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Titus (short version)

Another Time

Titus 2Lesson audio

 

In the reading of the Scripture one is often struck with the sense of being a visitor to another time. The feeling is very strong in this book of the Bible; much of what it says seems to be exactly opposite that which is taught in most American churches. So, if you are willing, through the time warp we go.

Practical Leadership

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

(Tit 2:1-5 NASB)

Older men

The role of older men is well established in most societies of the world. The thought is simple: they’ve been around longer, they’re much more likely to have the experience to know the right answer to social problems. The village elders must be consulted.

In our society the older man is scorned and ignored. In my business there is an open, unwritten rule: never hire anyone over 35. My company is proud of the fact that it continually attracts new talent this way. But see what we are missing; tell me if there is any use for a man like this:

  • Temperate. The word is used in its old sense, meaning one who does things in moderation. This is a man living a balanced life.
  • Dignified. Dignity is not pomposity; but you’d never know it now. But a man who carries himself as deserving the respect he’s earned is often the island of stability in a sea of panic.
  • Sensible. One not given to the idea of the moment, but one who weighs the facts, the hearts and the minds before decision.
  • Sound in faith, love and perseverance. A man whose practice of these three virtues is such that they are now an integral part of his character.
Older women

The description given of older women here stretches the modern mind a great deal. The first adjective moves such women almost out of sight:

  • Reverent. In the original it means the attitude that becomes holiness. The title “Reverend” carries with it the idea of holiness, a man set apart. Here the older women are to conduct themselves as becomes holiness.
  • Not malicious. The word for “malicious” in the Greek is also translated “Devil” in other places. And why not? Is it not Satan who is our accuser? Do you think he needs your help?
  • Not enslaved to wine. The point would have been more telling at this time, for the use of wine was frequently recommended for the conditions of old age. It helped with the pain of arthritis, and perhaps more important was its function of encouraging blood circulation. How many older women are consistently beset with cold feet? The point is a very practical one, for its time.
  • Teacher. More literally, a teacher of “right things.” One who shows others the right way.

That last seems contradictory. Paul tells us that women are not permitted to teach. If you will examine them closely, they are not contradictory. As we will see, one of the concerns for such teaching is that the Gospel would not be condemned as being contrary to building a home. In this day, a woman taught by example to all, and by instruction to younger women. This seems amazing to us today; what sensible young woman would ever think to ask her mother for advice?

Why?

This strange behavior had best have a cause! Here Paul gives us such a cause: the effect of such an example upon young women. In particular, it is so that older women would be those who would encourage the younger women. When someone of sixty years looks at someone of twenty, the appearance of the younger women seems to be idyllic. To be twenty again, with no problems! But ask the twenty year old; they don’t want to be sixty – but they could use a little encouragement, wisdom and help. Our society makes this difficult; but not impossible.

Practical Followership

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

(Tit 2:4-10 NASB)

Young Women

Our modern view of love is that it’s like the flu: you catch it at random; you’re just not yourself while you have it; and when it’s over, it’s over. Love is something about which you have neither choice nor control.

So how is it, then, that Paul commands the older women to teach the younger women to love – both their husbands and their children? It would seem, by our view, that such love would come naturally.

Consider the effects of such a view. If love is like the flu, when it’s over, it’s over. If you’re tired of last year’s Mr. Right, and your kids remind you of him, well then – get liberated and dump the lot of them.

I assert that the truth is completely different. First, remember that love (erotic) can be an emotion – but one which can be controlled. It is also a skill, which can be taught. (My wife greatly benefited from my mother’s wisdom). It is the Christian duty of the older woman to teach this to the younger ones. It is the Christian duty of the younger woman to learn.

There is more. Consider these virtues as if they were ornaments on a young woman’s neck; see how beautiful they make here:

  • Sensibility. Not one who confronts her husband with her demands, but one who works with her husband to do that which is right.
  • Purity. Not just in sexual matters, but in all things – for this is the basis of a man’s trust in his wife.
  • Working at home. We utterly deny this – and look at the mess that results.
  • Submission to her husband. I have not paper enough to deal with this as it deserves. One woman in our class told me that she bristled (as any modern feminist should) at the mere mention of the word – until she understood it. Then it worked in her marriage for the blessing it brings.

Paul then tells us the purpose of such behavior: so that the Gospel would stand in good reputation. Many a woman complains that her husband will not come to church. But there is a worse case: when your conduct makes him think that Christ’s church is a collection of frauds and hypocrites. At the least you can silence the sneer by living the Christian life with him.

Young men

We know that the older men are to set an example; here Paul makes it clear that the young men are to be an example too. They are, after all, head of household – “as for me and my house…” See how:

  • First, there is the example in the mind. Young man, do you set your heart on the Gospel, on sensible things – or does the leer of your eyes tell the world all that you are thinking?
  • Likewise, the young man’s speech is to be exemplary also – beyond reproach. This particularly applies when speaking of sound doctrine.
  • All this would be useless with actions to match.

Why? So that the enemy will be deprived of ammunition in attacking even the youngest of men.

Slaves

It might seem that this section would be totally obsolete. But, if you will, think of the problems a slave might have had in being obedient to God’s command . If his master was a reprobate heathen, the presence of the slave would be most embarrassing at times. It is more difficult to keep moral conduct if you are a slave.

But is that so far-fetched today? Those who live from paycheck to paycheck know the burden of the wage slave. And if your boss decides that you should be the one to falsify an expense report, what then?

The cure is in prevention; slave or not, Christian character can be shown. Once it is, it usually serves as a deterrent to such things. “There’s no sense sending so and so; those Christians don’t do stuff like that.” How is this done?

  • In the mind – with quiet obedience and an attitude that regards such service as being for Christ. If for the sake of Christ I suffer on the job, will he not reward me as well as comfort me?
  • In speech. When all else around are convinced that obscenity is necessary, the effect of one who does not is often completely out of proportion – for it is the effect of a guilty conscience looking at an innocent one. One who is not argumentative magnifies this effect.
  • In actions. Pilfering is petty revenge against the boss; but vengeance belongs to God.

Why?

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. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

(Tit 2:11-15 NASB)

Is this behavior important? We’ve had several lists of do’s and don’ts in this lesson; why is it that we think such things important?

The grace of God has appeared

Let’s put this into perspective. The behavior we have been exhorting you to follow is not, of itself, of cosmic importance. But the grace of God – in the person of Jesus, the Christ – is of such importance. Your thoughts, words and actions tell the truth of the Good News:

  • He came to bring salvation from sin to all who will accept it.
  • He is coming again; the dead in Christ will rise and his glory be revealed. We are to live in this hope.
  • By the authority of the one who has all authority, we have been given the Word of God; it is our responsibility to spread this good news.

Your example sends not only the message of righteousness and holiness, but the great message of salvation and hope. If you live the life of the Resurrection, the world cannot help but know.

Instructions

If you were expecting some wild and new idea to pop out from this discourse on Christian living, forget it. He did not come to replace the Law but to fulfill it. The moral principles have not changed a bit. Thus, it is not surprising when we see such a list of characteristics. Men need much more to be reminded than taught.

What is new is this: you are called to deny yourself, deny the world and accept Jesus Christ. When you do, such behavior is fruitful – often, beyond your dreams.

For His Purposes

But why? Well you may ask. Why did God Almighty send his Son? Why are the Scriptures written? I submit two answers:

  • First, He came to redeem us from sin. Only his sacrifice could do this; only his love for us would cause this.
  • Once saved, it is his desire that we be purified, becoming “a people of His own possession.” He longs for the works of his hands.

This is the life we are to lead. That life should be plain and evident, in the way we think, in the way we speak, in the way we act.

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