Loving children. That seems natural enough, doesn’t it? Then why does Paul seem to think women need to be admonished or trained (as the NIV puts it) to do so? Perhaps it’s not as automatic as we would like to think. Perhaps it requires choosing — purposeful choosing. And maybe, just maybe, there is a measure of self-control involved. Possibly even self-sacrifice. Let’s begin our exploration where I started so many years ago as I endeavored to learn what Paul meant in his Titus 2 mandate. Let’s look at my favorite Bible woman, Jochobed.
Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.” Exodus 2.1-10 NKJV
Amram (the Levite in our story) married Jochobed (the Levite woman) in the midst of a wayward generation, surrounded by unfaithful people who had ceased to fear the Lord. (Joshua 24.14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.”) On top of that, they suffered slavery, bondage to a cruel Pharaoh. When I comprehended Jochobed’s situation, I discovered I related to her. I, too, lived in the midst of a wayward generation who no longer loved and feared God but were enslaved to Satan, the cruelest of masters. We were in the same boat — living in these circumstances as wife and mother. I liked her already.
I knew the outcome of her life: in spite of such incredible adversity she and Amram raised up three children who walked in faith and functioned in leadership as prophet, priest, and prophetess. Now she had my attention. I figured I just might learn a thing or two from this woman. What a woman she proved to be.
How did she do this? What was her part? What would be my correlating part?
Psalm 144.11-12 became my starting point. What does a righteous mother do in the midst of an unGodly nation and culture? She begins by crying out to God.
“Oh, that we would be freed from the deception all around, rightly discerning the enemy’s lies! Oh, that our children would be different from the rest!” This is a righteous mother’s cry. She desires sons who are mature beyond their years and able to produce; daughters who are strong and beautiful, ready to bear much weight. She understood that it began with her discernment — rescue me, deliver me. First she had to gain understanding of truth, discarding the falsehoods all around her.
In our original text we see that she understood some fundamental truths about God and His creation. “And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months.” Why does the scripture point out that she saw that he was a beautiful child? Doesn’t every mother think that? Do you believe a mother who says to you, “Oh, my Johnny is incredible!” Or do you assume that he may be no more special than your Johnny?
Of course she saw that he was beautiful! What’s the big deal?
UnGodly cultures don’t comprehend such truth; deception and lies abound. But Jochobed had prayed for Godly wisdom. She had sought eyes to see truth, deliverance from wicked falsehoods. She was granted her petition. She understood that this child was beautiful, not only to her, but to God Himself.
That is the beginning of true love for children — understanding His great love for them. He personally creates them, carefully forming them in the womb. Every day is planned. They are full of purpose and destiny that only He knows. And He loves them, passionately.
Today I challenge you to look at your children, at your neighbor’s children, at the children in your church, and see what He sees. They are beautiful. He intends good things for every one of them. But until we are convinced of that — absolutely positively persuaded — we will not see anything worth sacrificing for.
Next time we will see what kind of sacrifice such beauty demands.