October 24, 2004 | Brian Bill
Three women were walking along the beach. They found a genie’s lamp so they rubbed it and the genie came out. Since there were three of them the genie said that each of them would be granted one wish. The first one said she wouldn’t mind being smarter, and poof, she became a surgeon. The second wanted to be wise. Poof, she became a professor. The third woman said, “I don’t mind not being too smart and I like having people wait on me and do things for me.” Poof, she became a man.
Last week we focused on the mandate for men and established that mature men must mentor moldable men; and moldable men must mimic mature men. Gentlemen of God, have you hooked up with another guy yet? Have you found your Paul, your Barnabas, and your Titus? This morning we’re going to study three verses from Titus 2 to discover the ministry job description for women. Having put up with four sinister sisters and now raising four delightful daughters, I’m not sure whether it’s easier being a guy or a girl, though the women in our house sure take good care of me.
We’re in the section of Titus that deals with the importance of making an impact in our relationships. Specifically, we see that men, women and citizens have unique opportunities and real responsibilities. Titus 2:3 links today’s topic with what we learned last week. Notice that Paul instructs Titus with the word, “Likewise…” He challenged men to step it up spiritually through redemptive relationships, so too, women must be moved to mentor other women. Just as Paul began with older men before focusing on the younger guys, here he starts with the older women.
At the age of 26, Pat Moore conducted a very interesting experiment. As an industrial designer, she wanted a better understanding of senior adults, so for three years she frequently disguised herself as an 85-year-old woman. She aged her face with professional makeup, donned a grey wig, and wore glasses that blurred her vision. She even wore braces that twisted her body and reduced her normal gait to a slow, weary shuffle. She visited 116 cities in her elderly persona, walking, riding buses, flagging cabs, and visiting parks.
Do you know what she discovered? She was impressed with the compassion and care she received from other seniors, but she was often treated harshly by those who were younger. In one city, she was mugged by a group of 13-year-olds and beaten so badly that she suffered permanent back damage and was left unable to bear children. I just finished reading her book called, “Disguised” and was shocked by her treatment and saddened by my own neglect of those who are older. She experienced first-hand what she terms, “social dismissal” of the elderly. Friends, this is not how it’s supposed to be. Interestingly, one of the things she learned while in character was that there was only one variable which was a reliable predictor of how the aging are treated. Do you know what it is? This is what she wrote, “Deeply religious people tend to be more caring and aware of the needs of older people.”
Older women have a wealth of wisdom to share with those who are younger. To those of you who are older saints, I apologize for how my generation has treated you. We don’t want to practice social dismissal; instead we applaud you for your spiritual discipleship! In fact, right now, I want all of us who are younger than 60 to put into practice the teaching of Leviticus 19:32: “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.” Let’s stand and show our respect by giving them a hand.
While our culture communicates that older women are washed up and have nothing to offer, Scripture teaches that God has a wonderful design for senior saints. In Titus 2, Paul challenges Titus to teach them…
- A Pattern to Follow (3)
- A Plan to Implement (4a)
- Principles to Convey (4b-5a)
- A Perspective to Keep (5b)
1. A Pattern to Follow.
In verse 3, older women are given a pattern to put into practice: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” According to how this idea is used in 1 Timothy 5:9, an older woman is someone who is older than 60. And yet, as we learned last week, the term “older” is relative, meaning simply someone who is “older” than someone else. Titus is to teach them to live out four things in their lives.
- Be consistently reverent. This word is used only here in the entire Bible and means to be like a “priestess.” Reverent women are the kind of people who have access to the Almighty, who enter His holy presence on a regular basis. The best example of a woman like this is found in Luke 2:37, where we read about Anna, who was 84-years-old. It is said of her that she never left the temple because she was so committed to serving through fasting and prayer. She’s a great example to emulate, for in her mid-80s she was a worshipper. This kind of woman is highly respected for her reverence. People know that she’s close to Christ and therefore want to be close to her.
Older women are to be reverent in the “way they live,” or as the King James puts it, they are to have “behaviour as becometh holiness.” In the Old Testament, the priest went into the Holy Place to burn incense to the Lord and when he returned the fragrance was still on his clothes. Likewise, godly women emit a glow, or a fragrance of faithfulness. This phrase includes a reference to dressing decently. Worshiping women were to dress properly on the outside and be adorned with holiness within. 1 Peter 3:3-5 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.”
Author Lois Mowday Rabey calls them, “Women of a generous spirit. These life-giving women fill up and give out in ways that nourish themselves and give life to others. They know God, believe Him, and live a faith-filled life” (“Women of a Generous Spirit,” Page 7).
- Be careful with words. Next, older women must strive to not be slanderers. This is the Greek word diabolos, which is translated as “devil” 34 times in the New Testament. Satan is the supreme slanderer as Revelation 12:10 states: “…for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” The word slander paints a vivid picture. It literally means, “to throw between.” Just as Satan threw lies to Eve, the devil’s game plan is to throw stuff between people in order to cause wreaked relationships. A wise woman watches her words. One billboard captures this teaching: “He who throws dirt loses ground.” Unfortunately, idle gossip keeps some people very busy. Proverbs 16:28: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
Researcher Sybella Artz has found that since girls are more verbally skilled than boys, their aggression is often displayed through malicious gossip. She says that young girls will “begin to character assassinate by creating rumors and gossip” (Wiley Hall, Boston.com, 4/26/04). Older women are to resist the urge to slaughter someone with their words. Paul cautions widows to be careful in 1 Timothy 5:13: “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.” Interestingly, according to Psalm 15:3, the one who dwells in the sanctuary of the Lord is the one who “has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman.” Are you throwing stuff between people? Since there is nothing more Satan-like than slander, I urge you to be careful with your words.
- Controlled behavior. Older women are to avoid any kind of addiction, especially to alcohol. The word “addiction” is the word for “enslaved” or being in “bondage” to something. A common characteristic of older women in Roman and Greek culture was to drink in order to dull the pain of life and to fill up empty time. This is dangerous because of what it does to the individual, and it is detrimental to the church because this kind of bondage can effectively neutralize any kind of spiritual impact. As I mentioned last week, Ephesians 5:18 states that we should only be controlled by the Holy Spirit: “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.”
- Communicator of good. Older women must be equipped to handle the unique temptations around them and, at the same time, be aware of the special teaching opportunities that they have. Look at the last part of verse 3: “…but to teach what is good.” To teach means “to train,” and has the idea of coming alongside someone. The word “good” refers to that which is inherently excellent and provides a superior benefit. Older women are able to pass along that which is beautiful and beneficial because of their experience of walking with God.
2. A Plan to Implement.
Older women are to first follow the pattern of verse 3 and then implement the plan spelled out in the first part of verse 4: “Then they can train the younger women…” Simply put, the primary responsibility of older women is to train younger women. Interestingly, Titus, being a young man, is to teach the older women, but he is not responsible to train the younger ones – that’s the job of faithful females.
Older women have a strategic role in shaping, growing, encouraging and outfitting younger women for life’s journey
The phrase, “then,” is a purpose clause, meaning that as older women follow the pattern of godliness, they can then find fulfillment in the training of the younger. If you’re a woman and you’re wondering about your purpose in life, look no further. It’s right here. Your purpose is to pour yourself into someone who is younger. The word “train” has to do with helping someone become sober-minded, or in control of what they think and do. It’s the idea of bringing someone to their senses. To “train,” according to the dictionary, means to shape or develop the character of someone and is also used to grow a plant by bending, tying, and pruning. In addition, the word describes outfitting a ship for a long voyage. Older women have a strategic role in shaping, growing, encouraging and outfitting younger women for life’s journey.
3. Principles to Convey.
Here’s the order. First, older women are to be consistently reverent, careful with their words, controlled in their behavior, and communicators of the good so that they can train the younger. Paul then gives six principles that older women are to convey in verses 4-5: “…to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands…”
- Love husbands. It’s important to keep in mind that Paul is not addressing all women, because some have the spiritual gift of singleness (see 1 Corinthians 7:8-9). As he often does in his letters, he writes in response to specific situations and questions plaguing the church. The instruction for young married women begins with the home because they have a strategic place of influence with their families. The tense of this verb means that wives are to be continually fond of their husbands. No matter what happens, young wives need to be trained to love their husbands. A wise woman once said, “The day you said, ‘I do,’ you chose your love; since then you have been learning to love your choice.”
Interestingly, in our culture, people fall in love and then get married. In the times of Titus, often marriages were arranged and then couples had to learn to love one another. The advantage of this approach is that love is based on commitment, not on feelings. Here’s the lesson: you can learn to love your husband! Too many people today get married because they have romantic feelings and when the feelings go away, they want to go away. I’ve said this before but I can’t think of a better definition of biblical love: love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.
One way to reinforce your husband’s significance is by following the example found in Proverbs 31. We don’t have time to study this chapter in-depth, but verse 12 provides a good summary of a godly wife’s desire for her husband: “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Do you think the best of your man by encouraging and building him up? Or, are you more like the woman in Proverbs 27:15: “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day.”
It was testimony time at a church when a lady got up and said, “We are living in a wicked land where sin is on every hand. I have had a terrible fight with the old devil all week.” When she sat down, her husband, who had been sitting glumly by her side, stood up and said, “It’s not all my fault; she’s not been easy to live with either.” We need wise wives who are in marathon marriages to stand up and say, “It’s not your love that sustains your commitment; it’s your commitment that sustains your love! And that commitment is demonstrated in service and sacrifice.”
As part of loving her mate, according to verse 5, a wife is to “be subject to her husband.” Paul was wise here to have the older women teach this instead of putting Titus in this position! This kind of teaching comes better from someone who knows how hard it is to do. The word “subject” means to “arrange,” or to “line up under.” Both husbands and wives are equal before God, but equal does not mean identical, nor does it mean interchangeable, and it certainly doesn’t imply inferiority.
John Stott has a helpful perspective: “…Within the equal value of the sexes, God has established a created order which includes a masculine ‘headship’; not of authority….but of responsibility and loving care” (“The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus,” page 189). For a fuller treatment on this theme, one should study Ephesians 5:22-33 to see that the wife is to willingly submit to the loving leadership of her husband. And actually, Ephesians 5:21 reminds us that both husband and wife are to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Pastor Bruce Stewart has said, “Where love and mutual respect rule the home there will be little problem with submission on the part of the wife…The husband is not a dictator, but he exercises his headship primarily by service. This is the same way that Jesus expressed his headship over the church.” Guys, if it’s difficult for your wife to submit, it may be because you’re slacking off in your love for her.
- Love children. It’s not easy to be a mom with young kids. That’s why it’s essential that older women provide some training in this area because the main ministry of a married woman is to love her family and to make her home a holy haven. Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” Moms need to be reminded that children are a blessing from the Almighty, not a burden to be endured. Part of loving children also involves disciplining them. The story is told of a little boy sitting on his front steps with his face cradled in his hands. His dad arrived home and asked his son what was wrong. The young man looked up at his father and said, “Well, just between us, dad, I’m having a hard time getting along with your wife.”
Moms, when you correct your children, it’s important to do so out of love. Proverbs 3:12: “Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” If you delight in your kids, you will discipline them. Another famous proverb puts it this way: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 6:23 helps us see the long-term effects: “The corrections of discipline are the way to life.” We don’t discipline for our sake, but for the well being of our children.
In other words, we’re really doing our kids a favor when we discipline them. Someone has said, “The parent who is afraid to put his foot down will have children who step on their toes.” Proverbs 29:17: “Discipline your son and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” I love how the Living Bible translates 19:18: “Discipline your son in his early years while there is hope. If you don’t you will ruin his life.”
Preacher Rufus Jones often told a story from his childhood. One day, when he was 12 or 13, his mother went to town, leaving him behind on the farm with some chores. He fully intended to do the work, but instead he played ball with his buddies. When he saw his mother’s car pull into the driveway that evening, his heart sank. He knew he was in for one of the worst whippings of his life. His mother parked the car and came into the house. She looked him straight in the eye and took him upstairs into the bedroom, knelt down beside him, wrapped him in her arms, and, with tears streaming down her face, prayed one phrase over and over: “Lord, make a man out of him. Lord, make a man out of him.” Whenever Rufus Jones would tell that story his voice would grow quiet, and his eyes would tear up, as he remembered that special feeling of “standing in the weeping arms of love.”
- Live self-controlled. To be self-controlled is to be sensible and literally means to have a saved mind. Younger women need to be trained to show self-restraint, to be steady, and to put their priorities into practice.
- Long for purity. A woman must observe pre-marital purity and post-marital fidelity. Jon Mohr writes: “What appears to be a harmless glance can turn to romance…guard your heart…don’t trade it for treasure…as payment for pleasure.” Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Part of purity is restricting what you read and watching what you watch. Just this week I channel surfed past a show called, “Desperate Housewives,” which is filled with references to immorality. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 is a good reminder for all of us: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”
- Lift the home. While some people mistakenly say that a woman’s only place is in the home, it is true that women have the ability to lift the home to a higher level. Paul isn’t talking so much about the place, as he is the responsibility. We could say that a woman who works at keeping the home healthy is doing a job that she has been designed to do. According to Proverbs 24:3-4, a wise woman is a home builder: “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
Let me say that while some argue that a woman shouldn’t work outside the home, the woman in Proverbs 31 spends a fair amount of time outside the home, buying and selling. But I will say this, whether you work at home, or outside the home, a married woman’s primary responsibility is to her home and family. Proverbs 7:11 provides a good corrective if you sense your heart turning away from your home. You don’t want to be referred to in this regard: “She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home.” In addition, a woman can use her home as headquarters for hospitality.
- Lavish kindness. Younger women also need some training in kindness. 1 Timothy 5:10 describes this kind of person: “…and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” Earlier this week, I walked into the new kitchen in the middle of the afternoon, looking for something to eat. There were no lights on in the Family Life Center but the lights were on in the kitchen. As I came into the kitchen I was startled by a woman down on her hands and knees waxing the floor. What a great example of someone who has devoted herself to all kinds of good deed
4. A Perspective to Keep.
Women, it’s important to remember that people are watching how you live. When older women train the younger, the end of verse 5 says that “no one will malign the Word of God.” J.B. Philips says that women who live out these principles are “a good advertisement for the Christian faith.” As someone once said, “Show me your redeemed life and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer.”
- Take advantage of women’s opportunities.
- Volunteer at the Caring Pregnancy Center. In my research for this message, I discovered that Christian widows were known for rescuing babies. Unwanted babies would be left in the marketplace and older Christian women would comb these public places, scoop up the babies and place them in Christian homes.
- Look for practical ways to train the younger. Perhaps the Lord is asking you to consider the step of adopting a child, or to begin praying for orphan children around the world. By participating in Operation Christmas Child and Project Angel Tree you can impact young lives in unforgettable ways.
- Take the mentoring challenge. Start with your daughters or granddaughters, or your nieces. By the way, this passage isn’t limited to women over 60 teaching women under 40. It also includes those in their 30s training those who just got married. And, women in their 20s can be good role models for those in their teens through the Student Ministry. And godly teenagers can train young girls in Sunday School or AWANA. Those with younger sisters should be looking for ways to provide meaningful mentoring to their siblings. I want to encourage every woman here to get into a mentoring relationship with another woman. If you’re older, seek out someone who is younger. If you’re younger, find an older person.