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Serving One Another

Galatians 5:13 NASB 


"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

A national survey taken for a flower delivery company suggests that 50 percent of Americans believe their mother deserves something special on Mother's Day. Most felt Mom deserved something special because "she survived raising me and that was no small feat." Others say Mom deserved recognition because "she always has dinner on the table and clean laundry in the closet."

The survey also found that 65 percent of Americans said if they ever won an Academy award, their mother would be the first person they'd thank in their acceptance speech. (

The need to honor Moms isn't new. Elisha showed his respect to his father and his mother after Elijah chose him to take his place. 1 Kings 19:19-20 says, "So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him. [20] And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, 'Please let me kiss my father and my mother, then I will follow you.' And he said to him, 'Go back again, for what have I done to you?'"

For most people, like Elisha, their mother is a primary object of their affection and gratitude. Why is that? Is it because we feel guilty for the pain we've caused her? Proverbs 10:1 says, "A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother." (NASB) Many a foolish son has brought grief to his Mother, but that may not be the primary reason we want to honor our Moms. I hope it is because of a sincere appreciation for what our mothers have done for us over the years.

An elementary teacher spent an entire day teaching her class of second graders about magnets and what they do. The next day, she gave her students a written test which included the question, "My full name has six letters. The first one is M. I pick up things. What am I?" When the test papers were turned in, the teachers was astonished to find that half of her students answered the question with the word, Mother.  (

Does that story bear any resemblance to your home?

Before I go any further this morning, let me say that what I am doing right now-preaching a Mother's Day sermon-is the most dangerous thing I do in my job. Knowing that some of you jump out of airplanes with nothing more than a backpack that you hope contains a parachute, and others of you fly helicopters in combat missions or land giant planes without the benefit of an airstrip or lights in the middle of the night, my last statement probably seems pretty foolish. But it is true. This is as dangerous as it gets for me. Let me explain.

I know that I am in danger of hurting people instead of helping them. Some of you didn't have good mothers. They weren't there for you, perhaps they even were abusive and for you, the last thing you want to hear today is some sappy Mother's Day sermon that elevates motherhood to super hero status.

Others of you don't feel like you are good mothers and secretly you hoped that I wouldn't begin this sermon by saying, "Please turn to Proverbs 31" because you don't feel like you measure up to the King's Mother's idea of what her son's wife should be like. And then there are those who desperately want to be a mother, and your biological clock is ticking down and now you wonder if you'll ever fulfill your dream. I'm also painfully aware that some people in our congregation have recently lost their mother or a child and are still mourning that loss. I pray that my words today will be encouraging and not hurtful.

I also know that there is a danger that I could say some sexist things that are out of step with the times. My immediate mental picture of motherhood usually involves an apron, a rolling pin, a kitchen and bluebirds singing outside of a window. I'm not so sure that image is compatible with motherhood today. And because many of our young adults were latch key kids who spent more time with a TV than a Mom, they might not relate to that visual image at all. For many, being a good Mom has a lot to do with balancing work and school with parenting instead of making fresh baked goods for an after school snack.

With that said, In most of the homes that I know anything about, Mom remains the most popular person in the home. A new survey conducted for a gift company found 40 percent of respondents chose Mom as the person they would like to honor with a gift. 

I don't think that surprises anybody. And neither will this. The survey also found reciprocal feelings when mothers were questioned. 27 percent of 25 to 55-year-old women surveyed also wanted to give a gift to their children to honor them.

Amazing. There is something inside of most Mothers that drive them to give and drive them to serve. They exemplify the scripture, that says, "but through love serve one another." (Galatians 5:13 NASB)

Oprah Winfrey recently said, "This is the defining question of my life. How do you use your life to best serve yourself and extend it to the world." (  From all accounts it appears that Oprah is doing both. Though her words sound noble, and probably reflect the majority view in today's world, the Bible teaches a different standard. Paul wrote, "through love serve one another." He didn't say anything about "serving yourself then extend it to the world." He didn't teach to get yours, then give the world the left overs. He said, "through love serve one another."

Why are our Mothers the primary object of our affection? For me it is simple, because I know my Mom believes in me and will do anything she can to help me out. I don't know if it is like this in your family, but in ours, I'm the one that is quick to notice when the boys do something wrong, Susan is the first to notice when they do something right. I'm the one that is quick to say "no" when they ask me to do something for them that they can do for themselves, because I want them to become men that can stand on their own two feet. Susan is quick to say "yes" because as far as she's concerned, they will always be her little boys. Most kids figure that one out pretty soon and know that Mom has more "yeses" in her than Dad.

I know I'm speaking in generalities now, but Mothers, as a whole are people who are quick to serve and slow to complain. Their love compels them to serve. It is that compulsion to serve that makes them so worthy of our honor.

The real mark of maturity is not if we expect service from others, but if we learn to give service to them. Turn about is fair play and Mother's day is a wonderful time to serve those who serve us. But then again, so is every other day of the week that ends with the letter "y."

Jesus said, "But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. [27] For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves." Luke 22:26-27 NASB

Parenting the Strong-Willed Child

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