Welcome to Part Two of the Fruitful Motherhood Series. Today we’re talking about “loving our children”, and really, our families with God’s definition of love. Let’s dive in!
In the Fruitful Motherhood Series, I am hoping to stir your heart to action for the benefit of your families…not to give you a ‘formula for success’. (though, being obedient to the Word of God WILL give you success in the long run!) My prayer is that you will take His Word to heart and apply it however he shows YOU for your families’ specific needs.
I spent a lot of years as a young mom and wife struggling to figure out my biblical role in a modern world. Being a helpmeet and mother by God’s standard was NOT what I was witnessing in the Christian community around me at the time. Though I loved the many women in my path, I didn’t see the majority of them honoring and respecting their husbands, being successful keepers at home or having great relationships with their children.
Many worked outside the home, or they had ministries that took them away from home often. And the ones who did seem to be doing the mom-thing right, seemed to have some ‘great secret’ that I wasn’t in on!
A Call to Fruitful Motherhood
For years, I bounced around, struggling to keep my priorities in order while also being in the ministry and homeschooling. One day, I felt strongly impressed by the Lord that He wanted me to embrace what His Word was saying about my role at home as a helpmeet and mother, even if it conflicted with what I was seeing in His community or if it conflicted with my own personal desires.
He was also calling us to homeschool, which would require me to be firmly planted in the home, not just physically, but with my heart. So, I made the decision to REALLY come home. I continued to struggle here and there through the years to stay true to my priorities, but for the most part, I have enjoyed the freedom of being committed to doing God’s Word and no longer having the feeling of being pulled in many directions.
— But just so you know—
None of what I share here is ever meant to be condemning or judgmental, it is only meant to share what God has shown me personally in His Word, and to spur you on to bear fruit for Him in your own life. Ask the Lord how to apply the scriptures for your families’ individual needs.
Titus 2: 3-5:
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
When I first saw the above verse in the bible as a young wife, I thought it was ridiculous that older women were being told to urge the younger women to love their husbands and children. It was silly to me that anyone would ever have to urge me to love my family, after all– I married the man because I loved him, and I gave birth to these children because I loved them!
Why would I ever need to be urged to love them?! Little did I know that love ran a whole lot deeper than what I experienced at the start of my family unit, and I see now that what I thought was love in the beginning doesn’t hold a candle to what I now have with my family 20 years later.
Love, the kind that God wants us to experience in Him and with each other, is more than a feeling, it is a daily decision and commitment to one another and for each other’s good- and there are definitely times, when some urging needs to take place and a call for love has to go out!
Let’s face it- love isn’t always the easy choice.
It seems like it goes without saying that mothers love their children, but in today’s society we have a knack for making up our own definitions of what love is and what love “looks” like. So, today I want to take you through some bible study on the meaning of the word love, specifically, concerning our love for our children.
- Love will cause you to lay down your ambitions for the benefit of another.
- Love will cause you to sacrifice popularity for character just because little eyes are watching.
- Love will commit to doing the hard things for the greater good.
- And greater still, love will get back up each time after being hurt for the thousandth time and say, “I’m still with you and I forgive you”
Love, real love, will not fail.
We learn that in our marriages and in raising our children, if we are following God’s ways, love, it never fails. It keeps going, keeps believing, keeps on keeping on- but easy? Not a chance! If you are made of flesh and blood like anyone else on earth, then you know that your love will be put to the test… and sometimes, disappointingly so, you see how short your love is compared to the standard seen in scripture. Just reading 1 Corinthians 13, the famous love chapter, can make me hang my head even on my best days! Yet there it is, calling us to a level of love that, if we just think about it for a moment, would be awesome to attain- and our Lord Jesus did- and then gave us the scripture to let us know that, through Him, we can too!
1 Corinthians 13
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
So there it is- the bible’s standard for “love”.
When I began to realize that this was how I was supposed to show love and experience love, it occurred to me why I might need to be urged once in a while to love my family.
I mean, it is easy to love the little one who holds his hands up to you begging for one more kiss and a hug before bedtime. It is not so easy to love the same child who screams his head off in the supermarket because you won’t buy him the balloon he wants, even though he has popped every.single.one. you have ever bought him before you even made it through checkout.
It is easy to love the child who does his chores and schoolwork when you request it– not so easy to show love to the child who, for what seems like the millionth time, conveniently forgets that you have asked him to once again clean up his room.
And It is easy to love a child whom you trust, but what about the child who has broken trust? It is easy to love the child when they are a good, Christian example like you raised them to be, but what about when they are the bad example and your whole world is reeling as a parent? Yet there it is, plain as day, words on the page screaming at you: Love Never Fails.
“Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children”
Learning to really love our children is going to take a whole lot more than emotions and mental assent. If we want to see real fruit as mothers, we must make a commitment to loving our families with the love described in scripture.
In this particular verse (Titus 2:3-5), to love our children according to the Strong’s concordance means:
G5388 φιλότεκνος philoteknos (fil-ot’-ek-nos); From G5384 and G5043; fond of one’s children, that is, maternal: – love their children
To get a more specific definition, we need to look at the first root meaning of the word “philoteknos”, which is : G5384 φίλος philos (fee’-los); Properly dear, that is, a “friend”; actively fond, that is, friendly (still as a noun, an associate, neighbor, etc.): – friend
Fruitful Motherhood Demonstrates Friendship
So we see now, that in this definition, the love that we are to have for our children (and for our husbands) is characterized by us (mothers and wives) being actively fond of them, by being a FRIEND to them. Fruitful Motherhood demonstrates true love through friendship.
Interestingly, being a friend is more than just being fond of someone according to Webster’s 1828 dictionary:
1. One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy.
A friend loveth at all times. Prov 17.
When we begin to look up definitions in the bible of keywords, we begin to see what God meant when He said those words and had them written for our benefit. I encourage you to stop every now and then when you are reading your bible and do a word study on the verses you are reading, I have often been surprised at the depth of meaning that has been revealed to me just by looking up a few words in my concordance, like with the above word: love.
The love that we have toward our families should lead them to desire our company because we have thought upon and nourished for them “sentiments of esteem, respect and affection”, because we have sought to promote their happiness and prosperity.
It is a very ‘wordy’ definition, but I believe that there is quite a bit of treasure in those words.
Do you have someone like that in your life? Someone who always thinks the best of you, who looks for the best in you? Someone who respects you and holds dear affection for you? If you do, then you call them “friend”. If you don’t, doesn’t it sound nice? Ladies, scripture is telling us that this is what we can be for our husbands and children!
Too often we fall into the mechanical role of caring for our children, or the authoritative role, and we end up neglecting the relationship with them without even knowing it.
We all need a friend— and mothers are perfectly equipped to be one, if we will just slow down long enough to take the opportunities.
I have witnessed mothers who have ‘friended’ their children in a biblical, healthy way, and I can tell you it is a beautiful, fruitful thing. Rarely do the children go far from their families in whom they have friends. And if they do because of where they are placed in life, mom is only a phone call away and is usually the first one informed of anything of importance happening in the child’s life. The love between them is genuinely shared. What a reward for choosing to love!
A word to the mother who feels overwhelmed, overworked, and/or is in a hurtful family situation: Our family went through quite a crisis with one of our children years back and it affected our whole household, every member and relationship was affected.
There were days when all I could do was just “survive”— choosing love was a moment by moment process (and,at first, I failed more than I succeeded) and it was a path the Lord chose to walk through with us, not deliver us up out of. It was HARD.
I want you to know that God loves YOU in the middle of the mess. He knows how human we are. He sees how broken we can become as wives and mothers when everything is not “picture perfect” in our lives, not going according to plan, not what we signed up for! He is NEAR to you during these times and if you will lean on Him, He will walk you through faithfully and you’ll come out with an even greater understanding of His Love through the process. Keep loving on your family, it WON’T be for nothing dear heart, God sees everything, even the inner workings of our hearts!
Today, I want to encourage you to study love in your bible and ask yourself how you can improve in the way you show love to those in your family. How you show love to your husband is a powerful example to your children just as much as how you show love to them. Measure yourself against 1 Corinthians 13 and against the definitions we looked at here. Are you being a friend to your family? What can you change to encourage thoughts of esteem, respect and affection among you and your family members?
If you notice any shortcomings, go to the Lord in prayer, repent and ask Him to help you be the mother and wife He wants you to be.
Brainstorm for some tangible ways to “be a friend” to your family members: bake a favorite dish for one, make the time to sit and really engage in conversation with another, let the dishes wait and play a card game with your little guy, sit down and listen to that song or two with a teenager, get in “their world” for moment or two. Building friendship takes time and effort, don’t get discouraged!
*Next week, we will be discussing what it really means to be a Keeper of the Home!
***Did you miss the Introduction and Part One of the Mother Roar Series: