3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. NIV
3 Likewise, tell the older women to behave the way people leading a holy life should. They shouldn’t be slanderers or slaves to excessive drinking. They should teach what is good, 4 thus training the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to take good care of their homes and submit to their husbands. In this way, God’s message will not be brought into disgrace. CJB
What does it mean? How do we obey it in real life?
We have talked about the need to pass the torch, to mentor and to be mentored. We have all agreed that we ought to support, encourage, and teach each other. We should give out of the riches we have been given. But we have not so far discussed what we are supposed to teach, the real subject of this passage –the reason it’s in the Bible
Elisabeth Elliot on Titus 2:3-5:
“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.
It is doubtful that the Apostle Paul had in mind Bible classes or seminars or books when he spoke of teaching younger women. 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.
You don’t have to be a mother or a mother-in-law to apply Titus 2:3-5. Just take a look around and you will find many motherless women in need of that listening ear and practical advice. Give them a call. Offer to babysit or make a meal. Be their friend. “Show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart” so that she “may glimpse the mystery of charity and the glory of womanhood.”
(Elisabeth Elliot, “A Woman’s Mandate,” from Family Practice, ed. R.C. Sproul, Jr. (Phillipsbur, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2001), p 62.
I agree. It is so important that we love our sisters in Christ by serving them and working for their practical good. And mentoring relationships often begin in small acts of service.
But I would like to add that we are also called to teach intellectual substance in an intentional, yet organic manner. In the same way that we are all called to share the truth of the gospel, we should be equipping ourselves and then looking for opportunities to open up so that we can walk in and teach.
I Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
The reason for the hope I have as a believer is also the reason why I do what I do, and for why I live my life the way I do. Our lives ought to demonstrate what we truly believe, and in fact they do.
There are foundations to be laid, premises to establish. There are also strongholds to be torn down. The world all around us is relentlessly tearing apart the family, and you, Mom. Minimizing you, calling you a myth, demoralizing you.
So let’s follow the instructions we know we can trust. First of all, the instructions for the older women:
to be reverent in the way they live
not to be slanderers
or addicted to much wine
but to teach what is good
It doesn’t seem too difficult—I shouldn’t be a malicious gossip or an alcoholic—easy!
Wait. “To be reverent and to teach what is good” sets the bar pretty high. These require a singular state of mind where a woman is focused on the Lord and His call on her, day-to-day in real time. These older women had to have accomplished that which they were to teach. They had been living their faith.
Having established the requirements for an older woman teacher, the text tells us what these women are to teach.
Then they can urge the younger women to:
Love their husbands and children
to be self-controlled
to be busy at home
to be kind
and to be subject to their husbands
so that no one will malign the word of God.
Since they were to teach these things, the younger women must have needed instruction in these tasks.
Don’t we still need these instructions?
Do we not need reminders to consistently love our husbands? Is it natural to love when we feel it, or to love consistently?
Do we not need some accountability to stay pure in our current culture?
Are we human beings prone to laziness and carelessness? Do we not need encouragement to make our houses into homes?
Do we need someone to share with us a vision for cultivating our homes and families?
Are we always kind? Do we tend to serve ourselves?
Do we need encouragement to be subject to our husbands? Do we need to understand why that makes sense, in contrast to the culture we live in? Don’t we need the example of women who are joyfully submissive while freely sharing their gifts for the benefit of their families?
And finally, do we need reminders every minute that we are constantly representing God in this world?
The ultimate object is that God would not be maligned. How we represent God is of ultimate importance. It’s always about Him.
Prepare to give a reason for why you live the way you do. Be ready to share your hard-won insights on cultivating relationships within your family; on how and why to live on your husband’s income; on why you have adopted Biblical roles in your marriage; on discipling your children consistently; on how you teach your children not to conform to this culture.
You are a wellspring of philosophical support and encouragement. You can live Titus 2.
I say we get busy.