It’s 5:30 a.m. and the birds are singing their early morning song outside of my window. I quickly shut off the alarm before it awakens any of the four small children who are temporarily living with us. My goal is to get downstairs, make coffee, and get time in God’s Word and prayer before a baby cries or a young voice asks if he can get up yet. Every creaking floor board brings with it the possibility that someone else heard the noise besides me!
If you stop by my home these days, you’ll find a non-stop buzz of activity; questions being asked, messes being made, tears being shed, tantrums being thrown, imaginations being cultivated, and toothy smiles melting hearts. For a moment I step back and watch my daughter doing the unending, often unappreciated work God has assigned her for this season; wiping noses, changing diapers, fixing breakfast, making her son’s lunch, hunting for a lost blanket, settling disagreements, seeking wisdom for parenting a special needs child, battling personal health issues, writing a blog, providing meals while working around multiple allergies, and meeting the many demands being made on her throughout the day. While few of these things are noticed by others, when they are done in the name of Christ for the glory of His name, they become beautiful instruments of gospel ministry.
“Train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home….” Titus 2:4-5
“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” Proverbs 31:27.
While I raised three children of my own and took these verses very seriously; it was only through a deeper understanding of the gospel that I understood I could never obey these commands apart from Christ. When we strive in our own strength to love our husbands and children, exercise self-control, make our heart’s pure, and create homes that are welcoming, we will eventually become discouraged, exhausted, and fall into a spirt of complaining or discontentment. But the gospel sheds a completely different light on the seemingly meaningless and sacrificial things that we do each day in our homes.
Whether we are single or married, creating a home for God’s glory cannot be done in our own strength or wisdom. But partnering with God to create an atmosphere of love, peace, acceptance, order, hospitality, and kindness will have eternal benefits that no earthly reward could ever match.
So what does Paul have in mind when he tells us to be busy at home? Does it mean we should stay home all day baking cookies and doing laundry? What does it look like to create the kind of atmosphere where gospel truths can be lived out? Let’s look at several ways the world (and our flesh) calls us out of our homes, and how the gospel compels us to create homes that are a foretaste of heaven.
1. The world strives to convince us that anything meaningful we do happens outside of the home.
According to popular belief, if our children are going to learn anything, it can only be from someone who was specifically trained in that area. This is a lie that has led many of us to believe we are incapable of teaching our own children to read, swim, study God’s Word, or much else.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with parents sending their children to school, sports camp, Awana, dance class, and so on; it can be a problem when parents start believing that their main role is to get everyone where they need to be rather than to train their children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Thus, meals become fast food or something microwaved, and many families never sit down to a meal together without the TV on. Home can easily become a place to change clothes, grab some food, and run to the next activity, leaving the house in a state of chaos.
If mom works, this is all compounded. There’s a rush to get out in the morning and a rush to get home, a rush to eat and a rush to get to the next activity. Finally, there’s a rush to get homework and other responsibilities done before collapsing into bed-only to do it all again the next day.
Single women must examine their lives as well. We can be so busy that we neglect to take care of ourselves and our homes for the glory of God.
In a nutshell, the message we hear everyday is that this is a competitive world and we better do something important (parenting excluded) or our lives won’t matter. If our kids are going to succeed we better start when they are two or they will never make the grade, the team, or the cut. We are also convinced that our children need to be socialized outside of the home early or their growth will be stunted and it will be all our fault. Such pressure. Such futility.
God’s Word teaches us that the family is a primary means of bringing the gospel to bear in our children’s lives. It shows that our problem is not what we need to learn from the world but what we need to learn from God’s Word about Christ and ourselves before we meet God face to face.
As parents we have been given the privilege of being God’s ambassadors; teaching our children when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise. In other words, all throughout the day we are influencing our children by our words, our attitudes, and our example.
Gospel centered motherhood is among the highest of callings in the kingdom of God! Embrace it for your eternal pleasure and reward.
2. The world strives to draw us out of our homes so we can find our identity. It seems that “what we do” is the all important question when we are with other people. Since staying home to raise children to be spiritually and emotionally healthy no longer seems to qualify for a worthy use of our time, many women feel they must do something the world says is important simply to feel good about themselves. How empty. How unsatisfying.
Again, while there is nothing wrong, in itself, with working outside of the home, if it prevents us from taking care of our primary responsibilities, we would be wise to re-examine our priorities in the light of God’s Word.
The gospel teaches us that our identity is in Christ alone. God created us for His own good pleasure and, when we have received His Son Jesus Christ, we become part of His everlasting family. As adopted sons and daughters of the Living God, we need nothing else to give us value. With an inheritance laid up in heaven, we have been entrusted with proclaiming Christ to all who have ears to hear. How fulfilling. How deeply satisfying.
3. The world assures us that we deserve to be happy leading us to believe that, if we are unhappy, we have the right to divorce our spouse, choose our own gender, forsake our God given responsibilities to do something “more important”, or indulge in the passions of our flesh, regardless of where it leads us. How deceitful. How misleading.
The gospel tells us to follow Christ, which means putting selfish desires that oppose God’s will for us to death. The gospel equips and empowers us to love our children and husband even when they let us down and fail to appreciate all we have done for them. It reminds us that, as sinners who were once objects of God’s wrath, salvation is a gift beyond anything we deserve. Any other kindness God gives us is abundantly more than we should expect!
Puritan John Angell James, in his book Female Piety makes this bold statement: “The springs of national prosperity rise from beneath the family hearth, and the domestic constitution is the mold where national character is cast, and that mold must of necessity take its form from the unity, sanctity, and inviolability of marriage.”
James goes on to say, “To a certain extent, woman is the conservator of her nation’s welfare. A community is not likely to be overthrown where woman fulfills her mission, for by the power of her noble heart over the hearts of others, she will raise it from its ruins and restore it again to prosperity and joy.”
While being busy at home can, at times, feel far less exciting than being busy making a name for ourselves in the world; God gives women the privilege of creating a grace filled home where gospel truths are cultivated and those who enter experience a small taste of heaven.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,