Young Men: Godly or Godzilla?
Scripture: Titus 2:6–8
Young Men: Godly or Godzilla?Titus 2:6-8
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Pastor Randy Smith
We live in a world of confusion:
Imagine being the magazine company that received the following letter: "Dear Sir: When I subscribed a year ago you stated that if I was not satisfied at the end of the year I could have my money back. Well, I would like to have it back. On second thought, to save you the trouble, you may apply it on my next year's subscription."
Put yourself in the teacher's shoes when she read this explanation: "Dear Teacher, please excuse Harriet for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it on Monday, we thought it was Sunday."
Or this letter from a customer to a "do it yourself" catalogue company: "I built a birdhouse according to your plans, and not only is it much too big, it keeps blowing out of the tree. Signed, Unhappy." The firm replied: "Dear Unhappy, We're sorry about the mix-up. We accidentally sent you a sailboat blueprint. But if you think you are unhappy, you should read the letter from the guy who came in last in the yacht club regatta."
We live in a world of confusion.
I think the young college student summarizes the sentiment for many of us. After walking around the campus with a large "K" printed on his shirt for some time, someone finally asked him what the "K" stood for. He said, "Confused." "Confused?" replied the questioner. "You don't spell 'confused' with a 'K.'" To that the student answered, "You don't know how confused I am."
We live in a world of confusion. Confusion as to how we are to relate to a difficult person. Confusion in our ongoing effort to keep up with technology. Confusion in trying to prioritize an overcrowded schedule. Confusion knowing which way to adjust our clocks last night. All of us live in a world of confusion. And amongst all of us, I believe some of the most confused are the young people in our society.
How is that you ask?
Whether it is their friends or Hollywood or the multiple advertisements they are bombarded with every day, young people have a myriad of voices pushing them in a certain direction. All these voices promise freedom and fulfillment and success, but all these voices are leaving young people today disoriented and lost, lacking any sense of mission, vision, and purpose for their lives. Look around at their faces in the shopping malls. Most young people are perpetually and pathetically shrouded in self-doubt, resentment, and guilt. Read their music and poetry. Most are angry and confused. In my own experience I would say few are really happy.
Maybe it's time we ignore the world and rediscover God's calling for a man and a woman. Maybe it's time we reject the teaching of this age and return to the Scriptures as a blueprint for life. Young people, maybe it's time we disbelieve the lie that the Bible is a book only for Sunday school children and old folks and begin to accept the fact that God knows what is best for our lives and He has provided that instruction in the Scriptures. Maybe it's time we acknowledge our folly and the idols we have pursued that have only brought disaffection and confusion. Maybe it's time we listen to the voice of God.
Last week we discussed the biblical identity and role of a young woman. With young women spending much time and money seeking beauty, the Scriptures are clear as to how a young woman can achieve true beauty and be found stunning in the sight of God. With young women seeking liberation and meaning in life, the Scriptures are clear as to how a young woman can find true freedom and fulfill her sacred calling.
We learned from verses 4 and 5 of Titus 2 that "young women (are) to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, (and here is the purpose clause) so that the word of God will not be dishonored."
One author rightly said, "There was a time in this country when it was taken for granted that a dignified and competent wife and mother, devoted to her family and home, was a highly desirable constant in American culture…but this is no longer the case."
What was accepted and practiced, prized and valued for centuries has been lost in nearly one generation.
How far have we fallen from J.R. Miller's assessment of a woman's high value entitled "Secrets of a Happy Home Life" written in 1894?
Home is the true wife's kingdom.
Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle there. In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife.
Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere.
Her hands fashion its beauty.
Her heart makes its love.
And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine, that no woman who has been called to be a wife, and has listened to the call, should consider any price too great to pay, to be…the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration, of a home.
The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies.
A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love's lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling.
Turning the corner, I would like to spend the rest of our time discussing God's expectations for young men. As the young women were addressed in verses 4-5, in verse 6 we read Paul say, "Likewise urge the young men." Notice that it was not the women's responsibility to instruct the young men, but it was rather the responsibility for the older men, and now for Titus as their pastor, to reach out to these guys.
As we have already addressed older men and older and younger women, the final category that receives attention in Titus 2 is the younger men. Roughly, a young man is anyone between the stages of life that spans graduating high school to becoming an "empty nester." For the sake of estimation, we are talking about guys between the ages of 18 and 50, some say 60.
Yet to benefit most from this study, I believe we need to get beyond the chronological identification and get our arms around the mental identification of a young man. What drives a young man? What identifies him as he goes through this period of life?
One pastor said, "Youth is a time that presents more…frequent opportunity for sin. Youth is a time when ambition is strong, when pride is controlling. Youth is a time of unwarranted confidence, confidence you don't deserve because it's never been tested and you've never been proven. It's a time of imagined invincibility. It's a time of lacking of experience and experience mellows and softens and brings reality. It's a dangerous time" (MacArthur, Sermon, Titus 2:6-8).
This week I read a book by J.C. Ryle entitled Thoughts for Young Men. If I can paraphrase his thoughts, he said few young men have genuine spirituality. Most often they are the ones who struggle to attend church faithfully and waver in a steadfast commitment to God. They live for tomorrow and are unprepared to meet their Maker. They commit foolish acts, waste time and keep bad company. They struggle with: Pride -Thinking they have all the answers and abilities, a love of pleasure - Indulging strong passions for the moment and the fear of man - Valuing the approval of friends over the approval of God.
Being a young man myself, I still see so many of these tendencies in my life. I know my weaknesses toward impulsive behavior, worldly ambition, lustful temptation and arrogant living. Like so many young men, I can remember the constant pursuit before I came to Christ to find my identity in athletics, girls and physical toughness. God was far from my interest as I pursued all these endeavors as greater passions. Biblically speaking, I was a fool. Even now I strive daily to overcome the inclination toward foolishness that characterizes young men and drives so many of us to ruin.
Too many women are like Abigail in the Scriptures, the woman who knew all to well what it was like to be married to a fool (1 Sam. 25). Foolishness is a prime weakness of young men. I believe that is why Paul said in verse 6 that young men are to be sensible. We already learned that this trait was spoken of most often as different genders and ages are addressed in Titus 2 (also elders in Tit. 1:8).
That young men should be sensible does not surprise me. What does surprise me is that the young men only have one specific character trait mentioned in their category. You remember last week that young women had seven traits associated with them, while here, the young men are only called to be sensible. Was this to emphasize the priority? Was this, as one person said, the most we can expect from a young man?
I make it a point to read through the Proverbs on a regular basis. In the 31 chapters we repeatedly find several personality types presented. Possibly none are spoken of in greater detail than the contrast between the wise individual, a sensible person, and the fool.
- Despise godly wisdom (Pro. 1:7).
- Mock at making amends for sin (Pro. 14:9).
- Believe anything they hear (Pro. 14:15).
- Reject rebuke (Pro. 17:10).
- Find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions (Pro. 18:2).
- Are quick to quarrel (Pro. 20:3).
- Trust in their own heart (Pro. 28:26).
- Have difficulty exercising self-control (Pr. 29:11).
I can continue, but I think you know where I'm going. More than any other segment in Titus 2, young men are identified by these tendencies. So guys I ask you, based upon the Scripture, are you living a sensible life or a foolish one?
Jesus said the fool builds his house on the sand, but the wise man builds his house upon the rock (Mt. 7:24-27). The rock in this saying is described as hearing and acting upon the words of Scripture. Young men, are you doing that? Do you know the Scriptures? Are you living by them?
Allow me to be more specific: Are you instructing your children in the ways of the Lord? Are you setting an example of godliness for your kids? Are you faithfully taking the initiative to get your family to church? Are you serving in the local body? Are you valuing your family over your career and recreation? Are you committed to purity, honesty and faithfulness seeking to avoid gossip, anger and slothfulness? Are you practicing the spiritual disciplines? Are you receiving correction without blowing your top? Are you thinking beyond yourself and considering the needs of your family and your church? Are you under the accountability of someone else? Are you loving your wife as Christ loves the church?
Do you understand how foolish it is not to follow the Word of God? Do you see where you fall short in these areas? Are you planning right now to take the fist step toward change? Are you a fool or are you a sensible man?
Guys, you have only got one trait, but oh how blessed God's Kingdom would be if young men could just be sensible!
I tell you, though they only account for 25% of the church, I bet any pastor will inform you that 85% of the whining and 85% problems that occur in the church come from the young men.
In verses 7 and 8 Paul shifts his attention from the young men in general to Titus himself. He says, "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."
It is believed that Titus, the pastor of the Cretan church was in his early thirties. So he too was a young man. As a Christian he too needed to implement Paul's instruction. But as a pastor he had the additional responsibility to serve as an example for all, especially before the other men of his age.
The word for example is the Greek word tupos. Literally it means an impression or a stamp. Therefore Titus was called to live his life in such a way that it would impress itself on others. As an example, Titus was to be the model that others could follow, the imprint that others could trace.
This exhortation to be a worthy example is similar to the one Paul wrote to another young pastor named Timothy (he was estimated to be in his late thirties). "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example (tupos) of those who believe" (1 Tim. 4:12).
Ryle in the book I read this week remarked, "We are all creatures of imitation: precept may teach us, but it is example that draws us" (p. 58).
But being an example to others is not just a responsibility for pastors. It is imitating the One who repeatedly said, "Follow Me," and "I have left you an example." It is something each of us should do to model the Christian life before our family, our congregation, our co-workers and our neighbors. The goal is not always to tell them, but to show them what it means to be a true believer. As one pastor said, "We preach best by our lives."
If I could put it more accurately, each of us is an example. The only question is are we a good example or a poor example? Does the way we live our life help or hinder the cause for Christ? Do we dishonor the Word of God as we learned last week (from the end of verse 5) because we do not live out what we claim to believe? Or as this week's text concludes in verse 8, are we put to shame because the opponent clearly sees through our hypocrisy?
Titus was to show himself an example to the young men in four specific areas. Therefore, it stands to reason that young men in a secondary sense should obviously excel in these areas as well.
First they too should be an example of good deeds.
In addition to their pastor, young men should be an example in good deeds. As we will see in the weeks to come, good deeds is arguably the theme of Titus as these two words are mentioned six times in this short epistle (Tit. 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14). Young men should be leading the way in setting the example of good deeds for others. Sadly, in most churches we see just the opposite.
You will remember back in 1:16 that Paul said the false teachers "profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed." The principle is clear: Talk is cheap. We show the reality of our faith by our actions. Young men, are you leading the course for others? Are you informally taking people down the right path by your actions? Are you living out your faith in a way that demonstrates the reality of Christ in you? Are you serving as an example for others?
Second, Titus specifically and young men generally are called to have pure doctrine.
Here we are talking about a correct understanding of the Word of God. We are talking about placing a premium on truth. We are taking about the ability to teach others accurately, detect error from false preachers when we hear it, hunger for sound biblical instruction as the priority of a church, and fervently seek to live our lives accordingly.
Third, young men are called to be dignified.
This was mentioned for the older men as well (Tit. 2:2). This is the trait that understands the seriousness of life. This is a trait that draws respect from others in the church.
A dignified young man is above the ordinary. A dignified young man has his priorities in order. He is mature in the faith, humble, respectful and sacrificial to women. He has conquered self-pity, authoritarianism and nit-picky debates. He leads as Christ led with strength and service, willing himself to go down the Calvary Road of suffering if necessary. A dignified young man says with Joshua "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Jos. 24:15).
Lastly, a young man is to be "sound in speech which is beyond reproach."
I believe Paul here is talking about our everyday language. Like he said to the Ephesian church, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear" (Eph. 4:29).
Young men are to speak words that are wholesome and life giving and thoughtful and wise. They are to be words "beyond reproach," words that will not bring accusation or discredit a man's testimony. Since the mouth speaks of that which fills the heart (Mt. 12:34; 15:18), they are to be words that reveal a heart where Christ dwells as King (Eph. 3:17).
Young men I trust you will bear with me in this word of exhortation. This is the kind of guy I want to be. This is the kind of guy I pray my daughters marry. This is God's will for your lives and because of that you can be sure that the devil is seeking to oppose you with all of his might. Judge for yourself how successful he has been.
J. C. Ryle said, "Satan knows well that you make up the next generation, and therefore he employs every craft quickly and early to make you his own. I would not have you ignorant of his devices. You are those on whom he displays all his choicest temptations. He spreads his net with the most watchful carefulness, to entangle your hearts. He baits his traps with the sweetest morsels, to get you into his power." Ryle goes on to say, "You are the grand object of his attack" (p. 14).
God is not one of disorder (1 Cor. 14:33), but Satan is the master of confusion. As I said in the introduction, so many young people are confused as to their role in society. A role prescribed by God that will bring personal joy, peace and fulfillment. A role that will bring honor to God and blessedness to your family and church. A role, as verse 8 indicates that will put "the opponent…shame, having nothing bad to say about us" (Tit. 2:8).
It is difficult, but with God all things are possible. And it is at those times when us confused guys are at our wit's end and we fall to our knees in utter dependence on Christ, that God's strength shines the brightest in us and through us.
Are you standing at Wit's End Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you, and all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you, and you in the battle alone?
Remember at Wit's End is where God's power is shown.
Are you standing at Wit's End blinded with wearying pain?
Feeling you cannot endure it, you cannot bear the strain.
Bruised through the constant suffering dizzy and dazed, and numb
Remember at Wit's End, is where Jesus loves to come.
Are you standing at Wit's End your work before you spread?
Or lying begun, unfinished and pressing on heart and head?
Longing for strength to do it. Stretching out trembling hands.
Remember at Wit's End the Burden Bearer stand.
Are you standing at Wit's End then you're just in the very spot.
To learn the wondrous resources of Him who faileth not!
No doubt to a brighter pathway your footsteps will soon be moved.
But only at Wit's End is the God who is able, proved.
USA Today reports that men in our world are confused, frustrated and unsure of themselves as compared to men just 30 years ago.
Gordon Dalby in his book Healing the Masculine Soul said, "Men do not know who they are as men… They only know what they do, they do not know who they are."
Men, are you at wit's end ready to turn to Christ for your identity? Are you willing to forsake foolishness and live up to the challenge of who God wants you to be?