Sometimes the Bible provides brilliant gems of applicable teaching in places where you least expect it. One of those, for me, was 1 Timothy 5:9-10:
Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.
In context (1 Tim. 5:3-16), Paul is telling Timothy which widows qualify to be taken care of by the church. (Back then, widows had no source of income and were destitute if they had no family to care for them.) At first glance, this may seem like something that’s tempting to skim over – I’m not a widow, and Paul was giving instructions for a very specific thing at that point in time. However, I learn two important things here. First, I learn some qualities that God desires for all women: being hospitable, serving the church, and taking care of the hurting. These traits are very precious to God and something we should all strive for.
I also learn something else. Something exciting, encouraging, and invorgorating to my daily life as a mother. Do you see it? My title may have spoiled it for you. 🙂 Here it is:
“Having a reputation for good works: having brought up children…”
Have you ever considered this? Raising children is a good work. The day-to-day, unglamorous, oft-unnoticed tasks of motherhood are good works. This concept is at once humbling and empowering.
Think of it…
When you’re feeding your baby at 3 am, you’re doing a good work.
When you’re teaching your toddler year how to put her toys back in the basket or put her plate in the sink or put on her own socks, you’re doing a good work.
When you’re mopping up the hallway because your little one didn’t make it to the potty in time, you’re doing a good work.
When your child disobeys and you apply the wisdom of Proverbs regarding discipline, you’re doing a good work.
When you sing your child’s favorite song, “I’m a little bitty frog and God loves me,” for the 378th time (or so it seems), you’re doing a good work.
When you try to teach your child how to pray and sing and listen during the worship service, you’re doing a good work. (When she misbehaves and you have to take her out for a bit to address her behavior, and you miss part of the sermon, you’re still doing a good work!)
When you drop your child off at school with a kiss, an “I love you!”, and a well-stocked dinosaur lunchbox — or, prepare next week’s homeschool lessons, gathering books and printing out handwriting pages — you’re doing a good work.
When you take your preteen tennis shoe shopping for the third time this year because he keeps outgrowing his old ones, you’re doing a good work.
When you must tell your child “no” — no standing on the couch, no “outside voices” in Walmart, no more milk before bedtime, no more sweets for the day, no throwing blocks at your brother, no speaking to mommy or daddy that way, no smartphones until you are much, much older, no wearing those shorts, no going to that party — you’re doing good works.
When your son is picked on at school and you talk with him about loving your enemies and put into practice praying for those who persecute you, you’re doing a good work.
When your daughter says she feels like she’s not good enough and you speak to her the good news of Jesus and His perfection, you’re doing a good work.
When you kiss scraped knees, wipe away tears, give medicine, and change dirty diapers, you’re doing good works.
When a good chunk of your days are spent in lowly household tasks like cooking, dishwashing, laundering, sweeping, and toilet-scrubbing as you try (imperfectly) to keep your home running smoothly for the little and big people in your care, you’re doing good works.
Not only are all these seemingly insignificant things good works — they are some of the most important good works you can do. Because you’re fulfilling God’s will by doing this great and awesome task He placed in front of you — raising your children. Raising His children.
Remember what the King said in Jesus’ description of the final judgment at the end of Matthew 25: “whoever did it to the least of these… did it to me” (v. 40). When we care for our families – our children as well as our spouse – we are caring for Christ. May the Lord help us do so with gladness, thanksgiving, and love.
Photo credit: Julien Pouplard via Unsplash