The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘The Strength to Bear’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 5/10/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1PH3hLz
Thank You, Mom
Let’s start with a simple fact: none of us would be here without our mothers. Mothers bring us into this world, and they care for us from day one. Moms have an exceptionally tough job, and they do it well. Moms love us unconditionally, especially when we don’t deserve it.
Today is Mother’s Day, and we’re going to celebrate by honoring the mothers in our church. I want to recognize and acknowledge what a tough job mothers have in front of them. To do that, we’re going to take a look at the life of Timothy.
Timothy was a great, strong man of God. On Paul’s initial visit to Lystra, God healed a man who had been crippled from birth as Paul prayed. Paul returned several years later to find that Lystra had been profoundly impacted by the Gospel message. Timothy, though a young man, had already become a respected member of the Christian community there.
Timothy was a close friend & companion of Paul. Scripture details how Paul trusted Timothy like no one else:
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. – Phil 2:19-23
Timothy was a man of incredible faith, and proven character. Paul wrote 13 out of 27 books in the New Testament; Paul was listed as the co-author on almost half of Paul’s writings.
Like many founders of the early church, Timothy literally gave his life for the Gospel. According to church tradition, in the year 97 AD, the people in Ephesus were hosting a pagan festival. Timothy was 80 years old, and he wasn’t going to let an opportunity to preach the Gospel pass him by. As the people of Ephesus were parading around the city to honor their goddess Diana, Timothy stopped the procession. Though an old man, he halted everything to preach the message of Jesus Christ.
He was seized by the crowd, beaten, and dragged through the city. He left this world to be with Jesus, just as he had started out: full of faith and conviction, and unwilling to back down from representing Jesus well.
But how did Timothy become Timothy? Sure, God gave Timothy revelation to allow him to accomplish his mission. However, Scripture tells us that someone had taught Timothy to be filled with faith from a very young age. He was well-versed in Scripture because of his childhood:
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Tim 3:14-15
Timothy had known about salvation since childhood. Someone had encouraged him as he walked out his faith, and demonstrated the Gospel with his actions. So who was it who had helped and encouraged Timothy along the way?
Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. – Acts 16:1
It wasn’t his dad! Timothy’s household was like so many homes all over the world: his father didn’t go to church, and his mother was left to bear the burden of raising her children according to Scripture. Finally, Paul fully reveals who was at work behind the scenes in Timothy’s life:
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” – 2 Tim 1:5
Paul thanked God for the women of faith in Timothy’s family: first his grandmother Lois, and then his mother Eunice. This morning, we are here to thank the great women of faith in your family.
The mothers in Timothy’s life were responsible for his faith-filled upbringing. They had shouldered the responsibility of preparing Timothy for his call to preach the Gospel. Without his mother and grandmother, Timothy wouldn’t be Timothy; and without your mother, you wouldn’t be you!
A Mother’s Faith
Moms do so many things. One of the many things we see women do faithfully in Scripture is pray. Hannah was a woman of prayer: though barren, she “…prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Sam 1:10). God heard her prayers, and Samuel was born. Because Hannah was faithful in her promise to lend Samuel to the Lord, he judged Israel for many years. Eli, his mentor, was an imperfect teacher; but Samuel had learned to be faithful nonetheless. Without Hannah, there would have been so Samuel; without Samuel, no Saul anointed king; and without Saul, no David!
Lydia was also a woman of prayer (see Acts 16). She was a successful businesswoman, but still found time to meet with other women to worship God. When Paul arrived at Philippi, her heart was ready to receive the Gospel. Her entire household was baptized because of her prayers.
The list goes on and on. Mothers have a knack for persistent prayer. In fact, I would be willing to bet that most of us are churchgoers because, somewhere along the line, a mother in our family was praying for us. It might have been your own mother, or it might have been your grandmother. But, odds are you have a relationship with Jesus Christ because a woman of faith has been praying for you.
I remember how hard my own mother used to pray for me. When I was going through a rebellious stage – hanging out with friends who were up to no good, and partying a little too much – my mother was at home praying for me. She wouldn’t go to sleep until I got home, no matter what time that was. I would come home, and she would be awake: waiting, and praying. I am forever grateful for her persistence.
Mothers are natural teachers. They have patience and learning acumen that not many men have. If it weren’t for your mother, you wouldn’t know the things you know today. You wouldn’t be the person you are, here and now. I’m not saying that your father didn’t do diddly when it comes to raising you right: but I am saying that your mother probably had the biggest role in teaching you the ropes for this journey called life.
Mothers have taken on the responsibility of educating our future generations. In the U.S., more than three quarters of teachers are women. That percentage is increasing over time, not decreasing. Women have borne the burden of making sure Proverbs 22:6 plays out in the lives of our children:
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. – Prov 22:6
Mothers are the ones who do most of the child-rearing and education: both in our families, and in our communities. It’s time we honor them for it.
We have a lot of young mothers in our church. As often as I can, I try to find ways to make mom’s feel welcome and at ease at CityLight. As I was reflecting on Mother’s Day, I found this excerpt from an open letter to parents that sums up how I feel about moms in church particularly well:
“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.
“I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant carseat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.
“And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper. I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.
“I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.
“When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn’t about Bible Study or personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and Sacrament together.When you are here, I have hope that these pews won’t be empty in ten years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship. I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.”
Being a mom is the toughest job you’ll ever have. But it’s worth it. We need women like you. Thank you for everything you do.
The Strength to Bear
Mothers do what men cannot. Women have strength to bear burdens that would crush men if we tried to take them on. In my opinion, this is where the feminist movement comes up short. Women aren’t meant to be copies of men. They are not designed to be the same as men. Women and men are designed to be different.
The difference between women and men is something that should be celebrated, not avoided. Difference does not imply superiority. Men are not better than women; and women are not better than men. Both sexes are unique.
As a church, our goal is always to respect the fact that everyone brings something to the table. Paul harped on this need to celebrate differences, rather than ignore them, to the Galatian church:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Gal 3:28
There are certain things women can do that I would never dream of attempting. Let’s celebrate some of those strengths!
Did you know that women are tougher than men? The obvious proof is childbirth. I watched a video recently from a church that sent two men to a doctor’s office. They were hooked up to machines that simulated mild contractions associated with childbirth. In other words, these poor men didn’t experience anything close to the actual pain of childbirth. But they both wilted. Women are tough!
MythBusters ran a special recently to test whether women tolerate pain better than men. They asked men and women to hold their hands in a bucket of one degree ice water for as long as they could before the pain became so overwhelming they had to pull it out. The men in the study held their hands in the water for an average of eighty-four seconds. The women? One hundred seconds. Women are tough!
Did you know that women are smarter than men? My wife is always right, and I am frequently wrong. If you’re married, you know I don’t need statistics to seal that point; but here they are anyway. Hedge funds run by women make three times as much money as hedge funds run by men. Companies with female CEO’s outperform companies with male CEO’s by nearly fifty percent.  Women are smart!
Did you know that women live longer than men? The average life expectancy for a man born in 2012 is seventy-six years. A woman born in the same year can expect to live to eighty-one: five years longer.
Throughout Scripture, we see men and women called to different tasks. Again, no Scriptural assignment is better than another; only different. Men are not better than women, and women are not better than men. Each sex is unique.
Many times, we see women called to bear a burden a man could never understand. Did you ever stop and wonder why God didn’t deliver His Son to a man? He planted Jesus in a family, with a mother who was a rock-solid woman of faith. Mary was chosen because she was able to bear a pain and suffering nobody else could bear. She would see her Son hang and die on the Cross for the sins of all mankind. Then, she would be called to support the disciples as they built the early church (see Jn 25-27).
Remember what Simeon promised Mary from the start:
Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” – Lk 2:34-35
Mary would experience a pain none of us can imagine. This mother had the strength to bear a suffering that no one else could ever know.
Mothers, we are here to honor you today. Thank you for everything you do. None of us would be here without you, and each of us is grateful for all the amazing things you do!
– by Pastor Mike White
© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 Timothy is listed as the co-author of 2 Cor, Philippians, Colossians 1, 1 Thess, 2 Thess, and Philemon.