March 14, 2012
By John Barnett
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This Father’s Day I’d like to go back with you to the beginning—and together see God’s original intent and plan for men who would become husbands and fathers as seen in Adam.
As you turn to Genesis 2, we see God original plan for husbands and fathers. Because as we honor fathers today all across our land—we can also remember that Father’s Day is all about God’s original design for husbands and wives, before the fall, before the warping that sin has caused.
In creation God designed men to be incomplete without the woman that He made for them. When Paul instructed wives to be trained in how to love their husbands it was a reflection back upon God’s original plan for marriage. Our study in Titus is just a reminder that when Christ's church has husbands loved by grace-energized wives, those wives are just following God’s plan He laid out from the beginning. God made the first woman Eve, to become Adam’s close and cherished companion, friend, and completer.
Father’s Day is a grand opportunity to go back to see God’s design as He formed the first father in Genesis 2:18.
As we turn there, think of all that has happened from Genesis 1:1. God has made the entire Universe and crowned it with His last creation, in His image called a man.
Then, God finds the first thing in the entire Universe that was not good—it is right here in verse 18. God states that man should be alone. So God crowns the creation of man with the creation of woman.
Watch this great event unfold in Genesis 2:18-25 (NKJV). There is a wealth of marriage-changing-truth in these few words from God. Look at each piece.
v. 18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Men Need Close Companionship
First, v.18a say literally “not good is man’s aloneness”. That is as clear as can be. Aloneness, solitary living is not good. One of the deepest pains sociologists have measured in society is living and isolated and lonely life. They report that such people ache with a deep pain they can’t even fully describe. Adam ached, God observed, and announces the solution for this great need.
Next, in v. 18b is God’s plan, “I will make him a helper comparable to him”. Notice God’s first reference to woman is by the title of ‘helper’. English just doesn’t convey what that Hebrew word means; hence it is not seen as a great title. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines help as a noun meaning “one that helps, especially a relatively unskilled worker who assists a skilled worker, usually by manual labor”. That definition in English is what has fueled the misconceptions of the inferiority of women and wives. If that definition doesn’t capture the world’s view of us quaint people called Bible-believing Christian’s marriages, then I don’t know what does.
But that English definition is exactly not what ‘helper’ meant to God. The Hebrew word God chose means something grand, literally it describes a person “who assists another to reach complete fulfillment”. When the same word is used in other places in the Old Testament it is used of someone who went and rescued another person. Now there we have it.
God made woman to come to man’s rescue and save him from his lonely existence. Eve was designed to rescue Adam from not only loneliness, but also to completely fulfill Adam.
Then, God continues with another word that captures even more of the beauty of marriage. This helper was “comparable” to Adam. This suitable, or comparable helper was literally “corresponding to” Adam. Man before woman had some missing pieces in the puzzle of his life and God said that was not good. So Eve was the one who provided the missing pieces to Adam’s life. Husbands by God’s design are incomplete until they receive that one God designed to correspond to them.
God promised that He would design her exactly to specifications for Adam. And that is the plan of God for marriage. Eve was to fulfill a God-designed-necessary-role that rescued Adam from missing his fulfillment—and in that process of being God’s special creation for man—Eve also found her completion and fulfillment. Marriage was such an incredibly designed wonder of God!
God Designed the Missing Piece To Adam’s Puzzle
From the start each partner was unique, each partner was vital, each partner was distinct, and each had a God designed role that provided immense satisfaction, fulfillment and completion. So Genesis next records the performance of this promise God made.
v. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
What an incredible moment. God removes part of Adam (a rib) and made woman out of it. The Hebrew word for “made” is “fashioned” and literally means “to build or rebuild so as to cause to flourish”. The missing piece of Adam’s life that caused him loneliness was not good.
But when that missing part of his life was taken by God and fashioned—that missing piece of life’s puzzle flourished into Eve. Adam’s rib under God’s design sprang to life as Eve. She was his helper, his rescuer, his completer, his satisfier, and the one who fulfilled every dimension of his life as a man.
To make creation good God had to form a creature that was incredibly like man as well as incredibly unlike man. Note the wonders of Eve’s creation:
• Eve was made for Adam.
• Eve was literally made from Adam (“bone of his bone”).
• Eve was brought to Adam.
• Eve was named by Adam.
There was an incredible equality about them: both were made by God; and both were made in the image of God. They were made to complement one another, but not to compete with one another.
Note Adam’s response. God brought her to him. And every man or woman enjoying the privilege of marriage should at that statement lift their heart in gratitude to the Lord. He designed the woman you have joined your life with, to be your helpmate that corresponds to every missing piece of the puzzle of your life. He gave you a partner, soul-mate, and best friend designed to be all that is needed to have a life-long fulfillment.
v. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
Adams exclaims that his wife Eve was made by God, given to him by God, especially designed, and intentionally made for his needs, as he was for hers.
Note once again in the last part of v. 22 that God personally brought Eve to Adam. You will start a whole new chapter of your marriage and open an entirely new dimension to your relationship when you realize that God Himself designed your husband or wife just for YOU! All of the differences you share in perspective, in taste, in personality, in mood, and in ability are all placed there by God for His glory and for your good.
Women are Different By God’s Design
Your wife is different from you as a husband because God made her different, and wanted her different. The more you realize that truth and thank God for it, the sooner you will stop resenting those differences and resisting those differences; and start seeing her as the counterpart to your life that by God’s grace will help form you into what God wants you to be.
The passage continues on into the traditional marriage passage, but for us today we are going to focus on the wonderful need from Creation, for husbands to be loved by their God-designed wives, who were designed to rescue husbands from loneliness.
Adam’s role designed by God was to initiate, to lead, protect, provide, cherish, and husband his wife.
Eve’s role designed by God was to respond to Adam’s initiatives, follow Adam’s lead, comfort him as he protected her, receive Adam’s provision, and love him in all his dimensions as her husband.
The story of the fall is all about Eve’s first time to reverse her role. When Eve initiated disobedience to God and Adam responded—sin, sorrow and death were the result.
But back to the original plan that it was “not good for the man to be alone”—when Titus came to minister on Crete he faced many men who were alone while they were married.
Their life was unshared, their initiatives were not fully responded to, their leadership was not fully followed, and their marriages and homes were as a result--far from God’s plan.
So God prompted Paul to write some words that can reach across the centuries and revitalize any marriage, any family, and any home. The key is found in the call for not only Spirit-prompted agape love that is within the heart of every born-again believer—God also wanted each marriage and family to be trained in phileo love. God wants wives to practice the constant improvement of an emotional love of friendship, of companionship, and of a shared life with their husbands.
This love that glues husbands to their wives is a love that is chosen, and a love that is modeled, and a love that can be learned.
Paul commanded Titus to gather a group of grace-energized-women to be God’s servants, and deploy them as trainers in the ancient art of becoming husband lovers. That was the first order of their curriculum.
Give Your Husband Your Deepest Love
Today, if you are married and want to give the best gift possible to your husband—give him not only your Spirit-prompted, sacrificial agape love that serves him and submits to him—give him also your emotional love that makes him become and stay your very best friend in all the world.
In fact, if you want to impact the rapidly-turning-pagan culture around us (much like that of Crete in Paul’s day) remember and heed the first thing Paul told them to do was love your husband in a way that can be felt.
v. 4b “the young women to love their husbands”
Wives energized by grace are first of all “lovers of their husbands”.
Titus 2 women understand that there are three specific life long priorities that make a wonderful start. Why not quietly in your heart, ask the Lord if you have made these choices. Have you become from the depths of your heart, a woman who loves your husband as your very best friend in all the world? To check and see if you have remember that this type of love is built upon small choices that slowly become life-dominating priorities. Here they are:
1. Grace-energized-wives decide that they will make their husband the number one most important human relationship of life over all others including parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.
2. Grace-energized-wives start seeking their husband’s friendship and love ahead of all other human relationships including their children.
3. Grace-energized-wives begin examining their lifestyle, and schedule, to see if they are intentionally “spoiling their husband rotten…” if you are doing so as a way of life, then you can be sure that you are his best friend and are truly “loving” your husband.
Grace-energized-wives become a beacon of Christ's love reflecting to an empty and hopeless world that true love is possible and can be shared for as long as you live.
This special day that we honor and remember fathers, if you are married and have a husband—why not at this moment in your heart: decide, start, and begin these three choices?
And, why not prayerfully tell your husband today (sometime during the service if you are sitting next to him or after the service), that you are going to rekindle, renew, and deepen the love God has called you to have and feel and show to your husband.
That will probably be the greatest gift you could ever give him for any Father’s Day ever. The way to accomplish such an incredible gift is right here in God's Word.
v. 4c “to love their children” Grace-energized-mothers love their children.
This characteristic is also one word in the Greek text, philoteknos and it means to be a lover of children.
Secondly, grace-energized-mothers love their children. That is what Titus 2:4 says. And this love is phileo love that can be felt. That is a grace-energized-mother’s special ministry in Christ's church !
From time to time it becomes so very hard to take care of children that a mom of any century in history no longer “feels” positive feelings towards her children.
So how did God instruct Paul to prepare Christ's church for these great social challenges and family pressures? Again, Titus 2 has the solution. God says that the way that tired, burned out, and depressed mothers get relief is from the faithful army of Titus 2 grace-energized role models.
The Bible clearly explains and illustrates this love that was modeled by Christ. This special phileo love is demonstrated by Jesus Himself. This type of close, companionship and friendship, emotional love is how Christ's relationship is described with Lazarus (John 11:3) and with “the disciple He loved” named John (John 20:2). This is also the word used in Revelation 3:19 for Christ's love for true saints in His church.
Jesus demonstrated His love to Lazarus and all who saw that friendship knew how close they were. The same was seen in Christ's closeness to the Apostle John. That is how Jesus loves us, and wants us to know He loves us, feeling His closeness, and enjoying His friendship.
And that phileo love that is emotional, close, and visible is what the Lord asks from grace-energized mothers towards their children.
Give The Priceless Gift of Love to Your Children
Do your loved ones in your family feel your love?
Just as many husbands think that their wives admire other men more than them as they relate how, “So-and-so’s husband does this and that with his children or for his wife…”. Those men do not feel the respect and admiration of their wives.
Likewise, many wives feel that their husbands think other women are either better at caring for their husbands, prettier, or better at caring for their families than they are. Those women do not feel the love of their husbands.
• But most importantly for Titus 2 mothers energized by grace , we need to consider that many kids hurt because they sense that their parents don’t even like them.
This absence of loving approval, can lead to untold pain; whereas loved ones who feel approval and love face the daily challenges in their world with eagerness and confidence.
Do you remember how Paul cultivated this type of love with a needy young man named Timothy? The mighty pastor of the church at Ephesus was also a young man with many physical and emotional needs. Paul discipled Timothy with love that could be seen and felt.
Paul Loved his “son” Timothy
Paul loved his “son” in the faith. So as our example, how was his “love” for Timothy his “son” in the faith expressed? One of the most beautiful testimonies to the power of encouragement (or affirmation) in the New Testament is in the life of the Apostle Paul. If you read Paul’s letters to Timothy you can hear Paul tenderly encouraging Timothy.
So Paul loved Timothy with love he could feel. Paul “affirmed” Timothy, and used tender and encouraging words to help him as his son in the faith Timothy. These exhortations were tenderly given to a struggling man.
Practice Ways to Make your Love Felt
Grace-energized-mothers make sure their loved ones feel their love. To help them receive and be touched by your love, we can try to use those several key ingredients that we see in both Christ's and Paul’s ministry. These small choices always help us to communicate affirmation and encouragement.
1. Grace-energized-mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they use meaningful touches with them.
That is what Jesus did (Mark 10:16) when he blessed the children, He was always touching those He ministered to. He could have healed them with a word, eight times in Mark alone Jesus touches those He served. So should we! The act of touch is a key to communicating warmth and affirmation. It is even essential to physical health. Be generous with your hugs.
2. Grace-energized-mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they prepare special words for them.
Remember how we saw that Paul used tender and encouraging words to help his son in the faith Timothy. He doesn’t belittle him for his weaknesses and tears. We should always remember that hugs aren’t enough.
Tell your children how you feel about them! Those who are left to fill in the blanks often feel worthless and insecure. At best, only confusion can come from silence. Far too many of us are really not that encouraging.
It’s not that we have a critical spirit. Rather, we just say nothing. Our loved ones are not mind readers. We can do better than just expecting them to know we are in their corner, loving and admiring them silently. They need to hear it!
Grace-energized-mothers make an effort to catch them doing something good, right, thoughtful, considerate, well done, etc. and point it out. Highlight it! "Hey, you really handled that situation very well."
3. Grace-energized-mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they attach high value to them.
Remember what we saw in Paul, how he told Timothy he had a “treasure” entrusted him; and that he was “gifted”; and that God was “going to use him”. Grace-energized-mothers tell their children the qualities you admire in them.
4. Grace-energized-mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they picture a bright future for them.
Paul told Timothy about a “crown” that was awaiting him as he ran the “race” set before him; and that the Lord was going to “reward” him. So we also should express what God can do with them as they follow Him in their life.
Grace-energized-mothers explain to their children how they can become the greatest servant of the Lord in what ever field God has gifted them. Explain why you think their gifts and character traits will be useful throughout their lives. Avoid the overuse of negative admonitions; use Biblical affirmations to inspire confident dependence upon God.
5. Grace-energized-mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they make a commitment to walk through life with them.
Stand by your loved one through the months and years ahead to help make your words of affirmation become a reality. Express ways you want to be a deeper part of their life (monthly dates, weekly prayer studies, nightly prayer times, on going shared prayer list, etc.)
Don’t quit as soon as you miss a scheduled time because of a conflict or your loved one hurts or discourages you, or your child fails in some area. What words rang in Christ's disciples ears from the “Great Commission”? For the rest of their life they heard Him say, “I am with YOU always!”
6. Grace-energized-mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they make a commitment to pray through life with them.
Grace-energized-mothers pray for their children. Let them know you’ve done so. Start a life-long prayer list with specific areas that you have learned from them need prayer, and then PRAY. Ask for updates. Celebrate answers. Pray together.
If you are not praying for them each day, who is? Regardless of the age, they need you to lift them up before the Lord in prayer each day. Think about their day. Think about their setting. Think about the people they will be with. Pray about these situations. We need all the help we can get, and much of what happens to us or to our children in this life is beyond our control. John 17 is Christ's model prayer for us to treasure just as His disciples did back then as they heard Him pray for THEM.
That is giving them a heart that prays.
7. Grace-energized-mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they become a student of their child’s life.
Jesus started His ministry with the Twelve by one simple plan in Mark 3:14, “and He ordained 12 that they should be with Him”. Watch them, share their ups and downs; know where they are in their spiritual life, their school life, work life, home life. Find out who they are close to and who they are not close to—and why.
• Take an interest in whatever seems to interest your children. Get into his or her world.
• Be lovingly persistent in communicating with your children. That is, keep trying to set up times when meaningful communication can occur.
• Share activities. Go to the grocery store, try a family time camping together, or even just ask them to do what you are doing with you (cooking, yard work, running errands). It is always loving to want them, include them, and ask for them to spend time with you.
• Take the initiative in asking your children questions. Have an endless learning time asking about what they think, what they feel, what they like or don’t like—and why. Learn their favorite flavor, favorite food, favorite activity, dreamed of place to go, and so much more. Write it down afterward to see what you remembered, and ask again until you do remember. Then surprise them with something they like!
• Listen to your children with full attention. Let her see your eyes light up when they talk to you.
8. Grace-energized-mothers love their children in a way that can be felt when they meet their needs with love: a regular schedule of nutritious meals, clean clothes, clean bodies, adequate sleep and rest. Give them a heart that serves. And as we do so we add to that more gifts:
• Give them a heart that rejoices and is filled with happiness. Psalm 113:9 describes a “joyful” mother.
• Give them a heart that gives like Christ's (Mark 10:45): because love gives (John 3:16); because love is generous (II Cor. 9:6); because love expects nothing back (Luke 6:35).
• Give them a heart that plays and is full of fun.
• Give them a heart that celebrates all their special days (Matthew 5:41); and since we have to do all those things in the family, why not make them special!
• Give them a heart that prefers your family first (Titus 2:4 says they are your first priority).
• Give them a heart that is focused (Matthew 6:24).
• Give them a heart that is present and attentive (Psalm 119:10 ‘my whole heart’).
• Give them a heart that trusts in the Lord (Isaiah 26:3 ‘perfect peace…trusts’).
Dorothy Patterson, one of the authors of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, puts the issue into focus:
“A mother builds something far more magnificent than any cathedral the dwelling place for an immortal soul…No professional pursuit so uniquely combines the most menial tasks with the most meaningful opportunities.”
Mothers Energized by Grace Cultivate Spiritual Assets
A servant of God has their heart set on spiritual treasures and measures life by the acquisition of spiritual assets rather than merely physical assets. Do you keep track of your Spiritual Assets? Often we know our house value, our retirement investment value, the worth of our collections and treasures—but do you keep an inventory of spiritual assets? What are some of our spiritual assets?
These are things like:
• Knowing where your kid’s are reading in God's Word so they remember when they grow up and leave home that you always cared how they were doing spiritually.
• Asking your husband or wife each week what they are finding in God's Word that is helping them to make it through the day. And, actually remembering what they said the last time because you care. This is a spiritual treasure because it forges a strong bond in your hearts of a shared spiritual walk.
• Finding and learning scripture memory verses that you share in common with your loved ones are a spiritual treasure. Not hundreds or even dozens, but a handful that you all have learned and share in common. What a treasure to quote them around the living room when the power goes out, or an ice storm cancels church, or when you are traveling, to have this body of Scripture that you together as a couple and a family learned is a true spiritual treasure. Some of the more valuable passages are Psalm 23, the love chapter--I Corinthians 13, the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and key verses on the tongue and faith in James.
• Collecting testimonies of salvation is a record of each person’s greatest treasure, isn’t it? The only thing that lasts forever from this world will be people and whatever we send up to Heaven before we leave. So, who are you taking to Heaven with you? Have you heard, understood, and savored the testimonies of your family? Can you tell your husband’s or wife’s testimony? How about your children? What an incredible treasure is our salvation. Take a spiritual inventory of the status of each soul around you in those you love.
• Recording and remembering those spiritual milestones, have you started on this spiritual asset yet? Do you record your loved ones salvation date, baptism date, when they started the habit of personal devotional quiet times, what they are doing in that QT? Have you started yet to celebrate each other’s spiritual birthdays? Do you keep a record of, share and celebrate any souls led to Christ by you or by loved ones, and then uphold them by prayer? Who can your family say that you as a family are “taking to Heaven”?
• Finally, one of the great spiritual treasures is a lifelong prayer journal. Even if you’ve never started, it is never too late to start watching God at work through prayer. Any type of list will do, just date it, hold onto it, and be specific enough in your requests—and there you have it—an actual record of the God of Heaven moving in and through your life by prayer. A list of family needs, specific challenges, hurdles, obstacles, great goals, and so on are all prayed over. As well the verses for Christ's formation in the lives of those you love are always such a tool. Just a sheet of paper, dated, written out and prayed over faithfully until it wears out and then a new one started will harvest great spiritual gains and treasures.
Mothers Energized by Grace Cultivate Habits that Demonstrate their Love
1. Mothers Energized by Grace love their children anyway. Yes I know you love them. Most of us parents adore our children — most of the time. Yet, some parents have a way of regularly communicating to their children that they do not measure up. I’m thinking now about the young girl who grew up in a family where she was seen as the dunce. Now as a young woman, she continues to experience the same from her family. Children need parents who will believe in them and no matter what will love them anyway.
2. Mothers Energized by Grace prepare their children for the battleground, not the playground. Some parents constantly buy their children toys, gadgets, candy, McDonalds, etc. The kids then get into their high school years and the pampering continues. Only now, the toys are much more expensive. What does that communicate to these children? Meanwhile, other parents prepare their children for life on the battleground where a spiritual battle is taking place. These parents realize that children need more than toys. They need to be equipped for life so that they will survive the difficulties and trials they will face.
3. Mothers Energized by Grace deal with their own issues. There are no perfect human beings. Yet, if you don’t deal with your own issues (your sins, your insecurities, your feelings of inadequacy, etc.), these can impact your children. They may end up having to deal with some of the very issues you would never grapple with.
4. Mothers Energized by Grace take every opportunity to remind them of who they are in Christ. They will, most likely, receive many false messages about their identity. They will be told that their worth is based upon their academic record, their physical attractiveness, their charm, their ability to make money, etc. You bless your children when you help them grow up with a sense of their real identity.
5. Mothers Energized by Grace bless your children by giving them you. Jesus called the 12 to spend time with Him (Mark 3:14) and that was the great expression of His love. So should we commit to spend time with those we love. There is no substitute for your presence in their lives. Your regular, consistent, emotional and physical presence means so much. I have known a few parents who seem to see their child as one more activity on the list of things to be done for the day. Yet one senses there is no real connection between parent and child. Being attentive and giving one-on-one time are priceless gifts to children.
6. Mothers Energized by Grace say only what communicates value, respect, and love. Choose to never say or do anything that will humiliate. Sometimes, families will tell embarrassing, humiliating, stories about their children. The child is embarrassed at this but then the parent says, "I’m just kidding." (In other words, "Since I think this is funny, you shouldn’t let this bother you.") Listen, we all do things in our families that are silly, stupid, mindless, careless, etc. I have found that it is much better for me to tell about something silly or stupid that I did — not my children. Children need to know that homes are safe places where one’s mistakes are not announced to the world.
7. Mothers Energized by Grace want to be their child’s greatest encourager. Far too many parents are really not that encouraging. It’s not that they have a critical spirit. Rather, they just say nothing. Children are not mind readers. We can do better than just expecting them to know we are in their corner. They need to hear it! Make an effort to catch them doing something good, right, thoughtful, considerate, well done, etc. and point it out. Highlight it! "Hey, you really handled that situation very well."
8. Mothers Energized by Grace Give them what they need not what they want. Many of us are very busy people. We have a lot going on. So often, parents will feel guilty about how busy they are and so decide to give them a new "toy." Yet, we do our children no favors when we give them most everything they want. The point is this: Too many children grow up getting all the things they want while little attention is given to what they really need. Think about what your children really need if they are going to make it in this difficult world as obedient children of a loving God.
9. Mothers Energized by Grace Give their children something to look forward to when they come home. Give them a beautiful home to look forward to. That’s home — not house. Anyone with enough money can build a beautiful house. Our children need beautiful homes. Homes that are filled with warmth, laughter, and love. Beautiful homes are places where children can catch a glimpse of the loving God in the love of their parents. These homes remind kids that no matter how bad the day is at school or with friends, they can always come home.
For a Christian mother, another core responsibility is to care for her children. Children are to be a priority in her life. In many developed countries of the world today, an anti-birth, anti-child mentality permeates society. Bible-believing Christians, however, must affirm the paramount value of children and motherhood .