In Titus 2 Paul instructs the "older women" to "encourage the young women to love their husbands..." In some translation it reads "teach". But, you may ask, if a woman falls in love with a man and they marry, why would they need to be taught how to love their husband if she is already in love with him? That is a very good question! The answer is that "falling in love" is not what the Bible talks about when it comes to marriage. If you can fall IN love, then you can (and will) fall OUT OF love! The love spoken of in the Bible is a love that is a commitment to the object of the love. It is very similar to the friendship kind of love - putting the object of your love before yourself, desiring to bless them and please them. But before I get into that subject (in a later letter), I'd like to talk to the young women who are not married yet. At this time, none of my daughters in my home are married, but that doesn't mean that this command to teach them to love their husbands can be ignored by me or them!
When you are a daughter at home, you can practice loving your husband! Until you are married, you are under the protection, provision and instruction of your father. God calls you to honor your father, and no where in scriptures does it say you outgrow this command! Honoring your father can be excellent preparation for being a help-meet to your husband someday...at least the kind of loving support that I am talking about.
So, how does "honoring your father" look? How can that prepare you to love your husbands? It can in many ways. The kind of love and honor I am talking about is that of a commitment to improve their life, to support them in their work and ministry, and to make them know they are loved.
The most important thing you can do to honor and love your father is to pray for him! He has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and faces our evil world everyday to supply our needs! Pray for his protection, wisdom, strength against temptation, spiritual growth, good health. Praying for someone will always increase your love for that person. You can also ask him if there's anything you can specifically pray for - knowing that you are praying for your father will mean so much to him! And, of course, praying for your father will establish a habit that will convert over nicely to praying for your husband when you are married. Speaking of praying for your husband...have you ever prayed for your future husband? God knows him intimately and even now you can be praying that God would bless him and teach him, to protect him from evil, and mold him to be the godly husband you hope to have!
The kind of honor and love I am talking about also takes getting to know your father - what he likes, what displeases him, what his purpose in life is, what his ministry is...and maybe he doesn't even know these things himself, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have them! You need to study your father, get to know him, spend time with him listening to him, asking questions to draw him out. What does he like, what are his favorite foods, what is his favorite thing to do, what does he like to read, what are his hopes and dreams? Find out more about your dad than anybody, besides your mom, knows about him! Then take what you have learned and try to please him. Make meals/snacks that he likes. Use the Golden Rule - "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - do things for your father that you know would please you! Offer to help him out with his projects (it's OK to get dirty/greasy). Ask him to teach you the things he knows, especially things that will help you care for your family someday - like how to fix plumbing, a lawn mower, change the oil in a car and more! If your father has a hobby, try it out. Even if it's a "guy thing" - some male hobbies are quite fun! Working side by side with your father will be so special. Men are not prone to sharing their heart with others...but when you spend time with your father doing something he enjoys, it will give opportunity for special talks as well!
Thinking about your father during the day, and planning to do things for him once he gets home from work, will create a deeper love for your father. Many young girls look at their father from a viewpoint of what their fathers do for them - protection, provision, fix their things, and the maker of the rules in her life. But they can be so much more! When you invest yourself in someone else, you will deepen your relationship with that person in ways that will last a lifetime. I wish I had done this, but it's too late as my father passed away a few years ago. So let me encourage you to do this for your father, no matter how old you are, or if your relationship with your father has taken a few hits through the years. Commit to loving your father in tangible ways, day in and day out, giving him the respect and honor that God commands and going that much farther and becoming his loving daughter.
But what about submitting to and obeying your father? Let's assume that in general you obey your father and do as he asks...but is that all you should do? When you obey your father, you are practicing how to honor your husband. When you act in accordance with your father's wishes even when he is not present, you are practicing to love your husband and you are pleasing God, your heavenly father! When you are married, your husband will have ideas about how a home should be run, what activities he likes to have his wife involved in and how his wife interacts with others in her world. But he will not be with his wife 24 hours a day. Your father is not with you 24 hours a day, but that does not mean that if he is not there, that you can act anyway you please...you still need to live according to his preferences and rules at all times. By committing to living your life according to your father's (and your heavenly Father's) will, you are learning to curb your sinful nature and gain self control. This is not easy! This is impossible in our own strength as our nature as women is to put ourselves and our desires first and take any opportunity to fulfill those desires when no one is looking! But, much like your Father in heaven, he will find out. What you do when you are not in his presence, will usually get back to him somehow...and even if it doesn't, disobedience always damages relationships. When you have gone against your father wishes, the next time you are with your father your will hold back that part of your life from him and your will be dishonest with him.
What about when you are making decisions? Are you wise in your own eyes, or do you realize that your father is a source of wisdom? Granted, not all fathers are filled with Godly wisdom, but if your father is a believer then this is most likely true, and if he is not a believer, he has lived longer than you and understands the world around you much better! Talk to your dad when you are needing to make decisions and listen to him. You might not like what he suggests, but dad's have been around and they know things you do not know. Unless what your father tells you is contrary to God's word, you should put great importance to what he says. If you are unsure about anything - activities to participate in, what subjects to study, where to volunteer your time, how to help your mother, how to spend your money, what clothes are acceptable to wear...ask your father and listen to him. So many times women and girls will ask the man in their life for his opinion, but when that opinion does not line up with the girl's/women's opinion, the women/girls will react in defensiveness and reject that opinion. We, as women, like to have our own way (it started with Eve). When the men in our lives do not agree with us we are tempted (and usually give in to this temptation) to rationalize our way out of listening to and honoring the men in our lives. So I encourage you to ask for his opinion/help and take it...don't discuss it, just take it to heart and take some time to think about it, and see why he would recommend/suggest what he did! You can ask him to elaborate on his opinion and why he feels that way...but sometimes he might not know exactly why or may not think it prudent to explain it in detail to you...so you may just have to take his word for it! Pray about it and ask God to show you what to do...but don't reject anything your father suggests just because it doesn't line up with your wants and desires.
What about his ministry? Does that seem strange to you? Event though your father is not a pastor or a missionary, every Christian father has a ministry whether or not he realizes it! In Deuteronomy 6, God's word says to father (and mothers), "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I commend you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children..." His ministry in your home is to teach your family about God. Think about what it takes to have family devotions in your home and work to make it as easy as possible for your father to do this. In our home, in order for us to have a time as a family to study God's word with my husband, we have to plan and execute having dinner on time, and have the books needed within arms reach, and all the children willing to remain at the table when they are finished eating...we also need to be very careful not to make too many evening commitments, as when we have events in the evening it never fails that we run from the dinner table not even thinking about taking the time to read together! So think through and plan out what it takes to get your home set up to make having family Bible time possible and commit to executing that plan every day! Make a list...dinner ingredients in the house (thawed if need be), dishes clean, table set, dinner started on time...what ever it takes!
When you give your father the honor and respect I just described, it will uplift him and encourage him. It will cause him to take his role as your father more seriously! So many men (and women) today have succumbed to our world's flawed portrayal of a father and husband..they are the bread winner and their job in life is to keep the women in their lives happy, 'cuz "if momma ain't happy, aint nobody happy". But that is so wrong! We as women are called by God to support, encourage, help and love the men in our lives and make them happy!
What if your father is not a believer, does that change my advice to you? Not really. Not unless he commands you to do something contrary to God's word. Loving and honoring your father as I have shown you today can be a powerful tool that God can use in your father's life to draw him to the things of God...this kind of daughter is not heard of in the world (and even in most Christian circles) today. He will take notice. And in this case, praying for your father is even more vitally important!
So, prepare to be a godly help-meet to your husband by being a godly, helpful daughter to your father...you'll never regret it.
All My Love,