Titus was a pastor in Crete who was under the wise guidance of the apostle Paul. As Titus shepherded this new church, Paul determined that it was of the utmost importance that the older women were to teach the younger women to love their husbands and their children. Last month I shared ways that Titus 2 women can help younger women love their husbands. Today I share how they can love their children.
But, wait. Mothers not loving their children? What kind of heathen society was Crete that they needed this sort of guidance? Certainly we can think of horrible news stories where mothers have committed hateful acts against their children, but that isn’t what we’re talking about here. Most mothers have a profound innate love for their children. As women who were created to nurture, we can even possess these kinds of “Mama Bear” instincts for others’ children. To know, though, what the apostle Paul was instructing Titus–and, in turn, instructing us–I suggest we go back to another letter he wrote, and this one to the Corinthian church.
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. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
It’s always a challenge to me to read love’s definition. I’m saddened by how easily I can demonstrate kind patience to the elderly person or the child with special needs, but when faced with irritations or agenda-disrupters day after day (in other words, when parenting), that kind patience–that love–flies right out the window. I get frustrated because my plans or desires get sidelined. But, God’s definition of love is about others. His love encompasses actions that are centered on others, not self. We love others truly when we put them above ourselves, seeking their good above our own.
I seek to share some practical ways we can love our children as God calls us to love, but even as I do this I ask that you remember the apostle Peter’s words where he tells us that God has given us His divine power for everything we need for a godly life. Through His Holy Spirit living in us we can love our children as God calls us to love them.
Loving Our Children
- Do not envy.
When your children are young, do not envy other women’s children, especially if you think they’re “perfectly behaved”. If indeed your children need to obey and be more disciplined, then pray and ask God to help you train them more effectively. Ask a godly Titus 2 woman for help in this area.
Do not envy your children’s gifts or looks. Do not envy the gifts God has given other children, particularly if they surpass your own children’s gifts.
Do not envy your former self–your body, your free time, your career or hobbies. When your children are young and dependent, pour yourselves into caring for them and training them in the ways of the Lord.
Do not envy your children’s friends or, when they are older, their spouses.
- Do not be self-seeking.
When we post on social media, do a heart-check. Are you enjoying sharing a precious moment with the world, or are you hoping to provoke jealousy in others, or make yourself feel better by living vicariously through your kids?
Reject the mom-movement that elevates identifying apart from your kids. This kind of attitude is self-seeking. “Yes, I’m a mom, but don’t forget I’m also valuable because I’m [fill in the blank].” If we harbor these kinds of thoughts in our hearts, we will resent our children when they get in the way of doing those things that make us feel valuable.
Be seeking your child’s eternal good above their earthly gain. This will cause conflicts so we need to seek their good over our own comfort or selfish desires. With our little ones, this means following through with discipline when they disobey so they learn how seriously God takes sin and so they follow Him and not their own flesh. With our older children, this means standing on the word of God when they go the ways of the world. Will we stand upon Truth? Or will we cave for the sake of “all just getting along”?
- Do not delight in evil.
Some translations of this phrase say, “thinks no evil”. How might we think evil when parenting? This might be different for us at different stages, but I know that jealousy, anger, discontentment, and selfish pride have invaded my thoughts in all stages of motherhood. Whether it’s in parenting or all of life, we must take our sinful thoughts captive and renew them with the word of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Romans 12:2).
Showing Them Jesus
God creates our children miraculously. They are brand new people given to us by God so that we might nurture them to become “godly offspring” for which He seeks. What an immense privilege!As we love and help our husbands and children, God works out our salvation. God enlarges our hearts so we learn to give up our own ways and rights; this helps us to love others more selflessly. He refines us, purifies us, purges us so that we look more and more like His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29).
And, there is really no better way to love our children than to show them, through our lives, Jesus.