Motherhood: A Ministry of Love
- Friday, February 08, 2008
When Paul gets down to every day life for women, he builds on the character of God, revealed in God's Word. God is love, and the greatest of all Christian virtues is love.
So, what is the most powerful aspect of a wife and mother’s life on earth seeking to obey God’s calling to her life? Her grace-energized love.
And what does God say will last forever from all the endless and mostly unseen hours of work that being a wife and mother entails? All the deeds offered in obedience to the Lord produced by grace-energized-love.
In Titus 2:4 we find the key that produces eternal reward from every day of a grace-energized-wife’s marriage and a grace-energized mother’s family. Paul explains that the key is love. The first calling of a wife and mother in God's Word is to LOVE.
[Our] gifts, [and our] ministries, all one day will cease to exist because they will cease to have purpose or meaning... But our showing love [to our husbands and children], practicing [that] love, [and] living [ that] love now--are of utmost importance, more important than having any of the other virtues or gifts, because love is the link God gives us with His eternal Self.
The key to grace-energized lives, marriages, and families is love.
Love was rarely seen in everyday life and culture in the Roman world; and this gentle, sensitive, grace-energized love was to become a powerful witness in the culture of the first century. Jesus had already said that by this by love, all will know that you are My disciples. So that is why Paul says grace-energized mothers love their children. That is the second phrase of Titus 2:4 v. 4c “to love their children.”
This characteristic is one word in the Greek text, philoteknos, and it means to be a lover of children; so grace-energized-mothers love their children. And this love is phileo love that can be felt. That is a grace-energized mother’s special ministry in Christ's church!
Just the fact that these words were inspired by God to come to His saints means that this was not common, this was not easy, and this was not normal. This type of love just doesn’t “happen” because God wants it. It is a choice, it is a lesson to be learned, and it is a factor that determines a believer’s eternal reward in Heaven.
And that phileo love that is emotional, close, and visible is what the Lord asks from grace-energized mothers towards their children.
Do your loved ones in your family feel your love?
Practice Ways to Make your Love Felt
Grace-energized mothers make sure their loved ones feel their love. To help them receive and be touched by your love, we can try to use those several key ingredients that we see in both Christ's and Paul’s ministry. These small choices always help us to communicate affirmation and encouragement.
First, look at what Jesus did in Mark 10:16 when he blessed the children. He gathered them into His arms. Jesus was always touching those He ministered to. He could have healed them with a word, nine times in Mark alone Jesus touches those He served. So should we! The act of touch is a key to communicating warmth and affirmation. It is even essential to physical health. Be generous with your hugs. Remember these ways we already learned from Christ's training of His disciples and Paul’s training of Timothy?
So, like Jesus: Grace-energized mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they use meaningful touches with them.
Secondly, do you remember reading through several verses in the epistles to Timothy, how Paul used tender and encouraging words to help his son in the faith Timothy? He doesn’t belittle him for his weaknesses and tears. We should always remember that hugs aren’t enough; we need, like Paul, to say as many encouraging and uplifting words as possible.
Tell your children how you feel about them! Those who are left to fill in the blanks often feel worthless and insecure. At best, only confusion can come from silence. Far too many of us are really not that encouraging.
It’s not that we have a critical spirit. Rather, we just say nothing. Our loved ones are not mind readers. We can do better than just expecting them to know we are in their corner, loving and admiring them silently. They need to hear it!
Grace-energized mothers make an effort to catch them doing something good, right, thoughtful, considerate, well done, etc., and point it out. Highlight it! "Hey, you really handled that situation very well." Just like Paul does as he communicates with Timothy.
So, like Paul: Grace-energized mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they prepare and use special words for them.
Thirdly, remember what we saw in Paul, how he told Timothy he had a “treasure” entrusted him; and that he was “gifted”; and that God was “going to use him”? Grace-energized-mothers tell their children the qualities they admire in them.
So, like Paul: Grace-energized mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they attach high value to them.
Fourthly, we saw that Paul told Timothy about a “crown” that was awaiting him as he ran the “race” set before him; and that the Lord was going to “reward” him. So we also should express to our children what God can do with them as they follow Him in their life.
Grace-energized mothers explain to their children how they can become the greatest servant of the Lord in whatever field God has gifted them. Explain why you think their gifts and character traits will be useful throughout their lives. Avoid the overuse of negative admonitions; use Biblical affirmations to inspire confident dependence upon God.
So, like Paul: Grace-energized mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they picture a bright future for them.
Fifthly, reaffirm your plan to stand by your loved one through the months and years ahead to help make your words of affirmation become a reality. Paul expressed this truth as he confessed that one of his greatest labors was remembering Timothy “night and day” (II Timothy 1:3). Express ways you want to be a deeper part of their life (monthly dates, weekly prayer studies, nightly prayer times, on going shared prayer list, etc.)
Don’t quit as soon as you miss a scheduled time because of a conflict, or your loved one hurts or discourages you, or your child fails in some area.
What final words rang in Christ's disciples ears from the “Great Commission”? For the rest of their life they heard Him say, “I am with YOU always!” I am walking through every day of your life with you in love, in concern, in partnership.
So, like Paul and Jesus: Grace-energized mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they make a commitment to walk through life with them.
Sixthly, Grace-energized mothers pray for their children and let them know it. Start a life-long prayer list with specific areas that you have learned from them need prayer, and then PRAY. Ask for updates. Celebrate answers. Pray together.
If you are not praying for them each day, who is?
Regardless of their age, they need you to lift them up before the Lord in prayer each day. Think about their day. Think about their setting. Think about the people they will be with. Pray about these situations.
We need all the help we can get, and much of what happens to us or to our children in this life is beyond our control. John 17 is Christ's model prayer for us to treasure, just as His disciples did back then as they heard Him pray for THEM.
So, like Jesus: Grace-energized mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they make a commitment to pray through life with them.
Finally, Jesus started His ministry with the Twelve by one simple plan in Mark 3:14, “and He ordained 12 that they should be with Him”. Watch them, share their ups and downs; know where they are in their spiritual life, their school life, work life, home life. Find out who they are close to and who they are not close to—and why.
· Take an interest in whatever seems to interest your children. Get into his or her world.
· Be lovingly persistent in communicating with your children. That is, keep trying to set up times when meaningful communication can occur.
· Share activities. Go to the grocery store, try a family time camping together, or even just ask them to do what you are doing with you (cooking, yard work, running errands). It is always loving to want them, include them, and ask for them to spend time with you.
· Take the initiative in asking your children questions. Have an endless learning time asking about what they think, what they feel, what they like or don’t like—and why. Learn their favorite flavor, favorite food, favorite activity, dreamed of place to go, and so much more. Write it down afterward to see what you remembered, and ask again until you do remember. Then surprise them with something they like!· Listen to your children with full attention. Let him or her see your eyes light up when they talk to you.
· Meet their needs with love: a regular schedule of nutritious meals, clean clothes, clean bodies, adequate sleep and rest. Give them a heart that serves.
So, like Jesus: Grace-energized mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they become a student of their child’s life.
And as we share in time with them we can add even more gifts:
- Give them a heart that rejoices and is filled with happiness. Psalm 113:9 describes a “joyful” mother.
- Give them a heart that gives like Christ's (Mark 10:45): because love gives (John 3:16); because love is generous (II Cor. 9:6); because love expects nothing back (Luke 6:35).
- Give them a heart that plays and is full of fun.
- Give them a heart that celebrates all their special days (Matthew 5:41); and since we have to do all those things in the family, why not make them special!
- Give them a heart that prefers your family first (Titus 2:4 says they are your first priority).
- Give them a heart that is focused (Matthew 6:24).
- Give them a heart that is present and attentive (Psalm 119:10 ‘my whole heart’).
- Give them a heart that trusts in the Lord (Isaiah 26:3 ‘perfect peace, trusts’).
Dorothy Patterson, one of the authors of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, puts the issue into focus:
“A mother builds something far more magnificent than any cathedral the dwelling place for an immortal soul. No professional pursuit so uniquely combines the most menial tasks with the most meaningful opportunities.”
Click here to read more "Discover the Book" by John Barnett.
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