by Marci Julin
It's that time of year again when advertisements for chocolate, flowers, and bling bombard us from every source--or hopefully our husbands anyway! Advertisers know how women's hearts long for romance, and they happily offer men endless suggestions on how to fulfill that longing. Although the holiday primarily focuses on couples, all monetary expressions of love are, of course, encouraged. Since a shortage of funds often prevents my family from diving head-long into the Valentine's fray, my thoughts have turned to types of gifts that, to borrow from the MasterCard add campaign, are priceless. I decided to create a few of my own priceless scenarios. See what you think:
A dozen red roses--$30. Dinner for two at your favorite restaurant--$35. A card telling your wife how beautiful and wonderful she is--$4. A grateful wife--Priceless!
A dress that makes your man sit up and take notice--$40 (or if you're like me, $10 at Good Will). High-heels--$30. A friend who owes you and will take the kids for the night--Priceless!
A box of children's Valentine's--$4. Cupcake fixings properly prepared--$5. Two hours of time volunteering at your child's school class party--exhausting. The words, "You're the best mommy in the world!" spoken as you tuck your child into bed--Priceless!
As I contemplated priceless gifts, thoughts resurfaced of a simple yet significant biblical discovery I once made while studying a familiar passage. Titus 2:4 speaks of a woman's gifts of affection to her husband and children that has unfortunately been lost in our English translations. Let me show you what I mean. Here it is in three translations:
Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children... (NIV)
and so train the young women to love their husbands and children ... (ESV)
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children... (KJV)
That sounds straight-forward enough, but in actuality, all of them fall short of adequately conveying the entire original meaning. The King James Version comes closest to accurately conveying the meaning by at least separating the husbands from the children and using the word love twice. In the original Greek, Paul used two completely separate words in Titus 2:4 for love, and although they both come from the same root word, phileo, they are two distinct and different words.
The first word used for love means, fond of man; i.e. affectionate as a wife (Strongs #5362). Although your first thoughts of wifely affections probably include sexual intimacy, the word for that type of love is completely different. Oddly, the affections implied here in this unusual word, found nowhere else in the New Testament, appear to be general in nature. It could literally be translated, husband lover. What kind of picture does that phrase evoke in your mind? It's meant to convey images of kindness, affection, and pleasant expressions.
Life can so easily distract us wives from being husband lovers. Throughout the day, however, multiple opportunities arise for a wife to show fondness for her man. For example, when your man comes through the front door, who greets him and how? When he complains of aching shoulders, how do you respond? When he leaves for work, does he go out the door with a kiss and kind words? When he's had a rough day, does he go to bed at least glad that he married you?
What expresses affection to your man may vary from mine, but as husband lovers, we should find what works. I discovered a simple way recently. Awhile back Seth started wearing boots and, being the world's most inflexible man, leaning over to take off his boots at the end of a long day proved harder than you might imagine. In comes Marci to the rescue! I now demonstrate love to him daily by removing his boots. In his mind, I'm a wonderful wife, and it only takes thirty seconds of effort. Men truly are simple creatures compared to women.
Some days, I will be so proud of myself for the ways I demonstrate loving affection to my husband, and then blow it by showing my irritation and anger with little provocation when he fails to meet my expectations. This often leads to stretches of time, when I'm ashamed to say, I would definitely not be labeled a husband lover. There have been times I've asked what he wants from me? His simple response remains constant, All I want is for you to be nice to me. That, dear sisters, is what Paul is trying to tell us in Titus 2:4. Proverbs 31:12 characterizes this concept by saying, She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. So, when I mess up, again, I'm thankful that God invented forgiveness, and that my husband willingly offers the same when I ask for it.
Going back to our original verse now, I want to briefly discuss the fact that Titus 2:4 also says to love your children. The verb here simply means, fond of one's children, i.e. maternal (Strongs #5388). Again, it could literally be translated, children lover. Do you truly enjoy time with your children, and find breaks from school too short? Does your tone generally have a kind ring to it when you speak to your child(ren)? Have your children grown used to kisses, hugs, tickles, and other expressions of affection from their mommy? Do they hear and feel in a hundred different ways that you're crazy about them? If so, congratulations, you're a children lover!
Because we all know how important context is to correctly understanding the Word of God, I want to conclude with some thoughts along those lines. Paul precedes Titus 2 with a warning for Christians not to be misled by those who claim to know God, but by their actions deny him (Titus 1:16). Instead, he says that Christians should follow the teaching of sound doctrine. In this modern age of women's liberation, Paul's words provide a good reminder to all Christians of what priceless gifts of affection women should be offering to their families. This task must not take the back seat to other responsibilities for the believer who desires to please the LORD. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers describes the context of Titus 2, as well as verse four specifically in this way:
Women as well as men preferred rather to do something for religion and for God... Their work, let them remember, lay not abroad in the busy world. Their first duty was to make home life beautiful by the love of husband and child—that great love which ever teaches forgetfulness of self.
This Valentine's day and all the days that follow let's be husband lovers and children lovers, as God desires. We can make home a safe and loving haven for those God has blessed us with and create countless priceless gifts.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on what I've said. I would also love to hear your personal creations following the concepts in this article and in the format of the Mastercard priceless scenarios.
i.e. A bottle of massage oils--$8. A CD of relaxing music--$15. A variety of candles for atmosphere--$20. A husband who is relaxed and happy after a massage--Priceless!