Recently, I attended a Bible study about true beauty, based on the book True Beauty by Carolyn Maheney and Nicole Whitacre During one of the sessions, we discussed how truly beautiful women of old put their hope in God and confidently trusted Him (1 Pet. 3:3-6) and were known for their good works (1 Tim. 5:3-10). At this point, our women's ministry leader, who was guiding the discussion, noted how moms of small children can become discouraged, believing that they are failing to be involved in "good works," and can sometimes even fall into the trap of viewing their children as hindering them from truly serving as they should be. She warned against believing these lies and explained how "good works" look different at different stages of our lives (single, married, caring for small children, caring for older children, empty nesters, etc.) She then encouraged young moms to realize that the work they were doing in caring for their husbands and children were, in essence, the "good works" specified in this 1 Tim. 5 passage:
"and is well known for good works-that is, if she has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints' feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to every good work."
(1 Tim. 5:10)
1. Brought up children. Caring for our children, training them in the fear of the Lord, sharing the Gospel with them- all of these are commands of God. We are obeying God and serving Him each day as we "bring up" our children. (Eph. 6:4)
2. Shown hospitality. I smiled as she jokingly noted that we are daily putting a roof over and providing food for our little ones. We are opening our home to them, sharing life with them, loving them, and welcoming them as Jesus has welcomed us into His family. (Rom. 15:7)
3. Washed the saints' feet. Washing feet was one of the lowest jobs, the jobs no one was jumping up to do (except servants and Jesus). And each and ever day, moms wash their little ones' feet- literally (have you ever seen a little boy's feet after a day of playing in the mud?) but also not so literally... changing diapers, kissing lots of boo-boos, changing bed-wet sheets in the middle of the night, giving cuddles to a sick little one, cleaning up throw-up from clothes and carpet. By God's grace and strength, washing the feet of our little ones in these ways can be joyful and worshipful as we serve them as we ourselves have been served by Jesus, our humble Servant-leader.
4. Helped the afflicted. Jesus is an ever present help in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). As we gently cover scrapes and bruises with Mickey Mouse band-aids, give hugs when feelings have been hurt, listen to them share their hurts and struggles, and pray for them and discipline them and share the Gospel with them as they struggle with sin and rebellion as we have- in all these ways, we can be an ever-present help to them. And we can share with them that Jesus is our ultimate Help and can be theirs too. We may fail at helping, but He never will.
5. Devoted herself to every good work. Doing our work as moms with devotion and a servants' heart. It is a good reminder to me to devote myself to "every good work," whether it is changing a diaper, kissing and cuddling a little one who is learning to walk and has fallen and hit her head for the tenth time that day, praying for my husband, bringing a meal to someone, or sharing the Gospel with our neighbors. Some of these may seem more "godly" than others, but God has ordained every good work that He has me to do (Eph. 2:10). And all things, even the daily events of eating and drinking can be done for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31).
Looking at my day as a mom through this perspective was very encouraging to me. And while I should be seeking to show hospitality and wash the feet of others outside my family, especially those in the church body, it was a good reminder that God has given me a sweet little girl to serve and care for each day- to bring her up in the fear of the Lord, to wash her tiny feet, to help her, and to be devoted to caring for her- all for His glory and praise.