Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Christian Mother Just Isn't Enough

Mother's Day is over...right?

Good. I've been holding my breath all day, but now I can say it.

It doesn't matter how good a mother you still cannot be everything that your child needs.

There's little doubt that each year when Mother's Day rolls around, I'll hear or read an admonishment for mothers to strive harder in Christ because they hold the most positive influence over their child for or against Christ. Then, someone will quote the Old Testament passage most likely to make even the best mother feel like a failure: "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies...Her children arise and call her blessed" (Prov. 31:10,28).

I have nothing against the Proverbs 31 woman. I believe she is a wonderful model of service and love. I strive to be like her, myself because I do believe mothers wield much, much influence over their children, over their entire families...for or against Christ.

BUT, I also know a trap when I see one, and clipping one chapter out of Scripture to paste on the wall as a checklist of unattainable 24/7, 365-day-a-year perfection is a endless cycle of guilt, shame, and narcissism--thinking it's all about me, such a popular philosophy in today's society.

Some of the best mothers in the Bible knew it wasn't all about them. They knew alone, they would fail. So, they did all they could. I believe many of them lived as the Proverbs 31 woman, but while doing all they could, they also faded into the background, giving their children over to God for the raising.

Think of Moses' mother--a "Levite woman" who gave birth to a son in a time and place when boy children were killed (Ex. 2:1). She did all a mother could do and "hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile" (Ex. 2:2b-3).

Moses' mother came to the end of herself and what she could do to save this child. No, Scripture doesn't show her praying to God, but how else could a mother from a tribe of priests send her child forth into dangerous waters except surrounded with the power and peace of prayer?

As God designed, Pharaoh's daughter was blessed with divine empathy so that when she found the child, she chose to save him and raise him as her own. And Moses' mother? She "took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son" (Ex. 2:9-10).

Although named in two other passages, I think it no accident that Moses' mother is unnamed here. Yes, being his mother was important. She no doubt taught young Moses to love Jehovah while he rested beneath her roof and tutelage. But what was most important was her realizing how limited she was, that only God could truly raise Moses to be His man.

Please don't misunderstand--Scripture is wrought with mother after mother whose actions contributed to the raising up of a Godly child who impacted their community, their nation for God.

Yet, many good Christian mothers (and fathers) beat themselves up over every un-godly response to a child's disobedience, over blowing their top instead of speaking with patience...all because they think they're solely responsible for their child's salvation.

Acknowledging sin, repenting, and asking forgiveness for wrongs is good. But, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we can be the spiritual everything for our children, that our actions alone will determine whether that child accepts God's plan of salvation.

Mothers and fathers alike, even stand-in parents like mentors or grandparents--they all can and should diligently work in their children to establish a Godly foundation; to hide the Word in their hearts;to serve as a daily Christlike example of redemption and forgiveness; to pray without ceasing for the child's salvation; as well as to provide every opportunity to learn about, worship, and serve God.

My mother and father have lived a life showing me how to love the Lord--they did everything they could to show me the path to salvation. And still, they fell short of saving me from sin and hell, themselves, because that is a work only God could initiate in my own heart. Only I could accept God's grace for me. And when I went astray? That was the result of my own wayward heart, not my upbringing.

Paul said, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Salvation is not a result of having a good mother or father. Salvation is the result of GOD.

Parents can and should do everything in the power of the Holy Spirit to lead their children to the living water. Yet, there must come a point when parents realize that they can't take that final step for their child. They do not have the power within their actions, their words, or their example to make that final leap and save their child for Christ. Our God alone can do that work.

To think otherwise not only disregards individual accountability, but also seeks to take the glory and honor away from Jesus Christ who is the "author and perfecter of our faith" (Heb 12:2) and place that glory on ourselves.

My prayer--any parent's prayer--should be to live a Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered life that shows our children Jesus and the path to salvation...and then give God all the glory for the rest.


  1. I cannot tell you what a blessing this post has been.
    Thank you.