[This is part of a series of sermons on the topic of “One Another”. To access previous messages, please click here.]
Mothers are many things. They are evangelists, teachers, cooks, custodians, engineers, counselors and nurses among other things. Above all, if they are anything, good mothers are nurturers. They encourage their young ones to develop into good, solid citizens and cultivate these little hearts for the Lord.
It is only fitting that we have a day dedicated to the selflessness of motherhood. Mothers give up food from their plates and often dinner with the rest of the family to feed the brood.
Though our scriptures today are next in our normal study of One Another commands, what is a more fitting message for mothers than to describe the deepest passion and ability of mothers – how they selflessly put up with others.
Forgiveness is something I benefit from in my life every day. We receive forgiveness first from the Lord and it is because of this forgiveness that we are required to give it in return.
Though you may not find these scriptures exposited on Mother’s Day very often, I think it quite fitting to talk about tolerating one another in the love of Christ on Mother’s Day. We should consider what mothers regularly tolerate and forgive, and how their lives put these scriptures into perspective.
Mothers have husbands that they need to tolerate. Not many mothers are grease monkeys and enjoy a husband entering the home covered in motor oil, road grime, or destroying the nice clothes that they just picked out for him. A wife is first tolerant of her husband and his propensity to destroy all that is nice looking in as many varied and different ways as he can.
Mothers have children, both boys and girls. The girls experiment with the things they see mommy do and wear. This becomes interesting as lipstick gets into places and on things that you would not imagine. Ladies tolerate their little girl’s experimentations and desires to look like, be like and act like mommy.
Mommies have little boys too. These little ones are microcosms of the bigger boy/grease monkey we mentioned earlier. Though they do not start out ripping apart cars, these young ones certainly get into all the mud, dirt and grime they can find. When mom hears, “Mom, you gotta check this out!” she is immediately on guard. They also bring in bugs and reptiles which represent their own unique problems. Boys develop their curiosity at an early age and it usually never stops.
For these reasons and many more we find patient mothers to be one of the most God honoring and glorifying of creatures on the earth. They are patient and loving when they see storms on the horizon. They are careful and thoughtful when they might well be panicked. They are loving and patient in times of great tribulation.
I. Being Patient in Love (Eph 4:2-3)
Humility is a huge reason for this patient love. As believers we are encouraged to humility, recognizing our position before the Lord. Lowliness should develop from our considerations of God’s vastness, power and wisdom. Mothers realize they are not alone in the world of motherhood and their part is very small in the overall scheme of things. They must regularly and rightly put their world into perspective. When this is done properly, mothers develop a great patience with their own children. It is not permissive of destruction or ungodliness, but it takes into account the individuality of each child.
Gentleness and meekness also stem from these truths. Meekness is not admired among men as it is seen as weakness; however, we are encouraged in 2 Corinthians 10:1 to have the meekness and gentleness of the Lord. This comes through the Spirit of God within us.
In today’s society, this misunderstanding of meekness seems to have been translated to women as well. This is sad. A meek woman can orchestrate a godly household run with firmness. Her efforts are unmatched by any egomaniacal self-serving woman being cultivated in the world today. Demanding “woman’s rights” is not a natural act for a woman. Gentlemen should rightly recognize the gentle beauty of a woman and properly treat ladies in society as they were meant to be treated. Chivalry should never die. Some things that should come naturally to society have been lost in the world today because of the growing egocentricity in our society. Godly mothers build this character into their children. They do not train meekness, kindness, gentleness and love out of them by having them demand their rights.
Patience is a key ingredient and develops only through true love. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). We become impatient when we do not get what we want. Children exhibit this behavior as they have been trained by parents to do so. Patient mothers work carefully with their children to cultivate patience and suppress selfishness. When we get impatient, things tend to irritate us. I frequently tell parents that they must be mindful of the period of time they have to work with their children. Many want results NOW, TODAY. “Why do I have to tell them a zillion times to…?” The answer is simple – because they are children, and because you are supposed to be their mother. Patience sees the road as long and laborious and accepts the responsibility to get to the end of that road tomorrow, next week, next month or next year and not today, in this hour.
Putting up with one another through Christ’s love in you is what all this amounts to. As we have talked extensively about the church body unifying, we should pattern this after a parental love for our children. We dedicate our lives to our children. We should rightly place the church and our church family within this circle of life. If our families learn that the church is the focal point of our life, our sanctuary, our refuge to worship God and be with God’s people, they will exercise this in their lives (Prov 22:6). While at church we serve others. Therefore, the focus of our life becomes service not self.
Mothers, you teach your children much when you forsake life with God for the things of the world. It is tough some times that we have to put up with other people’s children to do this, but our children must learn how unfair the world can be so they can appreciate how perfect Heaven will be. In this way, we teach them to strive for eternal things in life, forsaking the imperfections of our world here. We have to have ultimate patience for one another in these things.
Verse 3 goes further. We should be eager to maintain unity through the Holy Spirit to promote peace among us. Mothers, in teaching our children the tenets of this One Another command, and in practicing it yourselves, you do a great service to God and especially to your children.
The eagerness in verse three is an attitude that develops into a driving force. It is something that you are ready to work hard at, put in an intense effort to accomplish, expend all your energy to do. Mothers, you should be eager to maintain the unity of your families in the Spirit, in the bond of peace.
In our little church here, we too should focus upon expending all our energies to maintain unity of Spirit and a bond of peace. Mothers play a big part of that by leading their children to this place as a place of rectitude, peace and enjoyment. Mothers, you have a tremendous task in leading your families to Christ and His family through a patient love that stems from all forms of humility, meekness and patience.
A very large part of the ability to be patient as a mother is in your great capacity for forgiveness and forbearance in the face of great challenges. You ladies are amazing forgivers.
II. Being Patient in Forgiveness (Col 3:13)
We should first review biblical forgiveness to get an idea of the magnitude of this effort.
- Ephesians 4:32 – those who are forgiven are to forgive.
- We cannot refuse to forgive (Luke 17:4-10)
- Those who repent are to receive our forgiveness (Luke 17:3)
- Further, we are to forgive even when there is no repentance (Mark 11:25). If we are praying, and we think about something someone did, we forgive them immediately. Here there is no demand for the recognition of forgiveness by the brother or sister. There is loving patience and long suffering, even forbearing their actions and attitudes.
How unique a challenge is this to us! The word you see here as “quarrel” is a word used only once in scripture. This word means complaint or grievance. This implies there is blame.
There is a picture that D. L. Moody used to give about the Lord that is interesting. Moody hypothesized Jesus telling Peter,
“Go, Hunt up the man who put the crown of thorns on My head and tell him that I love him. Tell him that he can have a crown in my kingdom, one without a thorn. Find the man who spat in my face and preach the gospel to him. Tell him that I forgive him and that I died to save him. Find the man who thrust the spear into my side and tell him that there is a quicker way to my heart.”[i]
That is forgiveness. There is certainly a cause for grievance in our Lord Jesus, with all the mocking, false accusations, failed spiritual leadership and simple vehement hate. Yet, here He is willing to forgive.
In this same way I see our calling here in our church, beginning with motherhood. The church will grow, but mostly from inside where godly mothers rear godly children for the church. God brings others here He deems appropriate for our ministry. Mothers cultivate the loving hearts of their little children to grow in faith in the Lord from within.
Children must be trained to forgive others for the wrongs perpetrated against them. These little hearts must never place their personal desires before the needs of others. Mothers train their children to forgive out of a sense of selflessness that forsakes any right to a complaint or grievance and reaches out instead to forgive one another. In this way tantrums, crying fits that only show selfish desire and other similar behaviors are unacceptable. Though as a mother you may want your child to experience the minimum of emotional or physical pain possible, this is not the truth in life. Life is full of pain and suffering and our Lord took all of that upon Himself on the cross (Is 53:5).
Truly, this can be one of the greatest challenges of motherhood, forsaking protectionism to teach your child selflessness. You want your children treated fairly. Every mother is protective of their children. Ladies, you are not the sow bear though, you are a created human woman capable of much greater love than any animal. If we are to grow in Christ, we must teach our children Christlikeness. Jesus saw the big picture in His persecution, torture and death. He was not here to judge, but to save. Mothers, you can go a long way to training a heart to selflessness if you teach your children that nothing is worth more than showing the love and forgiveness of Christ in their lives. No personal desire, no toy, no way or form of play, no food, nothing is worth more than Jesus Christ and Him in you.
Ladies, teaching your children these principles of tolerating one another in the love of Christ is key to your rearing them in a godly way. Teach your children forgiveness. Teach your children to ask for forgiveness. Teach your children to forgive others regardless of the perpetrator’s attitude or aptitude. There is no such thing as fairness with respect to Christlikeness. Nothing is truly fair and the sooner we all grasp this concept and just put up with one another in an air of forgiveness the sooner we will all live together and bask in the forgiveness of Christ. Mothers, you are the first line on the battlefield for these purposes.
Being patient in forgiveness and being patient in love – what two ideologies better describe motherhood than these two great pillars of social interaction?
Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that your first calling, your first duty, your first need as a Christian is to realize that you have been forgiven and extend that Christlike forgiveness to others. In this way, any imperfections you see in others you immediately move past, because you recognize that you too have your imperfections. We find tolerance for one another and a building unity within our church body in mutual recognition of imperfection.
Ladies today is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to you all. May God bless you all and may God encourage you all to a higher level of Christlikeness that promotes patience in forgiveness and love for others. You can promote selfishness or selflessness in your children. You can promote forgiveness and forbearance or anger and mercilessness in your children. You can promote the epitome of Christlikeness or worldliness in your children. You will teach them either that nothing is more important than Christ and fellowship with His believers, or that their individual lives and desires are more important than anything else. You literally have control of the beginning understandings of future generations.
It is your choice. You can exercise great tolerance and love in Christ. God made you with this capacity. You are the beginning of all life after the initial creation and God has entrusted these lives to you for cultivation and development. Will you choose godly tolerance and the love of Christ? I pray you do.
[i] John Phillips, Exploring Colossians&Philemon, An Expeditionary Commentary, (Kregel: Grand Rapids, 2002), 180.