Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 51:1-53; Titus 2:1-15; Psalm 99:1-9; Proverbs 26:17
I arrived in Titus 2 this morning in my reading but I have been pondering it for some time already as I consider our calling as women to be either involved in mentoring a younger woman in the faith or to be willing to be mentored by a woman who has more experience in her walk with the Lord. While I have acknowledged that this is something women in the church are to be engaged in I have never been intentional about it before, at least not until this past year when I was asked to mentor a precious younger friend. We’re still figuring it out, but here in Titus Paul lays out a plan of action for us. Paul states right off in the first verse of this letter that he is writing for the faith of those chosen by God. That’s us, and our faith is a precious thing to be tended and carefully nurtured.
One thing is clear at this point in my life, I am one of the older women whether I like it or not. At least when it comes to having raised a family, being married for 38 years, having spent time in the workforce, started a business, and having walked with Jesus for over 50 years. I committed to reading my Bible through every year back in the 1990’s and have done so ever since, so I also know what it is like to stick with that commitment in various seasons of my life. But now that someone has actually asked me to mentor them I really need to take this seriously. I’ve really never thought of myself as an example for anyone to want to follow, but here in Titus 2 Paul says that is exactly the way I should live. Oh my, that is a really humbling thought, so now I am looking around for someone who can mentor me through this season of my life.
Titus 2:3 begins: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,” Well here is a good list to start with. Now what does it mean to be reverent in my behavior. The New Living Translation puts it this way, “to live in a way that honors God”, that helps doesn’t it. My advice to myself on this, start making it a part of my daily prayer to ask God to let me live this day in a way that honors Him. I am trying to be open to letting God be in charge of my day lately, just seeing where He takes me in each moment and not getting annoyed by things that were not a part of my plan for the day. Even that I think is a beginning of what it means to live in a way that honors Him as I recognize that He is Lord not just in a big picture sort of way as in “Lord of my life” but in the daily mundane things as well. Let God be Lord, Master of my day.
Moving on, I am not to be a malicious gossip. We all know how harmful gossip can be. And let’s face it, gossip is never intended to build anybody up which totally goes against what the body of Christ is called to do with one another. It certainly is not love in action. But do I secretly like it when somebody comes to me to “spill the beans” on someone else’s life? Do I want to know? I won’t even go into how often group prayer requests can become gossip in a veiled form. Malicious gossip or slander has no place in the life of a follower of Christ Jesus.
We older women also should not be a slave to much wine. I’m pretty sure Paul is thinking of addictive behavior here since he uses the term enslaved. This woman is under the control of alcohol and not God. It has become master of her life. Sadly, I have at times witnessed what such an addiction can do in a home and it is not a pretty picture.
Next Paul says the older woman should be engaged in teaching what is good. Are we doing that older woman? Or are we happier and more comfortable taking in the teaching of others? It is a weighty responsibility, not one to be taken lightly, but I have learned that when I rely on God, when I seek Him earnestly as I prepare to teach or to share, He causes such growth and confidence in who He is and how able He is to use even me. I still tremble whenever I am in a situation where I will be speaking up, I am a shy hermit by nature after all; one who prefers the quiet of my own little world, but that is not where God wants me to stay. We teach what is good when we immerse ourselves in what is good, what is excellent, and that can only be found in the very words of God. So get to know them, hide them in your heart, meditate upon them, and if you are in a Bible study, do your homework, not begrudgingly as a chore to just check off, but delight in spending time thinking about God’s Word, delighting in the thought that it contains the words of life, the words of Truth.
Wow, there’s so much there already but we have only just begun. Verse 4 continues:” so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children," Do you see how verse 3 flows into the outcome of verse 4? The best thing I ever did for my family was to commit myself to reading God’s word each year. That step has made all the difference in my walk with God. You see, I don’t just read it and not give it room to roam in my head. I ponder it, I pray over the things that God reveals to me through it each day. I write down my thoughts and often even the prayers it leads me to in notebooks-this blog is a result of those daily times. It is me fleshing out and wrestling with what I have just read as I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me into the Truth. That is why I am so passionate about encouraging women to read their Bibles. I know it can be a challenge, finding time as a mom, as a wife, as a woman who works outside the home, whatever your season, I have been there and I am here to tell you it can be done. And if you are struggling, ask God to help you. My experience with that says that He will be delighted to do so. He longs for you to know Him, He longs to show you the wonders of His love. And by this act of submission to God as Lord of my life by spending time with Him in His Word I have slowly learned how to love and submit to my husband not in a begrudging way, but out of respect and to show him honor as the man of God that he is. I must add so you don’t get the wrong impression, I still have struggles with all of these things at times, there have been times when I have actually said to God that I was not going to pick up my Bible and read that day because I knew what He was going to say and I did not want to hear it. I confess that sometimes I prefer holding on to my anger and hurts and when I come to Him prayerfully through His Word I just cannot stay there. And then there are those days when I am just plain lazy. So I get you sister, but I know there is a better way to live out our days so I want to encourage you in this.
Verse 5 wraps things up for us: “to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Paul begins by continuing his thought on what the younger women should be learning from the older women. And this has got to be twofold, because we cannot be an example to the younger women in our lives if we are not living out these same things, sharing in these same struggles as we grow in our walk with the Lord. So we need to be sensible. That word just makes me laugh because of some past history with it. “Just be sensible!” Have you ever heard that one directed at you? The Greek word translated here means discreet. Webster’s defines discreet as, “ having or showing good judgement in conduct and especially in speech.” That sounds better to me than “be sensible” somehow. That is something that should be the mark of every follower of Jesus Christ.
Next we have the word “pure”. In this case that word is translated from the Greek for chaste or modest, so I am thinking this may refer to sexual purity, not engaging in immoral sexual behavior.
We are to be ”workers at home”. This is not an exclusive term meaning that it is wrong to work outside of the home, rather it means that we should be taking care of our homes, managing them well. Over the years I have learned a lot of tips that have helped me be a better keeper of the home, and I still continue to learn new things in this area. I wish I was more disciplined in this area though and I am so glad I got rid of the old notion my own mother had of needing to iron everything. Though I do have very fond memories of sitting on the couch while she ironed away in the living room- she was available to us then, rather trapped actually by her circumstances now that I think about it, lol. Yes, I am enjoying thinking back to the picture of her with her apron on standing at the ironing board when we came home from school. Hmmm, I wonder if she planned it that way; to just have time with her kiddos as they returned home in an unobtrusive way. Maybe her ironing served a higher purpose after all. I mean, you couldn’t escape her there, when you walked in the front door she was right in your face and you had to go around her to get to your bedroom. Anyway, it’s fun to think about from this perspective.
Next there is kindness. Being kind, seems pretty self-explanatory, but oh, how needed it is in our time.
Now for the one we ladies struggle against..."being subject to their own husbands.” Submission. I struggle often to submit to God so it is no wonder I struggle to submit to my husband. I am thankful that my husband makes it easy…most of the time. He is not overbearing, he is not abusive, he is a man who strives to submit to God when God tells him he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church.(We think that is the harder of the two commands actually.) We have our moments as husband and wife, but God has blessed me with a good man. In Greek terms this word is defined as "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden". It kind of reminds me of one of the definitions of love in that 1 Corinthians passage, love does not insist on its own way. I’ll just leave that one there for you to ponder and pray about.
And finally, we do all of these things so that “the word of God will not be dishonored.” That line is hitting me for really the first time. Paul does not say so that God will not be dishonored, but so that God’s word will not be dishonored. What would it say about God’s word if I chose to not obey it? If I reject what God tells me is best for my life? If I deny the power of God to change this old heart of mine and make me into a new creation? What if I were to live my life on my own and did not invest in the younger women? What if I am not kind? It brings to mind a couple of verses, 2 Peter 1:3, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” The best way I have found to get to know God is through His word. And then there is 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” What does my life say about God’s Word? That is a question I have never asked myself before.
With that in mind I will close with the words from Titus 2:11-13, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (NASB 1995)
May grace, peace, and mercy abound,