Summary: I John provides a description of character traits for godly mothers.
A Godly Mother
This is the day set aside for recognizing what our mothers mean to us. Last week when I was writing a letter to my mother to send with her card, I recalled the letters she sent to me over the years – in college, in Japan, and even since living in Lima. She hasn’t written many letters recently, but I talk to her every week on the phone. Her short-term memory isn’t so good, but she remembers lots of things from long ago.
One thing she remembers is verses from the Bible. And every so often one slips out while we are talking. When that happened recently she said, “I’ll bet you are surprised that I remembered that verse.” She said that as a girl at home, she and her sister competed while they did the dishes to see who could say the most verses.
When I was a kid, we attended Sunday services morning and evening. Sometimes the evening leader asked people to recite Bible verses beginning with A and on through the alphabet. My favorite was the shortest verse in the Bible which began with J in John 11:35. Jesus wept. You may wonder where you would find a verse beginning with Z. In Ps. 97:8, we find Zion heard and was glad. I remember hearing my mother’s voice frequently on those Sunday evenings.
My mother’s memorization of the Bible in her youth has served her well through the years. At age 90 she can still recite many verses. What a gift.
I’m sure that among the verses she memorized were several from I John. When people who are beginning their walk of faith ask me where they should start reading in the Bible, I sometimes tell them to start with this book. The vocabulary is easy and the ideas are understandable. Listen to these familiar verses.
3:16 God is love.
4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
4:19. We love because he first loved us.
If you read through this short book, you will find it peppered with the word “love.” Love is mentioned more than 40 times. This little book is about love, but not the cheap, gushy, sappy, sentimental kind you might find on some Mother’s Day cards.
When you read I John, it doesn’t take long to figure out that love is more than a feeling or an emotion. Love is expressed in what we do. Love is action. And on this Mother’s Day, I think it is appropriate to think about the measure of love we can expect in a godly mother.
Before we go there, I need to alert you to something about I John. This little book is full of statements about who God is and what we should be, but if you are the type of person who likes to outline paragraphs and chapters and books of the Bible, you may be frustrated. The ideas don’t always follow each other logically like we find in other books of the Bible.
Instead, they are more like what happens when you drop a pebble in a pond. [Slide of ripples] I don’t know what it is about ponds and kids and pebbles, but kids seem to enjoy throwing stones into water. When the stone hits the water, rippling circles begin to move out. And if you throw another one close by, the new circles intersect with the old ones and soon you have some interesting patterns going. (Earl F. Palmer, The Preacher’s Commentary)
John’s letter is something like that. The first pebble he throws out is the idea of life. (1:1) When the first verse mentions the word of life, we know immediately that we are talking about Jesus and the new life he has brought to our world. And that ripple effect goes all the way to the end of the book. (5:11,12.) John wants his readers to know that if you’ve got Jesus, you’ve got real life.
But while we are still thinking about the meaning of life, he throws in another stone and the new ripples begin to intersect with the circles that are already there. This one is named light. (1:5) And we see that God is the author of light. He overcomes darkness and invites us to walk in the light, because if we don’t we will be blind and we will walk in darkness and we will lose our way.
Then before the ripples of life and light fade away, he drops in the third stone, love. This one seems bigger and it sends ripples in all directions. And today we will look at it to see the measure of love we can expect in a godly mother. And you can ask yourself how you measure up.