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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
May 8, 2005
“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 when I was a kid. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, society respected motherhood, and mothers were proud of their role in the home and in society. In current times, there is 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?
A Curse Because of Feminist Pressure
There was a time when a woman who was simply a mom & a homemaker was held in high esteem. Society recognized the benefit it received from the time and energy she put into her children and in making the home a wonderful environment for all. She was available not only to meet the needs of her own family, but also the needs of others. Like the Proverbs 31 woman she was often involved in many other activities including entrepreneurial endeavors, but her focus was her family.
Society now views women who stay at home negatively. In some circles it is outright disapproval and disdain. 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 all the time. Many women she meets in the course of daily life tend to give her minimal respect until they find out that she is a 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 as a nurse. When Diane explains that she has chosen 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 to make a living 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 that the pressure is on moms to be superwomen. 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. They are also expected to work full time. 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 are quickly catching up with men in their rate of ulcers and heart attacks.
With this sort of pressure on women, no wonder there is an increasing number of DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) in our society. Achieving society’s materialistic goals of having nice cars, large fully furnished house, lots of recreational equipment and going exotic vacations, etc. have persuaded many couples that they cannot afford children. 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 where the resistance arises for more and more couples do not want their lifestyle to change, and the most pressure is on the wife because she cannot figure out how children could fit into her already busy life.
A Curse Because of Humanistic Parenting Philosophy
The first factor that leads society to wonder if children are a curse is the pressure put on moms to be superwomen who do it all. The second factor is the way moms are expected to treat their children, and how they behave as a result days. Lets face it, the humanistic parenting philosophy of supposed “leading experts” say that child centered parenting is in and discipline is out. 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.
Diane & I have story after story of negative, unsolicited comments about babies and toddlers. More recently we have been getting them about teens. All from people who have reaped the results of their own failed parenting practices or those that ignorantly repeat 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 shifts. 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 comments about the babies and toddlers are not bad enough, later on you get the comments 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 is to put them into a barrel with a hole in it to feed them when they become a teenager. 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 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 into teaching the various parenting classes over the years and why we continue place an emphasis upon them in this church. Did you know that most babies will sleep through the night by the 8th 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 looking forward to our boys becoming teens, and we are finding that the teen years are proving to be the best years in our family life. 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. They are a reward, but whether they are a blessing or not depends on what is done with them. That brings up another fact that has caught my attention. In reading through 1 & 2 Kings I noticed that 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, he reigned Z years. His mother’s name was A, daughter of B. The next verse tells whether he 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 note that the mothers are not noted for the kings or Israel or the kings of any other nation. In addition, Hebrew genealogies only rarely mention the mothers. Look at the genealogies of Genesis 5 or 11, or 1 Chronicles 1-8. All of these trace lineage only 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 says, “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, and I am sure all of us are aware of the Genesis 3 syndrome which is that someone else is always 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 gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (vs. 12). God 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 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. If she fails to follow the Biblical principles in dealing with them and lets them get their own way, then they will be a curse because they will bring shame and bitterness to her.
Children can end up being a curse, but that largely depends upon your view of life and what you do with them. But 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? To have our own lives focused on Him and train that into our children. Deut. 6:5-7 states all of this very clearly. This section begins, “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 Matt. 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 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 like what David expresses in Psalm 119. In that Psalm David expresses his great love for God’s word over and over again because it directs him how to walk in godliness. There is a special necessity for this to be true for parents because they need to 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 our societies approach to teaching children. The teaching goes on constantly in every kind of situation, and it centers 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 week-night programs and such 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. Especially so when it is a public setting in which they reveal 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 (Eph. 6:4). What do we teach them by our words? What do we teach them by our lives? Parenting is a big responsibility, but not one without help, for if we follow the principles of Scripture the Lord will work in and through us to accomplish His work in our children.
Help From the Lord
We see this principle in the Parable of the Talents in Matt. 25. In Jesus discourse on the Mount of Olives is He responding to His disciples questions about the signs for His return. In the several parables that Jesus gives in chapters 24 & 25, Jesus teaches the same basic principle with variations on that same theme which is that He is returning, and be sure to be ready because He will return when you do not expect Him. In this parable Jesus’ emphasis is to be ready by faithfully using what He has given to you.
Look at Matthew 25:14, “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.”
The kingdom of God is likened to this story. Jesus has gone to heaven where He is preparing things for us (John 14). While He is away from the earth He has entrusted His kingdom to His followers. To each true Christian He has given gifts, abilities and possessions by which we are to serve Him. The parable is dealing with money, but the principles brought out in this parable apply to our children as well since they are also a gift from God.
Verse 16, “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master’s money.” The first two invested what they received and gained a return on their investments. The third man simply hid the money to protect it.
Verse 19, “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.’ The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me; see, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.’
When the master came back to settle accounts with his slave, the first two who had gained a profit received praise and a promotion from their master. Each had been faithful with what they had been given and so they had proven that they would be faithful with more responsibility. That same principle is repeated in other places in scripture as well such as Luke 16:10-12; 19:17; Revelation 2:26; etc. as well as being seen in the lives of people like Abraham, Moses and David. 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1 tell us that a qualification for church leadership is faithfulness in giving godly direction to one’s children. Faithfulness in leading your family in godliness is a mark of someone qualified for the greater responsibility of leading God’s people.
The first two were faithful with what their master had given them. The last one was not. Verse 24, “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The last slave was foolish and did not even act upon what he knew to be true. The result was a rebuke and condemnation. What he had would be taken away and given to the one who had proved faithful. He himself would be cast out.
What was it that he knew but refused to act upon? The character of his master who reaped where he had not planted and gathered where he had not scattered. Instead the wicked slave let fear control him & he did nothing. Too many parents do that with their kids.
God gives every true Christian gifts, abilities and possessions by which we are to serve Him. We are called to be faithful in using those gifts, but it is God that gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6,7). It is not our ability we trust, but His ability to do His work through us. We must apply this in every area of our lives. That is what it means to live a life of faith. I trust God to do His will through me as I am faithful to what He wants me to do.
That is true with our kids. As we faithfully apply what the Bible tells us about raising our children, which includes teaching them about God in word and deed and being a godly example (Dt. 6), providing proper discipline to help them deal with their sinfulness (Prov. 22:15; 23:13,14), dealing with them fairly so as not to provoke them to anger (Eph. 6:4), accurately assessing their abilities so as not to exasperate them (Col. 3:21), and training their hearts, not just their behavior (Prov. 2, etc.), then God will mold our children into wonderful blessings. If we are not actively following and obeying God in how we rear our 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.
Let me add one final thought here. All of us would like to have our children 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 our jobs as parents is correcting their sin (Prov. 22:15, etc). Often their sin will be displayed in public. None of us are perfect parents. Even the wisest parent fails, but our concern for teaching our children to be godly is more important than our own pride, so we want to know when our children have wrong behavior and bad attitudes. The wise parent welcomes the insights and help of other godly parents. 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 attack. 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 from their activities.
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 and do help Diane and I with 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.
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 later. 2) Count how many times mothers are referenced. Children are commanded to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1) and honor them (Eph. 6:2. Talk with your parents about how well you have been obeying. Ask their forgiveness for any disobedience Find a creative way to honor your mom today. Talk with your parents about the importance of mom’s role in the family and how you can be a blessing to her.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What changes have you seen in American society in its esteem of motherhood? What importance is placed on moms having a job outside the home by society? By God? By you? What sacrifices must a mom make for her children? What sacrifices are you making? What sacrifices are you willing to make? What does God think of that? What is wrong with the humanistic philosophy of parenting common in our society? Explain. How do you react to children who are out of control? To their parents? Why? Are your children self controlled? Why or why not? What negative comments / stories have you heard about having / raising children. What positive comments or stories have you heard about having / raising children? What does God say about children? Why are the mothers of the Israelite kings mentioned in the Bible? What does this indicate about motherhood? What does the book of Proverbs say about motherhood? Rebellious children? Obedient children? Which verses do you need to apply in your own life? What is the Genesis 3 syndrome? If a child grows up to be rebellious, who is responsible? Explain. What is God’s design / role for mothers? What determines if a child will be a blessing or a curse? What help will you receive from the Lord in raising your children? What is your responsibility? What are the Lord’s promises? What is the role of other believers toward you & your children? Are you fulfilling that role toward other believers? What needs to change? What is your plan to change? When will you do it?
Sermon Notes – 5/8/05 a.m.
Motherhood: A Blessing or a Curse? – Selected Scriptures
Humanistic Parenting Philosophies
Proverbs 10:1; 17:25: 29:15
God’s Design for Mothers
Help From the Lord
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