Important teaching for older men and others

Text Titus 2:2 Time 21/07/10 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church
We are looking at the letter of Paul to Titus and we have just begun to look at the second chapter. Chapter 2 begins with a call to Titus to teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Paul spells out what the various groups in the church need to be taught in particular.
We looked last time at verse 1 and also touched on some of the verses that follow. We made some general remarks on teaching in the church. Our main point was that we need to recognise the need of appropriate, sound teaching by the pastor and others to all members.
We said six things about this altogether. We spoke of the need to recognise 1. The need for teaching 2. The need for sound teaching 3. The need for appropriate teaching.
Then we spoke of the need to recognise that 4. Teaching is not the sole province of the pastor 5. All of us need teaching. And finally, 6. The impact that sound teaching can have.
After this opening verse, Titus is told what he needs to teach to four different groups - the older men ... the older women ... the younger women ... the young men.
It might be worthwhile, before we go any further, to remind ourselves of who we are talking about here. Some years ago I made a study of this matter and you will find that when the Bible speaks about young men or young women, it is talking about people under the age of forty and when it talks about older men and women it is talking about people over the age of sixty. Many of us are in that middle age bracket 40-60, if you are under 50 you are nearer the young people, if you are over 50 (as I am) nearer the older ones.
Paul wants four things in particular to be taught to the older men in the congregation. Obviously as with elders in Chapter 1 we are not saying that these are things that should only be found in older men. Rather, these are matters that in particular should be stressed to the older men. So we say

1. Older men and others remember the importance of being temperate
The first word used is the word temperate. You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate. The word used means to be sober-minded or watchful, circumspect. One might be tempted to think that as one grows older one can be less watchful, less vigilant. As you get older you think of easing down, retiring, taking things easier. In fact, says Paul to Titus, you really need to remind the older men to be temperate. Otherwise they will be a poor example to the younger men and will spoil their testimony in other ways too. There can be no slacking.
What sort of older men are we encouraging in this church? Bad tempered old men, who easily get cross and who say thinks that upset people, men who don't really care how they treat others.
Or are we encouraging them to be sober-minded, watchful, circumspect, men who are full of sweetness and light.
So what about us? Are we temperate? Are we circumspect? Are we increasingly careful in the way we live? That is how it should be in Christ.

2. Older men and others remember the importance of being worthy of respect
Paul goes on to say that these older men need to be taught to be worthy of respect. Grave is the word used in the AV. The ESV has dignified. Seriousness, sobermindedness again – these are the ideas. Sadly, in our day and age when the cult of youth is so strong older men are often not interested in being dignified, grave, worthy of respect. They too often want to relive their youth or prove to us that they are not fuddy duddies. Rather, increasingly we should be more and more grave, more and more dignified.
What sort of older men are we encouraging in this church? Men who command no respect from the young people, who are lacking in dignity, men who are always jokey and flippant and have nothing helpful to say.
Or are we encouraging them to be grave, dignified saints in Israel, men we can look up to and follow. That is how it should be.
Is there an increasing dignity about us? Are we growing more worthy of respect? That is what we should be aiming at.

3. Older men and others remember the importance of being self-controlled
Then we have another similar word – self-controlled. We are talking about a person who is moderate, prudent, who has himself – his passions and appetites – well under control. As we have said, when we get older we think of easing down, retiring, relaxing. Nevertheless, says Paul to Titus, you really need to remind the older men to be self-controlled.
What sort of older men are we encouraging in this church? Old men who take the conversation in unhelpful directions, who and say and do things that embarrass people.
Or are we encouraging them to be moderate, self-controlled, prudent.
What about all of us in general? Are we moderate? Are we prudent? Are we increasingly self-controlled? That is again how it should be in Christ.

4. Older men and others remember the importance of being sound in faith, love and endurance
The final thing he mentions is really in three parts. Titus must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. He must Teach the older men to be ... sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
So Paul repeats that word sound which we have said means healthy or whole. He wants the older men to be sound particularly in faith, in love and in endurance. It is almost the same as the famous trinity – faith, love and hope but instead of hope we have endurance. The idea is similar as we shall see. So
1. Sound in faith
Older men should be marked by faith. They should be sincere, always sticking to the truth of the gospel. They should not be eager to believe the latest thing or ready to turn to false doctrines. By the time a man is older he should be able to talk about his faith with some clarity and confidence.
Are we growing increasingly sound in the faith? Are we surer and surer of what we believe?
2. Sound in love
Older men should also be marked by Christian love. “He should have overcome, at his time of life,” says one writer “all the fiery, impetuous, envious, wrathful passions of his early years, and his mind should be subdued into sweet benevolence to all mankind.” How easy it is to get bitter in old age. How easy to be sceptical and so wary of being taken in that there is no room for compassion and kindness. How hard we need to work to keep ourselves loving towards all.
It is always good to consider 1 Corinthians 13 and remind ourselves what love is like (4-8).
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. It must not fail with us.
Are we growing more loving? Is love increasing?
3. Sound in endurance
If older men do not grow bitter they can easily become disappointed men. They can begin to faint. There is a lot to put up with in old age – the body is starting to go and ill health often becomes more frequent. There is inevitably the loss by death of more and more old friends. One can feel increasingly isolated and alone. Some Christians begin to wonder if it has all been worth it. Such people must be taught then to remain sound in endurance – they need to be shown how to keep on keeping on, as we all do. They need to know that they mustn't give up – why should they when they are now closer than ever to their goal.
Are we enduring? Are we filled more and more with hope? While outwardly we are perishing, are we being inwardly renewed day by day? That's how it should be.
We have a wonderful picture here then of the Christian man in old age. He is increasingly marked by soberness; he is increasingly dignified and worthy of respect; he is more and more self-controlled; his faith is growing stronger day by day as his love for believers and for everyone else; he feels increasingly confident in God about the future.
Sadly, however, this is not always how older Christian men come over. One writer complains that often “some of the most miserable old people around are Christians. They are cantankerous and obnoxious. Their youth is no longer there to protect them. They are seen for what their souls really are, without the camouflage of youth. ... Youth is excused for bad behaviour; but youth is no longer there to cover up. Old age exposes all the faults, habits, obnoxious characteristics, and degeneracy of soul.”
What a frightening thought. We need to take care that such a description doesn't fit us. It is no good waiting until we are older. We need to start now on the right path - the path of watchfulness, dignity, self-control and soundness in faith, love and endurance. How we need to look to God to help us.