Women as Mothers : Part 1
Years ago, I worked with a man who had been a “pattern maker” in a foundry. His job was to construct a model made of wood in the shape of the finished casting. The pattern was then placed in a box and sand was packed tightly around it. Then the pattern was carefully removed, leaving its form in the sand. The molten metal poured into the mold took the form of the pattern.
The use of wooden patterns in the foundry died out as newer forms of mold making came into existence. The demand for patternmakers is long gone. As long-established processes change, there are always those who are caught on the downside.
Changes in manufacturing and services occur more rapidly today than ever before. The vast majority of changes are good, even though they’re painful to those whose jobs are eliminated. But these rapid changes have led our culture, and sadly, the church, to view long established biblical patterns as “out of date” in our society. They’ve been carelessly discarded as “new” patterns, fashioned from the religion of humanism, have taken their place. We’ve had several decades to observe the impact of rejecting biblical patterns and the results are not good.
The principles God has given us in His Word are universal and timeless. While the applications of those principles may change, the principles themselves are relevant in every generation. The joy and beauty of motherhood is one of those biblical principles rejected by many in our postmodern culture. And yet, God’s design persists. I want us, and especially those of us who are professing Christians, to reexamine the biblical commands that guide our understanding and practice of this most important of roles. We believe and teach that God’s Word gives us the pattern for “Women as Mothers.”
As we consider this subject, I invite you to turn in your Bible to Titus 2:1-5.
Notice that our text begins with Paul’s instruction to Titus to provide wholesome, truthful instruction. If there was ever a need for an honest and balanced teaching of the Scriptures, it’s today. This chapter includes instruction for several specific groups of people within the body of Christ, the church. We will focus specifically on those parts that speak to motherhood and by God’s grace will attempt to provide wholesome, truthful instruction that will help you understand and follow the pattern of “Women as Mothers.”
In this text we’ll look at three PARTS that make up the Biblical pattern for “Women as Mothers.”
The first PART of the Pattern is,
Notice that God has assigned the “older women” to be teachers and mentors to the younger women, and especially to younger mothers. So, I speak first of all to those mothers who’ve raised their families, or those who are significantly farther along in the process.
I see something happening in many local churches that concerns me. Interaction between the various age groups is becoming more limited, often by design. Many congregations have age segregated Sunday School classes; older women who are mothers in one class, and young mothers in another. That’s only one forum where this mentoring relationship can take place, but it is an important one. Many churches have programs for teens, for young mothers, for singles, and for retirees, but very little interaction between the various age groups. If there is little or no interaction how can this biblical command for mentoring take place?
In regard to this part of the pattern, Philip Towner writes: “”We have bought into the notion that older people have had their day of usefulness and ought to make way for the young. But the principle here (in our text) is quite the opposite. With age and experience come wisdom. Many older women have discovered secrets of godly living in relation to their husbands, children, and neighbors that could save younger women a lot of unnecessary grief. And when the inevitable trials come to the young mother, who better to guide her than an older sister who has been through it before? Somehow the church must see that younger women must interact with older women.”
Our text reminds us it is important for the older women to conduct themselves in a way that promotes holy living. They are to set an example for younger women, especially in their role of motherhood. They are not to be false accusers, slanderers, or gossips. Interestingly, the Greek word used here is diabolos. It means to use false accusation to divide people without a reason. When diabolos is preceded by the Greek article it is a reference to Satan himself!
In speaking with someone about some needs in his local congregation he made the comment that it was the older women, who seemed to stir up strife and division. That kind of behavior often takes place when people have too much idle time. If older mothers have too much time on their hands, there are many young mothers who would love to have the practical help these older women could provide.
The older women are also warned against being “slaves to wine.” What’s the application for us today? Well, drunkenness is often a result of idleness. Watching soap operas, reading cheap romance novels and the tabloids are all evidences of a lack of meaningful activity. If you are busy with responsibilities, you don’t have time to engage in destructive behavior, whatever form it takes. Or drunkenness is sometimes used to try filling a void in your life that you don’t know how to deal with. Any kind of destructive behavior like this will prevent you from being, as the last part of verse three says, “teachers of good things.”
The older mothers are to be lovers of virtue and teach the younger mothers valuable skills. Unfortunately, in our day, there are many young mothers who didn’t learn in their youth how to do the things that are necessary to raise a family and manage a household. Older mothers can be an especially valuable resource in these situations, but they must be available. All the experience in the world is of little value if you can’t access it when you need it. Many times, my wife has received phone calls from other mothers about how to prepare something in the kitchen or to discuss whether a sick child’s symptoms warrant a doctor visit.
Verse four says the older women are to teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, and to love their children. The meaning here isn’t so much the imparting of information, but rather the discipline and training that leads to holy living and godly decision-making. The verb tense indicates an ongoing activity rather than a one-time event.
This is so important, especially today when so many families have fractured and splintered. I believe that the responsibility for family break-ups in most cases rests primarily with the husband. That’s a subject for another time. But wives need to be taught how to be husband-lovers. As I said in an earlier message, God designed men and women differently in the way they think and respond to life’s situations. So, for a woman to truly love her husband takes work! In addition to the Bible, another resource that Joyce and I would recommend to you in developing your marriage relationship is the book, “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggrich.
Older women, by virtue of their years of experience can help younger mothers to better understand and appreciate the strengths of their husbands. They can also teach them how to compensate for his weaknesses. Married couples are a team and they need to develop the ability to work together. A loving wife is a great asset to any husband. From my perspective as a husband, I can assure you wives, that your love and respect for your husband is a tremendous force for good in his battle to maintain fidelity and moral purity.
In verse four we may wonder why Paul states something as obvious as, “teach them to be children-lovers.” What does that mean? Isn’t it normal for mothers to love their children? Yes, to a degree. But like me, you have probably met mothers who do not love children. Some of you are probably wondering what I mean by that. Well, some mothers see children as a necessary, but temporary, interruption of their careers and life goals. That isn’t loving children; that is enduring them. And guess what? They’ll pick up your attitude pretty quickly, which usually produces some undesirable consequences in your home and family.
Do you want to be able to pick out a mother who truly loves children? Watch her own children, especially her daughters. When another mother comes to church, or to your home, or some other social function with a new baby, there’s a line of women and girls that forms as each of them wait their turn to hold the newborn. It is a great joy to see that mothering instinct awakened and cultivated in little girls! As our girls grow older, they receive more and more opportunities to care for and teach other people’s children. They are known as lovers of children. My wife has been a wonderful example for them.
It’s true, God has given mothers an innate desire for nurturing their children, but it still needs to be developed. And Scripture warns us that as we approach the end of human history there will be a corresponding lack of affection of mothers for their children. We see that all around us today. All humans are born with self as their number one priority. As followers of Christ, that selfishness must be “unlearned.” I marvel at how unselfishly my wife gives, and gives, and gives, to meet the needs of our children and now our grandchildren too.
If you are an older mother or grandmother who has taken seriously this assignment from God to teach the younger mothers, God bless you. You understand that you are providentially assigned to this ministry of encouraging and discipling younger mothers. Love them by sharing your wisdom, your time; your expertise in whatever way is needed. God will bless you for your investment in their lives, and so will their husbands!
Now let’s move to the second part of the Biblical pattern for “Women as Mothers.”
The second PART of the Pattern is,
Verse five states that older mothers should teach younger mothers how to be morally refined. Paul uses the words, discreet and chaste. Let’s look at these words more closely.
Discreet is another form of being sober. It means, “To be self-disciplined in one’s freedom; to be self-restrained in all passions and desires.” It also carries the idea of being “careful of appearances.” This is so important in our climate of moral looseness. Clear boundaries must be established for appropriate behavior between married women relating to men other than their husbands, and vice versa. Many relationships have been destroyed by a lack of care in this area. Mothers who leave the home for the workplace, and mothers who have little support from their husbands are especially vulnerable. Older mothers can offer counsel, encouragement, warning, and guidance in these relationships.
Being discreet also speaks of making wise decisions. Older women, with more experience in life, can provide counsel to help younger mothers to make wise decisions. They can also recommend sources of reliable information. Many decisions that mothers make have long-term consequences in their own lives, and the lives of their children. Wise, older women will encourage young mothers to look to their husbands for help in making decisions. A husband’s input provides spiritual leadership and protection.
Another word Paul uses is chaste. It means pure, modest, or innocent; not provocative. I appeal to you mothers to pay special attention to this. You are setting a pattern for your sons and daughters. If you use your physical beauty or sexual attractiveness to gain attention or approval, they will follow your example. They will focus on physical beauty, instead of developing the inward beauty of godly character. Mothers need to help their children, especially daughters, to understand that their sexuality is a gift to be treasured, not an enticement to be flaunted.
Wise older women will also help younger wives understand the need for their husbands’ help with this. Ladies, you don’t think like a man or see life through a man’s eyes. Before you or your daughters wear a new item of clothing out in public, model it for him. He can tell you how other men will see you and what conclusions they may make about your character. You may be surprised and chagrined at what you are communicating by your clothing choices.
I know that in our culture modesty and purity are considered to be “Victorian.” But God’s Word is clear; it is a command for all godly women. Mothers, if you are going to be morally refined then you will need to be careful about what you feed on, what you put into your mind and heart. Choose with care your books, your music, your DVDs, and your magazines. They will all have an impact on your morality and your relationship to your husband and children. As you older mothers build relationships with younger mothers you can lovingly point out to them areas of behavior that need attention. I am deeply saddened when I see mothers who are immodest, especially if they have teenage sons, because they put additional, unnecessary pressure and temptation on their sons. The home should be a haven, a place where sons and daughters don’t need to face the temptations of the outside world. And the local church should be a safe place too. God’s pattern is that mothers, both older and younger, must be morally refined.