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A Gauge for Women
Mother’s Day–Titus 2:1 to 5
I’m so grateful to whoever invented gauges. Why? Because they let you know when you’re headed for trouble, before it’s too late–before the battery runs dry, before the oil drains out and freezes the engine, before you wind the RPM’s up too high. The gauge will let you know you are headed for danger. The gauge will move from the green zone to the red zone, making you aware before the damage occurs.
Gauges are great–I only wish we had them for everything in life, not just for cars. Don’t you wish you had a gauge to let you know when you are easing into the red zone with your employer, warning you beforehand it’s time to be quiet and work extra hard? Then when solidly in the green, you’d know in advance that it’s a good time to ask for that raise, or it’s the best time to go on vacation.
Students, don’t you wish you had a gauge for school? You’d know on a red zone day you should be quiet and not goof off in class, because there is a good chance Mr. Jenson is going to explode. And on the green zone day, you’d already know that it’s okay to order out for pizza and have it delivered in class, because the gauge told you things are great.
Wish I had a gauge for preaching (bore, funny, sober). And wouldn’t it be great to have a gauge for your life? The good news is, after today you will. That’s right–the truths I’m about to share with you will act as a biblical gauge for you and your family, especially you ladies, if you let them. These truths will let you know when you’re solidly in the healthy green zone, when you’re red lining in the danger zone where you could do irreparable damage.
Today’s message is a gauge for women–to appreciate our ladies, and challenge them to live Christ-like. We are taking a small break from Mark, because it’s Mom’s Day, and the passage in Mark just didn’t fit. Take a look at your outline, for it will help you understand the gauge.
And for God’s goals, please open your Bibles to Titus 2. This book is about living the truths we believe. And in chapter 2, Paul tells us what each of our goals are in the family of God, and in our family at home, so all of us can know whether we are in the green zone or whether we’re red lining–headed for trouble. These qualities are actually living out sound doctrine–healthy truth that makes you like Christ.
There are four groups talked about in the first eight verses–each is a profile Paul provides to help us stay on target. We will emphasize our ladies in honor of Mother’s Day. It was Aristotle who said, “Like archers, we shall stand a far greater chance of hitting the target, if we can see it.” Paul’s delineating the lines of the target, giving us the goals of godliness.
#1 Mature Men Verse 2
Older men–we gotta start with men, cause men are listed first. What are God’s goals for older, more mature men? Now who, you ask, are the older men? Anyone older than I am! When Paul is talking to older men, the primary reference is not to chronological age. In the first place, you need to understand on Crete the average life span would be in the low forties. The primary emphasis is on spiritual maturity not chronological age, though normally we would expect a reasonable amount of time to have elapsed in a person’s life before they become an older or more mature Christian.
Spiritually in terms of maturity, a person who comes to Christ will mature if they are responding. If we have been Christians for a few years, we should be more mature. Time should work for us. We ought to be a lot further down the road, but the only way you can accelerate spiritual growth is by responding to the Spirit of God according to the Word of God.
In other words, in the Christian life maturity and spiritual strength are not determined by how long you’ve been in the boat, but by how hard you’ve been pulling on the oars. You can be old and spiritually immature. So we don’t miss it, Paul gives us the target of godliness. You achieve that for which you aim. But if you lose sight of your goals, then you concentrate on motion alone–and it is motion without meaning. What are the goals of the mature man?
First Paul underscores that an older man is to be TEMPERATE
Better understood as balanced, most of us suffer from the peril of the pendulum. We tend to react rather than act. The pendulum swings in one direction–then when we become aware of it, we react and end up in another extreme. Do I know anyone who is balanced? I don’t. The only ones who are balanced are going through the center on their way back to another extreme.
I believe Satan spends a great deal of his time pushing Christians to the extreme–because it really makes no difference whether he pushes you off the left or the right, just so he gets you off the target. And it is only the Spirit of God who can give you balance. It’s so refreshing to sit down with older men who have a balance you know has come from God.
Second The next goal listed for mature men is DIGNIFIED
This is literally worthy of respect. Gentlemen you need to know–respect must be earned. If you are constantly saying, “I don’t get no respect,” its because you don’t deserve it. Ask yourself, men, every single hour, every activity, every word–is it building respect, or is it shredding it?
Also known as self-control. Five times in this epistle this quality is repeated. How can we understand self-control? My old friend Ray used to eat ice cream and always leave a chunk of it at the bottom of his bowl. Finally I asked, “Why are you wasting ice cream?” He said, “I want to know that I am controlling the ice cream and that the ice cream is not controlling me.” That is self-control.
A goal for mature men is to have nothing apart from the Spirit of God and the Word of God control you–not money, food, sex, sports, hobbies, temper, emotions, habits—nothing. The last three goals are gauges of spiritual well-ment.
Fourth Sound in FAITH
List next to it ”Conviction”. Mature men are to be men of conviction–men who stand for truth. For men, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. There are a lot of men today who end up with both feet firmly planted in mid-air. Very few are willing to stand up and say, “That’s wrong!” or, “That’s error,” or, “That’s the right thing to do,” based upon God’s Word, which addresses everything directly or indirectly.
Your goal, as a mature man of God, is not to grow passive, but passionate about truth. And one of the benefits of growing older is that you should begin to sort out the essential from the trivial. What is a biblical truth and what is merely a tradition.
Fifth Sound in LOVE
God’s goal is for mature men to become not only men of conviction, but men of “Compassion”. Have you ever run into older men who are so crusty they are cynical? I don’t know what your observation is, but as people grow older, they either grow sweeter or sourer–they either get better or get bitter.
Paul says look, life is too short to spend all of your time with a root of bitterness. Focus on Jesus and His cause until heaven–not on unfairness, incomplete goals or disappointments. Ask God to give you a compassionate heart for people.
Sixth Finally Paul says, be a man who is healthy/sound in PERSEVERANCE
Aim at becoming a man who has great endurance in the race that finishes in heaven. This has to do with his commitment. Perseverance is a military term, which means to hold up courageously under fire–the ability to take the bullets and hang in there without compromise.
The ultimate test in your Christian life is not simply your entrance in the race, but your endurance to the end. Too many believers fade in the stretch. Paul says, Titus, I want you to set these goals out for the older men–teach them that it is God’s design. It is God’s gauge for every man of God, single or married. Aim for it. Now look at verse 3–there it talks about older women (this is Mom’s day).
#2 Mature Women
Now I will not attempt to define that–I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid. Because Paul calls young widows to get married, but older widows who are 60 plus to serve Christ, probably older is 60—sorry. First Paul sets forth three characteristics, then one responsibility to aim at for the older women.
First They are to be REVERENT
This means consistent–they’re someone you can rely on, you can count on them. The term reverence is used because it is always used of a person who lives their life before God. Their behavior at home, work, and church is lived for God. There is a godly fear that makes a woman a truly beautiful woman.
All genuinely godly women are beautiful. Reverence shows by the control of the tongue–one who listens more than talks. The reverent woman also thinks more than she feels–one who asks questions more than makes statements, one who doesn’t talk about others in conversation.
Second and third are both negative in verse 3—NOT SLANDER and NOT ADDICTED TO MUCH WINE
Slander is what comes out of the mouth, and much wine is that which goes in the mouth, and a consistent woman is a woman who can not only control her tongue but also her tummy. Wait–don’t look at me that way.
Look at James 3–James talks about a subject that’s in everyone’s mouth. The tongue in verse 2, “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” James is saying the last member to be mastered in your life is your mouth.
Either what comes out of it or what goes into it–if you can control your tongue, you have proof positive that the supernatural is at work. I don’t know where you are coming from, but in my life I have never regretted what I did not say–but have I regretted what I did say.
It is very interesting Paul talks about “not being given to much wine.” You need to understand that this was a problem in the first century, and it’s a problem in the 21st century–why? Because women in that culture as in ours were trying to cope with the stress of living with a brutish husband, a man who spent most of his time shacking up with other women, a man who was incredibly abusive, if not physically then verbally. And here were women who came to faith living in that kind of environment–drinking provided a false measure of escape. Believe me when I say that the highest percentage of alcohol abuse in America is among women in their 40’s and 50’s.
These are the three goals given for older women–consistent, tongue under control, no substance abuse. So here is the responsibility of older women at the end of verse 3.
Fourth TEACH, TRAIN, PASS ON WHAT IS GOOD TO YOUNGER WOMEN
Now don’t say, “I can’t teach,” because you can. You’re thinking in terms of someone who teaches, or a professor at school, but that is not what Paul is saying at all. He is saying those of you women who have been walking with Jesus Christ for 30+ years have much to contribute–pass on what you’ve learned.
And you younger women, don’t get blown away that you have to spend all that time at home with those kids, for that is the process of earning the right to have something to say when you are older. Paul is saying to these older women, you have earned the right to speak. You have lived and grown with those children, you have lived with that man, you have raised a generation—now I want you to teach what the Spirit taught you to the next generation . . . both from your successes and your failures. Pass on the principles that God taught you through your joys and sorrows. You see your life becomes the basis of your teaching.
Now allow me to make three brief observations—three thoughts:
1) Verses 4 to 5 contain the practical curriculum for older women to use to disciple younger women. There are good materials available, but you can’t improve on the Holy Spirit inspired curriculum. These are God’s principles (not programs)—therefore, if you stick with these seven (verses 4 to 5), you’ll make the greatest impact on the next generation of Christian women.
Notice what Paul says to you older women–he says, “train them”. This involves a process. You don’t get with a younger woman and say, “Number one, okay, love your husband? Good–we’ve polished that one off . . . next.” No–no sooner does any gal go out with the conviction that she is going to love her husband, and that very night he becomes the beast from the pit of despair. She will come back to you the next day, “I tried,” so you give the same assignment and provide encouragement.
2) Men are not to teach younger women. Timothy is not to teach the younger women. He is to teach the older women, who by virtue of the quality of their spiritual life are equipped to train the younger women.
I believer you are aware of the price we are paying for the violation of this truth–all the men in the ministry who have gone down the moral tubes. Do you realize the highest percentage of those men 19 to 20 who have disqualified themselves did so in the process of counseling younger women? That’s why our leaders won’t do it.
That’s why you mature women need to pick up the ball—because the ministry is paying a price that only eternity will reveal, since older women are not functioning in the training of younger women.
3) The focus of the Church is the next generation, without forgetting its responsibilities to shepherd its own. We’re to be investing in the young so they’ll carry on and surpass what we could have ever done for the Lord.
#3 Younger Women
Here are seven characteristics of what you are to be and do:
First They are to love their HUSBANDS
Second They are to love their CHILDREN
The word for love there is not agape–it’s not the “I am going to gut it out and choose to love them sacrificially with no feeling–only choice.” That’s not the word here. The word is phileo, from where we get the word Philadelphia–brotherly love, kindness, affection, liking. Phileo embraces that tender, caring concern in human relationships.
Do you know what that teaches me? It teaches me that you can learn to love–it’s an act of the will. Women say, “Well, I don’t love him, I don’t love them.” Then why don’t you try the supernatural alternative? Why don’t you allow Jesus Christ to love him through you? He will, if you choose to respond, and you will change.
I am still wondering why it takes an older woman to train a younger woman how to like her husband? Amazingly, many couples have found the secret to marital health is for the young wife to come under the training of older, godly women and actually listen and follow their wisdom.
I think you can evaluate any culture by its treatment of two groups of people–children and senior citizens, both of whom we are ripping off in America. So Paul adds, second, love your children. Isn’t it sad that most people are more interested in finding a nice place to live, than investing into a child? You talk about warped priorities–talk about loving the things of the world.
I hope we are affirming our younger women–why? Because they have been blown out of the saddle by their culture, which tells them that if they really want to be where it’s at, go after a happening career. Everything else is secondary. That’s wrong. So when they say, “You know I really ought to be spending more time with my kids,” affirm them! Say, “That’s wonderful, that is the best decision I have heard you make in a long time.”
Single Christian men, when a single gal says, “You know, what I’d like to do is to get married and raise godly kids,” don’t mock them—“M-R-S degree.” Praise them. We esteem our gals for that.
You realize, of course, that many couples don’t have both husband and wife work because they need the money to live, but they want the cash for a lifestyle. Though on the outside you can’t tell the difference, internally the difference between having enough to live and wanting to have it all now is that one is godly, and the other is worldly. One loves God and pursues His priorities, and the other loves the things of the world and pursues worldly desires.
Couples today are selling out their children in order to have what their parents had now, instead of waiting to work for it through time and sacrifice. And you can’t tell by their external choices, because it is not a work/job issue. It is a heart issue.
Third To be SELF-CONTROLLED
Here it is again–you almost think Paul runs out of words. No, he wants to emphasize how crucial self-control is. It’s a person who is not in bondage to anything–whose life is in order. Proverbs 25:28 warns, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man [or woman] who has no control over his spirit.”
God’s goal is for us to have our lives organized, like a city that is prepared for battle–aim for that target. This character quality is seen easiest by looking at your time, money, and sleep.
Fourth Young women are to be PURE
That means chaste and clean in mind and body. Prostitution was the order of the day on Crete–immorality is the order of the day in America. So God says don’t aim at how much you can watch or read and still call yourself pure, but pursue purity. What you think about, talk about, is a key to purity. What you wear shows where your heart is at.
Fifth Young women are TO BE BUSY AT HOME
Now please hear me–the issue is a matter of priority. It doesn’t mean a mother can’t work. It means that the issues of home need to be taken care of first, and that she is (if possible) to do her work at home, since the home is the base that God created for you. Don’t sell out–wrestle with it, pursue it, make sure its true.
Sixth Younger women are to LEARN TO BE KIND
The best way to describe the word “kind” is excellence. Put next to it, Proverbs 31, the excellent woman, whose husband safely trusts in her. Can I grab you with that woman? Does he trust you? Can he? The word “trust” is used of God, and the only other time it’s used is in relation of a husband toward his wife. Does he trust your purity, faithfulness, use of money, commitment to Christ? Can he trust you?
Seventh Younger women are taught TO BE SUBMISSIVE
Train them to be submissive to their husbands, not to someone else’s. Now the moment you mention the word submission, the average woman in America has a touch of paranoia. She is prone to throw up. So let me clarify four facts that submission is not.
Fact 1 Submission in the New Testament is never expressing value, but function. Like a pilot/co-pilot team, like a pitcher and catcher, both roles are crucial, though different—as Jesus to the Father.
Fact 2 Submission doesn’t mean a woman can’t or shouldn’t express her opinions. Hey, when you are married you become one. To not discuss or agree on vacation spots or major family decisions is dumb–you are one.
Fact 3 Submission doesn’t mean the wife should indulge in sin when her husband demands it. That is diametrically opposed to the Word of God. We obey our government, pay our taxes and fulfill our duties as citizens until the government orders us directly to disobey God–at that point we have to obey God rather than man. And the same thing is true is a biblically informed woman. Honor and obey in all things, except when your husband demands you sin–then you can’t.
Fact 4 Submission does not mean bowing to abuse. Women are not to submit to physical abuse. She needs to seek help (and entrust herself to God). So what is the purpose for submission? Look at verse 5–so that no one will malign the Scriptures. God invented submission–Jesus submits to the Father, the Holy Spirit to Jesus and the Father. It displays His character.
Let me ask you a question–are you making the Bible look untrue by your life, or does your lifestyle of submission underscore its truth? How a young woman lives in relation to her husband will either support the truth of the Bible, or it will malign it–no middle ground.
So here is the twenty dollar concluding question—will you do it? Will you follow this gauge—yes or no? There is a problem! You can’t–only Christ can. You must come to an end of yourself and turn to Christ, in salvation at the cross, or dependent sanctification. Let’s pray.