anymore. I have reached my limit. God, I don’t have anything more to give to my baby.”

But “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” The Bible declares that. And Jan learned the truth of it. Her strength was renewed. And she continued. Five years old. Ten years old. Fifteen years old. Nineteen years old. And along the way little Ruthie admitted that even little crippled girls are wicked sinners, in their hearts, where it really counts. And she turned to Jesus, Who loves so much, and Who receives with open arms, and she got saved.

Now Ruthie is gone. She has been gone a little more than 11 years now. No more clumsy daughter for Jan to pick up off the floor. No more wounds to nurse. No more concussions to pray over and carefully watch. No more young woman to take to the bathroom.

However, did Jan waste her time doing all those things for her daughter? No, not at all. For different reasons than you might think, Jan did not waste her time. You see, Jan’s goal was always the Biblical goal of raising Ruth, just like the two younger kids, to walk worthy of God. To that end, she raised Ruth in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. She swatted her rear end when she needed a spanking. She hugged her when she needed affection. But most of all, Jan dealt with that girl about sin in her life and Ruthie got saved.

After Ruthie got saved mommy trained her, by example as well as by instruction, to serve God. It was very hard for Ruthie. It was extremely painful, physically. It was also terribly embarrassing. Being so clumsy and people staring and making thoughtless comments all the time. But because mom taught her girl that nothing is as important as serving God, she ended up raising a girl who, despite the many difficulties she faced, did serve God.

I wonder what reasons for not serving God some people would have been willing to tell Ruthie. I wonder how Ruthie would respond to someone who had stayed home from evangelism because it was inconvenient to participate, while her own dedicated involvement in reaching the lost was both physically dangerous and very painful.

What a Christian that young woman was. And what an end to her life. Deciding that the six months to two years she had left would best be used serving God instead of laying around the house moping and feeling sorry for herself, she passed on the medical options, that weren’t given much chance of working anyway. I am told, no less than seven people testified at her funeral that she was instrumental in them turning to Christ. How very pleased her Savior will be at the judgment seat of Christ, when she stands before Him in glory with legs that are straight and strong, and when she hears Him say, “Well done, Ruthie.”

It has been eleven years now, and I still feel bad that I did not think of Jan sooner, or more often. However, as I think of her now, I envy her in a way. You see, pain and heartache is a part of every mother’s life. There is just no way around it. Being a mom means there will be all kinds of hurtful things associated with being a mother. However, Jan can also rejoice.

You see, mom, God never told you how long He would allow you to have your child. Jan had Ruthie for nineteen years. Nineteen years to do a job. Nineteen years to prepare a baby, a little girl, a young woman to walk worthy of God. And she did it. It was all God’s grace, but she did it. She is a successful mom, one who raised her first child to walk worthy of God. That is what I appreciate. I think that is what the Savior appreciates. By the way, her other two kids are missionaries, too. But your kids do not have to be missionaries for you to be a successful mom.

I want to bring two brief messages from God’s Word this morning that I hope will benefit each one of you ladies who hold that honorable title of “mom.”

Mom? Let us look at a mom. First, let us look at mom as a Christian, and how she is to raise her child, as Paul shows how he, just like a mother is supposed to, raised those baby Christians in Thessalonica. First Thessalonians chapter two.


“But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.”

I find it amazing that some mothers feel that it is their job to screech at their children and to be severe toward them. No. Mothers are to be gentle with their children. Firm, to be sure, but also gentle. With the expertise of a trained nurse, mothers are to cherish their children. To be sure, children are not to be allowed to forsake the law of their mothers, Proverbs 1.6. But grown children should not remember their mothers as always angry, or as shrill and screeching (as I sadly remember my mother), but as gentle. Some mothers spend all their time emotionally venting and bordering on hysteria. They wag their fingers, saying “Wait till your father gets home!” Good grief. Get a grip. Study God’s Word and seek the pastor’s counsel, but do something that will enable you to be gentle without raising lawless little hellions.


So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.”

Notice how a mother is supposed to “feel” about her child. “Affectionately desirous.” “Ye were dear unto us.” I know you love your children, but do you like them? Do you like them enough to not pester them and overcorrect them, while at the same time not being too lax with them? There is a middle ground between being too strict and being too loose. And why that middle ground? So you can impart the gospel to your child. Too tight and the child will not want to become a Christian like you. Too loose and the child will not respect you as a Christian.

You see, as a mother, Ephesians 5.24, you represent Christianity in your home, while your husband is a picture of Christ in the home. Some kids have no problem with the Christ picture, but the idea of being a Christian bothers them. Why? Because mom has not the wisdom to occupy the middle ground between being too loose a mother and being too tight a mother. Do not be the kind of mother your mother was. That is a mistake. Neither should you work to be opposite of your mother. That, too, is a mistake. Rather, be a Bible mother, obeying God’s Word.


“For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”

Of course, in this verse we see some things at the end of the verse that Paul writes that do not apply to being a mother, but the first half is all about being a mother: labor and travail, laboring night and day. This, of course, speaks of the birthing process and the delivering of that baby, and then raising him.

You ladies know that when the labor and the travail end with the birth of the child, the laboring night and day begins. Men do not do much of that. Moms do that. Amen? Moreover, there is a weariness to being a mother, is there not? It is terribly hard work when it is done correctly. And it is brutal spiritual warfare when it is done in a Christian manner.

So, yes, there is a fatigue, and a weariness associated with being a Christian mother, that unconverted mothers do not understand nor appreciate, because they do not see the spiritual part of child rearing.


Verse 12: “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”

This is the goal that makes all the pain, all the heartache, all the suffering, all the disappointments, all the toil worthwhile. When your child ends up walking worthy of God. If your child grows up to walk worthy of God, then you will experience exhilaration and thankfulness to God. If your child does not grow up to walk worthy of God, your heart will be heavy and disappointed. God is to be praised that He answers a Christian mother’s prayers, like He answered Hannah’s prayers for Samuel, and like He answered the prayers of Eunice and Lois, Timothy’s mother and grandmother. And like He answered Jan’s prayers for her daughter Ruthie. She walked worthy.

I trust that God will also hear your cries for your children, mom, and that they will be with you in glory someday, after walking worthy of God while they lived here on earth.

Life is always hard. Being a mom is usually more difficult than anyone who is not a mother will ever realize. Pastors only know that because being a pastor is in some ways like being a mom. Christian mom? What are you willing to do, and what are you willing to be, to raise your children walk worthy of God? You see, a good mom, a Christian mom, has her sights for her kids set on eternity.


Not all of you here this morning are Christian women. You cannot give the gospel to your children, because you are not a Christian yourself.

I have a few words to say to you moms before we wrap it up this morning. Let us be fair and reasonable as we consider your situation. Granting that mother is the most wonderful person on earth, even the most wonderful person on earth is in need of the salvation, which only Jesus provides.

As we look at three things in connection with being a mom, notice how the experiences of life and the instruction of God’s Word shows this to be true: Even mom needs to be saved.


In part, owing to your position. Yours is a position acknowledged by God. Remember that the fifth commandment that God gave to Israel requires that their children honor mothers. Proverbs advises the wise child to “forsake not the law of thy mother.” And, truly, it is only the foolish child who decides to violate the law of the home that is laid down by his mother.

But what about a mother whose position is not honored? Not all mothers are happy about motherhood. They think being a mother is just the most noxious of chores, a biological necessity to preserve the race, or the unfortunate consequence of an active sex life. Others view motherhood as the human counterpart of being a dairy cow. They think that mothers are intellectually stunted. They think that forming another human being’s personality is dull. However, such mothers as those are blind to the glorious realities of motherhood. Is there gladness associated with the mother who eagerly throws herself into the lives of those who, for nine months, were wholly and solely sustained and nurtured by her? You bet there is. Remember the anticipation associated with conceiving and awaiting the delivery of that child? Remember the hopes and aspirations, the expectations and plans, for that baby? Didn’t you dream, plan, and ponder what life would be like for your child? And how glad is the heart of a mother whose dreams and hopes for her child come to fruition.


Even the best of situations features heartache and tears, as a mother experiences the pain of loving more than she is loved, of considering more than she is considered, of being interested in the lives of those she has birthed only to find that sometimes they find her uninteresting. For all the gladness that can possibly be associated with being a mother, there must also come into every mother’s life a measure of sadness.

Sometimes the sadness is owing to the child’s rearing. How many moms are alone, or are married to men who are predatory rather than paternal? How many women are married to men who are content to see their children raised without their own personal involvement, without seeing fit to help the mother of their own children? Sometimes a mother is sad because she sees the way her child is being raised. The neighborhood is dragging her child down, the father situation is horrible, or she knows that she does not really know what to do. And she feels that, somehow, giving it her very best is not going to be good enough.

Sometimes the sadness is owing to the child’s result. Maybe mom did what she thought was a great job of rearing her child. Maybe she did not. And maybe she really did do a pretty good job of raising her child. But somewhere along the line, her kid made a blunder, committed a serious and life-altering sin, took a turn from which there was just no return. You see, there is not always a second chance. But the result is that now, with the child raised, with the results obvious, it cannot be denied that things just turned out bad. The child that had so much promise. The kid that started out so eager to please mom. You did everything you could. You cannot live the child’s life for him. Anyway, it turned out bad. And who, ultimately, is held responsible for how a child turns out? Rightly, or wrongly, but inevitably, it will be you, mom.

Sometimes the sadness is owing to the child’s nature. You love your baby. You live for your baby. But no one taught that baby how to lie. No one taught him to be so selfish and cruel. It becomes worse when influenced by others, but it was there already. What is it about the child that causes blood lust rage when he does not get his way, at the age of six months, at the age of nine months? The problem lies within the child’s nature. Mom? Your child was conceived in sin. “In sin did my mother conceive me,” the Bible declares. Your baby was conceived with something terribly, terribly, wrong with his soul. You do the best you can. But even if the child turns out to be successful by the world’s standards, that child is still terribly sinful.

Think of the sadness associated with being a mother. Each and every instance is traceable to sin. Every single heartache and agony of a mother can be traced to sin. This is because every child fathered by a man and born by a woman is a sinful child. Thus, the Word of God concludes this about every child born to a mother: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”


Mom? That child of yours whose sins needed no teacher, whose wicked compulsions that you tried so hard to teach and train and discipline away, could very well have been you. Every child is sinful. Every child is born in sin and commits sins. However, wasn’t every mom at one time a child? Sure. So, here you are, celebrating Mother’s Day. You have been a glad mom and you have been a sad mom. That is true of every mom. But the sadnesses of every mom are caused by sin. And no mom has a remedy for her child’s sin. Your mom had no remedy for your sin, and you have no remedy for your child’s sin. Because if you had the remedy you would use it. Would you not?

I want to close with a few words about God’s remedy for sin, your child’s sin, and your own sin. In the Bible, it is called salvation, and there are three things about salvation I want to tell you before we conclude:

First, Jesus Christ, Acts 4.12, provides salvation: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” What a simple verse this is, really. How straightforward it is. These words, spoken by Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, declare that only Jesus Christ provides salvation, and that salvation is provided only in Jesus Christ. Want to know what that means? It means that Jesus is the Savior. What do you think needs to be done to be saved? Jesus has already done that for you. What obstacles must be overcome in order to save you? Jesus has already overcome them for you.

Listen to me, now. No one who is unwilling to come to Jesus can be saved. You have to be willing. And no one who comes to Jesus can not be saved. He saves any and all who come to Him.

Second, salvation is provided for sinners. This is good, because salvation actually refers to being delivered from sins, and being delivered from the consequences of sin. You see, since you are a sinner, since everyone is a sinner, you are faced with the consequences of your sin. And the consequences of your sin is God’s wrath.

Listen to Romans 5.8-9:

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Although He is angry because of your sin, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross and shed His blood for sinners, and you are a sinner. By virtue of Christ’s death and the shedding of His precious blood, He will save you from the wrath of God that deservedly comes upon those who sin against God.

Finally, Jesus provides this salvation for you only if you will come to Him. Many people know they are sinners, but die and go to Hell anyway. And many people know that Jesus is the Savior, but die and go to Hell anyway. Only people who turn from their sins and come to Jesus are saved from their sins.

Mom? You are here today by divine appointment. And the reason you are here is to hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ so that you might be saved. Think about it. God has already decreed that you be honored. By virtue of the fact that you are a mother, God has commanded and God has demanded that you be honored. And if you are not honored by your children as He has commanded, there will be dire consequences for them.

By the same token, God has designed the means whereby you, though you are a sinner in the sight of God, can be saved.

Oh, mom, please be a Christian when you die. Don’t you leave people behind you who are tempted to follow you into the pit. People are going to follow your example, because they love you. So you make sure that those who follow you end up coming to Christ like you. That means you need to become a Christian.

Time is running out. The personalities of your grandchildren are being formed. Life’s courses are being determined and crucial decisions are being made while you are a non-Christian mom or grandmother. Do something about that right now. Make sure, by God’s grace, that any of your kids or grand kids end up in Hell it will not be without you doing your dead level best to get them into heaven. But to succeed in leading anyone to the Savior you have to be a Christian yourself.

Mom? Grandmother? Decide right now that you want to become a Christian. Now decide to talk to me so I can guide you to Christ.

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