A Gospel-Empowered Commission
To this day I can still vividly remember all the details of a darling vintage painting my mom hung in my girlhood room. It was of a young girl adorned in a white dress trimmed with lace, holding a basket brimming with flowers at her side. Just below the picture was the Bible verse, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14 NLT).
I can’t tell you how many hours I stared at every intricate detail of that picture; pondering and memorizing that verse — adopting it as my own. Something as simple as a Scripture hung on the walls of my bedroom also ingrained Scripture on the walls of my heart. Now that I am a mother of two precious sons, I witness that same keen observation in them. I desire to be intentional, to set before them a feast of the good, true, and beautiful things in this world. You see, friends, we are the keepers of this sacred space we call home.
A Sacred Commission
Recently I discovered a nugget of gold in Titus 2, where Paul is encouraging the older women to train the younger women “to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (v. 5 KJV, emphasis added).
As I began breaking down this passage, the Lord highlighted the phrase “keeper at home.” Most often when we think of being keepers of the home, we automatically think it means the tending to and cleaning of the four walls in which we dwell, and this is certainly needed and true. We are called to care for our household affairs and cultivate an atmosphere of beauty, peace, and cleanliness for all who dwell in our home. However, as I dug a little deeper, I was met with a realization that transformed that phrase and the commission to which I am called as a woman, wife, mother, and homemaker.
The Greek word for “keeper” in this passage is oikourgos (oi-kür-go’s) which means: a guard and to beware. In essence, this passage is pointing out that we are called to be women who shield our hearts and homes — and the hearts of those entrusted to us — against the fiery darts of the enemy. Claiming these earth-side homes we have been given is an act of defiance in the face of evil in this world. And part of keeping the spheres of influence we have been charged with is to be aware, alert, and vigilantly protective of what comes through the gates of our home.
The dwelling places we are called to tend will look uniquely different depending on the season of life in which the Lord has planted us. He has purposefully given each woman a sphere to keep and cultivate. Whether your home is a college dorm room, a bedroom, or the place humming with the pitter-patter of little feet, we are all called to be keepers of our home — even if that be the home of our heart. (See Proverbs 4:23.)
When you look up the word “keeper” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it also means: custodian, curator, steward, protector, defender, guardian, shepherd. Unfolding the meaning of each of those words blew me away as I beheld the vision Paul defines in Titus 2 about our sacred task.
Fellow mothers, we are custodians who have been given the great responsibility to guard something of highest value — the eternal souls of our children. We are the curators standing watch over their eyes, ears, hearts, and minds. To curate means to be selective; supplying the purest, most meaningful, and enriching soil for growing our tender saplings. We are protectors as we keep out the influences and attitudes that taint our children’s tender hearts and minds. As we “keep,” we also pour the vast richness of Christ into their hearts and our home so that the fragrance of the Lord is evident to our children and all who enter.
Keeping our Hearts and Homes
As a mama, I often ask myself: What am I allowing into my child’s heart and mind? What am I “feeding” my child spiritually? Is there anything coming into the walls of this home that shouldn’t be? Is all that takes place here pure, lovely, commendable, honorable, just, and true?
May I go even further? We should also be asking the same of ourselves. What are we allowing into our own hearts and minds? The inquisitive souls that we are called to steward will imitate what they see us living out. Can we honestly say, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1 ESV)?
As I continued sifting through Scripture, I came across another facet of what it means to be a “keeper.” The priestly gatekeepers were tasked with ensuring that nothing unholy entered into the House of God. We, as women, are commissioned to be watchers at the gate. We must stand guard and not allow the infiltration of this age to seep into our homes. By the grace and guidance of the Lord, we are commissioned to not let anything unholy enter. We are guardians of the houses of God — ourselves, our husbands, and our children — for we are the temples of the Lord. (See 1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 6:19–20.)
Ultimately, we cannot fully protect our children from the sin that has infiltrated this world, but we can point them to the Cross. We have the honor and ability to hedge them in — with prayer, encouragement, and love. During the ebb and flow of our daily rhythms, we can pour Jesus into our children by allowing light to triumph over darkness as we instill a love for the Father of Lights within their hearts and minds. This quote from the book Stepping Heavenward beautifully encapsulates this point: “The best way to instruct children in faith, is to link every little daily act of a child’s life with the Divine Life that gives meaning to all things.”
Meditate and memorize Scripture together. Fill your home and the hearts that reside under your roof with truth. Allow it to renew your mind as it says in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (KJV). A foundation of truth allows us to be able to identify counterfeits in this hostile culture in which we live.
Overcome evil with good. Where goodness reigns evil has no room. (See Romans 12:21.) Invade the darkness with soul-forming stories and thought-provoking artwork accompanied by rich words of truth that draw the gaze upward. May we tune our hearts to songs that are steeped with Gospel-truth. And may we cultivate an atmosphere of love patterned after our Lord Jesus Christ.
Taste and see. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Ps. 34:8 ESV). We can taste and see Christ as glimpses of His grace are made visible amongst our ordinary. Our children can sense Christ through the warmth of Mama’s tender embrace. They can taste His goodness in a family ramble through the fields, and see Christ’s love for the Church as they watch their daddy and mommy love each other sacrificially. As one author put it, “Our own lives and stories become an embodiment of His great loveliness.”
Our commission as a “keeper” is Gospel-inspired and Gospel-empowered, and we need Christ to go before and behind us. A beautiful truth that strengthens my heart is that in His great providence, He has provided everything we need to accomplish the task He has assigned to us. (See 2 Peter 1:3.) To be equipped is to be fully furnished for every good work. (See 2 Corinthians 9:8.) Friends, He doesn’t call us to something that He hasn’t already unsparingly equipped us to do as we lean upon Him. We aren’t resting in our own strength, but in His equipping grace. What a reassuring truth and hope-filled gift!
My heart’s cry is that we value this sacred calling to steward these precious, eternal souls. May we raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Let us teach them to keep their ways pure, holy, and unblemished in this tainted world. And may we, as keepers of our homes, rise up in the empowering grace of the Lord to raise a generation wholly surrendered and set apart unto Him.