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7th Sunday of Easter
Romans 15:14-20

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!  In the name of Jesus, your Risen and Ascended Lord, dear friends in Christ, So how much is a mother worth?  How valuable is a mother?  Well, to every question you better believe that our world will at least try to come up with an answer.  As it turns out there is actually a website that will calculate the yearly net worth of a mother.  Now, in order to get an accurate picture you have to figure in all of the things that she does: cooking, cleaning, laundry, chauffeuring, babysitting, day-care teacher, psychologist, facilities manager, etc.  Well, for 2013 the calculated worth of the average stay at home mom?  $113,568.  And for the working mother?  Whatever her actual salary is plus $67,436.  Wow!  I guess there’s a lot a mom does that we don’t normally think about!  And it makes sense, when my wife Katie spent a few weeks with her parents earlier this year, the house was falling apart- and she took the kids with her!

I think we all have to admit that the work of a good mother is extremely valuable.  In fact, it’s very difficult to put a price on it.  It’s often easy to overlook the importance of the rather mundane and routine tasks of being a mother: from washing dishes, picking up toys, sweeping the floor, then sweeping the floor again, to changing diapers, giving advice, providing a shoulder to cry on, etc.  But there’s one thing that a Christian mother does that is far more valuable than anything else.  One thing that a Christian mother does that is an essential part of being a Christian mother.

The apostle Paul did many things and accomplished many things in his life, but at the end of the day, there was only one thing that mattered the most.  Our text for this morning is at the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  If you know anything about the book of Romans you know that it is packed full of doctrine and teaching.  It contains a clear presentation of law and gospel and Martin Luther once commented that he thought every Christian should have the whole letter to the Romans memorized.  Well, our text is at the end of the book and here Paul is wrapping things up and once again reminding them of his purpose and motivation for what he does.

Although Paul hadn’t personally met the believers in Rome he was convinced that they were full of goodness, complete in knowledge, and able to instruct each other.  He also tells them that he has written boldly to them.  Why?  In order to remind them again and again.  This is his mission.  God has given him grace to share the gospel with the Gentiles so that just like a priest he might offer the Gentile believers as an offering acceptable to God.  He’s picturing himself as an OT priest, but instead of offering an animal sacrifice, he preaches the Gospel so that all those who come to faith in God might be an acceptable offering in God’s sight.

Then he gets to the verses we’ll focus on: “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.  I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done.”  Paul saw his ultimate purpose in life was not to have a bunch of friends or to have an easy, successful life, or to be pain and trouble free, rather, his ultimate goal in life was to proclaim the Gospel, to preach the Gospel wherever Christ was not known.  His ultimate purpose was to share the love of God seen most clearly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  And this was God’s work through him, he was just the instrument.  He spread the gospel in word and deed – not just his words, but his whole life was used in service to God in order to lead people to the water of life.

Just like God called the apostle Paul to His service in sharing the gospel with the Gentiles, so if God has blessed you with children, He has called you to that position with the number one purpose of sharing the most important thing with your children.

But we so often get ourselves all distracted, lose our priorities.  So what do we do?  We think the most important thing is to have a clean home, so we lose our temper when things are a mess, we think the most important thing is to have children who are star athletes, so we push them and give them our highest praise only when they play well, we think the most important thing is for our children to succeed in life, to go to college, to earn a degree, to have a successful job, etc.  While all those things are nice, they aren’t the most important thing.  And when we teach by our words or example that something else- whatever it may be- other than God is the most important thing, not only are we sinning, but we’re also leading our children to think the same thing.  And God has a stern warning for anyone who leads a child astray, he says, “It would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

And no matter how hard a mother (or father) may try to be the perfect parent, they will always fall short.  And so thank God that He loved us with a love better than the best mother!  He demonstrated that love by choosing to have a mother himself, being born into this world, he made God His number one ambition and priority in life.  Then with a far better love than a mother he willingly laid down his life for our sins so that we might have life eternal.  And since he did that God now deals with us tenderly and lovingly, like a mother caring for her children.

It’s that – the love of God – which inspires the mother in her love for her child.  God’s love for the mother allows/inspires her to reflect love to her children.  God loved mom even tho’ she didn’t deserve it.  That inspires the mom to love her children even tho’ they don’t deserve it.  God is always there for mom.  God’s love is patient and kind.  God is just and right.  God is consistent.  God always listens.  Seeing those aspects of God’s love inspires and motivates the mom to be all of those things to her children.

When a mom reflects that love to her children in her words and actions, she gives her children what’s most important.  When a mom reads through a bible story with her children, talks with her children about his/her Sunday School lesson, brings her children to church – even when its difficult, and lives her Christian life, she gives her child what’s most important by her example in word and deed, just like the apostle Paul.

And you know what?  You might NOT be able to give your kids all that they want.  You might have to say “no” to new shoes, new clothes, an ipod, a cell phone, a car, etc., etc.  But you know what?  That’s all fine!  That’s not a problem at all!  Because if you’re giving them Jesus, you’re giving them what they really, really need!  You’re giving them what’s priceless!  What matters!

That’s what makes a mother’s job so valuable!  It’s an aspect of the amazing grace of our God that He chooses to use sinful human beings – like mothers and fathers- as His instruments.  When a mother has the privilege and honor of sharing with her children the precious truths of God’s Word, God Himself is present, and God the Holy Spirit uses that message to work faith, to strengthen faith in HIS children.  When a mother continues to listen, influence, guide, and direct her children as they grow older and model her faith to them, God is at work.  When a mother her whole life prays for her children and continues to share the gospel with them their whole lives, God is at work.  And could there be anything more precious than that?

What an incredible high calling God has given to mothers!  What incredibly high meaning and purpose God has given to motherhood!  What incredibly great honor God gives to mothers!  You get to give to your children what is most important in all of life: God’s Word, the message of Jesus, the message of the forgiveness of sins!

So how much is a mother worth?  How much is a Christian mother worth?  In the midst of eating for two, changing diapers, calming tantrums, tending wounds – physical or emotional- it’s easy to see the mother’s job as mundane and insignificant.  But in God’s sight a Christian mother is priceless.  She gets to share with her children what is priceless!  So mother’s, glory in your service to Christ as you carry out your work as a mother.  And for all of us, whether we had a good mother or a not so good mother, can still thank God for the awesome blessing Christian mothers are to our world!