Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. As I said in this morning’s sermon, “Without our mothers we would not be here. Literally!” My own mother graduated to her box seat in heaven almost ten years ago. I miss her every day. And every year on Mother’s Day I try to spend some time reflecting on some of the things she taught me. This year, I decided to share with you some of the lessons my mama taught me.
Some of the lessons she taught me involved much irony. Like, “Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.” Some of it was just plain common sense: “Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.” And then there was the lesson on wisdom, “When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.” She was correct. I understand.
Seriously, I was blessed to have two wonderful parents who loved Jesus, loved each other, and who loved me and my siblings. I wrote about my father a couple of years ago in the article A Good Name. My parents were not perfect. But they were close. On second thought, maybe they were perfect. At least perfect for their children and grandchildren.
Some of the lessons my mama taught me were about things like fairness. Kindness. Discipline. Perseverance. But the most impactful lessons she taught me helped me to become a better follower of Jesus.
Mama Taught Me the Importance of God’s Word
The Apostle Paul wrote to his young ministry protege these words, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (1 Timothy 1:5). Paul recognized that Timothy’s faith was handed down to him from generation to generation.
It is the responsibility of every generation to accept the faith once and for all delivered to the Saints. My faith had to become my own faith. But it was the responsibility of my parents to pass it on. And it was my responsibility to pass it on to my own children. The meaning, purpose and method of accepting that faith is revealed to us in the Bible.
There was never any doubt growing up in our home that the Bible was God’s word. There was never any doubt that the Bible was the authority for our lives. My mother lived by the precept, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”
In the mid-1970s my brother, sisters and I each got new Bibles for Christmas. On the inside cover, Mom had written these words, “This Bible will keep you from sin. Sin will keep you from this Bible.” Years later I was preparing to preach my grandmother’s funeral. As I looked through her well-worn Bible, I found those same words written on the inside cover. Grandmother had passed her faith to Mama. And Mama (and Daddy) had passed her faith to me!
The Psalmist declared, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). I like the way The Message paraphrases the meaning of the verse, “By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” One of the lessons my mama taught me was the importance of God’s word. Another was…
The Importance of God’s Way
Joshua 22:5 reads, “Love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” God’s ways are not our ways. And our ways are not God’s ways. Proverbs 14:12 reminds us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
God’s way is the way of the Golden Rule. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). If those of us who follow Jesus would live by this, our world would be such a better place! But God’s way of doing things is very different than what most people do. That’s why Jesus followed verse twelve with these words, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Mama taught me that just because everyone else jumps off of a bridge, that didn’t mean that I should. Come to think of it, there was this one time on the Choctawhatchee River where I should have remembered that lesson! Don’t follow the crowd. Take the narrow way!
A few years ago I received an email from a cousin. This is what she wrote, “I was going the wrong way at times in my life… She loved me just the same. She would hug me. And look me in the eye. And say, ‘You are so pretty, always have been!'” My cousin then wrote, “And I believed her because she kept telling me! But then she would ask me a question that made me squirm a little. I knew what her standards and expectations were.”
Mom did have standards. She expected the people she loved to do things God’s way. One of her favorite sayings was, “Right is right. And wrong is wrong.” She also taught me…
The Importance of God’s Wonder
Mom loved to hear George Beverly Shea sing. And one of her favorites was
The wonder of it all, the wonder of it all, just to think that Jesus loves me. Oh the wonder of it all, the wonder of it all. Just to think that Jesus loves me.
The wonder of it all is the reality that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It’s the truth that, “God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The wonder of it all is the grace of God. And my Mama taught me about grace because she had experienced it for herself. And she wanted to make sure that her four children and someday her grandchildren and now her great-grandchildren could experience it, too.
Mama taught me a lot about life. She taught me a lot about faith. Because of her, I am a blessed man. So, on this day that we honor our mothers, why not take the lessons my mama taught me and decide to live your life by God’s Word, God’s way. The only way to do that is to also experience God’s wonderful, matchless grace.
Rob Paul is a church revitalization strategist with over three decades of experience serving established Southern Baptist churches in pastoral ministry. He has helped churches in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia to experience revival and revitalization by God’s grace and for His glory. He is also the senior pastor of Huffman Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. To find out more about Rob Paul Ministries and the work of church revitalization, visit https://robpaul.net