According to Titus 2:3-5, older women are to teach younger women to love their husbands and children. We may think that’s a rather strange instruction. In our culture, we almost universally marry for love, and we can’t help feeling an incredibly deep affection for our children. The Greek word translated “love” in Titus 2:4 does in fact mean to have feelings of affection, which makes us wonder about this imperative. Why on earth, then, would older women need to teach younger women to love the very people whom they would love quite naturally?
As I’ve pondered this matter, I’ve begun thinking about love in general, and Christian love in particular. Loving husbands and children as the Lord would have us love them must go beyond the ways non-Christians love their husbands and children, it seems to me. As believers, we learn how to love by studying the ways that our Lord expresses His love.
This Holy Week directs our attention to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross — the most powerful display of love in human history. Although none of us can ever hope to love anyone as powerfully as He loves us (because of our inability to atone for the sins of another person), we can still develop an understanding of love that we can approximate to a lesser degree in our relationships.
In this post, I want to concentrate on Christ’s love for us in going to the cross. In future posts, we’ll apply His example to our responsibilities as wives mothers and single Christian women, but first we need to remind ourselves of the love God showed in Jesus Christ.
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. ~~Romans 5:6-11 (NASB95)
This passage fills me with awe as I remember that I was once God’s enemy. I thought I was a Christian. I tried to be good enough to qualify for eternity in heaven, and I enjoyed reading certain portions of the Bible. I also enjoyed some of the occult practices that my mom encouraged me to play with. And I very much worked at making sure I was the center of attention. Even God had to revolve around me!
Without a doubt, I was God’s enemy.
Unless you’ve bowed the knee to His authority by believing in Jesus alone as your Lord and Savior, you are also God’s enemy.
Recognizing that we once stood as God’s enemies positions us to also recognize the wonder of His love toward us. Why should a God so holy — so perfect in His righteousness — love sinful wretches like us? Why should He send His only begotten Son to redeem us for Himself? Why should God the Son shed His innocent blood to purchase us as His beloved bride when we’ve done nothing to commend ourselves to Him? God’s love should absolutely baffle us as we realize that we deserve only His wrath.
Yet, inexplicably, Christ loved us. He endured an unjust trial that violated countless Jewish laws, silently standing before three separate rulers while false witnesses fabricated outlandish accusations against Him. He allowed men to beat and mock Him as they spat in His face and pulled out His beard. He carried His cross until, weakened from a sleepless night and merciless beatings, He needed another man to carry it for Him. Finally, He suffered one of the most tortuous forms of execution ever devised as His Father poured wrath on Him for the sins of everyone who would believe.
This sacrificial love goes far beyond the affectionate love that women should have for their husbands and children, obviously. Yet I believe it gives us a template for those inevitable moments when affection is the last emotion we feel. Older women must constantly take younger women back to the cross as the supreme model for all other expressions of love.