by Rachel Harkins
I was asked to speak on “The Woman’s Role in the Home”. Let me say right off, I certainly don’t claim to “have arrived” in any of these areas………the Lord is still chipping away at me. But I would like to share with you what the Lord has laid on my heart in this area of the “Keeper at Home”.
I enjoy coming up with acrostics when I’m able, and as I was thinking on this topic the Lord gave me this acrostic for the word “HOME”.
H – Honour the Lord.
In the old Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the definition for honour is – “To reverence; to manifest the highest veneration for, in WORDS and ACTIONS; to entertain the most exalted thoughts of ; to worship; to adore.” Before we, as Christian wives and mothers, can fulfill our role in the home, we must let Christ have first place in our lives. Sometimes this requires God getting our attention by bringing us to our knees until we finally acknowledge that He is “All we have and All we need”. In order to explain this further, I’d like to share a brief testimony. The older I get, the more I enjoy sharing it because I realize the mercy and longsuffering that God has shown me.
I was raised in a Christian home where both parents loved the Lord. Since Dad took his family to church “every time the doors were open”, I heard the gospel at a very early age. My Mom told me I came to her when I was very young, wanting to be saved, but I have no remembrance of that time. My earliest memories of the Holy Spirit dealing with my young heart are when I was around the age of 5 or 6. I would lay in bed at night, afraid that Jesus had come back and taken my parents and I was left behind. Many times, I would quietly get out of bed and walk to my parents’ bedroom door where I would stand and call out to my mother. When she finally awakened and answered me, I was fine. Mom was still there. I could go to sleep now.
It wasn’t until I was 8 years old that the Holy Spirit convicted me of my lost condition. It was on a Saturday night, Dad was at the Saturday night men’s prayer meeting and I was already in bed asleep. That night I dreamed that the rapture had taken place and I was not ready to go. I awakened in fear and went straight to my mother. After telling her about my dream and my fears of not being saved, Mom took her Bible and shared scripture with me. It was on that night that I made sure of my salvation. In Job 33, starting with verse 12 the Bible says, “Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.” And then starting in verse 24, “Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness. He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.” That is my testimony. After praying with me, Mom showed me the verses in I John 5:11-13
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” I remember her emphasizing the word “KNOW”. I’m so thankful that we can KNOW!
I’m ashamed to say that there was not much growth after salvation. I Corinthians 3:1,2 says “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” Those verses describe me for the next several years. Oh, I had a “head knowledge” of the Bible. I knew all of the familiar Bible stories by heart and could quote many Bible verses, but I had no application of spiritual principles in my life. This immaturity led to my straying in my Jr. High and Sr. High School years. It wasn’t until after Jim and I were married that the Lord began dealing with me about certain things.
Jim was saved the year before we were married and although I had been saved for several years now, we both were very young in the Lord. After our marriage, God led us to a little independent Baptist church and for the first time that I can remember in my Christian life, I began to hear preaching on the Christian walk. God began dealing with my heart about things that I needed to confess. Many nights, Jim would stay up and talk with me and then we would pray. This repentance brought forgiveness and some growth, through preaching as well as trials where we learned to lean on the Lord. Up until this time, however, I had no consistent personal time with the Lord. I knew I should be reading my Bible daily as well as praying, but my quiet time was more “hit and miss” as I allowed other things to take its place.
The turning point in my Christian life came in early ‘96. I had just given birth to our 5th child, Bethany, in December ’95 and I guess I experienced what some people would call a major case of “postpartum depression”. Unlike other times, I just couldn’t “bounce back” this time. I felt so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a wife, mother, teacher, etc. I now had 3 children in grade school (we homeschooled), one toddler and an infant and I just didn’t know if I could do it all! Of course, in my eyes “nobody understood”, not even Jim. (Even though I remember him telling me not to worry about the schooling right then……..”just take your time, rest, start back when your ready”.) I really didn’t feel like I could talk to anybody. There were many nights when I would get up, not wanting to disturb Jim, and just sit in a room by myself and cry. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, God was bringing me exactly to the place He wanted me to be. Finally, one night I got out of bed and as I sat there crying, I began calling out to God. In total desperation I cried, “Lord, You’re all I have, and You’re all I need.” THAT WAS IT! That was exactly where God wanted me…TOTAL surrender to Him!!!! Oh, what a sweet peace I felt that night……..a peace that passeth all understanding!
I could never begin to try to express the burden that was lifted that night. It was after I gave the Lord first place in my life that I began to have a hunger for His Word like never before. I had such a strong desire to grow and this led to a consistent personal time with the Lord. As I said earlier, before we can fulfill our role in the home, we MUST let Christ have first place in our lives and sometimes this requires God getting our attention by bringing us to our knees.
When we begin to honour the Lord in our lives, it will be evident not only in our words, but in our actions. Our love and adoration for Him will become so strong that just the THOUGHT of bringing a reproach to His name will grieve us. Truly honouring the Lord will change how we walk, how we talk, how we live. And, it will change the kind of wife and mother that we are. Our husbands will begin to notice a change in us. That perhaps “nagging wife” will turn into a “praying wife”. Our children will notice Momma reading her Bible more and more.
I read a quote the other day by Sis. Linda Townsend, a pastor’s wife, and I’d like to share it with you. “A house isn’t a home without the heart of the homemaker being right with God.” How true this is. We must have our hearts right with God before we can minister in our home as God would have us.
O – One Flesh.
Genesis 2:20-25 gives the account of God creating Woman. We know that Eve was created for Adam to be an help meet, according to verse 18. Then, in verse 23 we read Adam’s response when God brings Eve to him. In verse 24 we see how God describes the union of man and woman. He says that they shall be “one flesh”.
What does it mean to be “one flesh”? Several times in the New Testament, this term is mentioned in reference to a husband and wife, and each time, it speaks of two becoming one…..two individuals….man and woman…becoming one. When the two become one, there is now only one head….the husband. Ephesians 5:23
– “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: …” So, we’re not talking about some “two-headed” monster. Since the husband is to be the head of the home, the wife’s role in the home is to be in submission to her husband. Ephesians 5:22
– “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord”. To be in submission means “to yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another”. Let me add right here, this is NOT just an outward act. True submission comes from within the heart. It’s very easy to submit on the outside and all the time be rebelling on the inside. If you are trying to live like that, I guarantee that you are having constant turmoil within. Real peace only comes when we acknowledge the God-given role of our husband as the head and we in submission to them.
Not only is there peace in submission, there is also protection. I wish I had been taught the BLESSING of submission as a young wife but unfortunately I am learning that many years later. Just a few years after we were married, God blessed us with our first child…..a new responsibility for both of us. One by one, as the babies came along, my responsibilities grew. In 1990, after much prayer, we began to homeschool our children. I now had a full-time/over-time “job” and I needed to realize my limitations. I just couldn’t do everything. I used to have a hard time saying “No” when asked to be in charge of or take part in a particular event. Because of this, I would find myself many times “in over my head” with responsibilities. Since the only kind of involvement our family had was church or homeschool related, these events were “good” in themselves but also very time-consuming. If you have ever found yourself in this situation, you will have to admit that most of the time some area will be neglected and many times it is your own family.
It wasn’t until I really began to acknowledge in my heart that Jim was the head of our home, that I had the freedom to say “No” when needed. Before, when I was asked to do things I would either say “Yes”, knowing in my heart that I shouldn’t be taking on anything else, or I would say “No” and then worry about it for weeks. Now, I go to my husband and tell him the situation, we discuss whether I should or shouldn’t agree to something and then I can give an answer. Either, “Yes, my husband said I could” or “I’m sorry, my husband said he didn’t think I should be taking any more on right now.” When Jim discourages me from doing something, he is simply protecting me from “overloading” myself. The best part about this is that I can walk away with a perfect peace, knowing that I did the right thing. You may think this is silly, but it’s a blessing to me. With submission there is an inner peace and there is protection. Let me add quickly about the protection. Since we are teaching courtship with our children as opposed to dating, our daughters have that protection knowing that any young man has to go through Daddy first. If God allows them to marry, that protection will be passed from Daddy to their husband.
So, being one-flesh with your husband, where two become one, means acknowledging that there is only one head now and that head is your husband as you submit inwardly as well as outwardly to him.
Quickly, I want to mention a few other things in reference to a woman’s role as a wife and then I’ll move on. Proverbs 31:11,12 says “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Our husbands should not have to worry about their needs being met in the home, whether physical or material. I Corinthians 7:3-5 says, “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” When two become one….one-flesh…their priorities change. They now should be concerned about pleasing their spouse. Verses 32-34 of that same chapter speaks on this: “But I would have you without carefulness.
He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” Let me add right here. So many young unmarried adults, desiring to be married but waiting on the Lord, often wonder what exactly their “purpose” is as a single Christian. This passage deals with that question as well.
And then, in the book of Titus, chapter 2, Paul lists characteristics and duties of both the aged and young men and women. Verse 4 says that the aged women are to teach the young women and one of the things they are to teach them is to love their husbands. How are they to teach this? I believe they are to teach by example. This may seem “elementary” to you…I would imagine that every married lady in here, if asked, would say, “Yes, I love my husband.” But, do our actions show it? Does our husband know that, after however many years of marriage, he’s still the most wonderful man….that you’d marry him all over again? Do your children know that Momma and Daddy love each other? Courtney doesn’t know it, but several weeks ago she paid her Daddy and I one of the best compliments she could ever give. Stephen and Caleb had orthodontist appointments and since the orthodontist is 2 ½ hours away, all of the children went with me and we made a day of it. I dropped Courtney and Joshua off at the mall with the little girls, and we went on to the orthodontist just a couple miles away. When we came back to pick them up, I wanted to go to the Dollar Tree that the kids had raved about the last time we had come. As we walked in the store, Courtney wanted to show me a picture frame she had seen that was just “perfect” for Daddy and I. I made my way through the store, somehow missing the frames, and as we were finishing looking, Courtney mentioned the frame again.
As the two of us walked back to that section, she was telling me how cute it was but she had no idea where I could put it. When we got to that aisle, she picked up a very different kind of frame. It looked just like a license plate…a red one with gold numbers and letters. The “license number” was NUTZ 4 U and the state was the “state of bliss”. I loved it! I told her it would look cute in my kitchen (my kitchen is red and white) and I could save it and give it to Daddy for our anniversary in July. As I thought about this later, it thrilled my heart to know that our 20 year-old daughter knows that Momma and Daddy are still “nuts” about each other. I believe, aside from parents that truly love the Lord, the best gift you can give your children are parents that love each other.
M – Mold Your Children.
When I think of the word “mold”, I think of The Potter, God, molding the clay, us, into useful vessels as it speaks of in Jeremiah 18. As Christian mothers, we can and should be instruments that God can use to mold our children. Our desire should be for our children to grow up to be vessels fit for the Master’s use. Molding our children into these vessels is a continual process. Our teaching and training time with them cannot be “here a little, there a little”. If a potter works on a lump of clay for a while and then sets it aside, intending to come back to it at a later date, what is going to happen to the clay? It will become hardened. So it is with children. If we neglect to teach and train them daily according to the principles found in God’s Word, there is danger of them becoming hardened to the things of the Lord.
How can we as mothers be used by God to “mold” our children? Deuteronomy 6:6 ,7 says, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:” What you teach your children must first be in your heart. If you are not allowing the Lord to speak to you DAILY through His Word, you cannot effectively teach your children. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” These verses tell me that I need to be speaking of the Lord and His Word throughout the day….while cooking supper, teaching math, folding laundry, playing, cleaning, etc…..I need to be sensitive to opportunities God gives me to apply Biblical principles to “day-to-day” situations.
I have found that the more time I spend in the Bible, the easier this is to do. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Whatever I have hid in my heart is going to naturally come out in my conversation.
There are many principles from God’s Word that we need to be teaching our children as we are used of God to mold them, but I would like to quickly name a few.
- We need to teach them of their need for a Saviour and God’s wonderful plan of salvation. Salvation is only through repentance and faith in the finished work of the cross. Romans 10:9
,10 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness ; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” And, II Peter 3:9
says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” I cannot save my children…they must each trust Christ as their own personal Saviour.
- We need to teach them the importance of reading God’s Word. Tell them how precious God’s Word is and how we need to love and treasure it. Psalm 119:97
says, “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” Our attitude toward the Bible will affect their attitude. But, we not only need to stress the importance of reading their Bible, but also to live it. James 1:22
says, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only…”
- Teach them the importance and privilege of prayer. Teach them, by example, to go to the Lord about everything….every burden…every decision to make. The last part of James 4:2
says, “ye have not because ye ask not” and then II Chronicles 16:9
says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” How many times have we missed having a burden lifted, or lacked wisdom in making the right decision simply because we didn’t ask? James 1:5
says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…” Teach your children the power of prayer.
- Teach them to be faithful to the Lord’s house. Hebrews 10:25
says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Psalm 92:13
,14 says, “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.” Teach them, once again by example, the importance of faithfulness to God’s house. Psalm 122:1
says, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Are you “glad” when Sunday morning comes? Children learn much by example.
- Teach them to choose godly friends. Proverbs 13:20
says, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” How many Christian young peoples’ testimonies or even lives have been destroyed simply because of a wrong friend? Psalm 119:63
“I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.” The right kind of friends will encourage and build you up in the faith. I heard a preacher once say, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you what you are or what you soon shall be.”
- Teach them that they can and should be godly examples to others, even in their youth. II Timothy 4:12
says, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Don’t believe the lie that it is “normal” for every child to “sow their wild oats.” Yes, some children will rebel. “…a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15
, but children do not have to go through a time of rebellion. Proverbs 20:11
says, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” We should expect godly behaviour even in our children if they are saved.
- Teach them the blessing of obedience as well as honour. Ephesians 6:1-3
says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” But not only teach them the blessing, but warn them of the danger of disobedience and disrespect. Proverbs 30:17
says, “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Proverbs 20:20
says, “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.” The obedience and respect that we are to teach them should not be only toward parents. Hebrews 13:17
says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” We need to stress the importance of respect and obedience toward our pastor, teachers, etc. It’s a sad day that we are living in. I’ve never seen so much disrespect for elders among children. The saddest part about this is that much of it goes on in our own churches. I’m reminded of the story in II Kings when the little children came forth and mocked Elisha. God brought swift punishment on these children. If you love your children, you will teach them the importance of obedience and respect for their elders.
- Teach them to one day teach their children. Psalm 78:1-7
says, “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” A favorite example of this is found in II Timothy 1:5
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Our desire for our children should not just be to see them grow up and remain faithful to the Lord. We should teach them to instruct their children also…and so on.
E- Encourage Other Women.
Again, in Titus 2:3-5, Paul speaks of the aged women’s responsibility to teach the young women. I just want to touch on this briefly because this can pertain to the woman’s role in the church as well as the home. I really believe that we as Christian ladies are lacking in this area and it is a burden on my heart. We need some Titus 2 women…women who will take the TIME to teach and encourage the young women and yes, it does take time. This teaching needs to start in the home as we train our daughters to be “Titus 2 young women”. And then, we need to be encouraging the young women in our church to pattern their lives according to the principles found in God’s Word. I came across this poem the other day in a little publication called WOMEN IN THE HARVEST, and it is so fitting for what I’m speaking of. I’d like to share it in closing. The title of the poem is:
SHOW ME THE WAY by Karen Groves