Susanna was brought up in
an English parsonage, the youngest of the Annesley
family, which numbered twenty-four. Her father, Dr.
Samuel Annesley, was the pastor of the Puritan
meeting house of the little St. Helen's church in
Susanna was a pretty
girl, said to be the most beautiful of her family.
She was slim and graceful and even retained her
figure to her old age. She was cultured, gracious
and had a good measure of wit. She had her
convictions and fearlessly stuck to them.
Susanna married and
settled down tending to her family. She had few idle
moments. Mehetabel or Hetty arrived during the first
year, followed in rapid succession by five other
babies, all of whom died. Susanna lost nine of her
nineteen children before they reached maturity.
Susanna and Samuel's home
was like a beehive. As soon as her children could
speak they were taught the Lord's prayer, and they
were made to recite it at rising and bedtime. They
were taught to be still at family prayers, and to
ask politely for what they wanted. According to
modern American standards we would call it a rigid
home with lots of rules.
Yet, nowhere is there a
record of resentment on the part of the Wesley
children. All the children point to a mother who
trained them in the Word of God. There was not a
greater force upon the nation of England than her
sons John and Charles Wesley. John Wesley
"represents the force which has most profoundly
affected English history" in the 18th century. Her
son Charles probably wrote more hymns than any other
composer of Christian music did.
Susanna Wesley wrote, "I
am content to fill a little space if God be
Mothering may be old
fashioned and out of date for some modern people. It
is ashamed that many fulltime mothers are made to
blush and feel ashamed when asked to state their
occupation. There is no higher honor or occupation
than that of being a full time mom.
My mother's daily prayer
when I was a teen was, "God help you if you ever do
that again!" When our daughters were young my wife
was often accused of having eyes behind her head.
There is no greater
thrill in life, than to point to your wonderful
mother and be able to say with all your heart to all
the world, "That's my mother!"
My mother was always
sacrificing. It is a characteristic of a graceful
mother. She is always giving. A mature mother's love
reminds me of grace. The very essence of divine
grace is sacrificial giving. The story of redemption
is indispensably linked to the subject of giving.
The appropriate test of love is self-sacrifice. It
always puts our love to test and proves it. Christ
gave Himself for you; therefore you may well be
expected to sacrifice yourself for others.
THE MOTIVE OF OUR
GIVING IS THE GRACE OF GOD.
"You know the grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . " (v. 9a).
Our English word grace
comes from a family of words largely translated
love, mercy, kindness, favor, thanksgiving and pity.
They reflect some aspect of "grace." The word Greek
word charis always means love, charm and
beauty. It is a lovely thing. A charming woman is a
graceful loving person. It describes "a free gift
freely given." It is something given in the
overflowing love from the heart. The recipient does
not deserve it, and could never earn, or achieve the
gift. The "grace" is the "unmerited, spontaneous
love" of Jesus Christ for the sinner. The grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ is the basis of our salvation,
a right relationship with God that comes to the
believer as an unearned gift. It is the sheer
generosity of the love of God to the believing
sinner. Christ gave Himself for us.
The very perfection of
grace is summed up in the person of our Lord Jesus
When we thank of the
grace of giving no one has ever demonstrated such
grace in comparison. He who was rich gave it all up
and became exceedingly poor that He could bestow it
upon undeserving recipients.
The beauty of His life is
He held back nothing. You know the "grace," the
beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know the beauty
of the undeserved love of God that has been given to
you, which you could never earn. The grace of the
Lord Jesus was manifested by His becoming poor on
What is that "grace,"
that beauty, charm and loveliness of our Lord Jesus
Christ? It is the free, divine, unmerited favor of
God bestowed upon sinful and undeserving man. God
gives us what we do not deserve. "Our Lord" is the
supreme and absolute Lord who is the sovereign of
the universe. He is "our Lord." Because we belong to
Him, He belongs to us in that He provides care,
protection and support to His people. He is our God
Not only is Christ our
savior, but He is also the perfect model of
sacrificial giving in motherhood.
There must be a certain
loveliness in the Christian mother. There is no
beauty like giving. And there is nothing more
beautiful than a gracious mother. There is no charm
more attractive than an unselfish generous heart of
a loving mother. The most beautiful mothers are
those who are constantly giving "undeserved
generosity." How often we do not deserve being
treated with the unmerited generosity of our
Mothers who are loved and
cherished are those who are always unselfishly
giving. The kind of love we are thinking about here
is that which always seeks the highest good in the
other person. It is a selfless love. It is the love
of a mother when she hurts, and is weary and
exhausted. It is the love she has when she has to
discipline the rowdy and disrespectful.
No greater example of
that perfect love can be found anywhere than in the
act of Jesus Christ becoming a servant.
A RICH MAN BECAME A
Jesus was rich.
"Though He was
[exceedingly] rich, yet for your sake He became
poor" (v. 9b).
Jesus as the
pre-incarnate Son of God had everything. He was rich
in power. He could do anything with the universe He
had created. He was rich in glory which He had with
the Father (John 17:5). The angels were "constantly
bowing down" to worship Him and crying, "Holy, Holy,
Holy is the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 6:3). As the Son
of God, the Second Person of the Godhead, Jesus was
rich in "the actual and constant possession of all
divine prerogatives" (Charles Hodge). Even though in
Him was the fullness of the Godhead with all of its
rights and possessions, He chose on His own to
become poor. It was His own volitional choice. He
chose to do the Father's will. Cf. Philippians 2:6.
"Jesus Christ is the Son
who was sent, the One who came, into the world, the
Word who became flesh, the Lord who for our sakes
impoverished Himself" (Philip Hughes, Second
Corinthians, p. 301).
Jesus became poor.
Jesus "became [extremely]
poor." He made Himself a beggar. It is the idea of
cowering in the abject condition of poverty.
Jesus became poor in the
act of becoming man. Paul has in mind the
incarnation of Christ, and probably including His
death. The greatest of His condescension is in the
fact that He should have been born. "Though He
shared the Father's glory before the world was
created (John 17:5), nevertheless He temporarily
laid aside this glory in order to 'be found in
fashion as a man'. He did not lay aside His
divinity; for there is no doctrine of kenosis, or
emptying of His Godhead, to be found here anymore
than in Philippians 2:7" (R. V. G. Tasker, Second
Corinthians, p. 115). Jesus laid aside the glory of
His divine majesty. He did not lay aside His deity.
He laid aside the manifestation of it while in His
incarnate visitation on this earth for 33 years. He
was fully God; He was fully man; He was God–man.
Jesus laid aside the constant use of His divine
attributes, not their possession. "He so far laid
aside the glory of His divine majesty that He was to
all appearance a man, and even a servant, so that
men refused to recognize Him, as God, but despised,
persecuted, and at last crucified Him, as a man. He
who was rich in the plentitude of all divine
attributes and prerogatives thus became poor, "on
your account," out of love to you" (Charles Hodge,
Second Corinthians, p. 201). His purpose of
becoming poor was that through His poverty you might
become rich. He did it because He wants what is best
for you. Isn't that the heart of a mother! As
parents, we love our children and we want what is
the very best for them.
"The Lord was manifested
in human flesh in order to take away sin (1 John
3:5); and the taking away of sin involved His taking
upon Himself the role of the suffering Servant, and
being the Son of man who had nowhere to lay His head
(Luke 9:58), and who was to die without a single
possession; even the clothes He wore were stripped
off Him by the soldiers responsible for His
execution" (Tasker, p. 115).
Jesus gave it all up.
Instead of being worshipped, "He was despised and
rejected by men . .. we esteemed Him not… he was
stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted" (Isaiah
53:3-4). Jesus was obedient to death. There were "no
reserves, no half-measures, no conditions, no
holding back." Jesus gave His all. Jesus poured out
everything He had in a demonstration of His love for
the sinner. It was a demonstration of His love for
His enemies. He freely gave all that He had, not
expecting anything in return. He descended from
highest heaven to the grave. No one was richer than
He was; none became poorer than He did.
When "all His disciples
left Him and went to their own homes, Jesus went out
to the Mount of Olives." He had no place to go, no
table, no bed on which to lay His head. He became
the poorest of paupers.
Jesus held nothing back.
He poured out everything He had on the cross at
Calvary. All that He could call His own He gave up
for you and me. "Having loved His own [disciples],
He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1). And one of
those whom He loved to the very end was Judas.
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"
(Romans 5:8-10). We were God's enemies, we were
helpless sinners and He came to give Himself for us.
He sacrificed Himself for
us. We were rebels at heart, hostile toward God,
living selfish lives, and He died for us. Can you
think of a more profound mother's day gift? Oh,
mothers, this is how much God loves you. Never again
question God's love for you. He has demonstrated it
once and for all. Christ came and died for you.
Indeed, after Jesus rose from the dead we find the
mother of Jesus, who had suffered so terribly
watching Him die on the cross, with a group of 120
believers. She is worshipping Him as her Savior and
Ray Stedman asked an
indicting question in our day, "Is it not strange
that we who call ourselves Christians seek to live
as kings, but He who was the King of Kings lived
like a pauper?" How much does it cost us to give? It
cost Jesus everything.
THE PAUPERS BECAME
The purpose of
Jesus' poverty was to make paupers rich.
"Though He was
[exceedingly] rich, yet for your sake He became
[extremely] poor, so that by His poverty you might
become [exceedingly] rich (v. 9b, c). "Believers
have become rich in the possession of that glory
which Christ laid aside, or concealed" (Hodge). It
was by His poverty that we have been made rich.
You have become
For every individual who
accepts by faith the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on
the cross for their sins there is the blessed
assurance that "one day they share in the very glory
which He had laid aside precisely in order that He
might die the death by which alone He could redeem
You are rich in His grace
and mercy. You are rich in an intimate love
relationship with God. You are rich in the Holy
Spirit indwelling in you, filing you, guiding you,
empowering you. You are rich in His love. Cf. Romans
8; Ephesians 1:3. You are exceedingly rich! We have
been made rich as partakers of His divine nature (2
Peter 1:4). It is divine because of its source and
its nature. Jesus said in John 17:22, "The glory
which You have given Me I have given to them, that
they may be one, just as We are one." Romans 8:17
tells us since we are His children, we are "heirs of
God and fellow-heirs with Christ." Wow! Paupers, no!
Exceedingly rich, in deed.
Why has He been so
generous in making us exceedingly rich?
We have become
exceedingly rich, so that we too might become
extremely poor in order to make other people
This is how grace
transforms us. When the grace of the Lord Jesus
Christ captures our hearts and we yield ourselves to
Him, we suddenly realize that though we are rich,
yet for the sake of others we choose to become poor
that they through our poverty might be rich.
Anything else is cheap grace. Jesus said, "Blessed
are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven" (Matthew 5:3).
No one can enter into the
meaning of this great verse without being willing to
sacrifice himself for others. Cf. 1 John 3:17. If
Christ's self-sacrificing love has arrested the
believer then it is unnecessary to command anyone to
give. Grace transforms giving into a joyous
privilege. Paul doesn't have to command the
Corinthians to give because they are constrained by
the love of God. No one has to tell you to sacrifice
for your children, or your family, or your church.
When you are overwhelmed by the grace of God, you
can do no other.
Perhaps I speak to a
mother who has given, and given, and given and you
are close to depleting all your emotional, spiritual
and personal resources. You feel weary and worn. You
know what it is like to love the unlovely. You have
entered into the pain of being despised and rejected
by the ones you love. You don't deserve the pain and
emotional suffering you are going through, but you
keep reaching out in unmerited love. To a limited
extent you have entered into the suffering of
Christ. In a limited way you have entered into and
understand His suffering and what He goes through
with each of us.
That is what the grace of
God does to the prodigal son, daughter, mother and
We see your beauty when
you listen to our hurts and when you hear what we
don't say. We see your beauty when you laugh under
pressure, even though it is inappropriate. We see
your beauty when your smile covers the pain of a
thousand worries and concerns.
How do you keep on
giving where there is no more to give?
How do you continue to
give when mothering wears thin! "Don't become weary
in well doing." Come back to the cross and the
resurrected Christ and draw more strength by abiding
in Christ. You can only make others rich by drawing
from the deep well of God's grace to you. Because He
has made you rich in His grace you can give and give
and give, even when you have exhausted your supply
You and I need the grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ daily. I get that supply of
grace by exchanging it by handing my need over to
Him. I give Him my anxiety and He gives me His peace
and security. God's grace is always coming to my
heart and life in a very wonderful and blessed
Allan Redpath said,
"Yesterday's grace is totally inadequate for the
burden of today, and if I do not learn to lay hold
of heavenly resources every day of my life for the
little things as well as the big things, as a
Christian I soon become stale, barren, and fruitless
in the service of the Lord. . . This is the moment
in which God's grace is available to me, in any
emergency and in any situation. Thank heaven that
whatever the surprises, disappointments, and
problems that may come to me at any moment of any
day, I do not have to look back and say, 'What did
the preacher say last Sunday that I should do at
this moment?'" (Alan Redpath, Blessings out of
Buffetings, p. 112-113). Christ gives the believer a
daily supply of grace that never runs out.
How do you do it mothers?
Charles Inwood said, "It is a constant appropriation
of a constant supply from Jesus Christ Himself. As I
believe, I receive; and as I go on believing, I go
on receiving." Draw daily, moment by moment from
your riches in Christ. If you don't you will become
barren, stale, worn out emotionally and spiritually
and take it out on everyone else. You will wind up
taking it out on your kids, your spouse and loved
ones rather than giving them more grace.
Because you are rich in
the grace of Christ you have grace sufficient at
every moment to meet every need. Moment by moment
lay hold of the heavenly supply of your riches in
Christ. As you give yourself away, you are renewed
day by day in the inner person. When you have come
to the end of your day of giving yourself away each
night you go to bed so poor that you have not one
drop of grace left. All the grace of God for that
day has gone and you are exhausted and without any
reserve for tomorrow. When you get up the next
morning to be filled again with God's daily grace
and you are once again can give and give and give
again. As Redpath wrote, "in the process of being
poor, he is making many rich: and though he
possesses apparently nothing, yet he has access to
the treasure in heaven, and nothing can ever touch
that or ever take it away" (p. 117). This is the
principle upon which God dispenses His grace. Jesus
set the example. He gives to you and you become rich
so that you can become poor by giving it away so
others can become rich.
God watches you in the
kitchen, He watches you in the home, He watches you
with your spouse and longs to make you rich through
His poverty so that you can invest those riches in
those you come in contact with so they can become
rich through your poverty. He does this so you will
daily come back to Him for more grace. He is always
ready to give you more grace.
Principles for Today
When we give ourselves in
total abandonment to Jesus Christ we will be
abandoned to accomplish His will in our homes.
Christ made a total commitment, a total surrender,
to do the will of God in the provision of our
salvation, what more can we do than give our total
self in total abandonment to accomplish His will?
Only when we permit the
Holy Spirit to ignite the fire in our hearts that
comprehends the love shed abroad by the Holy Spirit
will we rise to the challenge and opportunities God
has given to us. That is true in our individual
lives as well as our church.
With such a tremendous
example of giving before us in the person of Jesus
Christ, how can we possible hold back from giving
our very best in sacrificial giving?
Philip Hughes said it
well: " . . . if He did all this for me, then
nothing I give or do for Him can be too much; such
love constrains me; redeemed at incalculable cost, I
am no longer my own; all that was mine is now His,
for Him to make of us in accordance with His holy
purposes" (p. 300).
When the grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ captures our hearts and we yield
ourselves to Him, we suddenly realize that though we
are exceedingly rich, yet for the sake of others we
choose to become extremely poor that they through
our poverty they might be exceedingly rich.
Do you know someone who
needs an extra touch of grace? God has made you rich
in His grace to give yourself away. In His grace we
can give, and give, and give again.
Salvation is freely given
and received. You can't purchase it. Even working
hard as a Godly mother won't save you. It won't even
help you to be saved. Christ purchased your
salvation for you when He died for you on the cross.
Salvation is God's free gift to you. It is an insult
to Him to offer Him anything other than yourself.
However, if you are the recipient of His grace you
are free to respond in grace.