Our Mother and Her Children
May 13th, 1984 @ 8:15 AM
2 Timothy 1:1-5
OUR MOTHER AND HER CHILDREN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 1:1-5
5-13-84 8:15 a.m.
And welcome to the multitudes who are sharing this beautiful hour with us on radio. This is a glorious day. This is a beautiful day, the one God hath made. This is the resurrection day. This is the Lord’s Day. This is Easter Day, this is Sunday, and it is Mother’s Day. And in keeping with that beautiful and precious dedicated day to her, the title of the sermon by the pastor is Our Mothers and Their Children, their babies.
In the first chapter of the second letter of Paul to his son in the ministry, Timothy, this is what he began to write:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
[2 Timothy 1:1-5]
What an unusual salutation: “The unfeigned faith that dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice; and now in thee”; from grandmother to mother to the son [2 Timothy 1:5].
There’s no story that I have ever heard that made a greater impression upon me than one that happened in the days of the gold rush of California, when those old rough prospectors went out there to find riches in the earth. It seems that there was a mother who took her baby to the theater out there. And when the orchestra began to play, the baby began to cry. And an old prospector stood up, and he said, “Stop them thar fiddles, and let’s hear that baby cry. I haven’t heard a sound like that in well-nigh to twenty years.” The audience applauded and the orchestra stopped, and everybody listened to the baby do its thing, and they rejoiced at the privilege and the opportunity.
I think that’s great. It is said that no marriage is a howling success until the baby is born. And you can count on it: no church is a howling success until the nursery is filled with those little citizens of lapland. The baby that is healthy may be a beautiful pink, but if he’s healthier still, he’ll be a loud yeller.
I made a journey one time through Nigeria, preaching all over that nation, and I was somewhere beyond Oyo in the bush. And our missionaries had gone out there and had built an arbor kind of a dispensary, a makeshift hospital out there. Well, the little children, as you know, don’t wear any clothes. They don’t put any didies on them. They don’t do anything; they’re just as they come into the world. So as I was watching the nurse and the doctor at that dispensary, why, they got an inspiration that they’d like for me to hold one of those little babies in my arm and they’d take my picture. So they put the little thing in my arm just so, and I was holding it, you know, like that, smiling and taking a picture. And while the picture was being taken, that little thing ruined me, from top to bottom. I just looked down there in unbelief! And I remembered the definition of a baby. “A baby is an alimentary canal with a loud noise at one end and no responsibility at the other.” They belong to a world of their own, these morning callers and midday crawlers and midnight bawlers.
Some of the funniest things that I’ve ever heard are from children. The little fellow was standing by the side of his mother while she held the baby in her arms, and the little fellow says to the mother, “Why doesn’t baby talk?” And the mother replied, “Well, sonny, little babies don’t talk.” And the lad replied, “Yes, but they do, because I heard my Sunday school teacher read out of the Bible that Job cursed the day he was born.”
This little lad was going to the hospital to have his tonsils taken out; he was going through a tonsillectomy. And the mother was encouraging the little fellow to be brave, and he replied, “Mommy, I’m going to be brave, but I don’t want no crying baby put off on me like they did you when you went to the hospital.” Then he added, “I want a pup!”
You haven’t begun to live until a baby is born. I watched it world without end. A couple will come into a place, a community, an apartment complex, just anywhere, pay no attention to it at all. Then the baby is born, and suddenly they are aware of the neighborhood; they’re aware of the neighbors; they’re aware of the children; they’re aware of the schools; they’re aware of everything. Life really begins when the life of a baby begins, and this of course leads us into the tremendous contribution, as well as the responsibility, laid upon our wonderful mothers.
When I was a youth I went to Springfield, Illinois, and to the monument where Lincoln is buried. And you go through those quiet corridors and look at those subdued lights, and then finally the sarcophagus, and then beyond, incised in stone, what the secretary of war Stanton said when his life ebbed away: “He now belongs to the ages.” Then I went to the memorial monument to Lincoln in Washington, one of the most impressive of all of the monuments in the world, rising above the Potomac River and facing the mall, and the Washington Monument, and the capitol, and the governmental buildings beyond––a tremendous tribute to one of the greatest men who ever lived.
When I was a pastor, every week I would drive by Hodgenville down to my little village church, and in Hodgenville, Kentucky is another beautiful monument to Lincoln. It’s built over the tiniest log cabin that I ever saw, the place where Lincoln was born, and on the wall back of that cabin is a word that Lincoln said. “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” And just looking at that, all of us are familiar with the day that his mother died, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. The lad was about nine years old. It was a Baptist family. His father and his mother were Baptists. And he helped his father take that rude, crude, rough lumber and shape it into a coffin, and they buried his mother together. What a beautiful tribute for a great man to say. “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
It is a remarkable thing to me, as I read the Bible and as I read history, how intimately and almost unconsciously, yet how tenderly and beautifully, they have shaped the whole world. You read, for example, in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, “Moses, when he came of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy all of the accouterments and embellishments and glories of the court of Pharaoh … for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” [Hebrews 11:24-25, 27].
There’s no one of you but remembers, has been introduced, to the history of Egypt. There’s no “enduring as though he were seeing Him who is invisible” in the life of the Egyptians. They worship crocodiles, and oxen, and serpents, and birds. When you went into the sanctuary of sanctuaries, that’s what you saw. Yet this man, Moses, turned aside from the court of the greatest kingdom in his day to serve Him who is invisible [Hebrews 11:27]. How could such a thing be? Well, we no less know the incomparable story of his birth. And his mother placed him in a little basket, a little ark, and put it among the flags of the Nile where Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe [Exodus 2:1-5].
And little Miriam watched to see what would happen to that little basket holding this latest little baby, and when Pharaoh’s daughter came, the little child was heard crying, and she fetched the ark. And when she looked at the child and it began to cry, she said, “This is one of the babies of the Hebrew children,” and Miriam, the little girl, ran to the princess and said, “Could I fetch for you a nurse for the child?” [Exodus 2:6-7]
And the princess, moved with compassion for the little baby, said, “Yes,” and Miriam ran and got the child’s mother––of all of the providences of life, Jochebed, Amram’s wife, the mother of the child, and she was hired by the princess to rear the child for her [Exodus 2:8-9]. And in those days, when the child was so malleable and impressionable, she taught that lad the invisible God. How a humble mother could change the destiny of the whole earth is nothing short of a miracle in the providence of God!
And that is but one out of an endless number that we could recount. In the [third] chapter of 1 Samuel, it became known that this lad, Samuel, was set for a prophet in all Israel [1 Samuel 3:20]. That’s his mother, Hannah [1 Samuel 1:20]. The lad reflected the beautiful, precious, godly life of Hannah, his mother [1 Samuel 1:9-18].
It is thus here in my text: “Remembering the unfeigned faith that dwelt in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice; and now in thee” [2 Timothy 1:5].
We could continue through the years. Augustine, the greatest of all the Latin fathers, Augustine was a vile, iniquitous young man; and not only that, he was a pagan philosopher, brilliant but evil. And his mother Monica prayed for him and prayed for him and prayed for him. And finally the pastor of the church in Carthage, North Africa, said to her, “Go thy way, mother. The child of so many prayers could not be lost.” And Augustine was gloriously, marvelously, miraculously transformed, converted; became a great advocate and defender of the faith. The whole history of Western civilization is that. Constantine, who became the first Roman Caesar to embrace the faith, had a wonderful Christian mother named Helena.
Vladimir—the first tsar of Russia in the 900s AD—Vladimir became a Christian because of Olga his grandmother. It doesn’t stop. The history of the whole world and its turn in civilized life is colored by these devout and godly mothers.
Do you ever think of the almost—and intellectually, to me—impossible miracle of the virgin birth? [Matthew 1:20-2:1]. Do sometimes you think of that? This is the Word of God, the preexistent Christ. We meet Him in christophanies, in theophanies, all through the Old Testament, God preexistent. Do you ever think what that was, when He became in the cell of the womb of a virgin girl named Mary? How could it be? [Matthew 1:20-25; Luke 1:26-35]. It is beyond my thinking, my comprehension. This great, mighty Prince of glory is now in the womb of a virgin girl, and born as a baby, and grew up as a child, and walked in our presence as a man [Philippians 2:6-8]. I just can’t think of it: what entrusting God did when the only begotten Son of glory became a child, born into a mother’s arms; how God depends upon mothers; how much is laden in responsibility and destiny upon their godliness and faithfulness.
I meandered one time accidentally into the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, where Billy Sunday was converted. And as I stood at the back of that mission, on one side was John 3:16, the whole verse spelled out on the front wall, on that side of the pulpit. And on this side of the pulpit, in equal letters, big letters, “When Did You Last Write To Mother?” Well, I stood there in astonishment! John 3:16 on this side, and “When Did You Last Write To Mother?” on the other side. And I thought, “What in the earth would anyone do that for?” And as I turned it over in my mind it became very apparent as it does to you. This mother over here, when you think about her, you think about God; you think about the church; you think about the Lord; you think about the family of God and the people of Jesus. “When Did You Last Write To Mother?” In our Western civilized world, she has always done that, and she does that today.
Ah, there is no tribute we could ever make commensurate with a mother who honors God, who loves the church, who prays for her children, and who pays the price for their salvation. Her reward is great in heaven.
If I should be living when Jesus comes,
And could know the day and the hour,
I’d like to be standing at mother’s grave
When Jesus comes in His power.
There’s coming a time when I can go home
To meet my family up there;
There I shall see Jesus upon His throne
In that bright city so fair.
’Twill be a wonderful, happy day,
Gathered there on the golden strand,
When I can hear Jesus my Savior say,
“Son, greet your mother again.”
[from “Shake Hands With Mother Again,” W.A. Berry]
That’s my worthy mother. And there’s not a Christian man or woman in the earth but who says, “Amen. God be praised for my Christian mother.” And that’s our appeal to your heart this morning. This is Mother’s Day, the finest hour, the finest day, the finest moment in which you could ever give your heart and life and destiny to the Lord. “Pastor, this day, I receive Jesus as my Savior. I give my life in faith, in trust, to Him” [Romans 10:9-10]. “This is the day that I want to put my life in the fellowship, the circumference, the communion of this wonderful church. This is the day, Mother’s Day, I’d like to renew my vows to the Lord.” As God shall press the appeal to your heart, make the decisions now, and when we stand in this moment, stand coming down that stairway, walking down this aisle. I say again, it’s the most beautiful day in the year that you could come to our Lord and to us. Do it. May angels attend you in the way as you come, while we stand and while we sing.