Beth Moore - Mothering In The Faith
And let the church say hallelujah and amen, in the name of Jesus. I'm going to read to you out of 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, verses 3 through 12. You and I are going to settle in on verses 7 and 8 but I want to give you a little bit of context here. This is believed to be the very first letter of the Apostle Paul, very early in his ministry about in AD 51, just approximately. Writing to a brand new church maybe just three months out from having been there. Early, early letter, early, early time in the New Testament church. And he writes these words, and dry bones, hear the word of the Lord:
"For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with the pretext for greed, God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil. We work night and day that we not be a burden to any of you while we proclaim to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses and God also how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory".
With your patience, here's what I would like to do today. We're going to be considering 7 and 8, those two verses, but at all times we're going to consider them from two angles. So no matter what I say about one, I'm always making the comparison to the other. In some way they will also apply. So I want you to keep them separate in your mind and bounce back and forth between them, seeing that same track go along, same metaphor, but from two different perspectives. The first one is going to be the domestic family, the domestic family, your home, your household, your extended family that's close by. The domestic family. I didn't choose the word nuclear because that means in its most definite form, it means to have a both parent family and then the children. But I want to include not only a both parent family but a single parent family. I also want to think in terms of families that are step parenting and families that are raising grandchildren or any child in need of a home, blood related or not, fostering, nurturing anyone under your own roof.
So I want you to think in terms of that is the domestic family, the temporal family. On the other hand, there is the church family. So throughout our time together, throughout the next 19 minutes, think on both those tracks. Everything I say about one will also apply to the other. What I say about the church family will apply to the domestic family and vice versa. So go back and forth with me between the two as we talk together. I love how, from the time we opened up the service today, that your leaders have constantly called you family, Lake Point family because so often we'll find that, especially if we're talking about our priorities, we will split up the home and the church or the family and the church. We'll say, "Well, my priority's God first". And then we'll say, "And then there's my family and then there's my church".
But your church is your family, so is your domestic family. But so much has been lost in decades recently, and the whole idea that it was never in the New Testament thinker's mind that church would be a place we would drop in for about an hour and a half on a Sunday, and then we're out of it and that's it. It was definitely a community where life was invested. It was to brothers and sisters in the faith. This was their understanding, everyone pouring out their lives together, being there for one another, fellowshipping together, sitting at the Lord's table together. I mean, this was family in every way. In fact, there was the domestic family and then there was the church family. The domestic family is temporal, the church family eternal. The one is some representation of the other. And so I want you to think on both of those tracks with me because the beauty of this pair of verses is that it's applicable to mothers in the domestic family but it's also applicable to mothering in the church family.
Now, this is where all of us are drawn into the passage, whether it's man or woman, whether it's married or single, because this is a man using the metaphor within the church family of not only fathering, which he's going to get to in those verses that you heard me read a few minutes ago, but also mothering as essential ways that every congregation or every family of God, a local family of believers, is raised up into health and well-being. So we're all in here, all in here celebrating this Mother's Day of 1 Thessalonians 2:7 and 8. An opportunity for all of us to glean, whoever we may be. So if you are a mother, this is for you. And if you are called to mothering in any area of leadership within your faith group, whether it's mentoring or any kind of just helping somebody grow up in their faith, teacher, leader, pastor of any kind, there is some mothering in these passages that is exemplary and we don't want to miss it.
So we're able to say in this strange sort of way, happy Mother's Day, mothers and brothers. It says in 8 in the ESV: "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us". I want you to get in your mind, the connection between these two things, the gospel of God and our own selves. He said, "We were willing to share with you, so being so affectionately desirous. We were willing to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us". I'm going to pitch out that I think it's very possible that nothing is of greater importance in both the home and the church than the direct tie between those two things: the gospel of God and our own selves.
In fact, I go so far as to say that while the full blown crisis of recent years in American Evangelicalism is multifaceted for certain and by no means uncomplicated, I don't think anything bears more direct responsibility than the disparity between the gospel of God and our own selves. The disconnection of what was meant by Jesus to be utterly and obviously connected. It's indeed and precisely when the gospel that we preach and teach and lay claim to as our identity is at odds with our own selves that our witness unravels. And then the faith of those witnessing our unraveling witness shakes, and at times shatters. Listen, there's no stone throwing coming from here because I'mma tell you something, we all have a little hypocrite inside of us. Could anybody amen that with me? Just all of us do, all of us do.
Paul accused Peter of it in Galatians chapter 2. He said, "Before the people from the circumcision party came here to Antioch, you were eating with the Gentiles. But the second they got here, you separated yourself because you feared the circumcision party". And he said, "You were so effective in your hypocrisy that the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with you, so that even Barnabas was led astray". Even Barnabas, even Peter, and I'm sure Paul could see it in himself at times, as honest as he was with himself. So it's in there, all right. It's just how diligently we are willing to walk in the Spirit to disable it.
Now, I'mma tell you something, I am so glad, I'm so thankful for such a thing as grace in the family, the domestic family and in the church family. And you know, I'm gonna tell you something, and this is after 41 years of parenting, and I certainly don't have it all figured out or all together, but I can tell you this much: I don't think our kids expect us to be perfect. I really don't think they do. I think I think us being perfect parents would be too great a burden to bear. Flawless parents, too much. I think they expect us to be real. I think they expect us to mean what we say and to be the same person out about as we are inside our homes. I think they're looking for authenticity, and I'm gonna tell you something, they're perceptive. Kids, even little bitty kids are so on to us. And I think maybe of all the parental virtues, that trust is right alongside love, in this two conjoined chambers of the heart of parenting because it's trust, whether or not they can trust us, that tells us that they can even believe the love that we tell them that we have for them.
Now, I'm so thankful to say that by God's miraculous grace, broken trust can be rebuilt, but it requires diligent repair, very deliberate rebuilding, and it can it can be repaired but it can't be rushed. Can anybody see that with me? We can't bully, shame or pressure or manipulate people into restored trust, it just has to be built. But I'm gonna tell you this, the believability of the gospel of God has so much to do with the believability of the one who shares it. A direct relationship. So Paul is calling us as mothers, and then in the mothering role within the church family, that we're to live in such a way that we share the gospel of God and our own selves. Because it's in them knowing our own selves that they get a little bit of confidence to believe the gospel that we teach and represent and try to live by. I think that people need to know who we are when we're not hiding behind our Bibles.
The CSB uses the word nurturers to describe this faith mothering that you see, as we would say, as a nurse nurtures. So the nurture of the church at large and in local communities like Lake Point, it's not just critical to a healthy body, it's essential. There's no way around it. It's equally true of a child, of course, in the home. Nurture of a child within the domestic family is essential to his or her health, critical to making the making of a man of faith, critical to the making of a woman of faith. There are a couple of dimensions of nurture in verses 7 and 8 that I wanna pick out for you. I love these this little phrase, affectionate desire, "So affectionately desirous were we of you".
So I want to plant our attentions on those two words for just a moment, because that Greek term is a very intimate word that conveys the kind of yearning that flows from very deep affection. And so think with me on this because there's affectionate desire and then there's ambitious desire and they're two very, very different things. And surely you can agree with me that it's very, very appealing to ambitiously desire for our children, both in a domestic family and in the church family. But man, does that ever get in the way because there's always ego wrapped up in that, always pride wrapped up in that, always some kind, a desire that lacks affection is always self-serving. But what if our affectionate desires for our children, both in the domestic family and in the church family, were driven by the gospel of God? Follow me here for just a moment. I was a sports mom. Do I have any sports moms in the house? There's nothing quite like being a sports mom.
And you know when your husband won't sit with you that you're one of those kinds of sports moms. And listen, boy do I ever get praying that your kid's team is going to win. And I know the pressure of a kid standing in a free throw line and and you better believe I was praying about it, or in a pitcher's mound or 10 yard line or at the microphone about to sing the national anthem at a football game. I know what it's like to think, I hope they're going to get asked to the prom by who they hope they're going to get asked to the prom by. I know those things. My daughter has been a dance mom and a band mom, so I prayed for both those dance recitals and tryouts and band performances. I get it, I get it. Prayed about SATs and ACTs and tests at school and passing geometry, all of those things, yes, yes, yes.
But what if even more than that, we prayed that their lives would produce much fruit to the great glory of our God, showing themselves to be disciples? Because when we raise our kids in the gospel of God, listen, they're not just doomed to failure because there is nothing, listen to me carefully, there is absolutely nothing that God cannot bear fruit from. "You have not committed the failure that given over to him in your repentance and your surrender that he cannot use to produce much fruit". Imagine raising a kid like that? "Oh, babe, you think you've destroyed your life but let me tell you something, let me tell you about the gospel of God alive under this roof". Well, what if we pray that their rewards in heaven would be many? What if we prioritized that our children would have a heart for the marginalized and scorned, and for the poor and the mistreated? Yes, let's pray for them to be good students and pass tests, but let's pray for them to be good people, good Samaritans, people who love God and neighbor.
What if we prioritized in our prayers that they be people of tremendous faith and enduring love, and that they'd not be caught up in the narcissism of this toxic culture? I'm gonna tell you something, fellow moms and fellow parents, if we want to love our children well, we have got to quit trying to turn our kids into celebrities, we've got to. Humans are not designed for celebrity. We are designed by our Creator to serve and to love, to celebrate, yes, but not as celebrities. Affectionate desire, very different from ambitious desire. The second word I draw your attention to: "We were ready to share with you," ready.
I can't think of a better word to pitch out into the congregation than when it comes to parenting, boy you better be ready because there's so much stuff you could never be ready for, you better be ready in Jesus for what you cannot possibly be ready for with your kid, anybody? You cannot be ready for what your kid is going to say in front of somebody that you cared what they thought. You can't prepare yourself for that haircut when that kid gets home, for the color. There are just things you can't prepare for. You wouldn't have exactly chosen that particular tattoo in that particular place for your child, you just wouldn't have. But we gotta be ready in Christ, prepared in him for everything we can't possibly be ready for, because I found that there's got to be this stillness before the Lord at these crucial moments, because there's no second chance to have a first reaction to some very important things.
Does anybody know what I'm trying to say? That you start thinking, okay, this is a big moment, this is a big moment. They've just told me something heavy, and it matters. I will hear this repeated back to me 1000 times, so how am I going to react to this? "Gentle, we were gentle among you," found over and over in the priority of the life of faith. "With all humility and gentleness," Ephesians 4:2 says. Galatians 6: "Restore the fallen brother or sister with the spirit of humility and with gentleness". Jesus described himself as gentle. Let me tell you something, this goes to both male and female followers alike, gentleness is not gender biased. Gentleness is the ongoing and active reassurance that he or she is not at risk of being crushed in their correction. Gentleness.
Let's wrap it up with focusing on just sharing the gospel of God in the domestic family as well as the church family. It literally, I just want you know, has the capacity to permeate every part of life, every part. I don't mean that we make up ways to bring it in, I mean, at the opportunity when that door is open, listen, child, this is what we have a Savior for, just exactly this, this gospel parenting, good news parenting.
To be able to reassure our children of stuff like this, "Darling, no matter what, there is a Savior, and he saves us to the uttermost. No matter who ever fails you, there is a Savior who cannot fail you. No matter what you've done or where you've been or how terribly you think you've said, there is complete forgiveness in Christ because he went to the cross for us. Do you understand me, son or daughter, what I'm saying to you? Completely forgiven, washed clean. This is the power of the cross, not the shrugged shoulders of forgiveness of sin, but the shed blood. And sweetheart, right on the other side of repentance is a whole new beginning, and God is great at new starts. There's nothing like the power of the cross. Nothing he can't see you through. You are so loved by the one who knows you best of all, knows your every thought, knows your deepest secrets, your dreams, your insecurities. Child, you do have the strength to do what you need to do because you are in in Christ, and that means the Holy Spirit dwells in you. And I don't care who didn't choose you, darling, Christ did choose you".
And after a breakup, "God cares about your breaking heart, and it matters to him that you feel betrayed and alone". When they're knocked down, to know that the power of the cross and resurrection to pick them back up. To raise a child that knows that there are some things worth standing alone for, that there are some things worth suffering for. It's not fun, they can find Jesus in it to remind them it won't always be like this. "One day, when there's no more night, God's going to create a new heaven and a new earth, and nobody's going to suffer there. No more tears, no more death, no more sorrow".
And brother, sister, if you want them to believe the gospel, you gotta believe it yourself. You gotta quit going around in your own shame and defensiveness. Let him apply the power of the cross and resurrection to you. I'm gonna tell you something, I have never seen a single answer out there that competes with the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing that makes better sense of the condition of this world and of the human heart than his gospel. There is no relief to the heavy burden of the human ego like the one who bids us to die to ourselves and find life in him alone. There has been no psychological breakthrough that exceeds forgiving others as we ourselves have been forgiven. There's no global panacea like grace. Every best-selling book on Amazon, read it about living your very best life and not one of them can compete with eight simple words from the mouth of Christ. "It is better to give than to receive".
Do you want to know the secret to a fulfilling life? That's it, eight words. There's no other Savior tender enough that no bruised reed will he break, no other Savior mighty enough to pull you from the ravenous mouth of the grave. There will be other names, many names, but there is no other name like this name. There is no other Jesus and no better version of Jesus than right here in the pages of the four canonical Gospels. It is this and only this Jesus that God raised from the dead and seated at his right hand, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, above every name that can be named in this age and in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the one he fills all in all.