Important teaching for older women and others

Text Titus 2:3 Time 28/07/10 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church
We are looking at the letter of Paul to Titus and we have 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 first at verse 1 and also touching 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 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.
We then 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.
As I said last time 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 40 and when it talks about older men and women it is talking about people 60 and over. 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.
Last time we saw that 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. We said that older men and others need to remember

1. The importance of being temperate
2. The importance of being worthy of respect
3. The importance of being self-controlled
4. The importance of being sound in faith, love and endurance

This time we will consider the older women and what Paul says in a similar way.

1. Older women and others remember to be reverent in the way you live
Having spoken about what the older men were to be taught Paul goes on in verse 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be and then follow some four instructions particularly for them. The first thing they were to be taught was to be reverent in the way they live. The word reverent is only found here in the New Testament. The idea is that they should behave in away that is appropriate for a sacred place. Reverence is to mark the way that older women go about things. They should act in a way that fits with being holy. That would include the things just mentioned with regard to the older men - being temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Obviously holiness is an inward thing but it must show itself outwardly to some extent.
Calvin says “We very frequently see, that females advanced in age either continue to dress with the lightness of youthful years, or have something superstitious in their apparel, and seldom hit the golden mean. Paul wished to guard against both extremes,by enjoining them to follow a course that is agreeable both to outward propriety and to religion; or, if you choose to express it in simpler language, to give evidence, by their very dress, that they are holy and godly women.”
There is a tradition of calling ministers (like myself) reverend. It is a term of respect. I always think that if it is used it ought to be a reminder to me that I should be reverend in fact not just in name. Of course, it is not only the minister who should be reverend. It obviously is not something that applies only to ministers and older women, it should be seen in all Christian people, men and women, old and young.
So what about us? Are we increasingly marked by reverence in the way we live?

2. Older women and others remember not to be slanderers
The second thing he mentions is negative. These women are not to be slanderers. Literally, he says they must not be devils. As you know, the word devil like Satan means accuser or slanderer.
One feature of life for many older women is the time to sit and talk a bit more. The danger of such an opportunity is that your tongue runs away with you and you start saying things you shouldn't including slanderous things against others. Older women, like us all, need to take care not to fall into that sin of the tongue. We live in a culture where slander and gossip are felt to be quite acceptable and it is easy to start thinking like those around us. We must rather resist. Whenever we start speaking about others we need to take great care that we do not speak against them. If we do, we need to be doubly sure we are not falling into the sin of slander, which is condemned so often in the New Testament. See Titus 3:1, 2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
Are you a slanderer? Are you guilty of doing the devilish work of gossiping and running down other people?

3. Older women and others remember not to be addicted to too much alcohol or other drugs
Then he warns (verse 3) against being addicted to much wine. The ESV translates or slaves to much wine. An addiction is like being a slave to something. I think that it is clear that at that time and in that place alcoholic wine was drunk. Paul never condemns the drinking of wine. He does, however, condemn drunkenness and here he warns against this danger of being addicted to much wine. Again, older women were no doubt in this danger because of the extra leisure time to sit and to talk. Thankfully, today, tea and coffee are still the order of the day and so the danger is lessened – “the cup that cheers and doth not inebriate” as Cowper called tea. There are other dangers, however – too much prescription medicine, too much watching worldly soap operas on TV. The danger of addiction and over consumption is everywhere, especially for people with a little extra time on their hands.
Again this is something that we all need to take care over. People often speak of an addictive personality and some do seem more prone to addictions than others. We are all capable of addiction, however, because we are all creatures of habit. One way in which our bodies and personalities work is by means of habit. Habit is a great thing if we are in a good habit – habitually reading the Bible, praying, going to church, showing kindness to others, being thoughtful and so on. If, however, the habit is a bad one - habitually not reading the Bible, not praying, not going to church, being unkind and thoughtless and so on – that is no good at all. We all need to look out for little addictions that creep into our way of life and that can be harmful. When we have time on our hands it is important that we make good use of it and not endanger our souls by becoming addicted to what is ultimately unhelpful.

4. Older women and others remember to teach what is good
The other main thing that Paul wants Titus to encourage the older women to is rather to teach what is good. By this means (4) they can train the younger women. Rather than squandering their time on slandering people and getting addicted to too much wine, older women should see their later years as a golden opportunity to do some teaching, especially with younger women.
I don't think Paul has in mind a classroom setting here but something altogether more spontaneous and informal. As we have said, teaching cannot all be left to the pastor, others must play their part. Titus has to teach the older men and women and the younger ones to some extent but the older ones themselves must also be teachers of what is good. In particular Paul envisages the older women teaching the younger women. First and foremost this will be their own daughters, of course, but clearly Paul envisages something beyond that.
Again, there is a broader application here. We are all to be teachers of what is good. We are to model goodness in our lives and use the opportunities that come our way, formal and more informal, to teach by words. What is included in this training programme for younger women is briefly spelled out here - 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. These are really subtle hints at what should characterise the younger women in particular, however, and we will look at these things another time, God willing. The main final point for now is the importance of us all being teachers of what is good.
So here are four things to pray for older women in the church. Pray that they will be reverent in the way they live, not slanderers or slaves to drink or anything else that would only harm them in the end. Pray rather that they will be great teachers of what is good especially so that the next generation of women is well trained in self-control, purity, being busy at home, being kind and being subject to their husbands.
At the same time let us consider what we can do to be more reverent in the way we live, more careful against slandering others or getting addicted to things that may harm us. And what about teaching good things to others and training the younger members of the church up. What can we do there? How can we promote the sort of things that are mentioned here?