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everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: Grace-Driven Living and Training

on March 6, 2014

ImageElisabeth Elliot, a well-known Christian speaker and author said, “It would help younger women to know there are a few listening ears when they don’t know what to do with an uncommunicative husband, a 25-pound turkey, or a two-year old’s tantrum” (“A Woman’s Mandate,” from Family Practice, p. 62).

Titus 2 is Scripture’s manual for women in regard to how they are to live and train one another. Dealing with silent husbands, huge turkeys and disobedient children are simply examples of the types of material to be taught.  Elisabeth Elliot goes on to say,

He meant the simple things, the everyday example, the willingness to take time from one’s own concerns to pray with the anxious mother, to walk with her the way of the cross—with its tremendous demands of patience, selflessness, lovingkindness—and to show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart.

These lessons will come perhaps most convincingly through rocking a baby, doing some mending, cooking a supper, or cleaning a refrigerator. Through such an example, one young woman—single or married, Christian or not—may glimpse the mystery of charity and the glory of womanhood (p. 62).

All women should see the importance of this kind of mentoring and being mentored in this way. As we study Scripture’s commands in Titus 2, we will see that grace teaches us to live godly lives and to encourage others to do the same.

The Way to Live

Paul begins Titus 2 with a contrast, “But as for you.” He contrasts Titus with the false teachers of chapter 1 who “profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (Tit 1:16).

In contrast to those false teachers, Titus was to teach believers to live in a way that “accords with sound doctrine” (Tit 2:1). The point was that they were to live like the Gospel had changed their lives.

Paul addresses several different groups throughout Titus 2. Each of these groups are to live in a way that accords with sound doctrine. Specifically, they are commanded to live in a way. . .

  • That “the word of God may not be reviled” (v 5).
  • That an opponent would have “nothing evil to say about us” (v 8).
  • That “in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (v 10).

We, also, are to live like the Gospel has changed our lives. If we do not, we also profess to know God, but deny him by our works.

Paul then  moves from the way to live as Christians to the people who are to live it.

The Women who Live it

Two of the groups Paul addresses in Titus 2 are older women and younger women.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5).

Older Women

Who are they?

Paul is primarily referring to women whose main responsibility is no longer their children. An older woman, then, is a woman whose children are independent of her and her husband.

Any woman who has the following characteristics can have the opportunity to teach other women. It is the older women with independent or no children who will have the time, however, to devote their time to teaching younger women.

What are they to look like? (v 3)

1. Reverent in their behavior

The phrase used here refers to women who are devoted to serving God. They revere God in their behavior.

2. Not slanderers

Women who are devoted to God must be careful to control their tongues. They should not spread malicious gossip and lies.

               3. Not slaves to much wine

Women devoted to God must also control their physical appetites (i.e., for food, sleep, sex, alcohol, etc). This verse specifically refers to not being addicted to alcohol.

What are they to do?

              1. They are to teach what is good. (v 3b)

The older women are to teach what is good by word and example. The value of the older women’s example depends on their moral character.

2. They are to train the younger women. (v 4a)

The  word train means “to disciple, to hold one to his duty, to exhort earnestly.” Older women must first have the character of one devoted to God. Then, they are to disciple younger women in an informal, one-on-one manner, being careful to “practice what they preach.” Scripture mandates that all godly, older women are to mentor younger women.

***Scriptures lists only 3 qualifications for a woman to mentor: devotion to God, controlling the tongue, and controlling physical appetites. A woman’s only excuse for not being involved in some level of mentoring/discipleship is simply that she is not devoted to God, she does not control her tongue, and/or she doesn’t control her appetites. If this is the case, she herself should be seeking counseling.

There are several qualifications that I think women think are required to be able to disciple another women, which are not mentioned (though some may be of help, certainly):

  • A perfect marriage–or being married at all
  • Perfect children–or having children at all
  • Teaching skills
  • Extroverted personality
  • Being a pastor’s wife
  • Being an all-around perfect, consistent example of godliness

Younger Women

Who are they?

Paul refers primarily to younger wives, as four of the seven qualities he lists refer to marriage or family. However, it seems wise for even young girls, teens, and single women to begin learning now how to be a good wife and mother, as well as a godly woman. Any older woman will tell you that marriage, mothering, and godliness in general takes time, effort, and training to be done well. Mothers of daughters have a unique opportunity to train their daughters how to be godly women. As one author states,

We live in a society that emphasizes preparation and education for everything but marriage, motherhood, and homemaking. Therefore, we must give this profession our highest attention when it comes to preparing our daughters for the futures (Mahaney, Carolyn, Feminine Appeal, p. 23).       

What are they to learn?

             1. To love their husbands (v 4)

Remember that Paul wrote to a culture in which women did not usually choose their husbands. Their husbands were chosen for them. They had to learn to biblically love their husbands.

Today our culture emphasizes “falling in love.” So, what happens if we “fall out of love” after we’re married? We learn to biblically love our husbands. “Love is not something that happens spontaneously. . . . [It] is a learned response through the grace of God” (Mahaney, p. 37).

Application: Choose to dwell on your husband’s good qualities and express your appreciation to him. Make time for him alone. Enjoy time spent with him. These suggestions and others like them can be taught by older women and learned by younger women.

Older women: What can you teach us to help us love our husbands?

            2. To love their children (v 4)

Nearly every mother has a natural love for her children. But sometimes it is necessary for us to choose to love our children when they make us want to react unlovingly (e.g., due to screaming tantrums, food thrown all over the wall, bad attitudes, etc!).

Loving our children is a task that is multi-faceted, including meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

J.C. Ryle, a minister in the late 19th century,  reminds us of the priority of meeting the needs of our children’s souls:

Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you love them, think often of their souls.  No interest should weigh with you so much as their eternal interests.  No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die. . . .  This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children.  In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, ‘How will this affect their souls?’

Soul love is the soul of all love.  To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to, and this life the only season for happiness — to do this is not true love, but cruelty. . . . It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy, — that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul (The Duties of Parents, p. 15).

Application: Older women can advise in many areas regarding loving child-rearing. Young women should seek godly women’s advice regarding meeting their children’s practical physical and emotional needs, as well as their spiritual needs.

Older women: What can you teach us to help us love our children (or other children, if we don’t have our own)?

   3. To be self-controlled (v 5)

Self-control is an easily-understood concept, but difficult to implement. It includes controlling our speech, appetites (i.e., sex, eating, sleeping, etc.), thoughts, feelings, habits, and actions. Self-control is possible through God’s grace and some hard work.

Application: Older women can give advice as to how to build godly habits of self-control in individual areas of struggle for younger women.

Older women: What can you teach us to help us learn self-control?

             4. To be pure (v 5)

Purity refers to both our thoughts (Phil 4:8), speech (Eph 5:4),  and conduct (1 Pet 3:2). Women must maintain a pure thought life by guarding the things they read, watch, and do. Women must guard their speech, speaking only what is pure. Women must also have a biblical view of sex within marriage, understanding that it surely is a pure thing in the sight of God (Heb 13:4).

Application: Older women could help keep a younger woman accountable regarding her thoughts, speech, and/or conduct.

Older women: What can you teach us to help us be pure?

            5. To be working at home (v 5)

She is to be a hard worker. Her home duties are her primary responsibility (whether or not she additionally works outside of the home and/or has children). She should not be a lazy wife, refusing to take care of the duties of her home.

Application:  An older woman, who is a friend and mentor to a younger woman, could gently remind the young wife of her primary responsibilities.

               Older women: What can you teach us to help us be hard workers at home?

    6. To be kind (v 5)

The basic meaning of kind is “good.” While performing all the duties that being a wife and mother demand, we must never forget to be kind.

Jerry Bridges, a Christian author, defines kindness as “a sincere desire for the happiness of others” (The Practice of Godliness, p. 189).  He defines goodness as “the activity calculated to advance that happiness” (p. 189).

Application: Kindness and goodness—and their lack—are often visible to others. Older women must be sure to exemplify these attributes in order to properly mentor. A godly mentor can then point out a consistent lack of kindness and goodness to a younger woman.

Older women: What can you teach us to help us to be kind?

    7. To be submissive to their own husbands (v 5)

Submission to one’s husband is an ever-present battle. Older woman must be sure to be teaching the younger women first by their own example. This is often a key method of teaching.

Application: A woman struggling in this area should be able to seek practical help from an older, godly woman.

Older women: What can you teach us to help us be submissive to our husbands?

We’ve seen the way to live and the women who are to live this way. Paul concludes the chapter with a theological reason behind why we live this way. What is our motivation for living a godly life and teaching other women to live godly lives?

Why we Live it

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

Paul gives the reasons behind living godly lives in verse 11: “For the grace of God has appeared…” This grace does two things in this passage:

1. Grace brings us salvation (v 11)

2. Grace trains us to live godly lives (v 12)

It is God’s grace that not only brought salvation but also teaches that the necessary outcome of salvation is to deny that which is ungodly and to pursue that which is godly. But not only does grace teach this; it is the very purpose of the atonement not only to redeem but also to cleanse. This. . . is the message of grace that redeems and sanctifies (Mounce, Word Bible Commentary, p 434).

Conclusion: Older women have a great task and privilege before them. They have passed the “younger woman phase.” They should now model godly behavior and train younger women to do the same. They have an opportunity to evidence God’s grace that has been given to them as well as extend God’s grace to younger women by training them to live godly lives as well.

Younger women should be teachable and open to mentoring. Perhaps younger women should even be assertive in seeking out older women to mentor them.

Above all, both older women and younger women are to remember we live godly lives and teach younger women to do the same because God in His grace has saved us and graciously teaches us to live like He has saved us.

 **The above is part of First Baptist Church of Rockford’s Ladies Bible Study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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