Calvary Road Baptist Church

“A FEW SURPRISES TO SOME MOTHERS ABOUT MOTHERHOOD”

 

Is it a surprise to you experienced moms that inexperienced mothers display a noticeable lack of wisdom in the rearing of their children? Do you notice such things at the grocery store or the park? Of course, I am not suggesting that all experienced moms exhibited wisdom when they were rearing their children. Neither am I suggesting that all inexperienced moms display no wisdom as they apply themselves to the rearing of their toddlers. I merely point out from the lofty elevation of the watchman’s tower I have occupied for four decades that there is a general decline in motherhood skills in our culture.

This should not surprise anyone with perspective. After all, militant feminism has been engaged in an all-out assault on the family unit, the institution of marriage, and the ministry of motherhood in this country since before I was born and has, for the most part, enjoyed decades of mostly unopposed success in the political, legal, and cultural realm. Thank the good Lord we are now seeing a bit of pushback. The state of Utah made news just a few days ago for passing what has been termed a “free range parenting” law, meaning that mothers once more have the legal right in that state to allow their children to engage in unsupervised play.[1] In many jurisdictions, mothers can be arrested for criminal neglect for allowing their children to engage in unsupervised play in their yards or at nearby public parks.

I am so thankful I was raised when I was raised, where I was raised, and by whom I was raised, though I was sadly not raised in a Christian home. Even so, I am persuaded there was a great deal more cultural wisdom possessed by mothers when I was a little boy than I see much of today. And I think there are several factors at work that leave young mothers as a whole with far less wisdom than I think my grandmothers possessed back in the day, and my own and other mothers exercised when I was a youngster. I have already mentioned the despicable movement fostered by the Frankfurt School and one aspect of their cultural Marxism known as militant feminism.[2]

Associated with the integrated assault on our American way of life that ignores the progress that we needed to make and have made, has been a general departure from regular weekly worship along with its attendant Bible reading and teaching, and the disintegration of the intact family unit. The result has been fewer and fewer children raised by their mothers in partnership with their fathers, and confusion about the role that should be occupied by the mother in the rearing of her children and the different role that should be occupied by the father in the rearing of her children.

The problem has become so bad in our culture that an astonishing percentage of mothers are completely unaware of the fundamentally different roles to parenting that mothers and fathers are supposed to take, to accomplish the complex task of properly raising girls differently than boys and raising boys differently than girls. I would not for a moment suggest that single-parent homes, moms raising boys and girls without a dad in the home, is impossible. It is not impossible. We have too many success stories to make the valid claim that single-parent child rearing is impossible. It is, however, very challenging.

As well, imagine the likelihood of success when a mom is not clear on the role of a mother in raising children versus the role a father is supposed to play, not to mention being unaware of how differently boys and girls should be raised even in the same household. Boys are not girls and girls are not boys, just as men and women are not identical members of the same species. Look in the mirror the next time you bathe if you question the truthfulness of what I say.

As difficult as child rearing has always been, and as challenging as it is in our day with so much institutional opposition to good parenting that comes from school systems, that comes from different branches of local government, and that comes from our neighbors who are profoundly ignorant of God’s recipe for good parenting, I would like to give you some hope this morning. I begin with Proverbs 22.6: 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” 

The word “train” translates a Hebrew word referring not only to training (which is considerably different than merely teaching and instructing) but the word was also used in connection to formally dedicating a new house.[3] The implication is that what you do in the raising of your child you do from the beginning and throughout, with the understanding of the differences in the what and how of mothers training children and fathers training children. What I seek to leave you with from this verse is hope. There is hope for moms who raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the LORD.

Most of you here this morning already know much if not most of what I have already presented. But I am not finished yet, not by a long shot. My goal is to encourage you, moms, using surprising you just a bit. I seek to do this by leaving you with three things you likely do not know on the way to my sermon from God’s Word. Are you ready?

The first thing I want to leave you with can be found in Leviticus 19.2-3: 

2  Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

3  Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. 

The notion of a child fearing either his mother or his father is foreign in most households these days, but it goes to the root of motherhood and child-rearing. In both Proverbs 1.8 and 6.20, we find the command, 

“forsake not the law of thy mother.” 

What is so common in our day as opposed to days gone by is no longer mothers laying down the law to sons or daughters and enforcing it with discipline, but we now see moms arguing and pleading with wayward children in the hopes the strong-willed youngster will decide to comply with mom’s wishes. I think God’s way is better than the way things usually are in our day.

The second thing I want to leave you with can be found in two verses in the Gospels. I will first read the Lord Jesus Christ’s words in Luke 13.34: 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” 

I next read our Lord’s words in Matthew 23.37: 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” 

Strangely, most commentators make the mistake of thinking that our Lord’s lament found in Luke 13.34, which occurred several months before His crucifixion, is identical to the one I just read in Matthew 23.37, uttered only three days before His crucifixion. A. T. Robertson recognized that the two laments, though they are almost identical, were not uttered at the same time.[4] The Savior lifted up His voice on two different occasions, and mourned Jerusalem’s refusal to turn from their sins and come under His protection, as a hen protects her brood, ending both times by saying “and ye would not!”

As interesting as our Lord’s lament for Jerusalem on both occasions happened to be, our purpose is best served this morning by taking note of something not usually pointed out when teaching both verses. On both occasions, the Lord Jesus Christ described Himself using the metaphor of a hen seeking to gather her brood under her wings, which is to say under her protection. I wonder how many Christian mothers have been consciously aware that their Savior likened Himself to a hen protecting her chicks? But a hen is a female chicken, is she not? A mother. Thus, the Lord likened the pain He felt to that experienced by a mother who anguished in her desire to protect her young from harm.

Have I piqued your interest in your approach to motherhood, moms? I sure hope I have. That’s been my design. I don’t see many moms these days, particularly among those a bit younger and less experienced, who have any notion of how to wield motherly authority in such a way that their children. They understand the tenderness and comfort that moms readily provide. But they have no fear of disobeying and disrespecting their mothers. The greatest moment of my childhood was when my mother slapped my thirteen-year-old face to demand that I show her the respect she was due. I loved her the more for it and learned a lesson I remember fifty-five years later. I feel sorry for children whose mothers are too cowardly to do what needs to be done by demanding their children honor them in word and in deed.

As well, I would hope every Christian mom is encouraged by the Lord Jesus Christ’s self-description of being like a mother with the metaphor of a hen protecting her young from harm. What heartache mothers experience in their efforts to protect their foolish and wayward children from the damage that is inflicted by sin. Hebrews 4.15 comforts every Christian mom with the realization that she is not alone, but that her Savior knows her situation by His experience: 

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are.” 

The third thing I want to leave you with is found in First Thessalonians 2.7-9, where the Apostle Paul reminded those new believers in Thessalonica of the conduct of his Gospel ministry in their midst, thereby establishing a pattern for the Gospel ministry since then: 

7  But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

8  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.

9  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. 

Notice that not only does the Apostle Paul with these words provide a template for Christian mothers from that day to this, but he also provides guidelines for Christian Gospel ministers as a pattern for our ministries from that day to this. If I understand this passage, and I rather think I do considering the time I have spent studying it for the past forty years, then it is likely that I know more about being a mother than any man in this room because of the similarity of the Gospel ministry, my ministry, to motherhood. I may not know as much about motherhood as some mature and godly moms, but I know more than any man not in the ministry and more than most young mothers.

Consider. Have I not been gentle with you? Have I not cherished you as if you were my children? Have I not imparted to you the Gospel of God? Have I not demonstrated to you that you are dear to me? Have I not been accessible to you any time of the day or night? Have I not preached unto you the Gospel of God?

Understand that I do not claim being unique in this regard. This is the pattern every pastor should strive to employ. However, I know that, more than any man in this auditorium, my ministry over the past thirty-three years as your pastor has been to this congregation more like that of a mother’s than any other man’s ministry during the same time frame. Moms cannot stop being moms because of aches or a pain or a headache or any inconvenience or frustration or fatigue left over from a previous day’s difficulties. Neither can I stop being a pastor for such reasons. So, in that respect, and because I deal with spiritual children the way a mom deals with her own children, I suggest to you that I understand more about motherhood than most mothers would guess.

As well, I understand the goal of motherhood more certainly than many mothers. And what is the goal of motherhood? Do you know? What are you after, mom? What is your hope and expectation for the children you bring into the world and raise to adulthood? It should be more than making sure they like you, that they are not mad at you. If you are still in First Thessalonians chapter two, drop down to verse 12, where Paul states his goal for the spiritual children in Thessalonica, which is also the spiritual goal of every Christian mom for her kids, or should be: 

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

That is your God-assigned goal for motherhood. That is what you pray for, work for, study for, do everything for in your life from delivery onward in that child’s life. Here is the question for you to address: Is your son or daughter walking worthy of God? Is your child a believer in Jesus Christ, growing in grace and the knowledge of the Lord? Is that a personal goal and objective for your child and have you conveyed to your child what you work for, pray for, love for, witness for, agonize for in your child’s life? Have you ever told your child your goal for him or her?

Do you communicate this God-given goal to your child, regardless of age or disposition? If not, why not? Do you fear your child or does your child fear you? Do you agonize over your child’s condition the way the Savior agonized over Jerusalem? Are you open to a Gospel minister’s instruction and exhortation as he displays a motherly ministry to you and yours? Some people are very respectful toward their unsaved mothers while displaying nothing of the kind toward the Gospel minister who speaks to them and their families the words of life.

Everything I have said to this point has been an introduction to three extremely basic points I feel must be made to every mother here today, and to you who are future moms. I will presume that you are a Christian. I hope you are. I will presume that you want your children to know and serve Christ. Finally, I will presume that you recognize Christ’s intention in providing pastors to Churches such as this one.

I urge upon you three things as help to seeing your child come to Christ and to live for Christ. I recognize that what I am about to say is counter-cultural. However, I am convinced these three things are both needful and Scriptural: 

First, COMMAND RESPECT 

Though children are commanded to honor their mothers and fathers, it is a naive person who deludes herself into thinking that her children will honor her because she has told them to, because she has pointed out to them that the Bible requires them to, and because they understand God wants them to.

You do not ask for your child’s respect. You do not plead for your child’s respect. You do not hope for your child’s respect. Remember Proverbs 22.6? That’s the verse about training up a child in the way he should go. You do not train a child by asking. Neither do you train a child by dialoguing. You train a child by demanding. You train a child by commanding. Do you want your child to honor you? Do you want your child’s respect? You must demand. You must command. You must allow for no options to honoring you, respecting you.

I am not suggesting that you be mean. I am not suggesting that you act nasty. I certainly do not encourage haughtiness or a condescending attitude. I insist that you insist, every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year that your child respect you. And I insist because God’s Word insists. It is not up to you if your child honors you or not. God has already decided. And since your sinful child will not automatically respect you, you must train your child, make your child, encourage your child, discipline your child, to respect you. You must.

Fatigue is no excuse for disrespectful behavior. Hunger is no excuse. Playtime is no excuse. Outdoors is no excuse. Indoors is no excuse. Sickness is no excuse. Happiness is no excuse. Sadness is no excuse. Disappointment is no excuse. Guests are no excuse. I am not suggesting you not have fun with your child. I am not suggesting you not play with your child. I only point out that there is no vacation from honoring you. There is no down time from respecting you, your instructions, or your position. Ever.

If you ever want your child to be right with God, this must be so regarding your relationship with your child, because as God’s representative to your child it must be the same with God. No child can honor God while dishonoring his mother. Ever. You hinder your child spiritually if you do not insist at all times and in every conceivable way that your child must respect you. 

Next, CORRECT MISBEHAVIOR 

When is it wrong to do wrong? It is always wrong to do wrong. When is it right to do right? It is always right to do right. Is it wrong to do wrong only when your child is fed? When your child is rested? When your child is in a good mood? When your child is well? When your child is cooperative? When your child is happy? When your child is willing?

Please do not misconstrue what I say to mean that motherhood means unkindness, means not being tender, means not being loving, means not being gentle, means not being pleasant whenever possible, means not being willing to play and frolic with your child. Please do not twist or distort what I am saying to pervert what I intend to communicate. I seek only to bring to your attention the admonition of Proverbs 29.17, which declares, 

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” 

When do you think your child should be corrected? Should your child be corrected when you feel like correcting him? Should your child be corrected when your child feels like being corrected? No to both questions. Your child is to be corrected when your child needs correction, which is when your child wanders off course by disobedience or neglect.

I see so many mothers who correct their child when they become angry, rather than when their child needs correction. Other mothers correct their child one time and then let the same behavior go without correction another time, thereby creating confusion in the child’s understanding of what is expected. Consistency is the key to developing character over time and maintaining your child’s respect for you.

An illustration that I am sure Julie, with experience as a professional animal trainer, will verify. Many years ago, a teacher named Bea Shirk worked for me, whose husband was a professional horse trainer. She related to me a lesson her husband taught her about training animals. The one training must be perfectly consistent or else the training is for naught. If you are training a dog to stay off the sofa, you must correct the dog every time he is aware that you have seen him on the sofa, or else the program of training must start over.

Do you doubt that it is the same for children, who are so much smarter than any animal? Therefore, you do not correct misbehavior after one warning, then another warning, followed by a third warning, before becoming angry. That shows that anger is your motivation to correct misbehavior. But anger is the wrong motive to correct misbehavior. What is the right motivation for correcting misbehavior? Misbehavior.

Let me cite a familiar example. If you direct your child to empty the trash and obedience does not follow immediately, correction is called for. But most moms issue a directive that is not obeyed. Then they issue the directive again, and again, and again, with the child not doing what he is told until there is sufficient anger in mom’s voice that he knows she is about to act. However, that is not training a child to obey. That is training a child to disobey, disobey, disobey, and then obey.

Mothers who correct misbehavior, on the other hand, rather than training their child to disobey, disobey, disobey, and then obey (which isn’t obedience at all, really), end up with far fewer discipline matters to deal with. This is because they have properly, consistently, routinely, appropriately, and faithfully corrected misbehavior. Not when they were angry. Not when they felt like doing it. But when correction was needed, as shown by the child’s misconduct. 

Finally, CULTIVATE INFLUENCE 

It saddens me when I observe the opinion of a mother counting for nothing to her child. It saddens me when I observe the values of a mother counting for nothing to her child. The reason these things sadden me is that a mother whose influence with her child is that weak is a mother whose child displays only superficial respect and is only pretending to honor her.

Understand, mothers, that I care little for appearances. It matters not at all to me that a child displays good etiquette in front of guests if she secretly despises her mother in her heart. This is because the number one task of a mother is influencing her children. The loving, the hugging, the bathing, the feeding, the playing, the teaching, the correcting, and all the rest are for one solitary reason; to influence the child for Christ’s sake.

Therefore, I am all for every mother cultivating her influence in every conceivable way. I want every woman I know to become a Proverbs 31 virtuous woman. Why so? So “Her children arise up, and call her blessed,” and so her husband will praise her, Proverbs 31.28. Which is to say, so that mother’s influence will only and always increase.

Why should a woman cultivate her influence? Why should a mom want her influence to grow? Why should she exert herself so that her wisdom and her stature will be enhanced, and so people will shut up and listen when she speaks? I want your son to weigh your words and consider when you say, “Son, you need to turn to Christ.” I long for the day that your daughter will be impressed by the gravity of your comment, “Honey, you cannot hope for success with your children while you reject the Savior.”

I have spent eighteen months teaching this congregation how to make a Biblical appeal. The great majority of the examples I have set before the congregation have been those of women exercising wisdom to influence the decision making of powerful individuals. Why have I done that? Why have I gone to the effort of giving you those tools, those social skills of persuasion? Because I want you to become more influential.

When you look your daughter in the eye and speak serious words to her, I want her to recognize that you are not a silly woman who is to be trifled with. When your young son catches your eye, and you make a remark to him, I want him to weigh your words, ponder your comments, account that you are a woman of wisdom and gravity and not some silly woman who prattles just to fill the air with noise. 

I want you to win your child to Christ. But you have to be a Christian woman yourself. You have to turn from your sins and trust Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Being a Christian woman, a mother, my practical advice to you in this present evil world filled with confusion, women who have children while knowing nothing about motherhood, is a very straightforward distillation of some Biblical truths.

Mom, you must command respect. God demands that your children honor you, and they will not do that unless you demand it of them. Mom, you must correct misbehavior. It is the mom who is to lay down the law in the home. And it is most frequently the mom who observes when her child crosses the line and is there to correct misbehavior. Not when she feels like correcting her child, but when her child steps over the line. Every time her child steps over the line. Correction requires consistency. And more generally, cultivate influence, so your child will consider your desire to consider the claims of Christ.

Mom? You are profoundly important. You have virtually limitless potential. And the potential is more likely to be realized if you are a Christian, if you are a Church member who worships and serves with others of like faith and practice, and if you are desperate to see your children walk worthy of God. It is the mission of Calvary Road Baptist Church, and my mission, to help you achieve those goals.

__________

[1] http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2018/03/22/utah-legalizes-free-range-parenting.html 5/12/18

[2] To learn more about the Frankfurt School, cultural Marxism, and its links to feminism watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLUvlRUzS5w and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vNcUPORNxw

[3] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 335.

[4] A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels, (New York: Harper & Row, 1950), pages 132 and 171.

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