Revive Our Hearts Radio

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 26

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says every mom needs to be filled with God’s love.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If you neglect your relationship with Him—and I know you know this—then your love for your children will wane because Christ is the source of love. If you’re not letting Him fill you with His love, then you’re going to come to the place where your love runs out.

You’re going to be just churning it out, just “grin and bear it,” just sheer grit and determination, but you’re not going to be able to do it with joy and with peace if you’re not staying connected to the Vine where you get real life.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Monday, March 13, 2017.

The Bible is a practical book. Listeners have been discovering how a passage in Titus will transform their marriages and their parenting. If you’ve missed any of our series, "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living out Titus 2:1–5," you can hear past broadcasts at ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.

Nancy: We’re talking about women learning to love their children. I want to take a little detour today into a different passage of Scripture. We’ve been in Titus chapter 2 for some weeks now.

I want to direct your attention to 1 Thessalonians chapter 2. You may want to turn there, 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, because we’re going to walk through the first twelve verses of this passage.

Some day I’d love to do a whole series on this text. But today I just want to give you an overview of a passage that is not specifically about parenting, but I think it has a lot of practical principles that can be applied to this whole issue of parenting.

Paul had been involved in the founding of the church in Thessalonica. Now he was writing to those believers. He cared for them as he would for his own children. Paul had a parent’s heart. He had a father’s heart for his spiritual children. He would often talk about Timothy or Titus as his true sons in the faith.

He saw that the Body of Christ is family relationships—mothers and fathers and children and brothers and sisters. He uses those pictures a lot because the Body of Christ is a family. So there are a lot of metaphors that can be applied to our physical families from the Body of Christ.

So Paul says to the Thessalonians in chapter 2, verse 1, “For you yourselves know, brothers.” Even there he calls them brothers; it’s in the context of a family relationship that he’s talking here. “You know that our coming to you was not in vain.”

I don’t want to stretch the text here, but it’s interesting to me as I was meditating on this that Paul took initiative to go to the Thessalonians, those people who lived in Thessaloniki, as they call it today. He took initiative.

It’s a picture of the initiative that parents take with their children. Parenting requires tons of initiative on the parents’ part, our coming to you. We didn’t wait for you to come to us. We went to you. We initiated this. We had the gospel. We’ve been entrusted with that, and we wanted you to have it so we took it to you.

Parents are more often than not the initiators in the spiritual evangelizing and discipling and development of their children.

Paul calls them brothers. He wanted to have a spiritual family relationship with these who were his children in the faith. You want ultimately for your children to be your spiritual brothers and sisters, not just to be your children. They will always be that. But you want them to come to know Christ and to grow in Christ in such a way that they will become a part of your spiritual family as brothers and sisters in Christ.

He says, “Our coming to you was not in vain.” There was hardship involved. If you go back to the book of Acts, you can read about the season of time that Paul spent there with the Thessalonians. There were some challenges and hardships he faced, but by God’s grace, God brought fruit out of Paul’s ministry there.

Let me say, by God’s grace your ministry as a mother will not be in vain. There will be fruit. The fruit may not come as quickly as you would wish. Parenting—by its very nature, you don’t see instant results.

But as you look back, you will be able to see as you’ve been faithful that God does give fruit. Your witness and your commitment and your faithfulness to your children will not be in vain.

That doesn’t mean all your children will necessarily be spiritual giants. Some of your children may choose to reject the ways of God. But if you have been faithful to the ministry God gives you as a parent, what you have done will not be in vain and some way God will be glorified. Keep that in mind as you’re in the hard days and facing the challenges of day-to-day parenting.

In verse 2 Paul says, “Though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know.” This is what happened to Paul before he got to Thessalonica. “We had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.”

I see here, just by way of application, a picture of the willingness to serve your children and parent them faithfully even when you have tough things going on in your life.

You have things going on in your life besides your relationship with your children. You may have aging parents that you are dealing with—some of that sandwich generation. There may be things going on in your workplace, things going on in your husband's workplace, things going on financially, things going on in your health, things going on in your church.

You may be having to parent in the midst of much suffering or conflict or issues going on in your life, but God can give you the grace to be faithful in parenting those children even when you have other tough things going on in your life.

I look around this room and I know some women who have parented their children through some very tough life seasons and are doing that now. There is grace for you to do that.

And then what was Paul’s goal when he came to the Thessalonians? “We had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God.”

The gospel was everything to Paul. It was why he lived and breathed and ate and slept and went and suffered and was mistreated and endured hardship, so that people could know the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Your goal as a parent is to “gospelize” your children, to evangelize your children, for your children not just to make a profession of faith, but for your children to really come to know Jesus Christ in a genuine and authentic and life transforming way, for them to be Christ followers, disciples of Christ.

So you’re going to be willing to go through and endure whatever you have to in order that you can boldly declare through your life and your words over the long haul, the gospel to your children.

In verses 3–6, Paul talks about this whole issue of motives, why we are doing this. He said, “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 man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”

Let me stop there for a moment. Do you ever find yourself as a mother being in bondage to the fear of man, what others think about you as a parent? If your children misbehave . . . Your child is in AWANA and the report comes back that your child is a terror. I could tell you stories of growing up, but I won't do that. Is it sometimes your first thought, How does this reflect on me as a parent?

Paul says, "We weren’t concerned with pleasing men. We were concerned with pleasing God. He’s the one who called us to this. If we could know we pleased God, then it didn’t really matter what anyone else thought."

Verse 5: “For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.”

He’s saying, "We’re weren’t doing this for anything we could get out of it for ourselves." Anybody who has romanticized ideas about parenting, as soon as they have one, those ideas are going to be disabused because if you’re doing it for what you’re going to get out of it, you’re going to be disappointed in many cases.

Ultimately, there can be a lot of rewards. But Paul says, We didn’t do this in order to have personal gain. We did this because God called us to it, and we love you, and we’re committed to you, and we wanted you to have the gospel.

Verse 6: “Nor did we seek glory from people.” We weren’t trying to get awards for being "The Best Mother of the Year."

Our goal was not to get glory from others, “whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.” “But,” verse 7—and I love this paragraph—“we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.”

People think of the apostle Paul as this very strong, forceful, dynamic, maybe even angry, or some would say arrogant, sort of apostle. I didn’t use those words, but I’ve heard him described that way.

What a picture for the apostle Paul to use, to think of a nursing mother taking care of her own children. Is there any more tender picture?

I’ve got a nursing mother and her husband and baby living in my home right now. I’ll step into my living room at times and there Sarah is nursing their little Caitlin. It’s a precious picture. There’s a tenderness. There’s a compassion. There’s a kindness. There’s a gentleness that you see in a mom as she’s nursing her baby.

The apostle says, That’s how we were as your spiritual parents. We were gentle. We were tender.

It wasn’t that there weren’t issues that needed to be dealt with. We’ll see that there were issues that needed to be dealt with. Paul was willing to deal with them, and he was willing to be bold when he needed to be. But he also had this gentleness.

You see where it came from in verse 8. “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.”

This is love language. This is talk about love. This is a loving, spiritual parent. What a picture for parents of physical children.

"We were affectionately desirous of you. We weren’t coming just to give you our message, to preach the gospel to you. We were coming to give you ourselves because we cared about you, we loved you. You had become very dear to us."

It reminds me of that passage in Isaiah 49:15–16 where we see that tender compassionate father heart of God. He says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

That’s a parent’s heart. Or Psalm 103:13–14, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” He’s a gentle God.

So Paul was saying, We didn’t just share words with you but we shared our lives with you, remembering that more is caught than is taught when it comes to the discipling of your children.

Then verse 9—and here’s the part you knew was coming—“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil.”

Labor—that’s a word that goes with mothering. I was born on Labor Day. That was a real day of labor for my mother. I was the first of seven children. My mother was pregnant for most of the first five years of her marriage. She had six children her first five years of marriage. Look at your faces. A lot of labor there.

The apostle Paul says that there’s a lot of labor and toil involved in parenting. “We worked night and day”—that sounds like a mother’s job description too—“that we might not be a burden to any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”

Paul says, We were willing to do whatever we had to do in order to pass the faith of Jesus Christ on to you.

Steven and Janet Blye have written a book called How to Be a Good Mom. Let me read a paragraph from that book. It says,

No job on earth takes more physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual strength than being a good wife and mother. If a woman is looking for the easy life, she might try teaching tennis, cutting diamonds, or joining a roller derby team. There is nothing easy about good mothering. It can be back-breaking, heart-wrenching and anxiety-producing. And that’s just the morning.

It’s hard work. Being a mom requires sacrifice, selflessness, labor, toil. It’s a 24/7 job, isn’t it? There are no vacations. Your family may go on vacation, but that’s when you work hard, isn’t it? On vacation? No days off; it’s not a part-time job.

There are times when you feel like you don’t have anything left to give. That’s true in whatever God calls you to, by the way. I’m doing a lot of spiritual mothering through Revive Our Hearts, and there are days when the labor and toil are night and day and when I feel like I don’t have anything left to give.

That’s part of the calling. But it’s also part for which God can give grace. I’ve looked at some moms and I’ve thought, “How do you do it on so little sleep?”

I’m not saying you ought to abuse your body. I think there are some practical ways that you can get rest when you need it. But there are some seasons when you’re just not going to have a full night’s sleep night after night after night after night. If that’s the season God has you in, then He can give you grace for that.

As you serve, remember that the rewards may not come from the culture and the rewards may not even come from your children in the short term. But God sees. He knows your labor. He knows your toil. God is the one who will give you the reward.

As you’re serving in this kind of way with this night and day labor and toil as a mother, you’ve got to stay connected to the Lord if you’re going to have His strength, His grace, His joy, to serve your family.

If you neglect your relationship with Him—and I know you know this—then your love for your children will wane because Christ is the source of love. If you’re not letting Him fill you with His love, then you’re going to come to the place where your love runs out.

You’re going to be just turning it out, just “grin and bear it,” just sheer grit and determination. But you’re not going to be able to do it with joy and with peace if you’re not staying connected to the Vine where you get real life.

Verse 10, 1 Thessalonians chapter 2: “You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.”

What a verse! This is about the importance of a life message, living out, modeling to your children the things you want them to believe and embrace. It’s not enough to tell them the gospel, but how important it is that they would be able to look at your life and see a life that is holy and righteous and blameless in its conduct.

That doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect. You all just heaved a sigh of relief because who is? But here’s what it does mean. It means you have to be humble. It means when you blow it, you need to be honest and humble enough to say, “I blew it.”

I had the privilege a couple of weeks ago of interviewing a ten-year-old girl named Anna who wrote to our ministry. I called her and talked with her on the telephone. At the end of the call, I asked her if there was anything she’d like to tell me about her mom.

One of the first things Anna said was, “Now this doesn’t happen very often, but when my mom does something wrong, she’s quick to come back to us and tell us she was wrong and say, ‘Would you forgive me?’”

That ten-year-old was not impacted by the fact her mom blew it as much as she was by the fact the mom was able to humble herself and seek forgiveness.

Verse 11: “For you know how, like a father with his children,” (we’ve got dads in here) “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.”

So there’s a time when you’re tender and gentle when you’re holding that nursing infant. Those are the low confrontation times when you’re just pouring into the life of that child and there’s intimacy and there’s joy and enjoyment in the relationship.

Then there are times when you have to say some hard things. There are times when you have to be direct, when you have to exhort and encourage and charge your children to walk in a manner worthy of God.

Matthew Henry in his commentary on Titus chapter 2 has this to say about parents loving children:

This is not a foolish love, indulging them in evil, neglecting due reproof and correction where necessary; but a regular, Christian love, showing itself in their pious Christian education, forming their life and manners aright, taking care of their souls as well as their bodies, of their spiritual welfare as well as their temporal, of the former chiefly and in the first place.

In other words, you are focused on their spiritual heart life formation. That requires the “D” word—discipline, training and correction.

They’re both hard and neither of them happens overnight. But there is no love; you’re not loving your children if you’re not giving them discipline, training, and correction. Love does not mean indulging them, giving in to their whims and their demands.

I think for a lot of parents, there’s this thing, especially when you start to have teenagers, of this drive to have your kids approve of you and the fear of risking their displeasure. Who wants your kids mad at you?

But there are times when you have to risk their displeasure and realize that before you are their friend, you are their mom. There are times when in a spirit of gentleness with a life that backs it up—now don’t be trying to train and discipline if your life is hypocritical and your kids know you’re saying one thing and you’re living another, but with a life that is holy and humble. You need to be honest with your kids about areas where they need to be trained and corrected in the ways of the Lord.

Someone said to me during the break, "You see in homes where children really run the homes." I think today we see a really child-centered philosophy of parenting—even in a lot of Christian homes—where is very little restraint, where children are permitted to being out of control. That's not the picture of a Christian home that the Scripture paints for us.

In fact, Proverbs 13:24 tells us, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son.” We’re talking about mothers loving their children. But he’s saying, "If you don’t correct your children biblically then you, in fact, hate them."

“He who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

Not easy; and it has to be done in loving and careful ways—not in anger, not in temper, not brutally. But there are biblical ways and perhaps we’ll do a whole series on that sometime on Revive Our Hearts. It fits in with the description of the Lord who, it says in Hebrews 12, "disciplines the one He loves. He chastises every son whom He receives" (v. 6).

I saw an article recently about a new Barna survey. The title of the article was “Many Christian Parents Choose to Satisfy Children Over God.” The survey showed that many Christian parents are purchasing media such as DVDs, music and video games for their teens or younger children, in spite of having personal convictions that run contrary to the content of the purchased media.

A huge number of parents, in the realm of 25–30 percent depending on what media you were talking about—parents buying things for their children that they know are not good for their souls. The heading of this piece was “Christian Parents Choose to Satisfy Their Children Over God.”

Before we look too chagrined over this, ask yourself, “Are there any ways that I am not disciplining our children to think and to live according to God’s way?”

I have some friends who when their child was a little, tiny baby, and the dad was holding the little girl. He said, "Meleea, we love you. But we want you to know that you are not the center of our world. This world does not revolve around you." I'm thinking, Yeah, she gets that for sure! Well, Meleea is now three, and those parents are still having to teach this child, who's not yet regenerate, that the world does not revolve around her.

I saw a piece recently on 60 Minutes CBS called “The Millenials Are Coming.” It was on the new generation of American workers. I don’t have time to read the whole transcript, but there are about eighty million millenials who were born between 1980 and 1995 and these are the ones who are now coming into the workforce, replacing the baby boomers who are now pushing sixty.

This piece said that these children, these millenials, “were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in Little Leagues with no losers or winners; they’re all winners. They’re laden with trophies just for participating. The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millenials have the upper hand because they are tech savvy. With every gadget imaginable—almost becoming an extension of their bodies—they multitask, walk, talk, listen, type, and text. Their priorities are simple—they come first. ”

Someone who has done a lot of research in this age group as they are coming into the work force has said, "Some of these young people are absolutely incorrigible. It's their way or the highway.

Here's another description given by someone of some in this age group. "These companies are faced with new employees who want to roll into work with their ipods and flip flops around noon, but still be CEO by Friday."

Someone else who teaches courses to millenials about how to survive in the workplace says, "While this generation has extraordinary technical skills, childhoods filled with trophies and adulation did not prepare them for the cold realities of work. You now have a generation coming into the workplace that has grown up with the expectation that they will automatically win and they’ll always be rewarded even for just showing up.”

Employers are learning that the only way to keep labor today out of this new generation is “to give them what they want.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t some very good things that could be said about the skills and the heart of some in this generation. But I want to say, parents, you are determining what will be written about the next generation of workers. What will it be? How will they be described?

This generation of new workers was shaped over the past eighteen–twenty-five years by parents who had a philosophy of parenting, and now it’s coming into the adult culture. So what you are doing now with your children, the way you are parenting and disciplining and training and correcting and encouraging and loving wisely is going to impact not only you and your children but a whole culture in the next generation.

As you train, remember this is the means of transmitting the gospel to the next generation. That’s what makes your task as a parent so crucial. That’s why, moms, you need to love your kids even when they don’t get it, even when they’re not lovable.

That’s why as a mom you’ve got to persevere and be faithful in this calling as a parent. Remember that passage in Hosea chapter 11:1–4 where God says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms.”

Then God talks about a time when Israel went into idolatry, spiritual adultery, but God never stopped loving. He said, “I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.”

God did that for His rebellious, resistant kids who just didn’t get it. God says, I never stopped loving them. I never stopped caring, never stopped feeding them, never stopped investing in them.

Some of you are in a season of life with kids where you may have to give some tough love. It doesn’t mean you love them in the ways necessarily that they want to be loved or that they demand to be loved. But you never stop loving, as God has never stopped loving you and me.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been offering helpful counsel for moms. You can’t love your children without being filled with His love. That’s true for all aspects of biblical womanhood. In whatever role God has called you to fill, in whatever season of life, you need His vision and strength as a woman.

Nancy will help you explore what the book of Titus says about loving your children in the new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. This study of Titus 2:1–5 will take you in-depth on other topics as well, such as: loving your husband, investing in other women's lives, and developing wise godly character.

We'd like to send you this new book, Adorned, when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. We can't come to you with biblical teaching for women without the support of our listeners. Call 1–800–569–5959 and ask for Adorned, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We'll send one book per household for your donation during this series.

Self-control is a crucial part of becoming God’s true woman. Nancy will show you why, tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help parents lean on God's power. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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