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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
May 11, 2014
Motherhood: A Blessing or a Curse?
Something that I have noticed over the years, and perhaps you have also noticed the same thing, is that our society no longer looks at motherhood the way that it did in the past. Mothers were respected by society when I was a kid back in the 1960’s- 1970’s. Moms were properly proud of their role in the home and in society. There is now a serious question in the minds of many whether being a mom is a blessing or a curse. What are some of the reasons for these changes?
The Curse Feminism
There was a time when a woman who was simply a homemaker and a mom was held in high esteem. Society recognized the benefit it received from the time and energy she put into her own home and into her community. She was not only available to meet the needs of her own family, but also the needs of others. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, she was often involved in community affairs and even entrepreneurial endeavors, but her focus was her family.
Society now has a generally negative view of women who are homemakers, and it is outright disapproval and disdain in some circles. Their mantra is that a woman is “not meeting her potential” unless she has employment outside the home. Women are told they have to have some sort of career other than their family. They make allowances for her to take a few months off to take care of a new born, but she should quickly get back on track. I have seen people do that to Diane many times over the years.
Many women she has met in the course of daily life have given her minimal respect until they find out that she is also RN with a BS degree and PHN certification. Most of them then think I am some sort of tyrant that is suppressing her since she is not working professionally as a nurse. When Diane explains that she wanted to stay home to take care of her family, they become quite perplexed. What kind of woman would choose to do that in today’s society? What about her career? What about her self-esteem? What about all the money she could be making?
Radical feminism has failed in many respects, but in this area they have been very successful. They have saddled women with the same distortion that men suffer from which is that you are only as important as your career. What you do for a career makes you important, and the more prestigious your job, then the more important you must be. The level of fame, power or money you achieve ranks you in society. The end result is an extreme pressure on those who would like to be a mom. They are expected to do all the things moms have always done including love their kids, keep the home, and be involved in the community, but they are also expected to pursue a career. You have to be superwoman. If you like that, then thank the next radical feminist you meet for helping make these changes in society. If you don’t, you can blame those same feminists for the fact that women have been quickly catching up with men in their rate of ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
With this sort of pressure on women, no wonder there is an increasing delay in getting married and in having children. The average age of women having their first child has risen from 21 in 1970 to 25.8 in 2012. The number of births in the U.S. to women 35 and older went from 14,146 in 1970 to about 133,000 in 2012. It is more important for couples to remain as DINKs – Double Income, No Kids – in order to achieving society’s materialistic goals of having nice cars, a large fully furnished house, lots of stuff and going on exotic vacations. The truth is that you can never afford children and they are never convenient. You just have them with a resulting lifestyle change to meet the new responsibilities. Having children should force you to mature, but that is one reason for the delay by so many couples. They do not want their lifestyle to change. They want to continue to spend their time and money on themselves and not on children and everything that goes with them. The most pressure is on the wife because she cannot figure out how children could fit into her already busy life.
The Curse of Humanistic Parenting Philosophies
Feminism is the first factor that leads society to wonder if children are a curse because of the pressure it puts on women to be superwomen who do it all. The second factor that leads people to wonder if children are a curse is the humanistic parenting philosophy that now dominates our nation which results in a child centered family. The supposed “leading experts” reject Biblical discipline and redefine nurture as meeting the child’s felt needs. From day one, mom is expected to center her world around little junior or princess. She is even told that she will not have a full night’s sleep for a year or two, and then she will have that dreaded of all creatures in her home – the two year old.
During the early years of our parenting, Diane & I were told all sorts of negative, unsolicited stories and comments about babies and toddlers. These came from people who had reaped the results of their own failed parenting practices or those that ignorantly repeated such stories as supposed wisdom. When you have your first child, you will hear a negative comment here or there about babies and children, but those are balanced out by people who are excited for you having your first child. When the second child comes along, the balance quickly begins to shift. Diane got a lot of sympathy from people when Jonathan was two and she was visibly pregnant with David. She heard things like, “Oh my dear, how terrible! You have a two year old and your having another baby. I am so sorry for you.” When Diane was pregnant with Jimmy, it got worse and some people acted like she must be insane while I got looks that said, “How could you be so cruel!”
If the negative stories and comments about the babies and toddlers were not bad enough, later on you get them about teenagers. The way some people talk you would think that when a child turns 13 they become space aliens. I heard one guy jokingly say that the best thing to do when a child becomes a teenager is to put them into a barrel with a hole in it to feed them, then plug the hole when they turn 16 and don’t let them out until they are 21.
With the kind of pressures that are now placed on moms to be superwomen combined with the way most children behave, it is no wonder that so many people now do view children as a curse instead of a blessing. That is not God’s plan for the family. That is why Diane and I have put so much effort over the years into teaching the word of God including the various marriage and parenting classes. Did you know that most babies will sleep through the night by the eighth week if you train them correctly? Did you know that two year olds are terrific, not terrible? Did you know that teenagers do not have to rebel? In fact, teen rebellion is a rare phenomena everywhere except in American and similar western societies, and it has only been common here since the 1960’s. Diane and I have been though all those years in our parenting and the teens were by far the best in our family life. I would say that it is even better now that our three sons are young adults except that our various schedules makes it difficult to do things as a family as we did while they were still teens. We have been greatly blessed by our sons and have found them to be precious treasures. Psalm 127:3 could not be more clear, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward.”
Children are a Blessing
Children are a gift and a reward, but whether they are a blessing or not depends a lot on what is done in training them. This brings up an interesting observation found in 1 & 2 Kings. All the kings of Judah have their mother listed by name. The formula used is King X was Y years old when he began to reign and he reigned Z years. His mother’s name was A, the daughter of B. The next verse then tells whether that king was good or evil. (1 Kings 15:1-3, 9-11; 22:42-43; 2 Kings 8:16-18; 15:32-34; 18:1-3; 21:19-20; 22:1-2; 23:31-32, 36-37; 24:8-9, 18-19). That does not seem significant until you notice that the mothers of the kings of Israel or any other nation are not noted. In addition, Hebrew genealogies only rarely mention mothers. The genealogies found in Genesis 5, Genesis 11, and 1 Chronicles 1-8 only trace lineage through the fathers. The genealogy of Jesus given in Luke 3 traces only through the fathers. Only in Christ’s genealogy in Matthew 1 are there any women mentioned, and then there are only 4 in 43 generations. So when the mother is mentioned, it is significant.
What is the significance of the mothers being mentioned in 1 & 2 Kings? In part it clarified who was being talked about since it was not uncommon for the kings to have more than one wife, but it also suggests the importance of the mother’s influence. Her son would either be her glory or her shame. Proverbs 10:1 states, “A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.” Proverbs 17:25 adds, “A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him.” Proverbs 29:15 gives one of the reasons for this, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”
There is a principle that runs through the scriptures when it comes to parenting. A parent’s glory or shame is their children. Parents do bear a responsibility in how their children turn out. That truth is not popular because our society is very influenced by modern psychology which has brought respectability to the Genesis 3 syndrome. What is that? There is always someone else to blame! God asks Adam why he had broken the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and Adam blames both Eve and God saying, “the woman whom Thou gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (vs. 12). God then asks Eve what she had done and she blames the serpent saying, “the serpent deceived me, and I ate” (vs. 13). Parents do bear responsibility. That is not popular, but it is true. We all know that instinctively which is why parents are so sensitive when it comes to their children, especially any criticism of them, because it does reflect on them.
Children are gifts, and the fruit of the womb is a reward from God. Are they a blessing or a curse? That depends on the parents view of life and what they do with their children. If mom views the children as an intrusion into her life, a blockage to what she wants, then they will be a curse, for children take finances, time & energy. Kids require unselfish sacrifice and that is considered to be a curse by a selfish woman. In addition, if she fails to follow the Biblical principles in dealing with them and lets them get their own way, then they will become a curse because they will bring shame and bitterness to her.
The Scriptures are clear that children can be and should be a great blessing. That does not mean they are not a lot of work, nor does it mean that they will not hurt you, but it does mean that they bring a great joy and satisfaction to life if they are brought up according to God’s design.
God’s Design for Mothers
What is God’s design for parents? To have your own life focused on Him and train that into your children. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 states all of this very clearly. This section begins, “Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38 that to love the Lord God in this way is the greatest commandment. This is the foundation we are to build our lives life upon. This is the purpose for which God created us. Verse 6 then adds, “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” The law of God is to be bound into the hearts of all God’s people. We should have a love for the Scriptures as is expressed in Psalm 119 which declares over and over again a great love for God’s word because it gives the needed direction in how to walk in godliness. There is a special necessity for this to be true for parents because they must instill this into their children. Verse 7 states, “and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
The major responsibility for this falls on dad’s shoulders because he is ultimately responsible to God for it, but much of the practical application of it falls on mom since she spends so much more time with the children. Notice something here in verse 7 that seems to be missing in the manner in which our society approaches teaching children. Teaching is to occur constantly in every kind of situation, and it is to center on teaching them about God and what He wants. Our tendency is to regulate teaching into time blocks with different segments of time allotted to different subjects. Many even do that with the spiritual training of their children thinking the church programs such as Sunday School, children’ church, AWANA and other such programs are sufficient. Whether for an adult or a child, the most any church program can do is augment what you do at home. A child needs to see Christianity modeled for them to really understand it. It is more caught than taught in this respect.
Have you considered what your children have learned about God as they watch and listen to you? Who is God? What is He like? Does God care about me? Can I talk to Him, and if so how? How does God want me to behave? What has God done in the past? What will He do in the future? Can I trust God? What answers to these questions have your children learned from you?
Children imitate us, and that can be scary at times and especially so when it is a public setting in which they reveal our failings and bad habits. The wise parent uses that reflection to change themselves so that they will live a more godly life and be a better role model for their children. Tell me, what have your children learned from watching you? Your children will reveal that to those that watch them. Do your children see you in a living relationship with the Savior? What are you telling them about the Lord by the things you say and do? A little poem by LeMoyne Holste entitled “In Mother’s Shoes” expresses some of this.
In their mother’s high heeled shoes, Little girls go walking.
Trailing colored scarves and jewels, Pretend they’re grown ups talking.
Doing just what Mother does, Remembering all they see.
Little girls pretending That they are you and me.
Walk straightly then, O mothers, And guard each word you say.
Lest little daughters in your shoes, Should come to grief some day.”
Children are given to us from God. Whether they will be a curse or a blessing largely depends upon us. It is a function of how we view life and what we do with our kids to raise them in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). What do you teach them by your words? What do you teach them by how you live life? Parenting is a big responsibility, but not one without help, for if you follow the principles of Scripture, the Lord will work in and through you to accomplish His work in your children.
Help From the Lord
It is important to emphasize that God does not leave any parent alone to accomplish His will. While a single parent, and sometimes even a married parent, may feel alone in fulfilling their parenting responsibilities, the Lord has provided all the resources needed.
First, Jesus has promised to be with you always even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20), and He has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in you (Romans 8:11), so you are not alone even if you feel that way.
Second, God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), and He will perfect the good work He started in you until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). While God requires you to walk by faith in obeying Him, He is the one that strengthens you to do so (Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:13).
Third, God has given us His word. 2 Peter 1:3-4 states that by His divine power, God has granted to you everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him which comes by His precious and magnificent promises. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 states, 16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The better you know the Bible, the better able you will be to carry out God’s will in your own life and in your children so that they are blessing.
Fourth, Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; and Ephesians 4 all point out that God places you in His church so that the various gifts, ministries and abilities He gives to individuals can build up the entire body to maturity. In addition, God places you with other believers so that you and they can carry out all the “one another” commands by which we give both practical and spiritual help to one another. Counsel and help from godly people can both keep you from falling prey to the ungodly parenting advice from those who are worldly, and direct you in the paths of righteousness so that both you and your children are blessed and become blessings.
The first two resources are only for Christians. The Holy Spirit does not indwell the non-Christian and there is no promise by God to strengthen the unbeliever. However, you do not have to continue in that state for it can be changed today by repenting – turning from your sin – asking God to forgive you and placing your faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He paid the price of your sins on the cross of Calvary so that you could be redeemed and forgiven of all hour sins and adopted by God into His family of believers. Talk to me or any of our church leaders after the service today.
The last two resources are more meaningful to the believer, but they are also blessings to non-Christians if they will follow the commands, principles and precept of the Bible and seek godly counsel for how they live. Americans for many generations have received that blessing because the nation at one time adhered to Biblical morality and wisdom. That is no longer true as a nation, but the blessings will still be there if you do so individually.
Understand that in godliness is not about your own ability, but rather trust in God’s ability to do His work through you as you obey Him. You must apply that truth in every area of your life. That is what it means to live a life of faith. You trust God to do His will through you as you are faithful to what He wants you to do.
That is true with your kids. As you faithfully apply what the Bible tells us about raising your children, which includes teaching them about God in word and deed and being a godly example (Deut. 6), providing proper discipline to help them deal with their sinfulness (Proverbs 22:15; 23:13-14), dealing with them fairly so as not to provoke them to anger (Ephesians 6:4), accurately assessing their abilities so as not to exasperate them (Colossians 3:21), and training their hearts, not just their behavior (Proverbs 2, etc.), then God will mold your children into wonderful blessings even if they do not become Christians themselves. If you are not diligently following and obeying God in how you rear your kids, then the pressures of our society will mold them into something opposite of what God wants, and those children will be as a curse. They will be a source of shame and bitterness in the present and the future. Whether your children will be a blessing or a curse is dependent on you. God is faithful and will do His part. There is no question about that. Will you obey Him and do your part? Your children will reveal it one way or the other.
Prospects for the Future
Let me add a few final thoughts here to give hope to those whose children are as a curse or seem to be heading that direction.
All of us would like our children to have perfect behavior and attitudes. None of us like the embarrassment of their misbehavior, but the reality is that your children were born into your family as sinners, and one of your jobs as parents is correcting their sin (Proverbs 22:15, etc). Often their sin will be displayed in public to our embarrassment and even shame. Remember, both you who are embarrassed and those of you who might quickly judge the parents of such children, there are no perfect parents. Even the wisest parent fails at times. However, your concern for teaching your children to be wise and training them to be respectful and responsible must be more important than your own pride. The wise parent welcomes the insights and help of other godly people, so seek out their advice and ask others about the behavior of your children when you are not around. And if you are asked such questions, then give your advice and observations with humility and grace. Such parents need encouragement, not rebuke.
The foolish parent allows their pride to shun or reject the insights of others into their children. They become defensive of their little junior or princess, or worse, they go on the offensive. It does not take much of that to cause other adults to refrain from letting you know what your child is like outside of your presence, or worse, exclude your child because they do not want to deal with them or you.
In the body of Christ, we are to be used of the Lord in the lives of one another. We are all to work together for the purpose of building up the entire body, and that includes your children (Eph. 4). I am grateful for those who have helped Diane and I as we reared our sons. In this church, no parent has to be alone in raising their children. I greatly encourage you to be involved with one another and take advantage of the support, care, encouragement and yes, correction too, that occurs within the body. You and your children will benefit from it so that they are blessings, and not curses.
Finally, there is hope for those whose sons or daughters have walked away even to the point of estrangement. The key will be godliness on your part. We have seen the characteristics of godliness explained in The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-16 and those apply here too. Begin with humility in freely admitting your own failures and seek the forgiveness of God and all those offended by it. In meekness submit yourself to pursuing God’s will over your own. Hunger and thirst for righteousness and purity of heart so that actions and motivations are right and pleasing to the Lord. Be merciful to your children that have wronged you for you have received mercy from God. And though your desire is to have pleasant relationships with your adult children, you must have a greater desire that they become reconciled with God knowing that may mean they will react negatively to insult you, slander you and even persecute you. The reality is that walking with Christ will set family members against each other because the unrighteous will hate the righteous. Even then you can rejoice because so it has been with godly people who have gone before you, and there remains hope as your pray for your children because God can turn even what you believe are stubborn and wicked hearts. Diligently pray for the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin, open their eyes to see and believe that righteousness only comes through faith in Jesus Christ, and warn them of the judgment to come if they do not repent (John 16:8). Then patiently wait in the peace that only God can give though your heart yearns and aches for your wayward children.
Motherhood. A blessing or a curse? God has meant it to be a blessing. He will do His part, you must also do your part so that it is a blessing and not a curse.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up. 2) Count how many times the words “discern / discernment” is said. Talk with your parents about how to become discerning in your own life.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Define discernment. Why does God desire us to become discerning? Why did God give Manna to Israel in the manner that He did (Exodus 16:4-5)? Why did God leave so many Canaanite nations in the land (Judges 2:20-23)? Why did God tolerate false prophets (Deut. 13:1-4)? What is Peter’s warning about false teachers (2 Peter 2:1-3)? Why does John say we must test the spirits (1 John 4:1)? Why do professing Christians incorporate ideas and practices from false religions into their own beliefs and practices? How can cults be quickly identified? What is the danger of theological liberalism and experientially based belief systems? What is the test of a prophet in: Deut. 18:20-22? Deut. 13:1-5? Matt. 7:15-23? 2 Peter 2:1-3? Why must a person be a Christian to develop spiritual discernment? Why must you know the Bible to be discerning? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in developing discernment? Why is it self-deception to claim to walk by the Spirit but not know and submit to the Bible? How have you seen this manifested by “Christian” teachers or writers? Why must every teaching and every book be examined with a discerning mind to compare it to the Scriptures? What is the normal progression of a godly teacher? Why do some teachers start well but then veer off course or even end badly as apostates? What are you doing to develop your ability to discern? Are you doing your part to help mature and protect the rest of the church?
Sermon Notes: Motherhood: A Blessing or a Curse?
May 11, 2014 – Selected Scriptures
The Curse Feminism
Society used to ________________ the homemaker and mom
Society now looks down on a homemaker and may even _________________ her
Feminism has saddled women with the idea that success in life requires a ______________outside the home
The result is a pressure to be a __________________ who must be able to do it all
This pressure on women ________________ marriage and having children and extends selfishness
The Curse of Humanistic Parenting Philosophies
Ungodly philosophies result in homes that reject Biblical discipline & center on the ________of the children
A _______________of negative and positive stories and comments are given to those having their first child
A second child shifts comments to the _____________and with additional children your sanity is questioned
Negative comments are also commonly made about parenting ___________________
Did you know babies will sleep through the night, the twos are ____________and teen rebellion is cultural?
Children are a Blessing – Psalm 127:3
The importance of a ________________ influence – 1 & 2 Kings
A parent’s glory or shame will be their _______________- Proverbs 10:1; 17:25; 29:15
Parents are resistant to taking responsibility for their children due to the _________________ syndrome
Whether children are a blessing or curse depends a lot on the ______________ view of life and what they do
Children can and should be a great _______________, but they are still a lot of work and you will get hurt
God’s Design for Mothers
You must _________teach your children to know and love God in every situation of life – Deuteronomy 6:7
Children _____________and learn more by your example than your words –
You will raise your children according to your own view of God and life – ________are you teaching them?
Help From the Lord
1) Jesus is with and the Holy Spirit ________________ the believer (Matt. 28:20; Romans 8:11)
2) God is at work in the believer (Phil. 1:6; 2:20) Walk by ____& He strengthens you (Eph. 3:16; Phil. 4:13)
You become a Christian by ________of your sin & placing your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ
Following the Bible and getting godly counsel bring ________________to both Christian and non-Christian
Godliness is a matter of trusting _____________ ability to work through you as you follow Him
If you are not diligently following God in raising your children, then the pressures of ______will mold them
Prospects for the Future
No parent wants to be embarrassed by their children – but they arrive as ____________, not saints
Even the wisest parent fails at times – but wise parents _______seek out the insights & help of godly people
Despite their children’s misbehavior, foolish parents remain _____and become defensive – or even offensive
In the body of Christ, we are to be used of the Lord in the lives of _____________________
There is __________for those whose sons or daughters have walked away even to the point of estrangement
Follow the characteristics of the _________- humility, meekness, righteousness, mercy, purity, peacemaking
Diligently ________for the Holy Spirit to do His work in your children – and patiently wait in God’s ______
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