Admonish the young women to . . . love their husbands. That's the very first thing Paul instructs Titus to instruct older women to instruct younger women. Love your husband. If you've been in church much or ever heard someone teach on this verse, you probably already know that the Greek word for love here is not the same word used in Ephesians 5 when Paul instructs husbands to love their wives. The Greek word here is phileo. The Strong's concordance gives these synonyms for its first definition: to approve of, to like, to sanction, to treat affectionately and kindly, to welcome, to befriend. Now that's a lot to chew on right there!
There are many things on my heart and mind to share about that, but let's just take one thing at a time and begin to build our lives, brick by brick, around the transforming construct of God's Word. Last night as I went to bed thinking about this blog, I had in mind what I would write about. But this morning as I lifted up my soul to the Lord and asked Him what was first on His mind for this topic, since this is the first about loving our husbands, a different thought came to mind. Oh, yes, of course this is first! So my original idea will wait for another time.
God is teaching me that the very best way we can befriend anyone is to pray for them. Prayer is the one of the highest forms of love. When we don't love someone, we typically find it difficult to pray for them, or we don't even think about praying for them. We may think about talking with them and giving them a piece of our minds, or arguing with them; or we simply put them out of our minds. But to really pray for someone takes focused thought on that person.
Sometimes we pray for someone (and maybe especially our husbands) in this way: Lord, CHANGE him! And we tell the Lord all our frustrations and angst toward that person. Well, that might more accurately be an exercise in loving ourselves rather than loving our husbands. So let's begin to view prayer through the lens of love. How can I love my husband through prayer—according to the definition given above? What would I pray for to make him feel more welcome, more liked?
We can begin first of all to pray that our husbands would begin to comprehend the magnitude of love God has for him—and that God would use us as the channel of His love. We can pray that the receptor of his heart would be tuned in to hear the voice of the Lord. We can pray that he would grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, that God would give him a hunger for His Word, discernment and wisdom in daily decisions, and continual communion with God in prayer throughout the day. We can pray for his encouragement, for strength, for blessing. Think of all the ways you would like to be encouraged and understood and built up and prayed for. Then pray those things for him! Wouldn't that be loving him as we love ourselves?
Start small. I'm not asking you to make some major commitment that lays a burden on you that you could never shoulder and that will just lead to more failed-duty guilt! I'm becoming a fan of the 1-minute challenge. That's doable. Just pray for your husband for 1 minute a day. (There are 2 benefits of the 1-minute-a-day prayer: it's not burdensome; and generally speaking, you'll end up praying longer without realizing it.) This week, pray for his blessing. Pray that he will sense the welcoming kindness and affection of God.
But what about all the ways he DOES need to change? That's the topic for next week. Even if you're feeling tense and truthfully a little (or maybe a lot!) mad at him, table those things just for this week. (Do you know what I mean by that? Just set all that aside in a stack to take care of at another time; they won't go away, trust me!) For this week, would you commit to just one minute a day to pray positive, uplifting prayers for your husband—even if you don't feel like it? Ask God to teach you to love your husband through prayer. Through prayer lift the burdens, soothe the weariness, see the man who needs the affection only you can give.