Today we honor mothers. Therefore, we take a break from the Sermon on the Mount for our mothers today. As important, telling and insightful studying the Sermon on the Mount is concerning our Christian life, we still must break on occasion to talk about certain subjects. Today, we talk about motherhood.
Interestingly, only in Christianity do we find an appreciation and concentration on motherhood and women as a whole. Few cultures, if any, really give mothers and women prominence; and few religions, if any give women and mothers freedom. Only Christianity has wonderful verses such as:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it:” (Eph 5:25).
This verse is followed by a purpose:
“That he (Christ actually, and the husband metaphorically) might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:26-27)
Man is supposed to give himself wholly to his wife. Just as Christ gave His whole life to the church, man is obligated to do the same for his wife – in order to maintain her purity. As the church is the body of Christ, the wife is equally the body of man. These two become one. No other society or religion places woman on such a scale as to command that the husband give himself physically, emotionally and spiritually to the preservation and purification of his wife. There are many other scriptures and one of my favorites gives first the reason, then the command. We find it here again in Ephesians 5 beginning in verse 27:
“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Eph 5:27-28).
Men, if you see this as some license for domination, you are completely missing the point. Jesus never dominated over the church, but gave Himself for it. He was here on Earth to save, not to judge (Jn 3:17). We too must take on this attitude – to save our wives, not to judge them or dominate them. Jesus came to serve, not demand (Jn 13:12-15). We are to serve and not demand. Jesus presented Himself a living sacrifice. Men, we too are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice. Jesus obeyed His heavenly Father unto death. We too must seek God the Father through the Son for His will, and obey Him unto death. All this is done from selfless agape’ love inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Men, in our relationship with our wives we display Christ. Ladies, in your relationship with your children, you are on a level saved in teaching them of Christ. A mother has the opportunity to give her child saving grace, and preserve her godliness in the process.
Look at 1 Timothy 2:15 please. The passages I have just shared with you are passages that are frequently exposited on Mother’s Day. However, this is Mothers Day, not wives day. Please do not take offense in that. We should look at a passage dealing with mothers, rather than a wife’s responsibility with respect to the husband. In the passage we will consider today, we will try to answer one question: Why are women preserved through the bearing of children? To answer this question requires that we look at the verses preceding this one.
Many men – and frankly, many women – get caught up on Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” God even gives reason for this submission in Ephesians 5:23: “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, he himself being the Savior of the body.” No one likes subordination. No one likes being told to submit. It goes against our sin nature, which is prideful and self-assertive. Truthfully, being able to submit to an imperfect man shows more of Christ in a woman than man can ever really display. It is the embodiment of Philippians 2:3-9, where Christ being God came down and submitted Himself unto this sin-filled, hate mongering, amoral, lawless, cursed and ungodly creation. The decline of man has been on great display since the Roman Empire once dominated; and America is certainly a melting pot of the Roman social pitfalls. Just as Jesus submitted Himself to this primordial soup of heresy, paganism and atheism, women submit themselves to the arrogance and imperfections of their husbands. I know many good men who wonder why their wives have stayed with them so long. It is not the wife, but the Lord in her who does it. Ladies, when you think about this submission, think about the Savior who modeled it for you.
There are other scriptures that women bristle at because they do not understand them. Consider: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Col 3:18). Again, right behind this is, “Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter against them” (v19). It is just as easy for us to get frustrated with our wives, as it is the wife to be frustrated with us. What should we take from this? Consider the fact that God has to tell us (both husbands and wives) these things repeatedly. Following on this is the commandment, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Men, we are told this more than once ourselves (Eph 6:4; Col 3:21). We complain about children not getting something the first time we tell them, but we never consider that we are just as guilty. When you are told the zillionth time to pick up your socks, take a long look at the culprit.
An especially difficult scripture for women to deal with is 1 Timothy 2:11 and 12:
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
Ladies, be comforted. My prideful heart also screams aloud, “But what if the man is wrong?!” There are three things to consider with this commandment in scripture. First, Jesus Himself kept quiet when falsely accused before His trial. He fulfilled scripture in this silence (Is 42:2; Matt 27:14) and eventually died for all mankind’s salvation in His submission to the Father’s will (Lk 22:42). He died for imperfect man because it was God’s command that He do so. Again, ladies you can embody this in your testimony as no man ever can. Second, man will be held accountable for what he does at the judgment (Rom 14:12). If your submission to your husband is inside the Lord’s will, you are obeying God. The third encouragement for obeying this scripture comes from our target verse today. This is where we want to concentrate the remainder of our time and effort. Where society errantly, and men arrogantly point to 1 Timothy 2:11-12 to quiet women, when the true meaning has great grace. The truth in 1 Timothy 2:15 is that God gives mothers the opportunity to rectify the initial transgression.
I cannot lie. The inspiration for this message did not originate from a great epiphany, but rather through prayer and discussion with the Lord. Someone sent me a link to a blog. In an entry on child rearing, Larry referenced 1 Timothy 2:15 and said this:
“As we approach Mother’s Day, I am reminded that moms are given great tasks. When it comes to spiritual influence, God gave men the task of teaching in the church. He said that “woman are saved through childbearing” (1 Tim 2:15)… What did he mean? I think he meant that a woman’s way of repairing the damage of the fall takes place through her influence on her children. She was not given the task of leading the church through teaching, but of raising her children to not follow in the ways of Eve, who for the pleasure of the moment brought a world full of hurt.”[i]
As I prayed over the last few days and talked to the Lord about what I should do for this Mother’s Day message, this comment and the scripture kept coming back to the forefront of my mind.
I. Saving Graces (15a)
Women today put off having children so they can further their careers. Some women have children and place them in perpetual childcare. Saddest of all are the mothers in society today who see their children as a hindrance and nuisance. So many women do not see the great gift of God in children. Most importantly is the privilege that a mother has to mold and shape a new life to serve the Lord. Mothers can take a child and train them to serve their earthly masters with distinction; respect, honor and virtue. Mothers provide the decorum and deportment that children need to be civilized. I daresay without mom, most civil and social graces would not exist.
What many women do not realize is the great grace and opportunity a mother receives with a child. Woman can, at a level effect a reconciliation for the original sin committed by Eve. Do not read “salvation” or “works righteousness” into that statement please. The word we find here, “saved,” is the word “sōzō” (pronounced sō-dzō). There are three basic definitions for this word. First, it means “to rescue from danger and to restore to a former state of safety and well being.” We find this translation in Matthew 14:30 where Paul cries out “Lord, ‘save’ me.” Second, sōzō can mean, “to cause someone to experience divine salvation.” We find this use of sōzō in 1 Corinthians 1:21 and 9:22, as well as Ephesians 2:5 (“by grace ye are saved”). Finally, sōzō can indicate a healing action. We would look to Mark 6:56 where we find, “and as many as touched him were made ‘whole’”[ii] We should not ignore Jeremiah 17:9, which states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” In this verse, the word “wicked” can also be translated “sick.” Now, consider that our word sōzō means to rescue, provide salvation and heal or to make whole again that which is broken or diseased. This word is used here in today’s text to indicate that a mother can be saved through child bearing. Having a child can, in a sense, rescue a mother from her faults. Having her children, a mother is given a saving grace from the Lord (not eternally, but in a temporal fashion). This activity makes the woman whole by providing her an opportunity to affect the future positively. We should go back to Genesis 3 and see where this began and gather the full impact of a godly mother bringing up her children.
When we read the sin account in Genesis 3, we find that what Eve wanted was to be like God. She made her own decision concerning the tree regardless of what God told her. She saw that it was good for food even though God said it was dangerous. She saw that it was delightful to the eye, even though God said she should not appreciate it; and she surmised that she could, through eating the fruit, gain some wisdom that God was not otherwise willing to give to her. She did not trust God. Then, she involved her husband and he (men this is all our fault) ate of the forbidden fruit.
Woman was the first to question God’s integrity, honesty, provision and wisdom. Woman then impugned His character, challenged His virtue, doubted His power and thought herself able to gain more wisdom than what God would permit. Ladies, that all sounds bad, and it was bad, make no mistake. This is why we read in Genesis 3:16 about the curse that befell women. Nevertheless, ladies, God tells you that you are saved through child bearing. One might ask, how, if your sorrows are multiplied in conception and child bearing, are you “saved” – especially if we understand “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” I suggest to you ladies that in rearing your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, you actually receive a level of reconciliation in your relationship with the Lord. You work to reconcile the beginning sins in the Garden of Eden. You have a way to connect with God the Father that men are incapable of comprehending. Where Eve first made the mistakes that Adam further complicated, now you ladies have the opportunity to redress these first errors through your children. In many ways, you can be saved through the children you rear. That salvation certainly does not lead to eternal life. That was the Lord’s work. The salvation intended is spelled out in the understanding of the previous verse – that ladies were first deceived in the transgression. You are to seek God’s wisdom and never again fall prey to the deception of Satan by rearing your children with a growing awareness of the subtlety of evil. Rear your children so they do not fall prey to Satan’s deceptive evil.
If you nurture your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, your dedication and service is noted in a fashion that we men cannot appreciate. Your motherhood, dedicated to serving God and turning the tables on Satan’s first temptations, is a special gift you can give to God. In this effort, you are saved from the silence called for in verse 12. Mothers, in this effort you are in many ways restored, saved, preserved or made whole through your children as you raise them to serve God.
This is a great blessing to you mothers. To cultivate godly children in your home provides you an avenue of reparation or a way to heal the damage caused by the fall. You can rescue your children from the full impact of worldly sin by preparing them in a godly fashion. Although you certainly earn no salvation, and there is no works righteousness involved, you are saved from silence in order to rescue your children from the dangers of the world. Preach the word to them, teach them, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort your children (2 Tim 4:2). Keep them focused upon the ways and things of God, display to them the humble servants heart and obedient spirit that they need to find salvation. Teach them of the things that you know God looks for in His children. You are saved from silence to introduce the Savior to your children for His eternal salvation of their souls. You are saved from silence such that you can lead your children to soul-healing faith in Christ. You are saved in order to display the submitted love of Christ to them that He displayed to this world as He gave Himself out of love for the world (Jn 3:16).
There are conditions to these wonderful blessings. Being a godly mother is not a natural activity for you ladies. Eve herself had a sinful heart and I am sure when Cain killed his brother, she was torn with what she may not have done to teach him. Remember that, ladies. The one woman who had probably the most direct contact with God had a child who killed his sibling out of jealousy. Let that sink in a little. Do not use it as an excuse for your children’s bad behavior. Just understand that your children’s hearts are as sinful as Cain. Still, there is a promise here for mothers.
II. Continuing Godliness (15b)
We should note these are qualities (faith, charity, holiness, sobriety) that Eve lacked at the moment she bit into the forbidden fruit, and for an undetermined time thereafter when she again laid her dependence upon the Lord. Pride separated her from God. It was submissive faith that would place her back in fellowship with God.
God’s word says “if.” The word translated “if” (ean) is universal. It mostly indicates a point in time that is concurrent with the activities mentioned. “Ean” also has a conditional flavor to it such that each happenstance is tied to the other while happening simultaneously as well. This could be indefinite and it could indicate multiple specific incidents. We will do a “Tim’s Translation” to see if we can grab some clarification:
“but because she will be saved (in) childbirth, if she might remain in faith and love (selfless agape love) and holiness with self-control (prudence, good sense).”
Tie the last part of this verse (self-control or prudence/good sense) to Psalm 111:10:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”
Ladies, wisdom comes through faith in all that God is, all He says and all He determines we should do. Understanding is a great gift of submission to the commandments of God that we know are for our safety, and to guide us to purity – and are not burdensome because we have a Savior, the Son of God. Ladies, you can receive a greater portion of grace through (and for) your children in this wisdom. You must have faith that God will deal with your children fairly and appropriately and His plan for them is perfect. You cannot second-guess what is there; you must rest in His decisions. Eve failed to do this in the garden. If you fail, you too will perpetuate her sin. If you succeed in living life in faith, you will accomplish what Eve was unable to do. Praise be to you, and you are preserved in a sense through your children who see this life of faith.
We should discuss charity in the proper context. This charity is that selfless agape love. Therefore, when we open here and look at a continuing charity that mothers are to have, we must see this as a self-sacrificing love for God and her children. This is the charity being discussed here. Your charity shows your children your loving heart for God and them. We should remember that love is obedience. Love is submission. We show our love by keeping His commandments (Jn 14:15). Therefore, charity is tied to faith in God.
We exercise this faith and charity when we obey God’s word. Regardless of what you think personally, always seek God’s word for your answers and obey that word. We have received comments on our web site in the past concerning spanking. I mentioned it as an illustration once and received some rather uninformed and secular “counsel” from an individual. The fact is, parents not seeking a relationship with God are not attempting to please God as they nurture their children. The fact is, even many who say they are seeking a relationship with God are ignoring Him and His word in their parenting. However, the true Christian seeks to implement the things in the scriptures that are appropriate for children. Mothers, you too must seek out these tenets of child rearing, including corrective measures such as corporal punishment, and implement them in your lives. You may not have required much correction while growing up. Eve required none at all that we know of. However, your children may; and the amount of correction they require may be far more than you can imagine. Continue in your faith in the scripture’s wisdom and in the One who provided the scriptures and this wisdom.
The requirement for holiness in this scripture means the list is not getting any easier. Which of us can maintain holiness in our lives? None. Ladies, you are doubly accountable here because you must maintain your holiness before these children who see you day in and day out. Your children will see you at your best, and they will see you when you get up in the morning and you have a head of fuzz hair. Equally, you see more of your children than anyone alive does. In all this, you must maintain your holiness. There is much to say about being “down to earth;” but this detracts from holy and sanctified living in God in that it detracts from your testimony and reduces the effectiveness of your influence. Never let your children see you as someone that they do not have to respect or revere. You should command their respect and obedience through your activity and life. They must see you as holy, separate and distinct from them, just as God is holy, separate and distinct from you. You must mirror God’s holiness and reflect it back to your children. This is no small order ladies.
Sobriety or self-restraint is the final “ean” or “if” requirement. What does this mean? Jameson Faussett and Brown notes:
“Mental receptivity and activity in family life were recognized in Christianity as the destiny of woman. One reason alleged here by Paul, is the greater danger of self-deception in the weaker sex, and the spread of errors arising from it, especially in a class of addresses in which sober reflectiveness is least in exercise.”[iii]
“All these things must be united with a becoming soberness or seriousness of deportment… With modesty of appearance and manner – an eminent female virtue, whether in the sanctuary or at home… then sober-mindedness, moderation of the desires and passions (from referenced notes on 1 Tim 2:9).”[iv]
This is the modesty and decorum, the deportment of proper manners and appropriate social graces that mothers (for the most part) are more naturally given to. This “sobriety” is one that portrays the ladylike qualities of grace, composure, conservatism, poise and elegance associated with a woman of God. You, ladies, are to remain above reproach before your children. If you thought holiness was a tall order, the call to sobriety takes it to another level all together. Above all, you are to instruct your children in this godliness. You are saved from silence in the ability to give your children what the father cannot – manners and social grace.
Mothers, today we celebrate you. We celebrate the special place you have in this world, and the special place God holds for you. We celebrate your strengths and the things about you that make us who we are. Mothers who guide their children to God, to faith, to obedience, to submissiveness and to the strengths of meekness are mothers to cherish. Mothers are the loving souls who deal with us as young men – boys really – as they impart some level of sobriety to us. Mothers are the people that make us wash before we eat; they give us a level of civility in our lives that would otherwise be absent. Mothers are to be strong, and revered in the home.
Ladies, if my memory serves me, the home of Jonathan Edwards was a home where Mrs. Edwards was in charge. When young men were interning with Rev. Edwards, Mrs. Edwards was the one who was tasked with ensuring they learned manners, virtue in the home, table deportment and other elements of the very sobriety we have been discussing. These young men lived with the Pastor during their internships. Mrs. Edwards was in charge of ensuring they knew how to live like gentlemen, not just act like men of God. We could equally recount the strengths of Susannah Wesley. You, ladies, are the ones who give us men civility.
For these selfless efforts, God has promised that you are saved from silence in these capacities. You are able to teach, you are able to preach and you are able to instruct. Your salvation is in your own homes, under your roof and through your ministry to the family. You provide that strength and cohesion to the overall training of your children and other charges. You are moms, and no one, nothing can replace you. You are each unique, but you should all have a singular focus – to care for your children and those in the household in honor of God.
Men, one last comment for you. In the way of leadership, if you give your wife charge of certain aspects of the home, you too subject yourself to her command. Growing a home in the Lord is a cooperative effort with both parties deeply involved. You may be the decision maker, but wise leaders seek counsel and delegate responsibility and authority. You must show your children that whoever is in charge is given the proper place of authority. Ladies, God gave you this authority in child bearing. Not to be lord over the home, but because you were capable of balancing both your dedicated servitude and submissive spirit with the authority you are given to exercise in the home. You can do this, but it is through faith in God that you accomplish it.
By continuing in faith, in love, in holiness, and in self-restraint where Eve failed, you are saved from her failing in order to give your children a hope of Christ’s salvation. Mothers are very special and very blessed – specially blessed indeed.
[ii] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Editors, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, United Bible Societies: New York 1989 2nd ed. Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc. ver. 3.6.
[iii] Jamieson Robert, Fausset, A. R., Brown, David. A Commentary Critical, Experimental and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, Vol III. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Pub Co., 1973), 486.
[iv] Albert Barnes’, Notes on the New Testament, Public Domain Derived from an electronic text from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library http://www.ccel.org, Formatted and corrected by OakTree Software, Inc. ver 1.0.