Teach the older women to be quiet and respectful in everything they do. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers, but they should be teachers of goodness. These older women must train the younger women to live quietly, to love their husbands and their children, and to be sensible and clean minded, spending their time in their own homes, being kind and obedient to their husbands so that the Christian faith can’t be spoken against by those who know them.Titus 2: 3-5
There were a few readers that had a hard time swallowing, Marriage and Its Dirty Little Secret. But you know, if God decided that the message was timeless enough and critical enough to put it in the Bible, I think it is probably timeless enough and critical enough to give it our attention. We have to live with the reality that Satan will tempt the best of us. He will lure us with our emotions. He will whisper lies into our heads. He will do whatever he can do to tear the sacred bond between husband and wife. It is an eternally important conversation to have.
But as I keep digging into this passage, I think there is another right biblical teaching that probably comes with more shame and embarrassment. Its results are just as tragic. Apostolic instructions says, “These older women must train the younger women… to love… their children.” I don’t know if I have always grasped how big that is. The Apostle Paul said to tell women to love their kids.
What that tells me is that is:
- It is not always natural.
- It is not always easy.
- It is something we should be talking about.
The truth is there are lots of moms that struggle to bond with their babies in the hospital. There are moms that struggle at home with a fussy baby they can’t calm down. There are moms who grow impatient with noise and chaos and chronic demands. There are moms who are angered by back talk and disobedience. There are frustrated moms who lose self-control when they are dealing with late homework to late curfews. There are a million reasons that our fuses are short, our tempers are hot and our love… has disappeared.
Moms, let me tell you, I have not always loved my children. I don’t say that proudly. But I do say it because I believe other struggling moms need to hear it. I have not always loved my children.
I also know I am not the only one. Some of the confessions I have heard this week include:
- Sometimes I just want to slam them against a wall.
- I want to choke her.
- I got no sleep because this kid won’t shut up.
Before you judge these mothers I want you know something about them. They all serve Jesus. They are battling their kids through emotional traumas, learning disabilities and drug addiction. They have adopted orphans. They have commissioned their lives to ministry. But you know what, there are moments of motherhood that try them.
So what do we do in those moments when we are tempted to act in unloving ways toward our children?
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your child as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses…
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (From Gal. 5)
We let the Holy Spirit have his way with us. When am struggling to love my children, sometimes I have to walk away from the moment. Sometimes I have to pray. Sometimes I have to ask other people to pray for me. Sometimes I just need help. And you know what? That’s OK. Because when I don’t have what it takes, I am learning, I serve a God who does.