Topic: English Passage: Titus 2:3-5
Officially, the United States Congress declared the second Sunday of May to be Mother’s Day back in 1914. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long until controversy came. Flowers, candies, cards, restaurants—all these groups came to realize how profitable the day could be. And many, many people capitalized. No longer was it a day to honor Mothers; it was a day to make a lot of money.
Unfortunately, the result of that kind of commercialism is women may be honored who really don’t deserve any recognition. On the other hand, many families who receive the faithful love and service of a mom, think they’ve honored their mom with just a flower and a card on one day of the year.
More foundational, though, to who should be honored and how they should be honored, is the question of motherhood or womanhood itself. Today, we have to answer a question like: What does it mean to be a woman? Or, What should we expect from a woman?
There are many in the culture who think that nobody has the right to answer that question. It should be left up to each person to decide for themselves. Not only to decide what a woman is supposed to be, but even to decide if you get to be a woman. The implicit question in this is: Who do we think we are to decide what a woman’s life is supposed to be like?
Well, the answer to that is, we are nobodies. We don’t have the right to decide what a woman is supposed to be like. But, we know someone who does. God created women. God created mothers.
And He has already told us His design. And so we have a decision. We can define womanhood by the culture, or by what God has told us in His word. The culture is not authoritative. The culture is not right. Whether it says women are supposed to like the color pink, or that women are superior to men. Everything has to be measured by the word of God.
Proverbs 31:10 asks the question: An excellent wife who can find? That question has always been appropriate. We can recognize that our culture stands against God’s word, but we can’t act like this is the first time this has happened.
In the first century, Roman society had its own ideas of a praiseworthy woman. And every church had to guard itself from that kind of thinking. It was especially important to new converts who came out of a pagan background and had never heard the message of Jesus Christ before.
This was especially the case on the island of Crete. Crete is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and it was a place Paul had ministered to along with his close friend Titus. Paul had to move on, leaving Titus alone. But Paul wrote him a letter.
Titus, chapter 1, verse 5 tells us that Paul’s command to Titus was to appoint elders in every town. The verses that follow give an explanation of what to look for in an elder. And beyond all the moral qualities, verse 9 says he has to be able to teach others and rebuke those who contradict.
Elders defend the church against false teaching, against the pull of the culture. And that’s what was Crete needed.
False teachers were using Christianity for their own benefit. They didn’t care about the truth. They didn’t care about holiness. And they were a negative influence to others. In fact, they led the church to be just like the culture around them. Verse 12 of Titus 1 tells us that the people from Crete were known as liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. So Paul gives Titus another instruction in verse 13(b).
That word “sound” is a key word in Titus. It refers to something that is good or healthy. These false teachers were moving people away from it. Look at their description in verse 16.
They’re unqualified. Paul wants a church known for good works. He wants a godly church. So, in contrast to those false teachers, here’s what Paul tells Titus to do. Chapter 2, verse 1.
Titus needs to be different. He needs to teach healthy, correct doctrine, and he needs to connect that truth to a holy life. He needs to connect justification with sanctification. And he needs to do it, not just in his own life, but in the lives of others. Paul is saying to Titus: Help these people connect sound, good, healthy doctrine with sound, good, healthy living.
A change of doctrine, without a change of life is cold and dead. It’s hypocrisy. It’s missing power. On the other hand, a change of life without a change of doctrine is empty. That’s called moralism. It’s missing the truth. It saves no one. We need both. We need healthy doctrine and healthy lives.
So, Paul goes on to tell Titus how different groups are supposed to behave in the world. And keep in mind: this is not just for the first-century. This is a lifestyle rooted in God’s eternal, sound truth. It’s a lifestyle that matches (and lines up with) good doctrine.
Our focus for today is the words for the women. We started out with the question: What do you look for in a godly woman? How are you supposed to know if a woman is worthy of praise?
When I bought my wife’s engagement ring I was told to look at cut, color, clarity, and carat. That’s what determines how valuable a diamond is. Well, when you look at a woman, I’ve got three categories to look at: her conduct, her connections, and her concern. Her conduct, her connections, and her concern. And we’ll look at these one at a time because they are what God’s word points us to. Let me read the section to you first: Titus 2:3-5.
The older women of verse 3 points to those who are done raising children. At that time it was about 50-60 years old. And the first thing he points out is a woman’s conduct.
They should be reverent in their behavior. In the way they live. Another word would be dignified or honorable.
In the Greek culture, this was a word used at times to talk about a woman who served as a priestess. It means a woman who was acceptable or appropriate for temple service. This is a woman who takes seriously the fact that she belongs to God. This would everything observable about her. She is a person who seeks to honor God in everything she does. And what she looks like on the outside is an expression of what she values inside her heart.
Older women will demonstrate what they value by how they look and what they do. Do they value godliness? Or do they value something else, whatever it is? Paul goes on to give two specific examples of what shouldn’t be in her life.
First, he says: She is not to be a malicious gossip or slanderer (this is also from verse 3). Slander or gossip is a serious sin. It is talking in a way that brings others down or elevates yourself. The Greek word here is diábolos. It’s the term for Satan, the arch-slanderer. Slander was so serious that in 1 Timothy 5:13 it disqualified a woman from being helped by the church.
This is a distinct temptation to older women, I imagine. They see more. They observe more. And sometimes their genuine concern for others turns into gossip. Sometimes a prayer meeting for older women is really just a way for them all to catch up on the gossip in the church. Not good conduct for a godly woman.
The second negative term is this: Not enslaved to much wine. Not addicted to it. Similar to our culture today, first-century Crete admired heavy drinkers. There were tombstones that praised a person’s ability to drink alcohol. Drunkenness was so bad of a problem that Paul mentions it in every list of qualifications for a leader. Not to be enslaved to wine or a drunkard. To be sober.
Elderly women stayed home generally, which meant they had constant access to the wine. First Timothy 5 alludes to wine being used for medicinal purposes, so it’s possible that elderly women were prone to abuse it. I think of the women today addicted to wine or pain medication. Paul says: don’t be enslaved. Don’t be addicted.
And, just so you know, this is not using the word “addiction” in the same way many think of addiction today. Paul assumes the “addict” is not a victim. She is guilty for her lack of self-control. She is not a godly woman.
You want to know what a godly woman is like? Look at her conduct. Is she reverent? Is she dignified and holy? Or is she a gossip? Is she enslaved to alcohol?
Now, there’s a second category to look at in a woman. After looking at her conduct, look also at her connections. Her connections. Conduct is a good thing, but it’s not supposed to end there. Holy conduct is what enables holy connections. It gives credibility. A woman’s conduct deals with her personal life. But her connections deal with how she influences others.
The end of verse 3 says a gospel-honoring woman should “teach what is good.” Teach what pleases God.
This isn’t talking just about formal instruction, as if every woman is supposed to have her own little school. Paul is talking about older women teaching through their words, their life, their example. Older women need to be teaching what is good so that (verse 4) they may train the young women. They are supposed to have effective connections.
The word for “train” there is pretty strong. It almost has the idea of knocking the sense back into someone or waking them up. And it probably indicates how bad things were in the churches on Crete.
Now listen: God doesn’t say that only some women are supposed to teach others. It’s an expectation of all the women. And it’s a huge responsibility. Older women are training new moms who will one day train another generation of moms. I worked in a restaurant training new waiters and waitresses. I recognize that training someone is inefficient. It’s messy. It slows you down. But that’s what the older women are called to do.
A younger woman might be able to find most recipes on the internet. But the internet won’t tell them how to do so with love and gentleness and prayer.
A large group of worldly young women is dangerous for a church. And God’s strategy for equipping the young women in a church is to have strong, healthy older women. Women whose doctrine affects their conduct, and whose conduct flows into their connections. They model. They mentor.
Verses 4 and 5 tell us what these connections should produce in others. We don’t have the time to dig as deeply as I want to into these terms, but let me read them to you. Titus 2:4-5a.
A godly woman’s connections will move other women toward Christ’s love, toward compassion and affection. It will move others to think clearly and not be dominated by their desires. It will encourage others to sexual purity. It will move them to kindness and consideration.
And the thrust of these commands has to do with a woman’s role in the home. Being a “worker at home” doesn’t mean that a woman can’t work outside the home. Proverbs 31 tells us she can. This phrase is talking about diligence in the home. God’s design for woman is that they be the primary caretaker of the home and the children. And that is hard work.
The woman who is diligent in the home is the opposite of the adulterous woman in Proverbs 7, who is loud and wayward. Her feet do not stay at home. A diligent woman is the opposite of those in 1 Timothy 5:13, who do no housework and are lazy. They go from house to house being gossips and busybodies.
Women are a very vital and special part, not just in the life of a kid, but in the plan of God. Repeatedly in Proverbs we hear of the instruction a mother gives her child. Timothy, another one of Paul’s representatives, was greatly affected by the faith of his mother and his grandmother.
And when the culture is out there saying a woman can find her true identity outside the home. We need to be ready to respond with the truth. A woman finds her true identity in Jesus Christ. And if you’re married or have kids, God’s design is for you to serve there. To work hard at that.
The last thing Paul lists for older women to teach younger women is to be submissive to their own husbands. This is not the only time this is mentioned in the Bible. It’s part of God’s design.
Modern feminism is nothing new. It was around in every generation. And part of this is made even more difficult because of the curse of Genesis 3. Women have a desire to rule. Man’s sinful nature can make him passive or cruel. But a woman’s sin will keep her from humble submission.
Submission doesn’t mean inequality, but it means she honors her husband. She works under his care, seeking to serve him. It’s interesting to notice that the New Testament never instructs a man to demand or take authority. It instructs the wife to submit. It comes from her heart, her own voluntary choice. And notice also, this isn’t saying that all women are supposed to submit to all men. The women are submissive to their own husbands.
These are the kinds of things that the connections of a godly women will produce. That’s what her conversation will promote in other women.
These things don’t come easy. Young women need the help of older women. They need someone to share the struggle and bear those burdens. They need someone to point out blind spots and point them to Christ and His word.
A godly woman will develop relationships with younger woman so that they can speak into their lives. Do you want to know is a woman is worthy of praise? Look at her conduct, and look at her connections. How is she influencing others?
There’s one final category to look for in a godly woman. Her concern. Her concern. This comes at the end of verse 5.
What is supposed to be a woman’s main concern? What’s her priority? What’s her motivation in all this? To be known as a great mom? No, it can’t end there. Her conduct enables her connections with others. But even that isn’t the end. What the big picture here? What does it say?
So that the word of God may not be dishonored. Do you remember what we said was the background to Titus? You’ve got Christian people living in a sinful culture. And Paul wants there to be fruit. He wants the good doctrine to show itself in a good life. He wants the lives of the Christians to point people back to the life and message of Jesus Christ.
What does it say to someone if they come to church and all they see are people whose lives look just like the rest of the world. It says God’s message is meaningless.
The word of God is reviled. It’s slandered. People talk bad about God’s word, God’ name, This is the primary concern of a godly woman. The glory of God. Not just in the church, but among the unbelieving world
If you say you believe God, but you don’t obey Him, His word is dishonored. Holiness is not just about you. It’s not just about having a clear conscience. It’s about eliminating any reproach on the Scripture. It’s about making sure Christianity isn’t mocked. It’s about making sure there is no legitimate attack on Christianity. It’s about the reputation of the Church among non-believers. It’s about removing the barriers between non-believers and the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s about people coming to salvation for the glory of God. It’s about effective evangelism.
This is the ultimate concern of a godly woman. This is her motivation. She wants to be known for godly conduct so that she can have meaningful connections to others, so that she can influence those inside the church, so that the message of Christ advances.
This is the whole point if this section in Titus. Whether Paul is talking about men or women or slaves, his goal is an effective witness in the world. Look at verse 8, speaking of young men. Verse 8.
Look at verse 10, speaking of slaves. Verse 10.
Godly living, holy conduct, holy connections, edifying relationships exist so that the word of God is honored. The truth of God is adorned. It’s attractive. It’s beautiful.
Whether you’re a mom or a dad or a single person: listen to this. Holiness is about more than yourself. Personal godliness makes us an effective witness to unbelievers. Your life will either strengthen or weaken not only your own personal witness, but the witness of our church as a whole.
This is to be your primary concern. Honoring God. Exalting His word. And being a faithful witness to His truth. And this is supposed to be the final concern of a godly woman.
How can you tell which women stand out among the rest? What should we look for in a women of God? We look at her conduct. We look at her connections. And we look at her concern. We look at what ultimately motivates her.
And her motivation should be the glory of God. The glory of Jesus Christ.
Is that your main concern? Is that your final motivation?
Is your life marked by connections with others that encourage them to godliness?
Is your life marked by holy conduct?
If not, what do you do about it? You draw closer to Jesus Christ through the word of God. The grace of Jesus Christ is the basis for these things. The grace of Jesus Christ enables you to obey God in these areas.
Remember, Paul always wants to connect sound, healthy doctrine with sound, healthy lives. And he does it again at the end of this chapter. He connects salvation to righteous living. He reminds us that the same Jesus who saved us is the Jesus who sanctifies us.
Let me just close by reading Titus 2:11-14. This reminds us that personal godliness is not only vital, but possible in Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-14.
If your mom is near you or another women you want to encourage, just stretch your hand out and place it on them as we pray for them and for our entire church.
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