Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Like a Mother

It was Mother’s Day yesterday and I’ve been giving a series of exhortations about parenting, so, perfect. Let’s take advantage of the connection.

Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he hadn’t come just to make a name for himself. He didn’t flatter to get what he wanted, “nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ” (1 Thessalonians 2:6). There was a sense of great responsibility in his work, but it didn’t include demanding great recognition.

If you had to guess what role he used as a comparison, what would you say? Those who are tracking should have guessed that of a mother. The very next sentence: “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

For what it’s worth, Paul could identify mothers, though he wasn’t a biologist. Paul could talk about mothers, though he wasn’t one. Paul could generalize about mothers, though sinful mothers wouldn’t work for his illustration.

Apostles could make demands, not just for obedience, but for honor. This is what Paul just said he was committed not to do. He was not seeking glory from men. His illustration works when mothers are not seeking glory from those they are responsible to serve.

Lewis had Screwtape tattoo this image in Wormwood’s mind:

She’s the sort of woman who lives for others—you can always tell the others by their hunted expression. (The Screwtape Letters)

Being a mother is a glory, unless the mother is demanding glory. Moms, when you look well to the ways of your household your children will rise up and call you blessed (Proverbs 31:27-28). When you look well to how well you are looked after, you will have received your reward (think Matthew 6:2, 5, 16).

Categories
The End of Many Books

You Who?

Why You Matter and How to Deal with It
by Rachel Jankovic

How could I not give 5 of 5 stars to a book dedicated to my wife?!

It is, though, in light of the dedication, sort of ironic that Rachel has an entire chapter against personality tests, while Mo enjoys them, and I’d say uses the insights she gets from them with great wisdom and charity.

I think the review by my oldest daughter and by my friend, Leila, are also helpful.

Though I’m not a woman, and have never wanted to identify as a woman, I am married to one, am a dad to three young ladies, and help shepherd a flock with many females who definitely will benefit from this book.

5 of 5 stars

Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

A Noble Trick

I highly recommend Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle. Here is a taste of the book where she describes the glory of a woman who gives substance and shape to an idea.

Our job as women—and it’s a phenomenal responsibility—is to enflesh the weighty truths of our faith. If our role is to make truth taste, to make holiness beautiful, then what does that look like in the details?

As a random example of this, take Christmas. Christmas is, of course, when God did ultimately what we women can only shadow. The ultimate enfleshing. At Bethlehem, God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us, the Consolation of Israel was born of a woman–and that moment was so staggering that even the stars had to come down and see it. And then, every year, we celebrate that moment. We take one of the most difficult theological truths—the Incarnation—and attempt to show that truth through our celebrations. The men can talk about the Incarnation, church fathers can write important treatises about it, pastors can preach about it, theologians can parse and define it…but we women are the ones who make it taste like something. We make it smell good. How crazy is that?

“And for my next trick, I will take Athanasius’ De Incarnatione and I will say it with cookies and wrapping paper and cinnamon and marshmallows and colored lights and tablecloths and shopping trips and frantically-last-minute-late-night-Amazon-orders and ham–and I will do it in such a way that my four-year-old will really get it, and it will send roots deep down into his soul where it will anchor his loves and his loyalties and shape his allegiances well into his nineties.”

(175-76, one paragraph that I made into three)

Knocking down dualism is good, but not as good as never letting it be built in the first place. I’m thankful for my wife who helps me get it better, even if late.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Internal Adornment That Shows

Moses does not paint a flattering picture of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, in Genesis. Twice she resents and punishes others in her household. Twice she followed her husband’s lead and lied to those outside her household. Once she even laughed at the promise of God. She did praise the LORD for the birth of her son Isaac, but the very next thing she did was lash out and demand that Abraham “cast out this slave woman with her son.” She couldn’t even bring herself to use their names.

Yet there must be more to her life. The author of Hebrews wrote, “By faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11). Initially she doubted, but her heart turned around.

And at the beginning of 1 Peter 3, Peter used Sarah as an example, even exalted her as the “mother” of all faithful women who “do good and do not fear anything that is frightening” (1 Peter 3:6). Sarah illustrated internal adornment and the sort of external conduct that can “win without a word” a husband who does not obey the word (1 Peter 3:1). Respectful and pure conduct adorn women who hope in God, and this is a powerful testimony.

Ladies of faith, what have you learned from your “mother,” Sarah? How do you view your husband, and your future? If you’re not married, how are you practicing heart obedience to your dad? Are you repenting from Sarah-like pettiness and resentments? Above all, are you pursuing Sarah-like faith in and obedience to the LORD?