Rev. denHartog is pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, California.
We return in this article to the three exhortations that Paul, the inspired apostle of the Lord, gives to young women in the church in I Timothy 5:14. He exhorts them to: 1) Marry in the Lord. 2) Bear covenant children. 3) Guide the house. We saw in our last article how these three are related.
Young women in the church must realize what a tremendous calling it is to bear covenant children. God has given you this calling in His grand and wonderful covenant purpose. It is His purpose to gather His church from the beginning to the end of the world from the generations of believers.
We conceive and bring forth our children in sin. From birth they are just as wicked and depraved and damn-worthy as we are. Not one of them could possibly by his physical birth have any claim to the kingdom of God. If it were not for the grace of God, we with our children would be condemned forever with the ungodly world. But God, by His sovereign grace, is pleased to save us and also those He has ordained among our children. He is sovereignly pleased to continue His covenant with them from generation to generation.
In every age new lines of the covenant are begun. By the power of the preaching of the gospel to the nations, God’s elect are brought unto salvation and into His church. Sometimes whole families are saved at once, as we find to have been true several times in the book of Acts. The church of God is continued with these new generations and with those who have for many generations been members of God’s covenant. What a wonder it is that many of us can trace God’s covenant lines back for many generations. This is all because of the faithfulness and mercy of God and not because of our own efforts. It is not something inherited on account of our natural relationships to our parents and grandparents on the one side and to our children on the other. God saves each new generation by His amazing grace in Christ Jesus and through repentance and faith in Him.
Among the greatest of God’s wonders is that He uses us, and particularly you godly young women, to bring forth the children of the covenant. Stop and think of the astounding wonder of this! What could be more wonderful than that our children will some day be among the company of the redeemed eternally in heaven praising and glorifying God? What earthly achievement or career could possibly compare with this? The God-fearing woman properly desires to serve her Lord in this manner. She says with Mary, the mother of the Lord, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).
The calling of the young woman in the church, however, does not end when she has given birth to covenant children. She must for the sake of these covenant children, and also for the continuation of God’s purpose for her marriage, “guide her house.” Covenant children must be nurtured, cared for, protected, trained, and disciplined in the covenant home. God ordained it that way. The godly woman has a very great role in this also. Except for those children whom the Lord is pleased to take out of this life in infancy, God will have His covenant children trained from childhood on in the way of the Lord. For this He is pleased to use God-fearing women. This role for the godly woman requires great responsibility, years of faithful labors, and tremendous self-sacrifice. But this is pleasing unto the Lord and will be greatly rewarded.
No other institution in the world, only the covenant home, can nurture covenant children. Not even the church without the home can really do that. Certainly not an ungodly “day-care institution.” How can any thinking, godly woman imagine such a thing? For this reason God has called you young women to “guide your house.” Mrs. Hillary Clinton is advocating in her newly publicized book that society in general must nurture children. This is all terribly hypocritical when she is a leading advocate of feminist philosophy that promotes the great evil of abortion and does everything in its power to “liberate” the woman from the home and to demean the role of the women in the home. We can be absolutely sure that all the urging for a supposed societal role in caring for children is going to fall flat in helping to improve the way America raises its youth, as long as women everywhere are being encouraged to forsake their God-ordained responsibility to “guide their house.”
The word that is translated in the KJV as “guide the house” is a compound word. The compound word is a combination of a word that means house and another that is, literally, “despot.” The godly young woman is to be a “despot” in her home. That of course does not mean that she is to be a cruel, unloving tyrant in her home. Neither does it mean that the young woman is to usurp the authority of her husband in marriage and in the home. Such an interpretation would contradict other Scriptures. Rather the wife and mother is a “despot” in her home when she takes charge in the covenant home. She must manage her home. She must bear the responsibility that God has given her. She must manage her home well, to be “on top of things,” have things under control for the purpose of raising her children in the fear of the Lord. This requires her constant presence in the home. This requires hard and diligent work on her part. This requires great talents and great skill and great wisdom on her part. It requires wholehearted and complete devotion. There are in fact hardly any God-given talents that cannot be employed for this purpose to the fullest extent. There is hardly any earthly occupation that requires more self-sacrifice than the role of being a godly mother. Loving self-sacrifice is one of the most glorious of all Christian virtues.
Children need a lot of love and care and discipline, especially in their early lives. They are very impressionable. They are greatly influenced by what goes on in the home, or, in some instances, what does not go on in the home. They need to be molded and directed in their young lives. The world is full of great evils that have tremendous potential to corrupt our children and to harden the sinful nature that they were born with. The world can easily lead our children totally astray, through books they read and television they watch and all the other many influences of the world that come into their lives almost from birth on. The devil wants our children, especially those born of covenant parents. If he can get them already when they are young, they will follow him all their life. The wicked world wants to make its own impact on our children, to mold them according to its own evil and godless philosophy. The godly woman is called to do all in her power to prevent this from happening.
Chiefly, covenant children need to be nurtured and instructed in the great principles of the Word of God and the fear of His name. They must from childhood be told the blessed truths of the gospel. It takes a lot of time and effort and sacrifice to do this. There is no such thing as quality time versus quantity time in this matter. It takes a lot of quality time and effort. The godly mother in her God-ordained sphere in the home must diligently and faithfully teach her children the truths of God’s Word, as these little children eat from her hands and sit on her knees. Mother must each day give her children a balanced measure of love, care, and compassion, with firm and consistent discipline. A woman who is totally exhausted by a career outside of the home is hardly fit to do this. She does not have the emotional and psychological energy that is needed for this role.
The godly woman in the covenant home must be a daily example before her growing, impressionable children. She must be a role model for them. She must be a model of self-sacrifice and tender and compassionate Christian love. Children, especially covenant children who have the Spirit of God in their hearts, will notice this. They will be greatly influenced by this. They will by the grace of God in their hearts follow this role model. This will be to the credit of their godly mothers, and to the rightful and godly praise of these great women in the church.
Paul concludes his admonition to the godly young woman by telling her that she must be careful that the adversary does not speak reproachfully of her. The positive implication of that statement is of course that the great concern of the God-fearing woman must be that she glorifies God. To do that she must avoid asmuch as possible a life-style that will bring reproach to the name of God. The world follows the devil. It praises its own. It glamorizes the most wicked women of the world. The heroines of the world are the Marilyn Monroes, the Elizabeth Taylors, the Murphy Browns, and all the other wicked, vain, and adulterous movie stars that are so famous in the media. The wicked world knows very well that God’s Word demands a radically different life on the part of those who profess the Christian faith. Therefore when those who profess the Christian faith live just like the rest of the world, the adversary will speak reproachfully.
The adversary loves nothing more than ridiculing God’s people. By doing this the devil blasphemes God and those who confess to be His children. The God-fearing woman strives by God’s grace as much as possible to avoid this, because she loves God and seeks in all things the glory of His name. Certainly the world, especially today, mocks the godly woman in the role that God has given her. But when this woman faithfully serves God, all that mockery will be put to silence, because God will exalt her.
Paul laments that already in his day many had turned aside unto the devil. Many more today in the sphere of the church who profess to be Christians have “turned aside unto the devil.” They have done this because they have forsaken their responsibility in the home in order to go out into the world.
The role of the God-fearing young woman in the home is an honorable role. It is one of greatest significance. It is one that when faithfully carried out will bring the greatest reward from the Lord. Proverbs 31 describes the virtuous woman. She is very obviously the woman who “guides her house” well for the sake of her husband and family. She is no modern-day, glamorous career-woman great in the world of the ungodly. She is a woman who fears God. The inspired writer of Proverbs says: “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” The godly woman who has been a guide of her house will be praised. She will not in our modern world have the praise of men. But who cares about that anyway? All such worldly praise is vain. The godly woman who has been faithful to serve in her God-ordained sphere in the home shall finally be praised by God. And an added blessing of no small account which God gives as her reward already in this life is that her children shall rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he shall praise her.