Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Working at Home

Leslie Basham: Mary Kassian says we all need to seek God for His will, for the specific things He's called us to right now.

Mary Kassian: A woman's life goes through seasons. There's a season, often, of singleness; there's a season sometimes where you're married and yet there are no children; there is a season when you have young children; there's a season when you have older children, and there's a season when your children are all leaving home, as mine are, and then there's a season when everyone's gone and no one's coming back on a regular basis.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for April 20, 2015.

Last week Nancy and our guest, Mary Kassian, began taking us through Titus chapter 2. This chapter is full of insights for us as women.

Nancy and Mary wrote about Titus 2 in their new workbook, True Woman 201: Interior Design. We'll send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Just call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Here are Nancy and Mary to continue talking about True Woman 201.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, Mary, we're over halfway through this series on True Woman 201: Interior Design. We've been looking at these elements, one at a time, that make up a beautiful woman of God. We've looked at the whole area of discernment—how a true woman is characterized by right thinking. And we've come back to that again and again.

Mary: It seems like we're coming back to a lot of them. They all mesh one into another.

Nancy: They do, and they all take us back to the Word of God, to the authority of God in our lives, that our lives are intentional, they're purposeful, they're not just lived haphazardly, but we're women of discernment.

And then the second one we said was so foundational.

Mary: Reverence—that honoring God in our lives is the foundation of life. We ought to live in a way that we are always aware of His presence and living out temple-appropriate behavior. We are to be women who are truly reverent of God in the way that we think and we speak and we act.

Nancy: And then we came to a woman who loves family: she loves husband, she loves children . . . and that was your anniversary day.

Mary: That was my anniversary day. You surprised me! You really did. I had no idea that while the tape was rolling my husband was going to call in and wish me a happy anniversary!

Nancy: You were wrecking your makeup.

Mary: I was. They had to dab it all off.

Nancy: I just wanted to see if you really love your husband. I knew you did, but it was really obvious. And he loves you.

Mary: He's a sweetheart.

Nancy: We talked about loving husbands and children. And then, true women are self-controlled.

Mary: That was a convicting one!

Nancy: That is one of the two hardest ones for me. We're getting to another harder one later on, but that self-control one . . .

Mary: I think that is the hardest for me, because I tend to be a procrastinator sometimes.

Nancy: It has to do with making wise, intentional choices—not just drifting through life but being purposeful.

Mary: And not just self-help or having willpower, but actually walking in the Spirit.

Nancy: Depending on the grace of God.

Mary: And when we walk in the Spirit, we gain more self-control.

Nancy: We're gaining it as we grow. And then in the last session we looked at virtue, or as it says in Titus 2, "purity." A true woman cultivates this goodness as a reflection of the purity of Christ. We as women have an opportunity to tell the "bride part" of the story of Christ's love for His Bride. He wants a pure Bride, one who has kept herself for Him.

Mary: And that's a really unpopular message. It's hard sometimes, because we struggle in those areas—I know a lot of women do. We feel guilty because of our impurity, but the good news is that in Jesus Christ, as we confess our sins, He's faithful and He's just and He makes us pure and cleanses us (see 1 John 1:9).

Nancy: All of these are unpopular, as you think about them, and that's because we have an enemy who hates God. He wants to tear down at every opportunity he has God's way, God's plan. So he always proposes a counter to God's plan.

Mary: He does that by something that is just a bit off, sometimes it is something more obvious. But it is to get us off-track and thinking in a way that's not godly, that's not biblical.

Nancy: And nowhere is that more true than in the element we're going to look at today. Let's go back to the passage. The apostle Paul says,

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure [and then we come to this next one which sounds like a dinosaur] working at home (Titus 2:3–5).

Now there are some others we'll come to in the next weeks: kind, submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled.

But this word "working at home" actually in the original language is one word. It's a compound word: the first part of it is a word for house or home, and then the second part of it means to work or keep guard, to watch over. So working in the context of her home. I think the NIV translation says "busy at home."

Mary: One of them says "homemakers."

Nancy: The old King James that we grew up on says "keepers at home," which goes back to that part of a keeper or a guard. But in essence, working at home means . . . what?

Mary: Working at home means women have a unique responsibility tied to the home in a unique way to guard and to have a heart for the home—to keep it as a priority.

Nancy: So it has to do with being devoted to the home, with being (now here's another old word) "domestically inclined."

Mary: That is an old word!

Nancy: And it conjures up images of . . .

Mary: For me, it's canning fruit.

Nancy: Or feeling that your whole life revolves around doing household things. I don't even know how to describe domestic, because it's not me.

Mary: Suzy Homemaker.

Nancy: I actually cooked dinner for us last night. I told you I have two recipes, and you had one of them.

Mary: You did. It was delicious. It was a really good recipe.

Nancy: Thank you. But I have friends who cook up a storm, who have spotless homes. You're a great decorator. And to be "domestically inclined" makes you think you have to be good at all those things.

Mary: Or like Martha Stewart and have everything in order, everything pristine. But I don't think that's exactly what the word is.

Nancy: It's more "a heart for home." We'll see that there's a lot of ministry that can flow out of that. One commentator we read said that this means "an efficient management of household responsibilities." So we've called this element "responsibility."

It's, what are a woman's responsibilities in a given season of her life? How does she maintain the right work priorities?

Mary: Because work is important. I'm often asked by women who come to conferences, "Well, should women work?"

Nancy: You say, "What woman doesn't?"

Mary: Yes. Women should work, and we all work, and work is important to God. God values work, and He is the greatest worker of all. Jesus said, "My Father is about His business, and He's always working." He's always working on our behalf. So, when we do work for the glory of God, we're really demonstrating who God is.

So work is a very good and a very positive thing.

Nancy: It puts the very character of God on display. In fact, I think of the Lord Jesus. He had His earthly ministry for three years beginning about age thirty, but what was He doing before that?

Mary: He was in a carpentry shop, probably cutting boards and hammering nails and flexing His muscles, moving things and probably being told what to do, often, in His apprenticeship, as He learned to be a carpenter.

Nancy: So was that less significant? He was doing the work that God gave Him to do at that season, and what a great example that is.

Mary: That is the example, because it has to do with what season of life we're in and what our responsibilities are in any given season, and that's how we decide where to put our energy with work. Work is good, and work is honorable in the eyes of God. God values work.

Nancy: We need to be intentional and strategic in the way we use our time. We've only got a certain number of hours in a day and a certain amount of energy.

Mary: Everybody's got twenty-hours in a day.

Nancy: And not just existing, not just surviving, but fulfilling those good works God created us for. In fact, I love that verse in Ephesians that says, "In eternity past God ordained good works, that we should walk in them (see Eph. 2:10). So He has set out a path for us of works that glorify Him, and every day it's getting up and saying, "What is the good work You have for me to do today?"

Mary: And that's not always obvious. I think that sometimes we divide work into these categories: this is spiritual stuff, stuff that honors God, and this is just mundane, ordinary stuff.

Nancy: Carpentry, for Jesus.

Mary: Right. Cleaning a house, making a bed, going over a schedule, driving our kids to school; that's mundane, that's not really work for God.

Nancy: And then there are women who are in a season of life where they're doing a lot of that, who are coming to us and saying, "But I want a ministry!" And we look at them and say . . .

Mary: "You have a ministry!"

Nancy: The work you are doing in this season of your life, in serving your family well, is good work. It's ministry work; it's for the glory of God.

Mary: It is for the glory of God, and God calls us to work hard and not to be idle.

Nancy: That word "idle" is important, and it came out a lot as we were studying this concept. There are a lot of warnings in Scripture about not being idle. In fact, Paul says numerous times, "If you don't work, if you're going to be idle, then you don't eat!

Mary: "You're as bad as an unbeliever," is what he says, if you're not working to meet the needs of your family. So the point here, in the passage, when it says "working at home," I think there is that emphasis on work and that work is a good thing, and that work, when done for the glory of God, glorifies God (regardless how trivial or inconsequential we might think that work is).

When we do it with our energy and with all diligence and according to our responsibilities for that season in life, then that work glorifies God. So when a woman is in the marketplace and is a single woman and she has a career and is balancing a spreadsheet or doing something else, her work is meaningful. Her work matters to God, and her work is for the glory of God.

And for women also, who are married, in various seasons, work can happen in different locations.

Nancy: Let me back up just for a moment. This passage talks about women being workers at home, and that leads to something that I think is very controversial, and even among believers not understood well in our day. In Scripture you do see (back to Genesis and then into the New Testament) a gender-specific emphasis on work responsibility.

Now, this can get a little thorny, but let's unpack that for a minute.

Mary: That is so true. We saw that as we studied True Woman 101 and went through Genesis and walked through the first three chapters in Genesis. Even in Creation, as God created us—He created man and He created woman—there was a difference in how He created us.

He gave men a distinct responsibility for provision, for providing for the home, for providing for the family. Now, that doesn't mean exclusive. That doesn't mean that a woman cannot provide financially or that there are not situations in which she does . . . or that she cannot.

Nancy: But it does mean that he bears the primary responsibility to see that the provision is taking place.

Mary: . . . to see that everything's well looked after in terms of the financial needs of the family. Woman, on the other hand, has this unique connection to the home, to nurturing and to mothering and to looking after the environment that is the home. She has the responsibility to make that a place of life and growth and vitality.

That doesn't mean that a man doesn't do that as well. Of course he does that as well, and he contributes. But there is a unique responsibility on the shoulders of woman; that a woman is tied to the home in a unique way. And that is a totally cultural inappropriate message, a counter-cultural message to the hilt.

Nancy: And to say that male/female roles are not identical, and they are not interchangeable. We need both.

Mary: We need both.

Nancy: There are situations where a woman is under a circumstance where she's having to raise her family alone, and there isn't a man. God gives grace for those exceptions. But I think we have to keep coming back to His ideal—that in the home there is a husband, there is a wife, and they are bearing responsibility for overseeing different parts of the whole equation. When they do that well, together, then they have a home that can bring great glory to God.

Mary: I always talk to my daughters-in-law (they're young, and they're just entering into marriage and the whole journey and the whole adventure), and I say that you have to understand the seasonal nature of a woman's life. A woman's life goes through these seasons.

There's a season, often, of singleness; there's a season sometimes where you're married and yet there are no children, and then there's a season when you have young children; there's a season when your children are older, and then there's a season when your children are all leaving home (as mine are), and then there's a season when everyone's gone and no one's coming back on a regular basis.

So it's very seasonal, and I think that impacts a woman's life in a different way than it impacts a man's life, in terms of her daily routine.

Nancy: It changes her job description and what her priorities are will look very different from one season to the next.

Mary: Exactly. And that's why we titled it "responsibility," because it has to do with what our responsibility is, given that season of our lives.

Nancy: And yet Paul, I think, is saying here (make sure that these older women teach the younger women) whatever you're doing, don't neglect the priority of the home. And it comes back to, again, God has a heart for home.

Mary: He really does.

Nancy: And that's a context in which life is nurtured, life is formed, the gospel is shaped, the legacy is passed on, the beauty of God's family plan is seen and comes to play. So don't feel what you're doing out there (where you're earning a paycheck and you may be getting more kudos and more pats on the back) . . . don't be deceived and think that working outside the home is monumentally more important or more significant or more valuable than what may be more unseen and unthanked when what you're doing is to make your family a priority.

Mary: I think we need to remember, also, that the physical speaks to the spiritual. So home is important because home is important to God and because our heavenly home is important to God. And Scripture talks even about Christ going to prepare a home for us; that's an important thing.

Nancy: I love thinking about the fact that He is a home-maker.

Mary: He's making, preparing, a home for us, and home is important, family is important and we live that out as redeemed people. We live that out as a stunning and counter-cultural example to the world of what redeemed womanhood looks like.

Nancy: So working at home, in whatever season of life that may be . . . It looks different for you than it does for me, and it looked different for you ten years ago than it looks today.

Mary: I also want to put a caveat in there. I think it looks different from woman to woman, because women are gifted differently. They have different bents. It doesn't mean that she's the only one who cooks the meals, or she's the one who sweeps the floor. It talks about a good manager, so she ensures that the home is orderly and running well. That doesn't mean that she's the one that does everything in the house.

It's important to know that, because, you said yourself, you're not the greatest cook. I don't mind cooking, but there are different strengths, there are different things we excel at, there are different things we do just because they need to get done, and there are different members of my household . . . As my children were growing up, they needed to assume some responsibility, also, for caring for the home.

Nancy: You were just telling me what a great cook your son has become.

Mary: Oh, he's an amazing cook! In fact, it makes me a little nervous to be cooking for him, because he'll come into the kitchen, and I won't have the right spices in the meat. Yeah, he's a great cook.

Nancy: But I think we, as women, need to be asking questions based on the season of life, based on the priorities God has given us in that season: "Am I making sure that my home is cared for, and does my home reflect the beauty and the order of Christ? Is it a place where people are ministered to, where they are blessed, where they are encouraged?"

So it's not ultimately about cooking or cleaning. Those things can be big contributing parts. I'll tell you, Mary, as a single woman, I've been so blessed to have families in my life who include singles in their home, in their family, who make a home for those who maybe are without family in the area.

I have some dear friends who have four young children, and they have a tiny little house, a little kitchen and a little adjoining dining area, and a great big long table, and they put a zillion people around that table. They bring in students, they bring in middle-aged women like me, they bring in couples and families and children.

It's a beehive; it's full. You can hardly make your way around because it's so full of people, and they do this often, and they eat together, and they fellowship together, and they talk together. It's not fancy; it's not anything you'd put in a magazine, but it's rich, and it's real ministry happening.

Mary: And I think that's what we often lose in terms of the home. I think of my own home, how much ministry has happened in those walls—the times we have knelt in the living room with someone to pray with them, to pray over them, to work through some issue that they're having in their live, inviting in people who are less fortunate, providing meals, just providing a home environment.

I think of one young man in his twenties who came, and after spending the evening at our home sent us a lengthy email the next day to Brent and I. It expressed how much it meant for him. He said, "You have no idea how much it means to me, and how it ministered to me, to just be in a normal family."

Nancy: Which isn't normal for so many people.

Mary: [He said] "It gives me hope that I can overcome the limitations of my broken family situation and be a good husband and father in the future." It was such a touching email.

Nancy: And that can be done by women in any season of life—married, single. The Lord has blessed me with a home, and I love using it to bring people in.

Mary: You do it so well.

Nancy: I've had people live in my home, at different holidays and anytime, spontaneously bringing people in (it may be one or two, it may be a whole houseful) to bless them, to pray with them, to serve them. You know, you can get all hung up on . . . I have full days, a full life, so for me to cook a full meal for a lot of people doesn't happen very often.

Mary: You have two recipes.

Nancy: I have two recipes, and I'm good at acquiring food. I can find it. And it doesn't have to be a spread. It can just be very simple, but to say, "I'm opening my heart to you; I'm opening my home to you." This is the context in which so much life takes place—not only for those who are guests in our home, but for your own family, your own children, and you.

You think of how many children are growing up in a home today where the family never sits down to eat together, where they never have anything but fast food. I'm not saying everything has to be made from scratch.

Mary: But if your home is a place for ministry, that's a way of discipling your children, of teaching your children that life is not all about them.

Nancy: Oh, that was such a huge thing when I was growing up! We were blessed with a large home, and I can remember my dad always saying, "This is not for us. We don't need all this. But this is for us to be a blessing to others." And they would invite people in by the droves. There were always people coming into our home.

My mother had an amazing gift of hospitality, and we would help. We would hull strawberries for the dinner, or we would be involved in the clean up or the setting up. We'd see people come to know the Lord. We'd see marriages getting repaired, we'd see and hear conversation about the Lord.

That put into my heart such a sense of the value of the ministry that takes place in the home.

Mary: There is ministry that takes place in the home, and I think that sometimes when we talk about women at home, there can be some women who go to an extreme where they idolize home and they idolize marriage and they idolize family. They forget that to which it points.

And they focus so much on the earthly things—on having a pristine home, or doing this and that for their children—and they forget that, ultimately, the reason for home and family is to expand the home and family of God—so that it points to our heavenly home, and to teach people what that is like.

Nancy: And you really learned that from your mom, and you were telling me the other day, what? At age eighty-seven she still has this heart?

Mary: Yeah, my mom just has this heart for hospitality. I probably didn't pick up on it as much as she has it, definitely, but I have learned so much from her! She's eighty-seven, my dad is eighty-nine, and she's still once or twice a week having people into their home. She'll often have young people who are going to college or something. She calls those "young folk." They invite those "young folk" over.

Nancy: Well, pretty much anybody is young folk to her, right?

Mary: I know, when you're eighty-seven and eighty-nine. But it's just a tremendous testimony of using home and continuing on and having a vision for what God can accomplish in people's lives, by opening your home up and using it as a ministry base.

Nancy: So I think we want to say to women first of all, realizing that so many women today are very frazzled, they're overscheduled, they're overcommitted, they're overwhelmed, we don't want to say, "This is one more thing you need to do with your life, to come home and do all this, start making biscuits and hosting dinners."

Ask the Lord, "Based on my season of life right now, what are Your priorities for me?" and "Am I giving adequate attention to what happens in my home and to my own family, if I have a family living in my home, and to others to whom I can show hospitality?" and "Is these a season of my life to be doing a ton of other things outside my home, or should some of those things maybe wait until a different season?"

I think we need to affirm and bless women who are in the season where they are contributing in various venues. Whether they're out at a missions agency, whether they're in the secular marketplace, and the energies there. It has to do with our responsibility, what our life looks like.

If God has blessed us with a husband and children, whatever our season of life looks like, we've got to check our priorities and see if we've got things in the right order and are giving the right priority at the right time.

Nancy: I want to say on that we want to challenge you not just to go with the flow, not just to mindlessly follow the culture and assume that while you have children at home you should necessarily have another job outside the home. If you can't fulfill your responsibilities to your family right now, then maybe God wants to provide another way.

See, it's assumed today that we have to work outside the home; there's no other way of provision. Well, God sent ravens to feed His prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. And I wonder if sometimes we don't need to exercise more faith and say, "Lord, if this is what you want me to be doing in this season and it doesn't bring in a paycheck, maybe there's another way You want to provide for me."

Then, we have many women who are empty-nesters, who are just automatically going back into the marketplace. I'm saying, "Where are the older women to disciple the younger women?" So, I think it's so important for us and for other women to ask the Lord, "Lord, what is the season of my life right now? What do you want me doing? Where do you want me working? What is Your priority and responsibility for me?"

Mary: And to have grace for those single women who are just doing the best that they can—the single mums whose situations are less than ideal. They are listening to the program and saying, "I wish! I wish I could be more at home." And know that God has a special place in His heart for you.

Nancy: And are we as the body of Christ supposed to maybe step in more and help out, to lift some of the load that that woman's experiencing in that season?

Leslie: In the book of Titus, we read that women are to be workers at home. Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian have been exploring some ways to live that out practically here in 2015. This is one of the topics they unpack in their new Bible study workbook called True Woman 201: Interior Design.

Why should you go through this workbook right now? Well, it talks about important qualities to be developing as a godly woman. You don't want to procrastinate learning about those qualities and living them out. I'm talking about qualities like discernment, self-control, and a heart for home.

We want you to understand and live out Titus 2, so we'll send you a copy of True Woman 201 when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Your gift will help us continue providing this program each day, teaching others how to develop the qualities of a godly woman. We'll send you a copy.

Ask for True Woman 201 when you call 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com. We'll send one workbook per household with your donation all this week.

You can also watch today's program on video. You'll find a link in today's transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Be kind! It seems like the most basic kindergarten-style instruction, right? Actually, kindness is a radical choice that will have a huge effect on the people you meet. Nancy and Mary will tell you why, tomorrow. Now they're back to wrap up today's program.

Nancy: Well, workers at home. It means a lot. We've just barely scratched the surface.

Mary: We unpack a lot of it more in our study.

Nancy: Oh, Lord, I pray that You would show us what it means, in our season of life, to be workers and not idle; to be glorifying You through work, and to make the priority You want there to be for our homes. And most of all, we just want to thank You that You are a homemaking God! "You have been our dwelling place through all generations," Psalms tells us.

And so , Lord, we want our lives and our homes to reflect Your home and to make people hungry and thirsty for an ultimate eternal home—to point them to the Savior who is preparing a place for us to live forever in heaven. So, Lord, help us to keep that in mind, and may our homes reflect the beauty and the glory of that ultimate home. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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