Letter to Mom

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2 John 1-13

INTRODUCTION: I’ve entitled today’s message, “Letter to Mom,” and the letter we are looking at is 2 John. It is a relatively short letter compared to others in the New Testament but probably the normal size for a personal letter in those days. It would have fit quite nicely on a standard-sized piece of papyrus.

It is written from “the elder, to the chosen lady and her children.” (2 John 1) Now the elder here is John himself; it is a title of authority and respect. But who is this chosen lady and her children? There are two possibilities here. One is it could be an actual mother and her children. Or it could be symbolic for a church and its members. There are good arguments both ways, and it is probably impossible to decide for certain, but for today we will assume that this is a letter written to a mother — not John’s mother, but a Christian mother in a different city seeking to raise her children in the faith. Even if this letter was written originally to a church, good applications for mothers can be drawn out from the text, and that is what we will do this morning.

I will be especially speaking to mothers with children at home this morning, but whether you are a mother or not, listen closely and I know you will all find application from God’s Word today. (Read and pray)

Mothers, you have an awesome privilege and responsibility given you by God, to raise your children in the Lord, and 2 John gives some wonderful instruction in this regard. John concentrates on the twin themes of truth and love in this letter. There were false teachers in his time traveling from town to town and leading people astray. For this reason John is very concerned about “truth” in this letter, and he lays out three responsibilities for any Christian mother who wants to raise her children in the truth: 1) the Christian mother must know the truth, 2) she must practice the truth, and 3) she must guard the truth in her home.

Three responsibilities of a Christian mother:

I. Know the truth (verses 1-3)

So first of all, the Christian mother must know the truth. Look at verses 1-3:

The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth — and not I only, but also all who know the truth — because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. (2 John 1-3)

Mothers, the first step in raising your children in the truth is to know the truth yourself. You can’t raise your children to know Christ unless you know him first. There is no question in John’s letter that the “lady” to whom he writes is a believer. She is one who knows the truth.

Notice that John calls her a “chosen lady.” The word “chosen” in Scripture refers to believers, to those people who have been called and saved by God. The same word is translated “elect” elsewhere. Jesus used this word ten times in the gospels to refer to those who are saved. Ephesians 1:4 uses the same word to speak of those whom God chose before the creation of the world to know salvation and his Son. Peter writes “To God’s elect, strangers in the world . . . who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)

So this woman was a believer, but why? Well, why is anyone a believer, because they believe, right? But why do we choose to believe? The Bible says because God chose us first. Scripture is clear on this: long before we were born, long before God even created the world, God the Father chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in his sight. He chose to save us.

Notice that John says he loves this chosen woman in the truth, and not only does he love her in the truth, but so do all who know the truth. In other words, there is a bond of love between all true believers. We have experienced the truth of who God is, the truth of who Christ is, and the truth of his salvation in our lives. So when we meet someone else who knows and shares and believes that same truth, we are filled with love for them. And why is that? Verse 2 says it is “because of the truth which lives in us and will be with us forever.” You see, truth for the Christian is more than just a set of teachings. It is the person of Jesus Christ living in us by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ who promised he would be with us forever, Jesus Christ who is himself the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Do you know Jesus this morning? Do you know him deep down in your heart? Do you know his love and forgiveness flowing through your life? If not, he invites you to come to him in faith, to receive him as your Savior, to take hold of eternal life in him. When we receive Christ (look at verse 3): “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.” God’s grace, mercy and peace will flood your life as you place your faith in Christ Jesus.

Back to mothers. Moms, the application here is clear: you cannot begin teaching your child to know the truth unless you know it yourself first, and knowing the truth means knowing Jesus.

II. Practice the truth (verses 4-6)

The second essential after knowing the truth is to practice the truth. John speaks of practicing the truth in verses 4-6:

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (2 John 4-6)

There is no greater joy for a Christian parent than to know that your children are walking in the truth. Walking in the truth means putting it into practice. It means living out what you believe. Like all parents I have many hopes for my children. I hope to see them grow and mature, enjoy good health, gain knowledge and skills which will help them in life, get an education, find someone to love and be loved — but none of that means anything if my children do not know the truth, and if they do not walk in the truth. Mothers, pray for your children to know Christ, to serve him with their whole heart, to follow after him all the days of their lives,

Praying for your children is essential. O. Hallesby once wrote, and I love this quote: “See to it, night and day, that you pray for your children. Then you will leave them a great legacy of answers to prayer, which will follow them all the days of their life. Then you may calmly and with a good conscience depart from them, even though you may not leave a great deal of material wealth.”

Moms, your children will not automatically walk in the truth. Children need prayer; they need example; they need loving discipline and correction. Leave a child on auto-pilot, and he or she will crash and burn. So, how do we ensure that our children will grow up in the faith? We must set the example ourselves. We must walk in the truth if we hope for them to walk in the truth. We must practice the truth.

So how do you practice the truth? In verse 5 John writes, “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.” (2 John 5) How do we practice the truth? It’s very simple — we must love one another. John says this isn’t a new command. This is not some strange new-fangled teaching; rather this was the teaching of Christ from the beginning: love one another. Mothers, commit yourselves to create a loving environment in your home. Do your best to make sure that each person in the home is loved, valued, respected and heard. Don’t allow unkind remarks. Seek to foster a team spirit where each person encourages and supports the others. Set the example of loving sacrifice for your children, so that they might learn to sacrifice for others.

When I was growing up, my mother always wanted to buy a new wooden hutch for her china dishes. She would start saving up for that hutch — she called it her dream fund — and then the family would need something, and she would empty out the dream fund and start saving all over again. I wrote her a song one year when I was in the eighth grade. I called it “Hutch of Love” and gave it to her as a birthday present. The words went like this: (share song)

Moms, every home needs a hutch of love. Be sure you are raising your children in a loving, caring atmosphere. By the way, my Mom finally got her wooden hutch many years later.

Now if you’re not sure what a loving home atmosphere looks like, look at verse 6: “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” (2 John 6) In other words, we cannot separate love for God or love for each other from obedience to God’s commands. We must learn, follow and teach God’s commands in the home. Every day spend time in God’s Word yourself and with your children. God’s Word contains the blueprint for a happy, loving home, and as we teach the truth to our children and walk it out before them, they too will learn to walk according to the truth.

III. Guard the truth (7-11)

Know the truth, practice the truth, and then finally, guard the truth. The third responsibility of a Christian mother is to guard the truth in her home. John knew that false teachers were common, and so he writes to the chosen lady and her children in order to warn them about the danger of letting go of the truth. John doesn’t mince any words on this subject. Look at verse 7:

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 7)

Now the false teaching in John’s day had to do with the nature of Jesus. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. These false teachers were going around denying Christ’s human nature. This was heresy and deadly to the gospel, for Christ could not die for humanity’s sins if he were not truly human himself. John calls such teachers “the deceiver and the antichrist.” Those are strong words.

So what false messages do our children hear today? They hear things like: “Truth is relative. Lie if it’s convenient. Pleasure comes first. Win at all costs. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t hurt anyone.” The list goes on. The world finds any number of ways to deny Christ and his teachings. Listen to the messages society is feeding your children. Know what your kids are watching on TV. Listen to their music. Be aware what the schools are teaching. Your home is the first line of defense. Who will protect your children from falsehood if not you?

Look at what John says in verse 8:

Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (2 John 8 )

What a heartbreaking exhortation to Christian mothers. “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for.” In other words, don’t lose your children to falsehood. The enemy would love to destroy your children with the world’s lies. Guard the truth! Don’t let your children be deceived. Labor, pray, teach and correct that you may know the full reward of a child who walks in God’s truth.

Let me address the children who are here today, both young and old. Some of you were raised in the faith. Your mothers taught you well, not perfectly because none of us is perfect, but they taught you well. You know the truth. Are you walking in it? You see it’s not enough just to be raised with the right teaching. You’ve got to walk it out.

I want you to look at verse 9 very carefully:

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 9)

Wow, did you see that? If you do not continue in Christ’s teaching, you do not have God. John could not put it any stronger here. If you have been running from God in your life, let me encourage you, come back today. It would be the greatest Mother’s Day present you could possibly give your mom. Don’t let your mother lose what she has worked and prayed for in your life. Remember, the Christian parent has no greater joy than knowing that their children are walking in the truth.

And then finally, mothers, look at verses 10-11:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. (2 John 10-11)

John was talking about not letting any false teachers into your home. The false teachers in his time would travel from city to city, and they depended on people’s homes for hospitality and to set up a “home base” for their operations. John says, “Don’t let them into your home. Don’t give them a platform for their message. By doing so you only share in their work against the truth.” Now we may not have traveling false teachers today, but I believe we can apply this verse by saying: “Don’t allow falsehood into your home. Don’t bring anything into your house that speaks against the truth. Make your home a safe harbor for the truth of Christ and his Word.”

You know, we teach our children the truth from God’s Word in the home, and then we allow ungodly influences into our home which speak against the truth. Without thinking or discernment, we rent out our living rooms to whatever message Hollywood chooses to broadcast on a particular evening. Is it the same message you are trying to teach your children? Why undo all the good work you have done?

Time and again I have seen good Christian families tear down the foundation they have been building in their children by undiscerningly allowing falsehood into the home. John says, “If you welcome falsehood into your home, you share in its wicked work” — which is to tear down Christ and his influence on your children. Mothers, guard the truth in your home! Protect your home from falsehood and ungodly influences.

CONCLUSION: John ends his letter by saying he has much more he’d like to say but he’d rather do it in person and also by sending greetings from “the children of your chosen sister.” Look at verses 12-13:

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. The children of your chosen sister send their greetings. (2 John 12-13)

Once again, with “chosen lady” and “chosen sister,” we don’t know if John is speaking of actual sisters or just sister churches. But either way we have found some powerful applications for mothers in this letter.

  1. Mothers — know the truth. Come to know Christ as your Savior. Come to know the Spirit of truth who lives within the believer. Come to know God’s grace, mercy and peace.
  2. Mothers — practice the truth. Nurture a loving environment in your home. Teach your children God’s Word and live it out yourself.
  3. Mothers — guard the truth. Protect your children from ungodly influences. Teach your children how to discern truth from error. Make your home a sanctuary for the truth. Don’t allow anything in your home which would undercut Christ’s teachings. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for. And may you know the wonderful, joyful reward of seeing your children walking in the truth.

Some mothers may feel: “This message is too late for me. My children have grown, and I can no longer have this type of influence on them.” It’s true that our influence is stronger when our children are younger, but you can still follow the same steps. 1) Know the truth — know Jesus and draw near to him. 2) Practice the truth — set a godly example for your grown children. 3) Guard the truth — pray for your children, pray a hedge of protection around them and their homes, pray that they will follow the truth you love so dearly, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

© Ray Fowler

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By Ray Fowler. © Ray Fowler. Website: http://www.rayfowler.org

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