Mom's Need the Gospel; They Don't Live the Gospel

I recently read a good article about motherhood on the Desiring God Blog.  Yet one sentence stuck out that bothered me: Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel.  I believe motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live in light of the gospel.  Those three words make a big difference.  Let me explain.  First I’ll give you an example of something crappy I did, and then I’ll share with you how great I am.  Neither are being the gospel; both prove just how much I need to keep hearing it. My kids are now out of school for the summer.  This means that I have the privilege of taking them grocery shopping with me.  My eye twitches just thinking about it. So there I was walking down the baked goods aisle to the concomitant serenade of mom, we need this; mom, we’re out of this; mom, how come you NEVER let us have this!  Meanwhile, I’m trying to compare prices and read nutrition labels.  As I approach the flour, I’m wondering how much I will need to make chocolate chip pancakes for my husband’s 4th grade class.  Do I have enough at home already?  I pick up the phone to ask my oldest daughter to check.  Intermingled with the ringing is: mom, mom, mom!  In my hurried, firm, but not too raised voice I say, Zaidee, can you just BE QUIET?!  That’s when our new church member turns the corner and kind of gives me the look.  You know, the how can you be so short with your dear children look?  I’m more embarrassed because she is newly pregnant with her first child.  I was not the best godly example for her there.  After we exchange “hellos” and turn the corner to the next aisle Zaidee chides in, I just wanted to tell you that I saw someone from our church, with a big smile on her face.  Now for my greatness:  I was determined not to let this summer be consumed by television, video games and bored children.  And with our hurried evenings of ball, family devotion time has really suffered.  This was my chance to get us all back into a healthy family pattern.  So I made a wonderful morning schedule that includes devotions over breakfast.  I’m using a terrific book by Starr Meade on the Shorter Catechism, Training Hearts; Teaching Minds.  Next, we move onto a half hour of room-grooming and chores, followed by twenty minutes of some sort of fitness.  We’ve done everything from bike rides, races, exercise TV, and weight training, to my ancient slider workout.  Solanna thrives on a schedule.  She just loves the reward of a checked-off list.  Zaidee is my free-spirit.  Like me, she doesn’t like to be so boxed in by timed events.  Nevertheless, she is definitely benefiting by this experience.  Haydn just goes with the flow.  He does enjoy the security that routine provides.  This morning-thing has really stirred up some great conversations and time together.  And then we have the rest of our day for whatever else (besides the 20 minutes I make them independently read daily).  Aren’t I great?  Not really.  Especially when I’m great, I need to hear the gospel. Here’s the thing.  The gospel is a proclamation.  It is good news.  News has to be told, by words.  As a Christian, I have the gospel truth, but I cannot be it.  I am a Christian; I am not the gospel.  The gospel comes from outside of me and points to the work of Christ on my behalf.  The fact is that I am a sinner who has been justified by the righteousness of my savior, Jesus Christ.  No one can look to me and be saved.  As Michael Horton says, “Your life is not the gospel, and that is good news for the two people sitting next to you.”  Yes, I want onlookers to see my life and notice the effects of the gospel in it.  However, I do not want anyone to think that my life is the gospel.  I myself need to be constantly encouraged by this good news as I am being sanctified.  My default is to trust in my own righteousness, to earn something for myself.  I am only free to minister to my children and my neighbors when I know that I’m not doing it to earn anything.  I can truly love them with God’s love because Jesus Christ has already earned it on my behalf, and his Spirit has applied it. Motherhood humbles me.  And sometimes it builds me up.  I believe that the intent of the aforementioned article was to encourage mothers that our callings are a worthy place to teach and live according to the gospel.  When I go to church on Sunday morning and am stripped by the law and clothed in Christ’s righteousness, I receive the nourishment and faith to live the rest of my week out in light of that good news.   I wholeheartedly agree with the author that mothers serving their own children in the home have a valuable vocation.  But words are still important these days, and I wanted to make a clarification.