Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Makings of a Godly Wife Pt. 2

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Titus 2:3-5

Today we're going to look at verse 4, "and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,". This may seem silly. Why would we need to be trained to love our husbands and children? Doesn't this come naturally? Well, yes and no. A self-centered kind of love, based on 'what can you do for me', and warm fuzzies is natural. However, godly love, that is sacrificial is not so natural.

"to love their husbands..." Paul is not just talking about romantic love here, although that is very important as well! He is talking about a friendship kind of love. You should be your husband's best friend, and he should be yours. That's right. Sis down the street shouldn't be your best friend, your husband should be. How? Well, the simple answer is to take an interest in the things he likes.

"But, but, he likes fishing! Football! Mechanics!"

Yes, often our husbands like things that we don't. They like things that we don't understand, and within ourselves don't care to learn about. However, we are to love them in a friendship kind of way, and so, that means being with him and being interested in what he is interested in. We are to be one flesh with our husband. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24 (emphasis mine) This is more than just the physical aspect of marriage, we are to be one. That means in life purpose, physically, and spiritually.

If you take the time to learn about his favorite sport, or agree to do something with him that he loves, he will appreciate it so much. Be willing, be agreeable - don't do this in a grudging way. If he likes to work on cars, ask if you can help by handing him tools or bringing him a tall glass of tea or lemonade and a plate of cookies. Show him that you enjoy his company and that you desire to be around him, and be enjoyable to be around yourself! It is ideal if you were good or best friends before you were married, but if not, you can start now: today. It might take some real effort - you might have a big learning curve, but if you make the effort, he will notice.

Maybe your husband isn't interested in any of the things that you are. It might be difficult to maintain a good attitude if you're making an effort and he's not. But, the scripture says for the wife to love her husband - you have to be concerned with your responsibility before the Lord, and not concern yourself with his responsibility. Pray and ask the Lord to enable you to keep your eyes on Him. Concentrate on this as service to the Lord. "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23 Interestingly, this verse is in a section that is labeled as "Rules for Christian Households" in my Bible. If you find it difficult to be your husband's friend, do it anyway, and do it "as for the Lord" with a cheerful attitude.

"to love their...children" This too is a friendly kind of love. While I don't think we should be worried about being our children's "friend", we should enjoy being around them and we should have a close relationship with them. Our society would tell us that we should be their friend, and so, we should not discipline them, or really, act in any sort of "parental" way. This is foolishness. Of course we should act like their parent! That is what we are. They have one Daddy and one Mama, and that is what they need you to be. You need to have clearly defined lines of order, however that does not negate a close, loving relationship. Discipling - which includes discipline - will build close ties. We need to spend time with our children. The quality vs. quantity debate is a bunch of bunk! Quantity is quality. When they're little, take time and just sit and read books to them. Tell them stories of when you were little or stories that you have made up. Sing to them; play. As they begin to get bigger, begin to incorporate them into the things you're doing. Even little children can help. A toddler can begin helping in the kitchen by unloading the dishwasher. Mine begin with unloading silverware, which they hand to me so I can put it away in the drawer. As they get bigger, there are more and more things they can do. They can do many things as long as we are working alongside them, teaching. Don't just work with your children though, it's important to have fun with them. Play wiffle ball, pick flowers, have a picnic, go horseback riding, sing, read, just be silly once in a while. As we work and play alongside of our children, we will build ties that are not easily broken; and they will learn the value of relationship.

Part of loving them that parents seem to have a difficult time with is discipline. Scripture is clear that children need discipline. "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." Proverbs 13:24
"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives is far from him." Proverbs 22:15
"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol." Proverbs 23:13
These are just a few verses that speak to the importance of disciplining your children. One of the things that is important to remember, and hard to be consistent with is that they need you to be on top of things. They need to be disciplined the first time they are disobedient. We were recently at the Christian Heritage Homeschoolers conference and one of the speakers was saying that, "Mom, it's not disobedience once you're angry, it's disobedience the first time they disobey." That really hit home for me. I had gotten lazy in my discipline, and I would get after them and get after them until I was upset, and then I would discipline. By that time, I am being disobedient to the Word of God myself. So, the first time your child is disobedient, get up, and discipline. It takes effort; it means that I am loving my child more than I am loving myself. I desire for them to grow and be godly individuals. I want them to be people that others enjoy being around. If they are wild, and disobedient, neither of those goals are attainable. And, if they are disobedient to you, you can't teach them anything.

It is easiest to start the process before they are even a year old, but even if your children are older; it's not too late. I have found that my older children respond well to change - as long as I explain to them what is going on. When we came home from the conference, I explained to my children that I hadn't been discipling them in a godly way, and that from that point on they would be required to obey the first time they were told something, or they would be chastised. If I have to discipline them, I sit down with them and ask them if they know how they have been disobedient. We talk about the scriptural principle involved (honor others more highly than yourself, children obey your parents, encourage one another, etc.), and how they have broken it, and then the discipline is administered. Then we work on restoration. We will pray, we might talk some more, we will hug and get back to our normal activities. It is important that justice be swift. It's all a matter of training. We train them not to listen to us, by not expecting first time obedience. They know just how many times they can disobey before you've had it. Isn't it better - isn't it more loving to expect them to obey you the first time?

Both of these loves can be strenuous! It is not easy to love someone in a truely godly way. It means that we have to be willing to sacrifice, to place others above ourselves. It means that I may not have time to do some of the things that I want to do. It means that I may have to put something aside to take care of a husband or children. However, the rewards for doing things God's way are innumerable!

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