I’ve mentioned Titus 2:4-5 before. I’m trying to memorize it.
“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.”
As with all Scripture, we are to ask ourselves the question: “What is the context for this passage?” AND let’s go a step further: to figure that out, let’s ask “What is the context for the whole book of Titus?” WHY was Paul writing this letter? In this case, Paul made it pretty easy to figure out. If we just go back and read the letter of Titus as a whole (which, it’s not very long), we can see that he clearly stated the reason for writing the letter in Titus 1:5:
“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you…” (he goes on to list the qualifications of elders)
So, Paul wrote to Titus concerning the additional things of which he needed to encourage the churches on the Island of Crete, so that the churches might become mature churches. In the book of Titus he talks about:
- 1:5-16: qualifications of elders (and a warning to silence false teachers in the church – v. 10-11)
- 2:1-15: responsibilities of those in the church, broken down by category; older men, younger men, older women, younger women, servants
- 3:1-15: how we as Christians are to live to be a witness to the world around us, specifically doing good deeds and meeting pressing needs
It is clear that Paul wanted these churches to become strong, active witnesses for Jesus Christ within their own communities.
Secondly, in chapter 2 we see the church is presented as a household, a family of families (older men/younger men, older/younger women).
Okay, now that we’ve established the context, let’s get into what specifically applies to us as women. We see in Titus 2 that “older” women are to teach the “younger” women.
How are you to know if you are “older” or “younger”?
Think of it this way – no matter how old you are, you have had some life experiences that others around you have not had yet. And also, you may have not experienced what others have. No matter your age – you are a “older” woman to some women, and a “younger” woman to some women.
So, it is up to YOU to pass on what you have learn, to “teach” or “encourage” women AND to be listening and taking in what others say to you.
This is how it works: There is always the need (and command!) for someone to teach someone else for the purpose of building up the body and honoring God. This whole structure is for the benefit of sound, healthy, harmonious community life. When we live balanced, godly, harmonious lives in the church community and in our own homes, we make an impact for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And not only are we commanded in this way, but we, as women CRAVE encouragement from other women. And it’s great to be in a relationship with someone who has recently been in your shoes. She knows what you are going through and remembers going through something similar.
I love the way that Vern Poythress, a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, sums it up in his book The Church as a Family:
“The order of the church is analogous to the order of a human household. Members of the church are to treat one another as they would members of their own family (1 Timothy 5:1-2). They are to care for one another in need (1 Tim. 5:5, 16). The overseers are to be men skillful at managing the household of God, as demonstrated by their earlier skill with their own immediate families (1 Tim. 3:1-7).”
Think About Your Church – Be the Instigator
We want this teaching/learning to happen in our community of believers. It’s vital for it to happen in our community of believers. How can we encourage older women and younger women to take on their roles and responsibilities?
First, we need to have gatherings where this can happen. Some of it can happen during a traditional church service, but it’s very hard. As families are interacting with one another, moms are easily distracted by caring for their kids and not really able to participate or truly engage in conversation with other women.
I don’t have all the answers and I’m continuing to ask these questions myself. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with:
- Find a mentor and MAKE time to meet with her once every other week (without kids, if possible).
- Create casual times to hang out as groups of older and younger women. Then be purposeful in your conversation. I’ve started a mom’s group and my goal is to make it as un-chaotic (yes, I know that’s not a word) as possible so that the kids can play on their own and us moms can focus on the conversation (well, as much as is possible). Then, I want to have a topic of conversation in mind to bring up that would allow us to share our experiences and encourage one another. As Titus 2 talks about, I’ll be thinking specifically of the topics of: loving our husbands, loving our children, being sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, and being subject to our own husbands.
- Be a mentor to someone. Look around me and see who I can serve
Are you following Titus 2’s command that older women are to teach younger? If so, how so and how could you improve?