Mothers: A Reflection of God’s Love
Study Guide May 14, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
Here’s one of the most obvious statements you can make about Mothers: “Mothers wear a lot of different hats.” Maybe not actual hats, but different roles for meeting all kinds of needs. Let’s do something kind of fun: Let’s think of as many different roles, or hats as we can that Mothers wear. (Nutritionist, Chef, Teacher, Banker, Advocate, Private Investigator, Chauffeur, Personal Shopper, Home Care Specialist, Gardener,Therapist, Care Giver, Party Planner, Magician, Dr. Mom, Entertainer, Comedienne, Counselor….)
Mothers are all these and more. But one of the most significant things Mothers are is that they are a reflection of God’s love. So let’s explore.
In what ways are Mothers a reflection of God’s love? How about this one? Jer 31:1-3- “At that time,” declares the Lord , “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” Thus says the Lord, “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness —Israel, when it went to find its rest.” The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” NASU
‘Everlasting love’…Is there anything more enduring than a Mother’s love? From the time a Mother carries a child, her love is set in motion in a way that is best described in the same words as God’s love for His people; Everlasting. And in a sense, it’s just like God points out in how He carries His people in Isa 46:3-4- “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, You who have been borne by Me from birth And have been carried from the womb; Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.” NASU In a sense, Mothers continue to carry their children even to their graying years. Whatever burdens their children carry, Mothers carry them, too. Whatever burdens their children are bearing, Mothers bear them, too. It’s a remarkable identification sharing experience, much like that of God with His people; experiencing sorrows together, as well as sharing joys together. And it doesn’t stop with time, instead, it is everlasting.
Which is closely connected with this reflection of God’s love as is pointed out in Ps 130:3-4- “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.” NASU In what is there a clearer reflection of God’s love than in the forgiveness of a Mother? And that part about ‘that You may be feared’…well, that has some overlap to it also, doesn’t it? Many Moms have known how to apply, as it’s been described as…the ‘board of education to the seat of learning’…if you know what I mean… It’s not easy to control the little marauding ‘Huns’ in the house. There are times when the little marauders need to learn that love has both a soft side and a tough side. We get a reflection of that in Heb 12:7-11. And we could inject Mothers also alongside the part that says ‘Fathers’… “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father (mother) does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers (mothers) to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” NASU
Most of us can probably remember some of those times that were ‘not joyful for the moment’ when we were growing up. For the moment, it felt like something other than ‘joyful’…I’m thinking of the word ‘painful for the moment’. Of course, that discipline was the exception rather than the rule. A lot of times, Parents resort more to being like the ‘Warden of Time-outs’, or some other ‘loss of privilege’ type disciplines…which are very effective. But you know what we are getting at here. The point is, sometimes just like with God’s love, a Mother’s love has to be tough. And even though a child may not see it at the time as being for their good; it is! And sometimes it’s way down the road, when children are reaping the fruit of righteousness from that discipline, that they realize how good it actually was, and how thankful they are that their Mother loved them that much to lavish both soft love and tough love on them.
But then, as the Psalmist was essentially saying, “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who would stand a chance at life? But there is forgiveness with You and that’s why You are worshiped.” And that’s the point: Godly Mothers don’t keep a record of wrongs. They don’t hold onto the offenses against them, because they would rather hold onto their children and their love for their children. And the expressions of that and the experience of that loving-kindness penetrates deep into the souls of their children and powerfully affects them for good; even for change; and often with returned love.
For example: One of the most well known and respected early church fathers is Augustine of Hippo, North Africa, of the fourth century. He was a great defender of Christianity against the ungodliness of the Roman Empire. He is the author of inspiring Christian works like ‘City of God’ and ‘Confessions’, and the one who coined that great statement: “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee, O God.” Most people refer to him at St. Augustine. However, up into his early adulthood Augustine was anything but a saint. He was better known more like a ‘scoundrel’. And he was headed down a road to a life of worldliness and false beliefs. He had even joined a heretical religion called the Manichaeism, which was a kind of a gnostic, new age-type thing, where they could pretty much live any way they wanted. This was as far from Biblical Christianity as you could get. However, he had a committed Christian mother who was a prayer warrior, and she never gave up on him even into his adult years.
If you have ever visited Santa Monica, California, you were in the city that is named after Augustine’s mother, Monica, or Saint Monica. One account of the naming of the city is that it was named by a Juan Crespi on account of a pair of springs there called the Serra Springs. These springs were reminiscent of the tears Saint Monica shed over her son’s early impiety.1 This praying mother’s persistence and her perseverance in not giving up praying for him brought one of the greatest minds into Christianity and into the Christian world. Interestingly enough, most of the things we know about her were from his pen. He tells us about her in his book of “Confessions.”He wrote in his testimony about her prayers for him, testifying of Christ’s work in his life.2
Actually, that’s another surprising way God works on bringing people to repentance, and one of the most powerful ways God draws people to Himself. Look at how the Apostle Paul reveals this to us: Rom 2:4- “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” NASU Now that’s what we would call ‘counter-intuitive’, right? Again, people have come to repentance in many different ways, but one of the most effective ways God has drawn people into repentance and into a right relationship with Him is through His kindness. Mothers generally seem to catch onto this powerful virtue and method of influencing their children quicker than Dads. Fortunately Dads catch on as well, as they learn and follow their Heavenly Father’s ways with them. But a lot of times with Dads it’s lots of ‘huff and puff and blown the house down’ kind of reaction against any insubordination. The ‘leading them to repentance through kindness’ is not as clear on the screen of their ‘radar of relationships’ yet.
Now, the book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there certainly are times for different methods during conflicts and such, but the point is that only ‘wisdom’ can tell you what is needed at the time. And that’s why we say it’s often ‘counter-intuitive’ because God’s ways are often different from ours.
And here again, Mothers seem to be sensitive to these ‘counter-intuitive’ ways of God; like in how they know how to ‘draw with cords of love or with bands of love’. It’s interesting that even when God’s children were straying from Him there were times when God had to judge them severely, but that was usually after they had spurned His mercy many times. But He always began with mercy, as we see described in Hos 11:3-4- “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; But they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” NKJV
One of the things we are to learn from God’s amazing ways that He has dealt with His children over the yeas, dealt with us over the years…is to never underestimate the power of kindness upon another person even in the midst of their undisciplined life. Often, it’s the stark contrast between righteousness with their unrighteousness, or the great difference between a compassionate spirit and their critical spirit that awakens the unrighteous and critical spirit in a person like shining a bright light into a dark room. That’s why we talk about people ‘coming to see the light’. God has certainly used that method to bring many of us to our senses. And so have many Mothers used these ‘drawing cords of mercy and these bands of loving compassion’ to help their children and others to see the light and come to their senses.
Again, the love that God uses is a love that’s based upon the need. Yes, sometimes love reprimands, sometimes love reproves, but the essence of genuine love is that it is always demonstrated. As has been put, ‘Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child, then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.’ It’s based upon need. And Mothers tend to tune into needs of others really well. Maybe that’s why their name is even spelled with an ‘M’ and the rest is ‘others’. Mothers gravitate toward looking out for the needs of ‘others’. And what a reflection of God’s love that is, right?
Actually, that aspect of love is referred to as ‘sacrificial love’. Sacrificial love sacrifices something of self for the one that is loved. And, of course, that has God’s love of John 3:16 written all over it… “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” Loving is giving, giving for the reason that; what others receive from what you give will meet their deepest need and bless them in the highest way. God did that for us in giving the life of His only begotten Son to meet our deepest need of having our sin sentence removed and forgiven and blessing us in the highest way by bringing our dead spirit back to life in union with Jesus Christ. That’s sacrificial love!
Mothers reflect that kind of sacrificial love in many ways, even through the many different roles they fulfill, or through the wearing of all those hats that we talked about. And the thing is, they often don’t think of it in terms of ‘being a sacrifice’. They simply think of it in terms of ‘being a Mother’. They see themselves as interconnected to their children’s lives. I was thinking of what Jer 1:4-5 points out: “Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” NASU From the time Mothers carry them inside to then walking alongside, Mothers are always by the side of their children, regardless of where they are, praying all they can and serving all they can and doing all they can to help their children be all they can for the purposes for which God has made them.
To be sure: Mothers are a reflection of God’s love.
Paula A. Scott, Santa Monica: a history on the edge. Making of America series (Arcadia Publishing, 2004), 17–18.
Susie Hawkins, Monica: The Portrait of a Praying Mother, bible.org