© 2008 Deidre Campbell-Jones
May Theme: Mothers
1st Mothers: Titus 2:4
2n Mothers: 1 Corinthians 13
It is May! Happy May Day! I do not know what “May Day” is, but it’s good to have a reason to wish you a happy day. The month of May however does not make me think of May Day, nor is my first thought about Mother’s Day. No, when spring is ushered in by the first day of May, my first thought is the little rhyme: “April showers bring May flowers.” And something about saying the words “may flowers” makes me think not of the birds and the beauty of God’s colorful splendor – but crazy enough, I think of the Mayflower – you know, one of the first ships Columbus sailed across the ocean blue to “discover” America…
Well even more odd is that, this morning, knowing I was going to begin a study on Mothers I still went through my little rhyme with thoughts that led to the Mayflower, and then those thoughts led me to the thought of it being one of the first ships to America and somehow I thought of first mothers and second mothers. Titus 2:1-4 says, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,”
No mother wants to be called “aged” especially not around mother’s day! So, 1st Mothers – you all have a big responsibility in teaching us 2nd Mothers and I know it’s huge because technically, in this day and age, I too am a 1st Mother when it comes to all the younger women I meet who have children my son’s age. You see, I am in a very unique position of being more of a “Middle Mother”. I am new enough into motherhood to still need to be taught, and I am mature enough in age that I have a responsibility to teach.
But the most significant thing about these verses in Titus is what we are mandated to teach!
The men are told to teach the younger ones to be sober, grave, temperate, in sound faith, charity and patience. Then it seams the women get a much harsher list that includes holiness, drunkedness, lying, loving our husbands and loving our kids. First let me say, that we are told “likewise” – meaning not only, but also. First Mothers are also supposed to teach Second Mothers how to be sober, grave, temperate, sound in our faith, in charity and in patience. And let me tell you, it is important that we do so! I am 43 and have found myself teaching to, ministering to and even being frustrated by the need in other women to be taught this information! The unfortunate part is that the women I’ve had the opportunity to speak to, and the women I’ve really, really wanted to speak to, were not all necessarily women who were younger than me! Why is that? It is because their First Mothers no longer have this as their own personal doctrine. They were not taught and so they cannot teach.
It has been disturbing to me to feel compelled to give a word to women older than I am or with children much older than mine about their standards for raising their children, their behavior and examples as women of God and even how they love their husbands. I can only surmise that this is because I have had a far better example than they have had. Thanks, Mom!
So let’s start with being sober – men, listen up, these first all are for you too. Not only have you been given (and given first, I might add) the mandate to also be all these things, but whereas the woman must be taught to love her husband and love her children; they are your children too and you are or might be that husband.
Serious, solemn, or sedate; not bright, garish or flashy; quiet or plain, exaggerated or distorted as in “the sober truth.” This is also characterized by sanity, being sensible or reasonable, having self-control and emotional balance. These are the definitions of “sober”. Let’s also consider “grave” at the same time, because I assumed they were same, however they are indeed only similar: important, weighty, not light or trifling or trivial in consequence; grievous and seriously contrary to what is right; evil enough to cause spiritual death.
To be temperate is to be mindful of ones temper; moderate and not self-indulgent; moderate in actions and speech; self-restrained or restrained. And then of course we are told to be sound in our faith, in charity and in patience. Faith, charity and patience we think we know – but as a reminder: Faith is not "belief" it is the ACTION based upon our belief; Charity is not just love it is the ACTION of giving out of love and Patience is not just tolerance it is the ACTION that results from tolerance. Think of this way – you can’t just act patiently, you have to BE patient. Now then, can any of us actually remember having been taught patience? If so, we are taught by example.
So then, think for a moment of the examples of faith, charity and patience your mother showed you. Add also to that list her examples of gravity and sobriety as I have described them above. Most of our mothers have passed on these examples of instruction affectively.
But now as I write this lesson, I realize there is a gap somewhere. Suddenly I can remember so many times I may have kept a younger woman from jumping all over a waitress prematurely, or gently corrected a woman about her views on race and ethnicity, and especially all the casual conversations that turned into me teaching a one-on-one mini-sermon about God’s word on faith! Not all mothers were able to teach these principles to their daughters and not all fathers were able to show these examples to their sons.
Most frustrating to me have been the times where I have been compelled to instruct a mother on how to raise her child – younger, same age or even older than mine! What seems like common sense to me has not even been thought of by so many women. The things I would never expose my child to are common place and even encouraged as “cute” in other homes. And the very things I’m trying to discipline my child for, his peers are not only getting away with but are being allowed to set the standard. I want to take those parents and shake them, lecture them, spank them and give them a big time out – 1 minute for every year of their age!
But that’s only my frustration about raising children. Then there is the mandate about loving our husbands. Granted I am in my second marriage, so obviously things were terribly wrong with the first, but still – it seems things that were common sense not to do even in that first marriage are common place in everyone else’s marriages.
Here is what is missing: love. I was blown away when I really paid attention to Titus 2:4. Younger women are meant to learn how to love their husbands and learn how to love their children. Learning how to love a husband makes perfect sense – especially if you have to learn to love a husband who is unlovable and doesn’t even love himself or others. I happen to think it is far easier to love a husband who is doing right and treating you right, but apparently that is not the case for most people. The only reason I can see must come from Titus – because women have not been taught how to love a husband.
But do we really need to be taught how to love our children? Don’t mothers automatically love and know how to love their children? How can we really when we aren't really taught just exactly what love is in the first place?
In February I did a bible study on love that covered more than just the standard list in 1 Corinthians 13. It covered the 7 principles of God – our God who is love. Those aspects of God are the aspects of love: faith; trust; giving; forgiving; truth; goodness and fruitfulness. If we have been loved with faith in who we are and that God created us to be who we are; and loved with trust and forgiveness; if we were loved by good and giving parents, and if that love bore the fruit of more love in our lives, then indeed – we were taught a loving and Godly example of how to love our own children. It is this example that we must continue to live whether we are a 1st Mother, 2nd Mother, Middle Mother; no mother at all, or even a father…
And so in this month that leads up to Mother’s Day, let’s begin to honor our mothers by honoring them for the examples of love they did provide. Sure, it may not always have been all aspects at all times – and of course, we as children probably instigated that! But God gave us our mothers for that purpose – no matter how long or how short we may have had them.
In honor of the true love they have shown us, let’s make the effort to be that love for others as well.
Power, love & peace -