Mother's Day -- Love

May 12, 2013   I Corinthians 13   Love 

   A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud.    The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog.  Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess.    A lamp had been knocked over.    In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was covered with toys and various items of clothing.   In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, etc.    He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife.     He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.  

      He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor.  Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.   As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel.   She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.   He looked at her bewildered and asked, 'What happened here today?  ‘She again smiled and answered, 'You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day?'   'Yes,' was his incredulous reply.   She answered, 'Well, today I didn't do it.'      Funny how people think they are getting the short end of things.   

      I want to open the floor and let you share the most important (one) thing that your mother has done for you. 

      On this day that we honor mothers, it is good for us to think about how much you really do.   Being a mother is not a walk in the park…By the time a child reaches 18, a mother has had to handle some extra 18,000 hours of child-generated work.   In fact, women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year in leisure time!     A Junior High science teacher lectured on the properties of magnets for an entire class. The next day he gave his students a quiz. The first question read like this: “My name begins with an “M,” has six letters, and I pick things up.   What am I?”   Half the kids in the class wrote, “Mother.”

    That reminds me of the father who was trying to explain the concept of marriage to his 4-year-old daughter.   He got out their wedding album, thinking visual images would help, and explained the entire wedding service to her.   When he was finished, he asked if she had any questions.    She pointed to a picture of the wedding party and asked, “Daddy is that when mommy came to work for us?      Ralph Waldo Emerson has said, “Men are what their mothers make them” and an old Spanish proverb says, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.”

    I know we struggle with being a mother or being a parent.  I have been there.   There are times when you may wonder where is your faith when you worry or stress about something going on with your child.   We worry did I over punish my child?    Did I let them get off too easy?   We are concerned when they get on the bus for the first time and they are totally out of your control.   For some that home school sooner or later they will be under the influence of others and of course there is the whole dating thing, driving, college and so on.   Yes McGraths are you ready for Sarah to drive?    It is not easy being a parent.  Did I give my kids enough of me?   Am I too wrapped up in work?   When is the last time I had time alone with my son or daughter?   Are they getting what they need from me?    Do my kids enjoy being around me?  Are we having fun yet?   For mothers it is laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, correction, instruction, and a myriad of other jobs that would fill the rest of sermon time.  And sometimes we do not feel good and we lose and say something in anger.   We wonder how the kids will turn out.    According to Rainer Research, approximately 70 percent of American youth drop out of church between the ages of 18 and 22.     The Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be "disengaged" by the time they are 29.     One of the most important things you can do is to pray.  We need God in this process.  We need God in our homes.  

     Maybe we are not doing as bad as we think as parents some times.   An article in the LA Times a number of years ago said a study by the University of Rhode Island described the American home as the most dangerous place to be outside of riots and war!   Although exact statistics are difficult to obtain all other available studies had echoed the same sad story.  The plan A home is filled with anger and violence.   Thirty per cent of all American couples experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime and 2 million couples have used a gun, knife or some other lethal weapon on each other during their marriage.  Twenty percent of all police officers killed in the line of duty are killed while answering calls involving family fights and it is estimated that anywhere from 6 to 15 million women are battered in the US each year.   One officer said this is probably the highest unreported crime in the country.   Things are not good and right.   We do not have to look too far to know that.   In the news now in NH the mother who punched her infant son who is now dead.   In the news today in CA the 12 year old boy  who stabbed his younger sister to death.   I wonder what kind of a home was he raised in.  

    God has a better way for us to live in our families and in our life and it is called love.   It is called sacrifice and giving.   We do not always perfectly live up to this passage but we need to strive to grow in love.   Paul or the Holy Spirit tells us that a man or woman without love has a pretty empty life.   The passage of scripture we read today talks about the big picture.  It talks about love and the supremacy of love.   I am reminded that the bible tells us that God is love.  That is the simplest description of God that He has given us of Himself.   God is love.   Love is the most precious and most important description of God.  John wrote in I John that the one who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.  Love is basic to Christian character.  It is a key foundation of the church. 

       The love that the NT talks about is not a sexual love or romantic love.   The love is not a mere sentiment or pleasant feeling about another person.  The love mentioned here is not brotherly love or close friendship love.  It is much deeper.  Most people do not know what true love is.  The KJ has translated the word agape by using the word charity.  Charity has been long associated with giving to the needy but the word agape that is used for love in the NT means a lot more than that.   Agape love is self-giving love.   John 3:16 for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son.  God gave His Son while we were yet sinners and while we rejected God and hated God.   God poured Himself out and gave all of himself to you and me and to the world.  God gave his highest treasure He gave his son Jesus.  Our world has too often defined love as romantic and attraction and feelings and for many it is defined it in a sexual meaning.  Love in God’s eyes and heart is sacrificial.  It is the sacrifice of self for the sake of others even for those who may not appreciate what we have sacrificed and given for them and they may not even know what was done for them.  This kind of love leaves no room for pride, self-centeredness and vanity.  God’s love is not self-serving or self-seeking.   He gives for the benefit of us.  God’s love gives to the point of pain.   It is not giving when it is convenient only but loves gives when it is not convenient.     This love goes the second mile.   

            This chapter has been called the hymn of love.           It is one of the greatest passages that Paul ever wrote.  Some like to think of it as the Beatitudes set to music.  The purpose of this passage is to edify us and build us up in our Christian life and that is the purpose of scripture.  This passage is a blessing and a breath of fresh air.  This passage is positive and in the midst of reproof and correction that Paul is putting on the Corinthians.  This passage tells it like it is.  The more excellent way that we see in I Corinthians 12:31 is found in this chapter of love.    Self-giving love is the real thing and the best example of that is Jesus.    A person was asked when we get to heaven what do you think is going to be the greatest surprise of all?   After thinking about it he replied I think we will be surprised by the over whelming depth of God’s love.  There is no end to God’s love.   We cannot fathom God’s love and it is deeper than a mother’s love and deeper than any persons love.  The song writer wrote could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade.   To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.  Our love fails but God’s love never fails and it is the more excellent way. 

       Here in I Corinthians 13 Paul says if anyone speaks without love it is only noise.  The most eloquent sermon spoken from a great depth of biblical knowledge but not spoken from a heart of love comes up pretty empty.     To God it would be empty.   Maybe the Corinthian’s love for eloquence was why they were fascinated with tongues.  Chuck Swindoll wrote in Quest for Character that depth is important and not the length that is important.   Not how long you take to talk but how much you say.  Not how flowery and eloquent you sound but how sincerely and succinctly you speak…that is important…that’s what remembered.  Two minutes can be more effective than 2 hours.

     How do you apply this passage today as a parent?   How would you write this?   How would the Holy Spirit communicate this passage to you today?   If I am very profound and eloquent when I speak to my children it means nothing if it is not spoken in love.   If I communicate correctly and precisely to my child or to my mate but it is not in love it is very empty.   If I work like crazy and drive myself into the ground and give my whole life to those around me but I don’t do it in love it does not amount to hill of beans.   Maybe you should go home and think about your own version of this.  How would you write this passage?   What would you have to say?   Surely all of us could make some improvements.     God is love.   For God so loved the world that he gave.   And moms we thank you for your sacrifice and your love and for all that you have given to us.