I have a young son, he is eleven years old. He is still a child but on his way to manhood and still has the teenage years to maneuver through. I have no men in my life to help me teach him how to become a man and so I turn to the Bible for guidance. Proverbs is a great instruction manual for boys especially since it was written by a father for his sons. I turn to Proverbs often for bits of wisdom to use but there is another place that I have found that gives me some much-needed insight. The little epistle in the New Testament of Titus teaches what sound doctrine is and so I want to explore the subject of sound doctrine.
You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 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. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 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. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:1-8, (New International Version or NIV).
The first think I notice in this passage is that sound doctrine is used to govern behavior. Most of the time when I think of sound doctrine church policy comes to mind. Knowing what a church, a local body of believers, actually believes about who Christ is and where the believer fits into God’s divine plan is what I think of as sound doctrine. However, that is not what the Apostle Paul when writing to Titus was thinking about. I suspect that Paul was assuming since he is writing to a Christian teacher/preacher those weighty portions of doctrine are already in practice and in their belief system. We could say that Paul’s instructions to Titus are really nothing more than how to be a good teacher of sound doctrine, how to apply who we are in Christ and our place in Christ’s kingdom on a daily basis. And that is all about behavior!
I love that the first group of people Paul gives instruction on how to behave is men and not just all men but the older men! Wow! Most older men think they don’t really need instruction on their behavior but Paul tells Titus to teach older men some very specific things, mainly to have self-control. Older men are to be temperate, which usually means to be in control of yourself, not extreme in anything but moderate your actions and behaviors. I always think of temperate as men who aren’t drunken fools. They are also to have earned respect from those around them, their home, their community, in the work place and so forth. They are to be self-controlled and are to be solidly grounded in their faith in Christ Jesus. They are to demonstrate love and have endurance. In other words they are kind and compassionate but not push-overs. Paul describes older men I have known from my family, my Dad, my Great-Uncle Vern, and many more too numerous to mention. I am thankful that I had men in my life who were good role models and who took the Bible seriously.
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. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 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. Vs 3-5.
The next group to teach is the older women. I can say that I now am a part of that group so I better pay attention to Paul’s words. Teach older women to be reverent in the way they live. What does that mean exactly? Well reverent means to show deep respect to God and I would say to others as well. Be respectable and be serious in living a respectable life. Older women are not to be slanderers. Someone who spreads harmful lies about someone else is a slanderer. We older women are not to spread such lies. And older women are not to be addicts, well not to wine at least! I can’t think of a more pathetic sight than an old woman who is drunk, unless it is an old man who is drunk. Don’t drink to forget your sorrows ladies, please! There really is a better way to handle our life than drugs and alcohol. Always teach what is good. It is the responsibility of older women to teach younger women to love their children, their husband, and to take care of their responsibilities. We are to encourage them to be pure, which means we don’t encourage them to have an affair or talk about how cute that young guy’s butt is or encourage female pornography. We teach them to be kind and to be a helpmate to their husband. Because many of us were stay-at-home wives and Mothers we are to encourage younger women that the role of housewife and mom is an honorable role and for those who must work outside the home we can support and encourage them as well. We older women need to step up and teach the next generation of women how to be Godly women; it is our duty and our pleasure. I love to encourage younger women just as I was encouraged as a young wife and mom. Paul even states the goal of such teaching, so that no one will malign (criticize) the world of God.
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. Vs 6.
The next group Titus is to teach is young men. Now here is where my ears perk up because I am in the process of rearing a boy into manhood and it won’t be long until he is a young man. So what do we see Titus is to teach a young man? They are to have self-control as the foundation in their life. I believe that if more young men were able to have self-control today there would be no reason for prisons. There would be no rape, no bullying, no hazing, no murder, no intoxication, no stealing, and so on and so on. It must be possible to teach young men to have self-control or otherwise Paul wouldn’t have instructed Titus to teach it, right? So when does this instruction begin? The moment they are born. I am trying my best to teach my son to control his wiggles, his giggles, his jiggles and his swiggles. He just wants to move and explore and touch everything! He has been learning my boundaries for years now and hopefully one day Mom will succeed! I am training up a great husband for some great gal, just sayin! As we enter into the realm of teenage years my work will continue. I know that I will need the help of the men from church to give this boy a well-rounded education on being male so I am glad to see Paul instructing Titus to teach the young men. I can’t do it all alone.
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Vs 7-8.
Then Paul reminds Titus to be a good role model for everyone he is teaching. Whether we are old or young we have someone watching our life and we must always be a good role model for others. For some it is being a role model to their children, for others that time has passed and we are to be role models for grandchildren or for the neighbors, for people in our community and our church. We all have something to contribute to someone if we just look for opportunities. I love that about being a Christian. I am never too old or used up to be a guide for someone else on their journey. I hope you see the importance of your own life and find opportunities to practice sound doctrine by applying it and then passing on what you have learned to others.
I think of a day when I was opening my own checking account, the one that would bear my name only and not Mr. and Mrs. I was upset and scared and worried and feeling like everyone in the bank was staring at me like I had a big D stamped on my forehead or something. I felt ashamed of my situation because I was in the process of a divorce that I didn’t believe in nor wanted. I wondered how I had gotten to this point and what would be next for me. I was a nervous wreck and on the verge of tears yet fighting for control because I was in a very public place in my town. The woman who was helping me went to my church and I had sought her out because I thought she would not gossip about me or my situation. She reached out and placed her hand on mine and said that she understood and that she now saw why she had endured many hardships earlier in her life when she went through an unwanted and unplanned divorce. I was shocked to know that she had once been in my shoes because to me she was a happily married woman. She was such a comfort to me and navigated me through that moment in time and many other moments to come. She had been through a painful divorce and as I heard her story I understood that God had placed her in my path to teach me that I too would survive and would even thrive because I was His child. She gave me advice and encouragement that could only come from someone who had been through the pain of divorce country and lived to tell about it. I am forever grateful for this dear sister in Christ.
As you live your life remember that you have a responsibility to teach others how to live out the Christian life. If you are young and don’t know what to do then please seek out an older person to help mentor you. If you are older, then please watch for the struggling younger person and come alongside them to give instruction and encouragement. That is all part of living out sound doctrine daily. We all will answer to God one day and when my day comes I hope that I have been an encouragement to others.
Until next time…Katherine