The calling and value of motherhood is profoundly undermined in today’s culture. The modern French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter calls motherhood a tyranny for women in her recent book The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. She sees motherhood as a kind of oppression that stops a woman from being valued and exerting her full influence and potential. How far this is from the true reality of life as we know it and the life that the Bible declares.
All of us have mothers and all of us know the profound impact our mothers have on our lives. That influence stretches from cradle to grave. As Henry Ward Beecher states, “What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.” A godly mother has a profound influence over her children. And the Bible demonstrates this fact, especially in the life of one immensely influential church leader named Timothy.
We know little about Timothy’s family background, but what we do know is that he had a godly mother and grandmother who were used to mould Timothy into becoming a godly leader. The Apostle Paul reminds young Timothy of his spiritual heritage, saying, “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.”
Remarkably there is no reference to Timothy’s father. In Acts 16:1 we are told that his father was a Greek, and no doubt an unbeliever. Yet, his mother Eunice had come to faith in Christ, and despite the challenges of living with an unbelieving husband, her sincerity of faith worked its way into Timothy’s life.
Paul reminded Timothy to continue to stand on what had been handed down to him by his mother: “How from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15).
Some of the most influential men and women of God owe a great debt to their mothers. Hannah could be credited for young Samuel’s fear of God despite Eli’s wickedly influential sons. After the initial birth narrative of our Lord Jesus it is His mother Mary whose prominence is in view. John Wesley, that great evangelist and hymn writer, declared, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” George Washington lost his father at the age of 10, so it was his godly mother who raised him. Washington would later say, “All that I am I owe to my mother.” John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace”, was raised by an ungodly father. Yet, before his mother died when he was seven, he learned to memorise hymns, catechism answers, and Scripture, which the Lord later brought to his mind to bring him to salvation. Billy Graham has said that no one influenced him more for the Lord than his mother. We could go on.
The world has been shaped through the influence of Godly mothers, and only when we get to heaven will the true impact be revealed. No matter the difficulties and challenges family life bring the call of motherhood is a high calling. She is a missionary to her family, and like all missionaries, she is called to trust in her Lord for strength to endure, for wisdom to impart, and for faith to patiently trust the spiritual outcome of her children to her Lord. Mothers, thank you for your patient endurance. May you follow in the example of Sarah, to “do good and to not fear anything that is frightening” (1 Peter 3:6), knowing that your Lord is with you.