As we learned yesterday, the godly woman is to be devoted to good works.
Now, by good works, Paul doesn’t mean actions that make us acceptable to God. We are only able to stand before God because of the righteousness of Christ. Rather, these good works are what Jerry Bridges calls, “deliberate deeds that are helpful to others” (The Practice of Godliness, p. 232). They are acts of kindness that are evidence of our salvation.
And the woman who is devoted to good works reflects glory back to God. As John Stott explains, “It is when people see these good works that they will glorify God, for they embody the good news of his love which we proclaim” (The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, p. 62).
Now we haven’t been left to guess what good works we are supposed to do. God has already given us a “to do list.”
Among other things, they include:
Bringing up children
Washing the feet of the saints
Caring for the afflicted
To close, enjoy this video about one woman’s devotion to good works.
Now we come to our final “best deal” of the single season.
And we find it in 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.”
This verse explains which widows are eligible to receive help and care from the church if they have no other means of support. But its application is for all of us, because it is a description of the life and character of a godly woman.
I want you to take a look at the final phrase—“has devoted herself to every good work”—At first glance, it may appear to be a little vague. Kinda like what happens when I can’t come up with a concluding sentence for one of my posts, so I just tack on something nice-sounding but essentially meaningless.
Not the case here! There is nothing vague about this concluding remark. Paul is making a very clear point. In case we got the idea that we could check off one of each of these good works and qualify as a godly woman, Paul raises the stakes considerably. He says the godly woman is devoted to good works. As one commentary describes it, she is “energetically and diligently giving herself” to this stuff. I can imagine this woman constantly looking and listening, ready to serve upon discovery of the slightest need.
Do you remember the t-shirt that was popular a few years back with the slogan that read, “Tennis (or Basketball or Fishing) is Life. Everything else is just details”? Well, here Paul is saying that the godly woman’s outlook is: “Devotion to Good Works is Life. Everything else is just details.”
Bringing up children, showing hospitality, caring for the afflicted—these aren’t things the godly woman does one time, like a community service requirement. Good works are what she is giving her life, energy, time, and heart to. Good works are what she is all about.
But there is one other word that makes this phrase even more powerful. Yep, it’s that little word “every.” “Every” quite simply means “every.” It doesn’t mean “some” or “most,” but every. The godly woman doesn’t limit herself to good works that are easy, or get her the most attention, or are her top favorites. She practices good works of all kinds. And we can safely assume that they aren’t all pleasant.
Not such a vague phrase after all, huh?
I think John Wesley’s well-known quote expands nicely on what Paul is saying here:
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”
Cause everything else? It’s just details.
One mom of young kids has some advice for single women. Heather Koerner wants to tell you what she’d tell her single self, if she had the chance.
In “Study to Show Yourself a SAHM” [SAHM=Stay At Home Mom] she describes her unexpectedly rough entry into her new role as full-time wife, mother, and homemaker:
I’m not sure when it hit me.
Maybe it was the morning I sat watching my 3-month-old daughter sleep next to me on the living room floor as I folded what seemed like the third laundry load of burp cloths that day. There was a lot about the moment that I had expected — love in my eyes, wonder in my heart. But there was also a lot I hadn’t expected — a house that had once been orderly and clean that was now stacked high with piles of laundry, dirty dishes, baby paraphernalia and one exhausted, not very attractive looking mommy.
I remember thinking, This is so hard. I’m not sure I can do this.
And I remember being overwhelmingly frustrated. For crying out loud (which, I think I was at that moment), I have a graduate degree. I’ve taught trigonometry. I’ve met deadlines, edited copy and run conferences. Why in the world can’t I handle one tiny baby and a 1,200 square foot house?
Heather echoes what most new moms think and feel (including us!): This is so hard! Why can’t I handle this? But that’s when Heather had her epiphany:
I suddenly realized…that I had spent six years in college preparing for a career in which I spent five years. But I had spent no time preparing myself for the career that I was about to embark on for the next decade.
It’s not that I thought my education was wasted. Rather, I realized I was so concentrated on preparing for one aspect of my future life and so blind to the fact that I should be preparing for all aspects of my future life.
If being a full-time wife, mother, and homemaker is a job God may call you to some day, and if the stakes are high (because they are), and if the challenges are steep (because they are), isn’t it a career worth preparing for?
Read Heather’s article for some great advice on how to embark on a course of study for what could be the career of a lifetime.
Just to recap, the best deals of the single life we’ve looked at so far:
Pursue Undivided Devotion
Become a Theologian
Help the Men
Choose Friends Carefully
Our sixth suggestion for how to best use your years as a single: Prepare to be a wife and mother.
Now I realize that not every woman will get married and have children; but truth is, most women will be wives and mothers someday. And for the majority of you who get married and raise children, you will spend a considerable portion of your lives in the homemaking profession—from twenty or thirty to upwards of fifty years or more. That’s no small amount of time!
And the commands in Scripture to love, follow and help a husband, to raise children for the glory of God, and to manage a home from which the gospel goes forth encompass a vast responsibility. The role of wife and mother requires an extremely diverse array of skills—everything from management abilities to knowledge of health and nutrition, to interior decorating capabilities, to childhood development expertise. If you are to be effective in this role, then you must study these subjects and many more.
A career as a wife and mother demands considerable expertise, may encompass decades of your life, and has the potential to spread the gospel to your family, church, community, and future generations. Now that’s worth preparing for, wouldn’t you say?
In response to Mom’s post on Thursday, Caroline sent us a wonderful email about three generations of single women nurturing children:
I was single until I was 35 (now have 4 year old twin daughters—our double blessing). I have been in three positions when it comes to singles nurturing children.
As a child we had a friend called Donna who came for tea every week, babysat, and had much godly input for me and my brothers. I am 44 now and still think of her as part of our family and although I rarely see her anymore, I always remember her with enormous affection and some of her advice helps me still.
As a single I had the privilege of being very close to several families with children. I was a young lady whose main aim was (and always will be) to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother. I found it incredibly hard being single, but found great fulfillment in spending time with the children of my friends. I worked with children, and also went to one friend every week to help her with her children when her husband was working late. I also babysat and spent time with other friends and their children. I adored all of them, and felt enormously privileged when they called me their friend, and when I heard them repeating phrases I often used!
As a Mum with young children now, I have a special friend called Helen who comes for tea once a week and helps put my daughters to bed, prays with us all, reads them stories, comes on outings with my husband, children and me, and babysits. When my daughters talk about extended family, they always include her. She has great input into their lives and I feel privileged to have her as part of our lives.
Just as I called Donna “my Donna” and my friend’s children called me “my Caroline,” my children are now calling Helen “my Helen. I am truly blessed!