Can We Really Understand The Influence Of Mothers?
Adapted from Troy Borst sermon
As Mother's Day turns 100 this year, it's
known mostly as a time for brunches,
gifts, cards, and general outpourings of
love and appreciation.
But the holiday has more somber roots: It
was founded for mourning women to
remember fallen soldiers and work for
peace. And when the holiday went
commercial, its greatest champion, Anna
Jarvis, gave everything to fight it, dying
penniless and broken in a sanitarium.
It all started in the 1850s, when West
Virginia women's organizer Ann
Reeves Jarvis—Anna's mother—held
Mother's Day work clubs to improve
sanitary conditions and try to lower
infant mortality by fighting disease and
curbing milk contamination, according
to historian Katharine Antolini of West
Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups
also tended wounded soldiers from
both sides during the U.S. Civil War
from 1861 to 1865.
In the postwar years Jarvis and other
women organized Mother's Friendship
Day picnics and other events as
pacifist strategies to unite former foes.
Julia Ward Howe, for one—best known
as the composer of "The Battle Hymn
of the Republic"—issued a widely read
"Mother's Day Proclamation" in 1870,
calling for women to take an active
political role in promoting peace.
Around the same time, Jarvis had
initiated a Mother's Friendship Day for
Union and Confederate loyalists
across her state. But it was her
daughter Anna who was most
responsible for what we call Mother's
Day—and who would spend most of
her later life fighting what it had
(Brian Handwerk, National Geographic)
At a memorial service for
her mother on May 10,
1908, Miss Jarvis gave a
carnation (her mother’s
favorite flower) to each
person who attended.
Within the next few years, the idea of a
day to honor mothers gained
popularity, and Mother’s Day was
observed in a number of large cities in
PHOTOGRAPH BY BETTMANN, CORBIS
On May 9, 1914, by an act of
Congress, President Woodrow Wilson
proclaimed the second Sunday in May
as Mother’s Day. He established the
day as a time for "public expression of
our love and reverence for the mothers
of our country.“
And so began the holiday of “Mother’s
Day.” It is a day to reflect. If your
mother is still alive, it is a day to give
her a small gift and say thank you.
If your mother is not, it is a day to
praise God for the gift He bestowed to
you in the form of your mother. I do
realize, this may be a bittersweet time
given that some have lost their
mothers. Yet, I would in honor of this
day, like to speak about motherhood
with reference to the influence they
have. I do not think that we can ever
really understand the influence of our
mothers. Scripture agrees with me.
2 Timothy 1:1 ESV Paul, an apostle of
Christ Jesus by the will of God
according to the promise of the life that
is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my
beloved child: Grace, mercy, and
peace from God the Father and Christ
Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God whom I
serve, as did my ancestors, with a
clear conscience, as I remember you
constantly in my prayers night and day.
4 As I remember your tears, I long to
see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a
faith that dwelt first in your
grandmother Lois and your mother
Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in
you as well. 6 For this reason I remind
you to fan into flame the gift of God,
which is in you through the laying on of
my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit
not of fear but of power and love and
The books of and are
some of the most special books in the
New Testament. I say that because we
are given the chance to peek into a
special relationship. Paul and Timothy
were extraordinary evangelists and the
church spread by leaps and bounds
because of their efforts in the Lord.
We read time and time again how Paul
and Timothy converted people to
Christ and then later Timothy strikes
out on his own and ministers to
churches as they have need. Paul was
the older man with experience. Paul
was the Apostle to the Gentiles!
Timothy was the young man,
beginning in the ministry and looked to
the Apostle Paul for guidance.
They were companions. They were
friends. Perhaps there was some
father-son feelings there as well. There
was definitely a mentoring relationship
between the two that was both
important and special. And so we have
a look at Paul’s advice to Timothy.
Paul wants to encourage his young
friend in the ministry and first helps
him remember his roots. Paul wants
Timothy to remember where he came
from and who has influenced him.
Note that Paul does not say that he
influenced Timothy in any way. He
never claims to have taught Timothy
anything… he places that influence on
Paul never claims that he led Timothy
to the faith… that influence lies
elsewhere. Paul specifically points out
the “genuine faith that is in you” (v. )
and recalls that this faith was
transmitted to him by his mother and
Timothy was a tireless worker for the
Lord and changed many lives and
ministered to many people because of
the faith instilled into him by his
Many scholars have concluded that
you cannot really understand John
Wesley, the founder of the Methodist
movement, unless you understand his
mother Susanna Wesley. She was so
instrumental in his life that she
inevitably affected the movement and
Americans know that Abraham Lincoln
led this nation through perhaps its time
of greatest crisis; but who was it that
made Abraham Lincoln the man that
he was? I know what Lincoln thought.
He said, “All that I am or ever hope to
be, I owe to my angel mother.”
"I remember my mother's prayers and
they have always followed me. They
have clung to me all my life."
I would submit to you this morning that
there is not a person sitting here that in
one, five, ten, a thousand different
ways has not been forever influenced
by their mother. I firmly believe that
you cannot understand who a person
is and what motivates them until you
understand their past. And you cannot
understand a person’s past without
understanding the source that co-
created that person along with God—
Can we ever really understand the
influence that mothers have on their
children? I do not think so. The Apostle
Paul realized that his fellow worker,
Timothy, began his journey of faith at
home with his mother and
grandmother. And let me make a side
note here: grandmothers listen!
You are still so very important. I realize
that you have raised your own children
and now are enjoying having little
grandbabies running around, but never
forget that you too have influence.
Paul notes that Timothy’s strong faith
came from his grandmother as well.
She was an important part of his
spiritual development. Grandmothers
are a special influence in our lives as
“If A Child Lives”
(from a sermon called The Divine Family )
If a child lives with criticism,
HE learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
HE learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
HE learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
HE learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
HE learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
HE learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
HE learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
HE learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
HE learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
HE learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and
HE learns to find love in the world.
What am I saying to you today?
Be thankful for your mother.
If she is living, make sure you make
the effort, no matter what, to thank her
for her influence.
If she has passed, make sure that you
praise God for the blessing your
mother was in your life.
Be mindful of your influence, everyone,
not just mothers.
Take a look at the effort King Lemuel’s
Mother made to influence him.
Proverbs 31:1 ESV The words of King
Lemuel. An oracle that his mother
taught him: 2 What are you doing, my
son? What are you doing, son of my
womb? What are you doing, son of my
vows? 3 Do not give your strength to
women, your ways to those who
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not
for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to
take strong drink, 5 lest they drink and
forget what has been decreed and
pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 6
Give strong drink to the one who is
perishing, and wine to those in bitter
distress; 7 let them drink and forget
their poverty and remember their
misery no more.
8 Open your mouth for the mute, for
the rights of all who are destitute. 9
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and
needy. 10 An excellent wife who can
find? She is far more precious than
jewels. 11 The heart of her husband
trusts in her, and he will have no lack
of gain. 12 She does him good, and
not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax, and works
with willing hands. 14 She is like the
ships of the merchant; she brings her
food from afar. 15 She rises while it is
yet night and provides food for her
household and portions for her
maidens. 16 She considers a field and
buys it; with the fruit of her hands she
plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses
herself with strength and makes her
18 She perceives that her
merchandise is profitable. Her lamp
does not go out at night. 19 She puts
her hands to the distaff, and her hands
hold the spindle. 20 She opens her
hand to the poor and reaches out her
hands to the needy. 21 She is not
afraid of snow for her household, for all
her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for
herself; her clothing is fine linen and
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the
land. 24 She makes linen garments
and sells them; she delivers sashes to
the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity
are her clothing, and she laughs at the
time to come. 26 She opens her mouth
with wisdom, and the teaching of
kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her
household and does not eat the bread
of idleness. 28 Her children rise up
and call her blessed; her husband
also, and he praises her: 29 "Many
women have done excellently, but you
surpass them all." 30 Charm is
deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a
woman who fears the LORD is to be
praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her
hands, and let her works praise her in