The Why Behind The What-Part One
Scripture: Titus 2:1–10
The Why Behind The What-Part OneTitus 2:1-10
Sunday, November 5, 2006
Pastor Randy Smith
For the past three weeks we have taken an in-depth look at the opening verses of Titus 2. This chapter speaks specifically to four categories of people within the church - the older men, the older women, the younger women and the younger men. In addition to providing key character traits and responsibilities for each group, these verses also clearly affirm the need for mentoring (or we could say discipleship) to occur within the church. Namely, the older folks are to be instructing the younger ones of like gender.
This morning I plan to pull together some past thoughts, add a few new ones and conclude our instruction regarding this important material presented in Titus 2. Hopefully the material presented the past three weeks has caused some pleasant transformations in the way you think and consequently, the way you act. This sermon is not intended to put out the heat, but rather stir the stew, cover the pot and maintain a healthy simmer.
Rightly so, much is made of a Titus 2 relationship in the church. God is into our spiritual growth. It is His will that we as His children mature in Christ. And though He uses many means to accomplish this goal, few are more effective than the informal discipleship that each one of us is to be a part of.
Life-on-life relationships, especially those where the older more mature believers instruct the younger believers of like gender, are a necessary aspect of a healthy Christian community. It is one of the finest ways the character traits and domestic responsibilities spoken of in the verses of Titus 2 can be imparted. It is one of the finest ways the torch can be passed to prepare the next generation of Christians to be useful for God's kingdom.
So, even with limited time this morning as we look forward to the Lord's Table, I would like to bring some closure to this discussion by covering four aspects that I believe will be beneficial to your understanding and implementation of Titus 2.
First I will review the four categories spoken of in verses 2-8. Second I will provide some practical instruction to assist you in beginning your own Titus 2 relationship. Third I will inform you of a fifth group mentioned in verses 9 and 10. And fourth I will provide the ultimate reason why the application of this material is so essential.
1. REVIEW OF THE FOUR CLASSIFICATIONS
Let's begin with a review of the four classifications.
First addressed are older men in verse 2. Specifically they are called to be "temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance."
Older men are expected to display a maturity that reflects their years of walking with Christ. With so many young people up and down and so many fads coming and going, older men are to be that rock of stability to which others can look. They are to model consistency and discernment and temperance and stability and balance that comes from a heart submitted to the Holy Spirit and a mind refined through the experience of life's trials. They have restraint over their words and actions. They see events from the perspective of others. They command dignity from their maturity in the faith.
I am so thankful that we have older men at the Grace Tabernacle whose lives daily present to the younger men a picture of these expectations.
Next, the older women, spoken to in verse 3 are called to be "reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good."
An older woman is to be an illustration of purity and reverence. Her beauty is enhanced outwardly through her modest dress and "means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness" (1 Tim. 2:10). But her true beauty is enhanced inwardly "with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit," which according to 1 Peter 3:4, "is precious in the sight of God."
Who could better present this image than the godly older women we have at our church? Their commitment to prayer, kind deeds and ministry speaks for itself. But listen to some of their paraphrased comments as I interviewed them a few weeks ago.
"We have learned to be patient with people and more compassionate. Through the years we have less concern for our own feelings. Time has taught us that material things are less important, great expectations can be dangerous and we should listen more than we speak. We are less prone to overreact and quicker to do all we can to preserve a relationship. Through the years we have learned that God is in control. He is faithful and He can be trusted through all the difficulties of life."
Older folks, you are a blessing to our church! You may have retired from your job, but you have not retired from ministry. You are in your prime with the most to offer. You are a powerful force. I think of Moses who was 80 when God called him to lead Israel out of Egypt. You remember that Moses gave many excuses, but age was not one of them. Please do not underestimate your capacity as well!
Second Corinthians 4:16 says, "Therefore we do not lose heart, though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." We often think of the disadvantages of getting older. Even at 41, I am feeling the decay of my body. It sure doesn't look and it definitely doesn't act the way it once did. But even though the body is getting weaker, the soul is growing stronger. Older people must find hope in this blessed truth. And young people must open their eyes to what is really important and be thankful for the treasure chest of wisdom and godliness we have here at the Grace Tabernacle thanks to our seasoned saints. We are foolish if we fail to take advantage of their perspective and their experience.
Next, verse 4 says the older women are to encourage the younger women "to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands" (Tit. 2:4-5).
Young ladies as you can see, the character issues of love, purity, kindness and a sensible spirit are very important in the eyes of God. Also, the domestic responsibility to prioritize your home and fulfill your ultimate ministry to your husband and your kids is clearly highlighted in these verses.
This is how the older ladies are to instruct the younger ones.
One woman said:
American women are the best-educated women in the history of the world, yet a high percentage is ill-informed about their origin and noble purpose. These women are untrained in purity, selflessness, and loving others as themselves. Experience at a caring pregnancy center proves that girls know a lot about recreational sex but very little about marital love and procreation. These girls are untrained in the ways of building healthy families and, therefore, positively influencing society. Even many Christian women have not the faintest clue about how to build a culture of life. When difficulties arise, a high percentage of Christian women seek the "wisdom" of Oprah, Dr. Phil, and "self-help" books rather than trusting the Father God who created and redeemed them…
(We must) rebel against the lies we have been told about our origin, gender, and freedoms…
Today's Christian women are in need of older women who will teach them how to respect themselves as Jesus does, bring out the best in men, make a home, love children, and care for neighbors. Today's Christian women need a model for building a culture of life and a future of hope…
It is foundational for a healthy society because it follows the created order designed by God and explained in Genesis. It is foundational because it transforms the culture beginning in the home. The Christian home is God's first "training camp" where children learn how to fight for life in the battle against Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh. Today's Christian needs a model for life that does not wrap Jesus around worldly ideas but, instead, consistently leads believers away from chaos to peace, from despair to hope, from death to life. Titus 2 is that model…
Linda D. Bartlett, source unknown
And this Titus 2 curriculum is the Word of God. According to Carolyn Mahaney:
We all stumble along, making the same mistakes, on a desperate search for tips, solutions, and sound principles…. But if we would only avail ourselves of Holy Scripture, we would find the wisdom and direction we so desperately seek. We must not neglect God's Word while we pan for the fools' gold of worldly counsel.
Carolyn Mahaney, Titus 2: Express a Tender Love for Your Children
Finally, younger men are called simply to be sensible. They are to avoid the foolishness that commonly goes with this period of life. To be sensible, young men should value the Word of God, take responsibility to be the loving and serving spiritual leaders in their homes and demonstrate selflessness to maintain the unity and peace in the church.
I am very excited about the younger folks at our church. I believe the young ladies have excelled all in their spiritual hunger and spiritual growth. They are a tremendous blessing to their families and this assembly. The young men are also an encouragement to my heart. How many churches could pull as many as we do on a Saturday morning to study the "Disciplines of a Godly Man?" I am grateful for their service and willingness to stand firm for Christ, like Daniel, in the face of a godless society.
2. READY TO IMPLEMENT
As we move to the second point, I would like to briefly provide some suggestions that will help you implement a Titus 2 relationship. Since time permits me from a detailed explanation, I plan to have a handout in the bulletin next week that will also be posted on the website. But for now, permit me to make a few comments.
Remember the structure of these relationships is to see the older, due to their wisdom and experience, instruct the younger of like gender.
From a ladies perspective, Martha Peace said in her classic book, Becoming a Titus 2 Woman, "A Titus 2 woman is an older, mature Christian woman who teaches and encourages the younger women. Her ministry is based on the Scripture passage in Titus 2:3-5. It seemed to me that every Christian woman regardless of age or marital status should aspire to become a Titus 2 Woman. It also seemed to me that most churches today are woefully lacking in the training of these ladies. They may have organized woman's functions, but there seems to be few if any older women who are discipling the younger women biblically as required in Titus 2:3-5" (Introduction).
We must understand that biblical instruction is God's means to spiritual growth. We cannot implement what we do not know. And beyond the formal instruction that occurs through the pulpit and Sunday school and growth groups are these informal one-on-one, life-on-life relationships. Therefore the goal of a Titus 2 relationship is to equip and prepare the next generation of Christians to be complete in Christ (Col. 1:28).
Remember young people, we by far outnumber the older ones. Be content and thankful for a few sessions together. Take the initiative and ask an older person to spend some time with you.
As I said, this instruction is often informal. While I would not rule out a "Bible study," often Titus 2 discussions happen best casually over a lunch or during a walk or enjoying a shared interest. It is a time to discuss character and domestic responsibilities. It is a time for dialogue, two-way communication. It is a time for prayer and encouragement. It is a time to learn more through the example of another than mere words.
The older instructing the younger is the purest form of Titus 2, but we should not be too wooden in our interpretation. A young lady may find great success discipling another young lady in the faith too. Parents should definitely be discipling their own children as husbands should also be discipling their wives. Bottom line is each one of us should be engaged in this process of personal discipleship. We should be reaching down to those who we can assist and reaching up to those who can assist us. There are to be no spectators or lone rangers. We are all to be givers and we are all to be takers in this community endeavor.
3. REMAINING CLASSIFICATION
Before I wrap up the topic with the reason for our need to follow this instruction, I would like to present one final group mentioned in Titus 2, verses 9 and 10. This fifth group is not based on age or gender, but rather on social standing. Beginning in verse 9 Paul said, "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."
It is well beyond the scope of this sermon to explain the practice of slavery in the ancient world. If you want further detail you can read my remarks from the sermon I preached from the end Colossians 3 available on the website. Suffice it to say that our concept of modern slavery and its atrocities is much different than slavery in the ancient world. It was much different 2,000 years ago. We must get our mind off that context to rightly understand this passage. The mere fact that slaves are mentioned in this text shows they were part of the Christian community. So like anyone else, their conduct was important!
As a footnote, we must remember that it was biblical teaching that helped bring an end to modern slavery. Also, Paul's concern as always is not to reform the institution only to keep corrupt people around, but rather seeing God change hearts so they will be internally motivated to do what is right and proper.
The best way for us to apply this text is to transfer it to the employer/employee relationship we are familiar with today.
As an overarching quality, immediately the text says employees are to be subject to their employers in everything (Rom. 13:1; Tit. 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13). This is another role of submission we have spoken of so much in the past few weeks. With the exception of acts that conflict with Scripture, workers are to be subject to their boss "in everything." God goes out of His way to stress our responsibility to the authority He places in our lives. There is a huge reason for this and I will address it very shortly.
The first specific quality listed for us in the workplace is that we are to be "well-pleasing" to the management. Christians above all others should be committed to a standard of excellence. We should outshine others in showing up on time, working hard, and following guidelines. We should be a blessing to the boss, as the Scripture says, "well-pleasing" in his or her sight.
Second we should not be "argumentative." Literally, we should not "speak against" or "talk back" to authority. There is nothing wrong with voicing our concerns, but it should be done privately with respect and gentleness.
Third we are not to be "pilfering" or we could say, not stealing from the company. This ranges from corporate embezzlement to heisting office supplies; from inflated time sheets to wasting company time; from digging into the cash register to unauthorized phone calls.
Fourth, employees are to "show…all good faith." This means we are to be faithful, reliable, dependable, loyal and trustworthy.
Overall, our standard of work should be the same as if we were serving Christ Jesus Himself. Listen to the parallel verses: Ephesians 6:7, "With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men." Colossians 3:23-24, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men… It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."
4. REASONS FOR OUR OBEDIENCE
Lastly, as we move to our final point, we ask the question - Why is it so important that we do all we covered this morning? We discussed five people groups. Each one came with a series of high expectations. Beyond the need to simply obey our Lord, why must these expectations be followed? Why must we be determined to excel in these areas? Does it really matter? What is at stake?
Going in reverse order, first look at the end of verse 10. We must be exemplary employees "so that (we) will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect." "Adorn" is from the Greek word kosmeo, where we get our English word "cosmetics." When we stand out as men and women of integrity amongst our coworkers, we make the gospel attractive by showing others a changed heart, by putting the character of God on display amongst a multitude of unbelievers. On the contrary, when we disobey, we make the gospel unattractive.
Let's keep going. Why do we display Christlike character and fulfill our gender responsibilities? Look at the end of verse 8. "So that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us." People live to discredit the faith of Christians. The way we live either silences our opponent to shame for their unjust criticism or adds more fuel to a fire that is already blazing. That is why the Apostle Peter said, "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation… For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Pet. 2:12, 15). Obedience silences our critics.
Allow me give you another reason. Look at the end of verse 5. We must live obedient lives as Christ's representatives "so that the word of God will not be dishonored." Professing Christians living inconsistent with the Scriptures only discredit the Word of God. Why would those outside ever honor and trust and submit to the Bible if they see those in the church not following it themselves? But when we live by the Scriptures showing it to be a priority in our lives, we naturally bring God's Word great honor.
We rapidly covered a lot this morning. We reviewed the four categories spoken of in verses 2-8. We looked at some practical instruction to implement a Titus 2 relationship. And we examined a fifth group mentioned in verses 9 and 10, which tells us how we are to conduct ourselves in the marketplace. A lot of information. High expectations indeed. But the ultimate motivation for our compliance, the "why behind the what" (as this sermon is entitled), comes in the three purposes clauses we just covered mentioned in verses 5, 8 and 10.
The point is this: How we live has a direct bearing on God's glory, namely: His Word, His gospel and His church. Why has Satan aimed so many of his fiery darts to see us disobey this instruction? Why is the Christian church so weak and laughable? Why is the Bible dishonored by the world? Should we as Christians first point the finger to ourselves? Have we gone too long ignoring this instruction? There is much more at stake than you could ever imagine. How will you chose to live?