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Personal, Perfect, and Perpetual Obedience in Motherhoood

Authenticity seems to be the modern virtue that is praised in social media circles today. 

We applaud influencers for being honest about their feelings and frailties. We want to hear stories about mothers feeding their children junk food or exposing them to the screen all day so we could feel good about ourselves. We feed on stories about mothers shouting at their children. We seem to uphold transparency and celebrate brokenness. We put women on pedestals for the sake of their relatability. Then we validate our own actions based on their imperfections.

What we don’t like, however, is finding someone who seeks to honor God and follow the Scriptures. We don’t want to hear about mothers striving for holiness in their hearts and minds. We shy away from stories about women lovingly submitting to her husband or enjoying her place in the home. We want to see women exposing their flaws and breaking away from norms. Perhaps what we don’t like is a picture of true repentance, fruitfulness, and obedience. Westminster Divine and puritan Joseph Caryl once wrote,

The holiness and happiness of the saints are the shame and torment of the devil and of his children.

What a sobering reminder that is for all of us.

Not Just Faithful, But Perfect

Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “We are not called to be perfect, but to be faithful.” I have heard that many times than I can remember. I have even said it in the past in one form or another. But I realize how simplistic or incomplete it is in light of God’s revelation.

While it may be true that God calls mothers to be faithful with our walk and talk, he also demands perfection (Matthew 5:48). In our catechism, we find that God requires personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience when it comes to the moral law (Larger Catechism 93). This is surely unattainable in this side of heaven. But God did not leave Christian mothers in a state of sin and misery (Shorter Catechism 20). Jesus came, lived, died and was raised again for us and for our salvation. And when we put our faith in Jesus, we are made alive to do God’s design (Ephesians 2:8–10). Mothers who are united to Christ by faith are enabled to strive towards love and good deeds by the Spirit of God (Hebrews 10:24). And when it is done in the context of God’s people, God’s love is perfected in us (1 John 4:12).

Mothers are called to personal obedience.

Submitting to God’s Word is not dependent on feelings or fleeting circumstances — how my children are acting or how pleasant my husband is today.

Mothers are called to perfect obedience.

The mundane good works of the every day life — the washing of the dishes, the changing of diapers, or the cleaning up of the messes — is pleasing in God’s sight because of Christ’s imputed righteousness. We are continually being perfected as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit who is at work in and through us in our daily sanctification.

Mothers are called to perpetual obedience.

On that Day when we finally see our Savior face to face, we shall forever bask in His glory, worshipping and praising God — we will be doing what we were made to forever participate in as we will be perfectly holy because of Jesus’ life and sacrifice.

Striving to be obedient and submitting to God’s Word is faithfully living out our calling. Elisabeth Elliot said it best, “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”

Normalize obedience — it’s a Christian thing to do.

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