A Mother’s Nurture and Care

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1 Thessalonians 2:6-9

INTRODUCTION: Today we begin our new series called Christian Home Fixer Upper. There are few things in life as important as our homes. And I’m not talking about the physical structures we live in, but our families, the relationships within our homes. The family is the basic foundation of society and the first institution God put into place after creation. And so over the next number of weeks we will be exploring together what God teaches us in the Bible about marriage and family, couples and singles, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, children and parents.

Every family is different. Every Mom and Dad are different. We all come from different backgrounds. We have different personalities. We practice different styles of parenting. There is no one right way to go about it.

Rosi and I learned this when we first became parents. We read a lot of books. We talked with a lot of people. We learned a lot of good information and gained some helpful tips. But it was also frustrating at times because not all the authors agreed. Even good Christian authors would often offer conflicting or even contradictory advice.

Many things vary from family to family and that’s okay. But God’s Word reveals certain principles which apply to every family – without exception. And we dare not ignore or reject those principles. So today being Mother’s Day, we will begin our series by looking at motherhood together. (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9 and pray.)

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1 Thessalonians chapter 2 is interesting, because in this chapter we find a divinely inspired description of both a godly mother’s essential qualities and a godly father’s essential qualities. Verses 6-9 describe Mom, and verses 10-12 describe Dad. Paul shares these descriptions by way of analogy. He is sharing how he and his co-workers ministered to the Thessalonians. But in sharing about his ministry to the Thessalonians, he makes some direct comparisons to the qualities of godly mothers and fathers. And so here we find in God’s Word a concise description, a divine blueprint as it were, of what mothering and fathering is all about. Next month on Father’s Day we will look at the qualities of a godly father that we find in verses 10-12. But this morning I would like to share about a godly mother’s qualities from verses 6-9.

It is certainly not the whole story – but God gives us here three essential qualities that every mother should seek to emulate in her own life.

   1) A godly mother is gentle with her children, not a burden to them. (6-7)
   2) A godly mother shares the gospel as well as her life with her children. (8)
   3) A godly mother works hard to fulfill her role. (9)

This morning I would like us to focus on this divine trilogy of essential mother qualities. Let’s look at each of these qualities in turn.

I. A godly mother is gentle with her children, not a burden to them. (6-7)

First of all, a godly mother is gentle with her children, not a burden to them. Look at verses 6 and 7. Paul says: “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” (1 Thessalonians 2:6-7) Paul in effect says: “Hey, we are apostles. We were commissioned by Christ and the church. We could have come in pushing our authority, pressing our credentials, throwing our weight around. We could have asked you to support us as we preached the gospel in your area. But we didn’t. We didn’t use our authority to weigh you down, but rather to serve you in love.”

Moms, you also have authority in your children’s lives. The question is: Are you using your authority to weigh your children down or to build them up? Paul said to the Thessalonians: “We could have been a burden to you, but instead we chose to be gentle with you, like a mother caring for her little children.” The word “mother” here is the word for a nursing mother, a mother feeding and caring for the child at her breast. The word “caring” literally means “to warm or keep warm, to cherish with tender love.” And so Paul paints the picture of a nursing mother gently caring for her infant child. Paul says: “We were not a burden, but we were gentle, like mothers.” How should a mother be gentle with her children? Let me share with you three things.

   A. Use gentle words. (Proverbs 15:1, 18:21; 2 Tim 2:24-25; 1 Pet 3:3-4)

First of all, she should use gentle words. The Bible tells us that “the tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21) Moms, your words will mold and shape your child for life. As children we tend to see ourselves through our parents’ eyes. And so Moms, every word you speak, whether gentle or harsh, whether kind or unkind, helps to shape your child’s self-understanding. We should use gentle words with our children.

Be careful not to argue with your children. Children love to argue. They love to argue with each other, and they love to draw their parents into arguments. Don’t give in to it. It takes two persons to argue, and if you won’t play, then the game is over. We read in 2 Timothy 2:“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance.” (2 Timothy 2:24-25) Now those words were originally written to pastors, but they are appropriate to Moms and Dads too.

Moms, in many ways you are the thermostat of the house. Think about the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer. A thermometer reacts to temperature, while a thermostat controls the temperature. Moms, you have the ability to control the temperature in your home. Proverbs 15:1 says: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” A mother’s gentleness can transform the entire atmosphere of a home. That’s why Peter wrote to wives in 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” You see, you can be a thermostat, controlling the emotional environment of your home, instead of reacting to the scattered emotions of your children. How? By using gentle words in the home.

   B. Exercise loving but firm discipline. (Proverbs 6:23, 13:24, 25:15, 29:17)

A second way Moms can be gentle is to exercise loving but firm discipline. A gentle Mom is not a pushover. She doesn’t let her children do whatever they want whenever they want whether it is good for them or not. She never allows her children to treat her with disrespect. She exercises firm but loving discipline knowing that Proverbs 13:24 says: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 6:23 says that “the corrections of discipline are the way to life.” Proverbs 29:17 says: “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”

A gentle Mom does not neglect the God-given responsibility to discipline her children. The discipline may even be severe depending on the type of correction the child may need. She is firm and consistent. But she is also loving and kind. The discipline is never violent or out of control, but rather measured, controlled, appropriate to the offense. Her manner is gentle. She reaffirms the child and her love for the child.

You do not need to be angry in order to discipline your child. In fact it’s better if you’re not! Discipline administered in a gentle manner is far more effective. Proverbs 25:15 says: “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” The gentle Mom is neither a wimp nor an abuser. She exercises loving but firm discipline in the home.

   C. Carry your children’s burdens.
      – Matthew 11: 28-30; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7

A gentle Mom uses gentle words, she exercises loving but firm discipline, and thirdly, she carries her children’s burdens. That’s what Paul said to the Thessalonians: “We could have been a burden to you, but instead we were gentle among you.”

A mother is not supposed to be a burden to her children. But guess what, your children are supposed to be a burden to you. Part of your job as a mother is to help carry your children’s burdens. Part of your wisdom as a mother is to know what to carry and when. A gentle mother will carry burdens for her children according to their age and ability. We start off carrying all the burdens for our children – feeding, dressing, and changing them. They can’t even turn over without our help. Gradually we give our children more and more responsibilities as they grow older. We let them carry burdens appropriate to their age and ability. One day they will leave our home as adults, and they will carry their own burdens and their children’s burdens. But a huge part of mothering is simply carrying burdens for your children. It is part of being gentle according to Scripture.

Moms, don’t forget that although you are to carry your children’s burdens for them, that does not mean you are supposed to carry them alone. Scripture says: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Sometimes Moms can feel all alone with the burdens of motherhood. This is especially true for single moms. Dads, you need to help carry the load, too. Moms, you need to talk with other Moms. You’ll find they are going through the same things you are, and you can pray for each other and support each other. And don’t forget to bring all the burdens you carry to the Lord. 1 Peter 5:7 says: “Cast all your cares upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Philippians 4:6-7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Take your worries to the foot of the cross, and lay your burden down. Don’t try to carry it all by yourself. Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30) The godly Mom uses gentle words. She exercises loving but firm discipline. She carries her children’s burdens for them.

I believe that Moms are naturally more gentle with their children than fathers are. It is part of the balance of mothering and fathering that God built into parents. When our boys were young, I wrestled with them, and Rosi did crafts with them. Rosi carried them in her arms, and I threw them up into the air. When we first put the kids in the pool, Rosi strapped flotation devices all over their bodies. I unstrapped the devices and dunked the children under the water. Moms just tend to be more gentle with their kids than Dads are. You know, Dads like to rough-house. Rosi never really rough-housed with the boys. Usually she was trying to protect the house from them – and from me.

And even though gentleness probably comes more naturally to mothers than to fathers, a lot of Moms still struggle with this area. You might be thinking, “I’m just not like that. I’m not gentle with my kids. I wish I were, but I’m not. If the Bible says that a godly mother is gentle with her kids, then I must be a lousy mother.” Well, the Bible does say that being gentle is part of what mothering is all about. But if you struggle with gentleness, it does not mean that you are a lousy mother. It just means that you need to grow in this particular area. And the good news is that God can help you.

It’s interesting, in verse 7 when Paul says, “We were gentle among you,” a more accurate translation would be: “We became gentle among you,” or even “We were made gentle among you.” In other words this gentleness was not natural to Paul either. A change had to take place. It is a change which takes place through the Holy Spirit. Gentleness is one of the fruit of the Spirit which Paul names in Galatians 5 – the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So talk to God about your struggles in this area. Ask him to help you. Ask him to fill you with his Holy Spirit and to bear the fruit of gentleness in your life. You will be a better mother for it.

II. A godly mother shares the gospel as well as her life with her children (8)

So that’s the first quality of a godly mother this morning. A godly mother is gentle with her children, not a burden to them. The second quality of a godly mother is this: a godly mother shares the gospel as well as her life with her children. Look at verse 8: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” Paul, Silas and Timothy had come to the Thessalonians to preach the gospel to them. But they loved them so much they also shared their very lives. In fact Paul says he and his companions were delighted to share their lives with the Thessalonians. It was not some unpleasant duty or obligation that they had to fulfill. They were delighted to do it. The word “delighted” here means “to be well pleased, to be gladly willing.” A godly mother also shares both gospel and life with her children. And this is no unpleasant task to her. It is her joy and her delight.

   A. Delight to share your life with your child.

So how do you fulfill this essential quality of motherhood? First of all, delight to share your life with your child. There are a couple things to keep in mind here.

      1) They are not young for long – enjoy them!

First of all, they are not young for long, so enjoy them! You can talk to any parent of grown children, and they will all tell you that the years just went by too fast. Your children won’t stay young forever, so enjoy these years. Be there for them, be available to them, don’t begrudge the time spent driving them, going to their activities, reading to them, teaching them, working on crafts with them. These are great years. Invest your best time and energy in your children. You will have plenty of time to pursue other interests after they have grown and gone.

      2) They need your nurture and care.

Secondly, your children need your nurture and care. No one can replace the role of a mother. Your children need you to share your life with them – to give of your life freely in raising them, nurturing them, teaching them. Moms, I encourage you to look at your schedules and the various obligations that you take on with respect to the time you have to invest in your children. I encourage you to pray and ask God if you need to make any changes in your schedule in order to give more time to your kids. Think about your life, think about the life of your children, think about your priorities, and just pray about it. Expecting mothers, or mothers of young children – I would ask you especially to pray about these things. I love these words of wisdom spoken by Barbara Bush at her commencement address to Wellesley College Graduates back in 1990:

“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent. Fathers and mothers, if you have children … they must come first. You must read to your children, you must hug your children, you must love your children. Your success as a family … our success as a society … depends not on what happens at the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

A godly mother delights to share her life with her children.

   B. Delight to share the gospel as well.

But the godly mother not only shares her life with her children. She also shares the gospel with them as well. How do you do that? There are three things you must do in order to share the gospel effectively with your children.

      1) Read them God’s Word (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15)

First of all, read them God’s word. This is the most important thing you can do to pass your faith on to your children. Paul wrote to Timothy: “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.” (2 Timothy 1:5) How did Timothy arrive at that faith? Paul goes on to say: “how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) The Scriptures make us wise for salvation. Timothy had heard the Scriptures read to him from infancy. Read the Bible with your children. Teach them from God’s Word. Memorize Bible verses with them. It is never too early to start. It is never too late to begin.

      2) Bring them to church

Secondly, bring them to church. Don’t send them to church, bring them. Participate with your children in the community of faith. Be consistent. Make Sunday worship a non-negotiable in your family life. Be sure your kids are in Sunday School every week. They have 30 hours of school each week and perhaps another 30 hours of television or video games. Don’t let them miss out on the one hour of Christian instruction from their church which is available to them each week.

      3) Set the example

Thirdly set the example. All of our words and teaching and instruction mean nothing to our kids if we don’t live it out ourselves. Set the example at home. Living for Christ is a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day endeavor. Don’t just “act” like a Christian on Sunday mornings. Be a Christian all week long. Set the example at church. Don’t just send your kids to Sunday School; be involved in Sunday School yourself. Don’t just come to church to get; get involved and find a place to serve in the church. How do we expect our kids to understand the importance of church and Christian Education and service if we are not involved ourselves? I’m talking to Moms and Dads here. If you want your children to grow in the faith, you need to lead the way. Do you want your children to grow in their faith? Then you grow in your faith!

So moms, make it a priority to share the gospel with your children. Read the Bible to them, bring them to church, set the example in your own life. And then you will be ready to share with them about how they can trust Jesus as their Savior, how they can be forgiven for all their sins, how they can become a part of God’s family and live with God forever in heaven. What a wonderful privilege you have as parents! Paul told the Thessalonians: “We were delighted to share with you both the gospel and our lives.”

III. A godly mother works hard to fulfill her role. (9)

1) A godly mother is gentle with her children, not a burden to them. 2) A godly mother shares the gospel as well as her life with her children. And thirdly, a godly mother works hard to fulfill her role. Look at verse 9: “Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” Paul, Silas and Timothy worked hard while preaching among the Thessalonians. They supported themselves and worked day and night in order not to be a burden. Paul says it again in his second letter to the Thessalonians: “We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8) Paul and his friends could have been a burden to the Thessalonians. Instead they chose to be like a mother: gentle, sharing, hard-working.

   A. Mothering is tiring work.

A godly mother works hard to fulfill her role. Paul uses two words to describe his work among the Thessalonians – toil and hardship. These words apply equally well to mothering. The first word, toil, is defined in the lexicons as: “exhausting labor, trouble, sorrow, weariness, hard work, wearying toil involving sweat and fatigue, the weariness which follows the straining of all one’s powers to the uttermost.” Now, tell me Moms, is that a good description of motherhood or what?

In Luke 11:7 the same word is translated, “Don’t bother me.” Well, mothers are often bothered. It comes with the territory. Children make so many demands on our time, on our physical strength, on our emotional energy. And mothers work hard to meet those many necessary demands.

Let’s face it, mothering is tiring work. Any tired Moms out there today? Dads, if you want to know how tiring mothering is, try this little experiment. You take care of the kids for just one day. Send your wife away for a little private 24-hour vacation – just get her a hotel room away from the house if you want – and you take on this job of mothering for just one day. You will be exhausted. I know from personal experience. Mothers do that every day of the year. Even on vacation, it was always more of a vacation for me than for Rosi. Why? Because she still continued doing all the job of mothering no matter where we went. Mothering is tiring work.

   B. Mothering is difficult work.

It is not only tiring work. It is difficult work. That’s what that second word, “hardship,” means in verse 9. It means “hard and difficult labor, toil, travail, hardship, distress and pain.” It means that your work involves difficult obstacles to overcome. Mothering is tiring work, and it is hard work. There is no such thing as working mothers and non-working mothers. Every mother is a working mother. It is part of the job description.

   C. Mothering is unending work.

And it never seems to end. Paul says, “We worked night and day.” Doesn’t that sound like mothering? Mothering is unending work. It is a 24-hour-a-day occupation.

For example, here’s a snippet from our past. The kids are all in bed, and Rosi and I finally get a few moments to ourselves, to read a book, watch some TV, or just relax. Finally we crawl into bed, dead tired, and ready for sleep. “Goodnight, Rosi.” “Goodnight, Ray. Love you honey.” “Love you too.” Within minutes of hitting the pillow I am drifting off to sleep. My breathing becomes long and regular. Suddenly a voice breaks the silence. A mother’s voice. “Ray?” “Yeah?” “I’m concerned about Timmy.” “Why?” “He had a little cough when he went to bed. Do you think he’s okay?” “He’s fine.” I start falling asleep again.

Suddenly, the voice speaks again. “Ray?” “Yeah?” “Sammy has a spelling test tomorrow.” “Good, good for Sammy. Goodnight.” “Well, did you go over the words with him?” “The words? Um, no, I’m sorry, I forgot. I’ll do it in the morning.” “Do you think he’ll do okay?” “He’s fine! Goodnight honey.” Back to sleep.

Suddenly I notice Rosi getting out of the bed. “Honey, where are you going?” “Oh, I just wanted to check on Tim. I think he left the ceiling fan on and it’s kind of a cool night. Do you think he might be too cold?” “He’s fine.” She comes back a few minutes later. “There I turned off the ceiling fan.” “Good.” Few moments of silence, and then – “Do you think he might be too hot now?” “He’s fine!”

Moms never stop mothering – day in and day out, all day, all night long. “A man may work from sun to sun . . . (but a mother’s work is never done.)” Moms, don’t feel bad if you feel tired a lot. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. In fact it probably means you’re doing your job right! A mother works hard to fulfill her role.

CONCLUSION: Mothering is perhaps the most challenging and rewarding job in the whole world. You could read thousands of books on the subject, but some of the best instruction you’ll ever find is right here in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2.

1) A godly mother is gentle with her children, not a burden to them. Use gentle words, exercise loving but firm discipline, carry your children’s burdens as appropriate to their age and ability.

2) A godly mother shares the gospel as well as her life with her children. 1) Delight to share your life with your children. Enjoy the time you have been given to raise them. Nurture them and care for them. 2) Delight to share the gospel with them. Read them God’s Word. Bring them to church. Set the example.

3) A godly mother works hard to fulfill her role. It is tiring work , it is difficult work, it is unending work. But it is a good work. Keep at it. You have been commissioned by God, and He is standing by to help you be the best mother you possibly can be.

Moms, we honor you this morning for your work. You are raising or have raised a generation of children to live in this world and bring glory to God. Nothing could be more important than that.

© Ray Fowler

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