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In Titus 2, Paul instructs the older women to “teach” the younger women (v. 3)—literally, to “bring them to their senses.” He uses a form of the same word in verse 5, where his list of training necessities includes being “self-controlled.”
Coming to our senses. Isn’t that where humility begins for wives and mothers? A busy mother has twenty things swirling about her mind throughout the day. Add in the various emotions, interruptions, and surprises, and it’s easy to feel as if our minds are anything but “controlled.” But part of growing in godliness as wives and mothers is learning how to cultivate and maintain a sound mind, particularly about who God is and who we are in relation to Him. This “right thinking” or “sensibleness” is key to walking in humility as we learn to love our husbands and children (v. 4).
The humility that comes from a self-controlled mind starts in Genesis. There we see that God is the Creator and we are the created. This is a very basic truth, but the discipline of living in light of it is part of hard-won, Spirit-wrought maturity. With this Creator-creature reality as the foundation, let’s look at three ways that wives and mothers can cultivate the humility that comes from a life of right thinking.
humility chooses to submit
The word submit immediately causes us to think of a wife’s relation to her husband. But before we submit to our husbands, we must submit to our Creator. He is a God of order who has created His world to operate in a certain way. It is my duty as a creature to understand as best I can how this order works itself out in my life. If He has given any written instructions—and He has—I should read them carefully and obey them. His Word clearly shows a created order within the family. The husband is the head of the wife (Eph. 5:23), and the wife is to willingly submit to that leadership and authority.
In addition to submitting to God’s design for the husband’s authority, mothers must submit to God’s design for parenting. We work alongside our husbands to “bring [our children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4)—no small task. But because we are submitted to God’s design, we don’t shrink back from it. We labor by faith day after day, entrusting the results to the Lord even when the training is tiring, inconvenient, or seemingly fruitless.
humility acknowledges sin
I married a sinner—and so did my husband. Humility in both marriage and motherhood requires right thinking about sin. As a wife, I must acknowledge my sinful tendency to rebel against my husband’s leadership, whether through coldness, manipulation, or unspoken thoughts. I must remember how persistent my remaining sin is and vigilantly be on the lookout for subtle ways that it is damaging the relationship. I must point out the log in my own eye before I point out the speck in my husband’s eye. And there will be specks. Husbands are imperfect leaders who will make mistakes and fail to serve as they ought. Right thinking about my husband’s sin will result in a humility that freely forgives, does not hold a grudge, and rejoices in every evidence of the Lord’s sanctifying work in him.
For mothers, this sound thinking can provide a beautiful example of confessing and turning from sin. When I sin against my children, rather than excusing the sin, I should acknowledge it and humbly ask for their forgiveness.
humility depends on the spirit
Finally, a self-controlled mind understands both the importance of growth in godliness and the impossibility of that growth apart from the Holy Spirit. “Coming to our senses” about this utter inability to be the wives and mothers God has called us to be will bring us often to our knees, crying out in prayer for that which He alone can give and do. Lord, I’m not sure how to apply the gospel to my son’s disobedience. Help me! Lord, I disagree with my husband about this decision and am not sure how to respectfully voice my concerns. Give me wisdom! We will humbly acknowledge that eight hours of sleep will not alone make us patient mothers and that reading the best books on marriage will not in itself make us godly wives. We need the Holy Spirit—to give us wisdom, to expose our sin, to illuminate the Scriptures, to make godliness beautiful to us. Thankfully, it is our Father’s delight to give us this Spirit.