Mothers and Wives: No Slander and No Excess
March 14, 2012
By John Barnett
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Christ's church was born into a sin-warped, sin-darkened world of mixed-up marriages, sin-scarred lives, and confused families.
But men and women who were gloriously saved did not automatically become great wives and mothers, or husbands and fathers. When they came to Christ and were forgiven, God graciously gave them everything they needed to become godly wives, mothers, husbands, and fathers. But, they needed something else. They need worship services that taught them to believe correctly, and then they needed small group discipleship times to learn how to behave correctly.
These new believers needed coaching, training, modeling, and encouraging in a one-on-one relationship. Godly behavior is a series of choices; and those men and women had to be nurtured in daily skills that would lead to loving marriages and families.
And that is the vital ministry which we find captured for us in Titus 2.
Christ's Church Used Coaches in Godly Living
Christ's church grew into the potent force for changing the world in the quiet nurturing sessions that Titus 2 men and women performed in practical discipleship. Just as important as the preaching and teaching of the doctrines of God's Word was the modeling and nurturing of individual saints through practical hands-on lessons in godly living.
The building blocks of Christ's church are Spirit-filled men and women. Lives given daily as obedient servants of God.
God wants men and women that will mentor, nurture, and coach godly living for His church. These individuals believe that God has called them to touch one life at a time for His glory.
For just a moment please follow along in your Bibles in Titus 2:1-8, as I again read those 12 special character traits for men and women. Then we will go back to our word-by-word look at the Titus 2 woman of God. StandReadPray
v.1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: v.2 that the older men be:
4. sound in faith,
5. [sound in] love,
6. [sound in] patience;
v. 3 the older women likewise, that they be
1. reverent in behavior,
2. not slanderers,
3. not given to much wine,
4. teachers of good things— v. 4
5. that they admonish
the young women
1. to love their husbands,
2. to love their children, v. 5
3. to be discreet,
7. obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
v. 6 Likewise exhort the young men
1. to be sober-minded, v. 7
2. in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works;
3. in doctrine showing integrity,
5. incorruptibility, v. 8
6. sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. (NKJV)
When God gets to pick the curriculum for His Church, what does He choose to be taught? He lays down twelve vital godly character qualities for women and 12 vital godly character qualities for men.
Twelve Godly Characteristics of Highly Useful Women
Women who are highly useful to God have these characteristics. The long-term goal of their lives is geared towards being useful to God. Parents who want their children be useful for the Lord begin early on to point their children towards the high calling and great joy of being a Titus 2 woman and the Titus 2 man.
The whole goal of a Titus 2 woman is to train younger women in Biblical, simple-to-measure, Spirit-empowered, love-based living.
Paul did not call for Titus as the pastor to train all the women in these qualities God wanted them to cultivate; rather he called upon the godly older women of Christ's church. He singles out the women of faith, those who had already learned to love their husbands, learned to love their children, and learned to be reverent, godly, modest and wise—and charged them with seeking out and meeting with every younger woman in the church.
Now, let’s begin a step by step look at all 12 characteristics of a Titus 2 woman. Paul lists them in the verses we already read. Here they are one-by-one.
The older women are to have mastered all 12 and the younger women are trained in the last seven.
First the godly character of the older woman in the faith is profiled. Without a reverent lifestyle behaving like a living sacrifice, dedicated to God—none of the rest even matter. That is why Paul starts here first!
v. 3a “the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior” (1)
Paul first draws a word from the Roman world to capture the entire bearing of these godly role model women in Christ's church. The Greek word translated “reverent” is used only here in the Bible, and it conveys the idea of priest-like. That word for ‘acting as a representative of a god’ is the word Paul uses to describe the devout and godly character of the Titus 2 woman. Older women are to live like holy priests serving in the presence of God. Their sacred personal devotion to the Lord has slowly come to influence every aspect of their lives.
So a godly woman (or any believer) won’t allow anything to stimulate their flesh away from God; and they insist on only feeding their mind with what encourages and increases being “reverent in behavior”.
Godly older woman have simply taken Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 2:20 seriously.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. NKJV
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. NKJV
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. NKJV
They have presented themselves to the Lord, they have begun to live life the way God asked them to live—as a walking temple of God, as a consecrated priest of God, as a living sacrifice, and as a bondservant of the Lord.
Godly women seek to be reverent in their behavior.
v. 3b “not slanderers” (2)
Next Paul turns the spotlight on the hardest member of the body to control, according to James--the tongue. Twice in his epistles Paul targets a woman’s habits of their speech, saying it is a spiritual qualifier or disqualifier. Though this is a universal problem we all face, Paul specifically says to women who want to serve Christ's church—guard those tongues. 1 Timothy 3:11 “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything” (NIV).
“Whereas men tend to be rough or violent in their actions, women have a tendency to be rough or violent in their words. Older women who find themselves with time on their hands can be tempted to allow their conversations to lead to gossip, criticism, and slander”.
James tells us that a tongue out of control indicates a life out of control. He goes on to warn how huge cab be the dangerous effects of uncontrolled words. James 3:2, 6 “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. 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (NAS).
Note that the source of all wickedness, especially of an uncontrolled tongue is hell; and it is Satan who is at the root of all gossip, all harmful talk, and all slander. If you are damaging the reputation and ministry of others you are a tool of the devil.
Right after James’ discussion of the tongue he explains that our motivation either comes from below (Satan’s realm) or above (God’s). We can tell by the byproduct of our words and actions. When what we says causes this list of woes from James 3:15-16: “jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder, envy and every evil practice” or as one man puts it, “Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats”.
In fact the word “slanderers” here in Titus 2:3 is diabolos, the very name of Satan used of him 34 times in the New Testament. Satan has been a false accuser and so each time he incites a believer to do so they are doing Satan’s work. Satan is the ultimate source of all evil, the root of all wrong behavior; and since James says the tongue is capable of causing great evil, Satan is always close at hand.
Godly Titus 2 women never are to surrender their tongues to the devil.
Stop and as the Psalmist says, and set a guard at the door of your mouth (Psalm 141:3). Be sure that what you say is absolutely true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report before you say it—or you will severely lessen your ministry effectiveness as a godly Titus 2 woman.
Remember that it has been estimated that from the first "Good morning" to the last "Good night," the average person engages in thirty conversations a day. Each day, his words could make a book of 50-60 pages-the equivalent of more than one hundred books a year of 200 pages each.
Our tongue is an intriguing study of great contrasts. Think of that object resting in your mouth just now.
To the Doctor it is a two ounce slab of mucous membrane containing a world of inter-related muscles and nerves. That is the physiological tongue.
To our Body it is a vital organ that must work properly if we are to eat, chew, taste, swallow and talk. That is the helpful tongue.
To other People the tongue is the primary avenue of communication. It gives us the ability to inflect sounds and articulate words distinctly. It gives us a vehicle to communicate our thoughts. That is the essential tongue.
Yes, without the tongue -
• No teacher could guide their pupils.
• No coach could prepare his team.
• No mother could softly sing her baby to sleep.
• No leader could motivate his group adequately.
• No Pastor could bring comfort to heavy hearts.
• No issues could be discussed and resolved.
In fact, without the communication of conversation our whole planet would be reduced to a mere roar of unintelligible grunting and groaning. It is rare that we stop to reflect on how vital this little muscle in our mouth really is. But without being given over in obedience to Christ, our tongues are dangerous.
One common type of talk that hurts is called gossip and comes in many forms. Here are three forms of gossip that all of us, and especially those who earnestly seek to be a Titus 2 man or woman should always avoid: malicious talk that is geared to cut, to destroy, to divide friends, break relationships, and erode trust. This is the fire James spoke of.
Secondly, avoid rationalized gossip/talk which is when a person is convinced (and deceived by themselves) that they are to share this information for the “good” of the other person, often for them to “pray” about. But again, down deep just like malicious talk, this type of talk is gossip that causes harm and is empowered by the devil.
The third and final type of malicious talking that we all need to avoid is “innocent” gossip*. This usually starts with proper motives and desires but gets off course with unwise sharing of sensitive information, then curiosity sets in and soon the conversation is far beyond the problem and the solution and has become malicious, slanderous, harmful gossip.
So what should we avoid? Never use our mouth in an unregenerated way! What should we do? Tame our tongue by the Holy Spirit as His Word richly dwells and permeates all our lives. Why not like David, make some plans now to change our usage of our tongues?
Here are three great ways to change:
• Think first: before starting to say something pause a few seconds and ask are these words--true or false; exaggerated or accurate; healing or cutting; grateful or complaining?
• Talk less: it is a biblical fact that the less you talk the wiser you appear. Plan, prepare, concentrate and enrich each opportunity to speak. Make each a time to speak as 1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. NKJV
• Start now: like David, ask God to fit you for a word retainer, get braces put on that tongue. Don't waste your greatest tool.
Godly women seek to be reverent in their behavior, and careful in all their conversations.
v. 3c “not given to much wine” (3)
Paul here focuses upon the self-controlled, moderation that is to characterize women of every age in Christ's church.
Godly women are Spirit-controlled in every part of their life. They resist excess in any area of daily life. They are not slaves to any substance, slaves to any amusement, any fashion, or any attitude that does not please their Master in Heaven.
Most women in the early church were formerly pagans. Drunkenness was the norm for many women in that society. Drinking was the best way to forget about the problems of being a “slave” to a pagan man who looked upon his wife as a convenience that bore him legitimate children and enhanced his reputation in the community. Because this life was all there is to a pagan, hopelessness led to drunkenness. Paul said that prior to salvation they all were “without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12).
Coming to Christ changed everything, but old habits are hard to break. The old ways of their husbands would come back, old pains from emotional and physical abuse would resurface, and the temptation to slip back to the intemperance of slavery to wine would grow strong. Lack of physical control of any appetite points to a spiritual immaturity. Both Timothy and Titus were told to beware of women returning to their old habits in this realm of drinking.
Today “not given to much” goes far beyond merely wine. There are so many forms of alcohol never imagined in the Biblical times that can be abused, plus drugs (both acceptable and unacceptable kinds) that can be abused, tobacco that can be abused,, wonderful varieties of food that can be abused, beautiful varieties of fashionable clothing that change with every season that can be abused, housing options, exercise options, recreation options—all that can be abused, and become addictions.
There is a generation of believers who have never tasted a drop of alcohol and pride themselves in that choice—while overeating with daily regularity; and both are condemned by God in Proverbs 23:19-21 side-by-side.
Because of Romans 14:15-21, I Corinthians 8:9-13 we see that though the Bible never forbids wine drinking, our liberty is limited by the consciences of other believers and our testimony to the world. The lesson of temperance is consistency.
We must be as cautious of any intemperance; and “not be given to” too much of anything be it the use of money, the enjoyment of leisure, or the establishment of a house to live in. What ever we do is to be tempered by the glory of God. He must be the object and focus of all we do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (NKJV).
“Modern society has elevated fashion almost to the point of idolatry. Clothing stores, newspaper and magazine advertising, and television commercials are like giant billboards that continually proclaim, “We covet clothes.”
Expensive, often ostentatious, jewelry for both men and women is becoming more and more prevalent as a means to flaunt material prosperity and glorify self. We are continually goaded to put our bodies and apparel on parade”.
Godly women are Spirit-controlled in every part of their life. They resist excess in any area of daily life. They are not slaves to any substance, any amusement, any fashion, or any attitude that does not please their Master in Heaven.
Godly women seek to be reverent in their behavior, careful in all their conversations, and never enslaved to anything but Christ.
v. 3d “teachers of good things” (4)
Paul starts and ends this third verse with the same thought. Godly women show-and-tell. They live what they teach. They train others in the pattern they have learned. Their walk speaks louder than their talk. Their life is under God’s control in all areas: their tongues, their appetites, and their habits. They do not overindulge themselves, they are not overweight-gluttons, they are not pleasure-hungry, they are not malicious-talkers. These godly older women were noble in everything and in the way they lived life they taught by their actions what is good! Titus 2:3 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. NIV
Paul always stressed preaching and teaching what he was already living. In his instructions to Timothy he said 1 Timothy 4:16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. NASB
Titus was to encourage these older women to develop a ministry of teaching younger women what is good. Younger women with children were to keep their primary focus at home (Titus 2:4-5), but the older women would do well to reach outside their homes and share what they had learned with those who would profit from it most.
A godly woman teaches by her life what is good in God’s sight. She carefully chooses the “better part” as Mary did over Martha. Titus 2 women see every area of their lives as an open book that should and does teach Christ's gracious Lordship. They can say as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. NKJV
And who is an older woman? Technically in this passage it was a woman who was past raising her children, some commentators even say the age of sixty as Paul does in the widows list of I Timothy 5. But in reality there is no chronological age given. For every woman in this church there are some older and some younger. To those older, you are to look and see if they are an example of Christ—if they are, ask them to show you what they have learned and how they do it. For those who are younger, you are to seek to get into their lives and help them bring every area of their lives under the gracious Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Every young lady and woman in this church should have as their highest desire the goal of being first a Titus 2 student of some godly older-in-the-faith woman. And, the highest honor, the greatest goal in the life of every older woman in this church is to have the honor of being that older-woman-in-the-faith. If you have children that is where you must start. If they are grown and gone—ask God to begin filling your lives with younger women into whom you can prayerfully pour the love and wisdom of Christ gleaned from His Word, and by your years of walking in the Spirit!
Every godly woman has the opportunity to teach the younger generation of women in the church. This instruction is to occur in informal settings, such as one on one, small groups, or women’s Bible studies. And this instruction is both by word and example. Many young women today were not raised under a biblical family model. That’s a challenge for the older women in the church.
Godly women seek to be reverent in their behavior, careful in all their conversations, never enslaved to anything but Christ, and teaching by example the way to follow Christ.
v.4a “that they admonish” (5)
In teaching what is good they “encourage the young women” (Titus 2:4). This opening phrase of Titus 2:4 “that they admonish” is one Greek word in Paul’s letter, the word is sophronizo and means, “to train someone in self-control, restore to senses, admonish and exhort earnestly’.
“You will note the similarity of this form to characteristics of elders, “prudent” (1 Tim. 3:2), and older men, “sensible” (Titus 2:2). Older women are to train the younger women to learn the art of self-restraint. This training process requires that you older women be committed to being responsible, confrontive, and affirming in an ongoing relationship with a younger woman”.
The first four spiritual qualities are all present to make this quality work. God wants a godly woman whose life speaks louder than her words. A woman whose character is noticed and prompts other women to examine their own lives and seek to emulate her joy, her peace, her walk in the Spirit in evident and practical ways. The Titus 2 older-woman-in-the-faith’s life is a pattern for others to use in shaping their own lives.
This one word is variously rendered into 4 different English words by the top 4 versions: “teach” (KJV); “admonish” (NKJV); “train” (NIV); and “encourage” (NAS). The context and the word imply that this was to be a process of teaching, explaining, encouraging, training, and holding the young wives to a standard that was unfamiliar to them and yet vital for the success of their marriages and families.
One of the strongest forces for spiritual ministry in the local church lies with the older believers. Those who are retired have time for service. It is vital that we mobilize and use these important people. In my own thirty years of pastoral ministry, I have been constantly helped and encouraged by godly, older saints who knew how to pray, teach God's Word, visit, troubleshoot, and help edify Christ's church.
So the older-in-the-faith, godly women of the church were:
• to behave like holy priestesses of the Almighty God,
• showing restraint and discipline of appetites and words,
• living what they speak so that the younger women want to learn from them how to live and please God in their lives and families.
So what was their very first lesson? Loving husbands God’s way!
v. 4b “the young women to love their husbands” (6)
Among the Bible believing women of the first century there was a big challenge in “loving” their husbands. For various reasons and in various degrees those women found themselves with either minimal or no “feelings of love” for their husbands. Believing wives almost always want to obey the Lord, thus they submit and fulfill their responsibilities to their husbands—but often only dutifully and not lovingly. It is not that loving your husband is a virtue, Paul says that not loving him in a way that he can feel—is a sin!
In Paul’s day, men and women were saved out of a culture where romantic love usually did not exist in marriages. Wives were only seen as the trusted keepers of the home and bearers of the children. Emotional love, psychological needs, and sexual desires were satisfied outside of marriage by most husbands. The opportunities for illicit sex in the Roman world were endless. For most women this was in some ways a relief as they did not have to “perform” sexually on a regular basis for their husbands. But the emotional super-glue that the marital relationship produces was thus absent. Salvation stopped the immorality in most believing men’s lives back then—but salvation did not make them or their wives instantly close, intimate, and life-sharing friends and lovers.
Just as modern pre-marital moral laxity has scarred many young couples into a troubled, often superficial marital relationship, so were most of the marriages of the New Testament church. What was Paul’s Spirit prompted answer? What was to be the way to solve the distant, detached, and constantly tempted husband daily buffeted with the overpowering allurements of the flagrantly immoral Roman culture?
Christ led Paul to deploy a legion of older-in-the-faith, godly women to go from house to house, become a close and trusted friend of those young wives—and train them in how to become their husbands best, closest, dearest, and most-intimate friends.
Physical or sexual love without romance is soon empty and meaningless; and as Solomon (who had a lot of experience) said, soon becomes “Like gravel in the mouth” (Proverbs 20:17). Paul knew that to protect those newly believing husbands and fathers from the tidal waves of temptation, they must have a vibrant, attractive, satisfying emotional and physical relationship with their wife. Husbands who are drawn to think about and wants to see their wife throughout a day away from home, are protected from attraction and distraction by a wicked world about them. Loving, caring, romantic wives are trained not born.
The key to understanding this bold new dimension of the early church’s training is in the word Paul uses for love. Every believer has already repeatedly been commanded to “love” with agape love which is an action. We are commanded to act in a loving way towards each other, our saved and unsaved friends, and even our enemies. This agape love is not a feeling, it is an action. Paul explains agape love in Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19 as a husbands acting towards his wife in the same self-sacrificial way as Jesus loves the church.
Women were also commanded to obediently submit respectfully to their own husbands (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18). Peter adds that they were to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit that was beautiful to God and of immense value in the marriage (I Peter 3:4). This was the reciprocal relationship of a godly marriage on a behavioral level. The commanded attitudes and behavior of believers in marriage is the foundation and the formula for a Christian marriage. But soon it gets back to dutiful, obedient, often unemotional, and detached relationships. So Paul says that it was imperative to go further. Titus is given the key to flourishing marriages and homes—train the younger women in how to cultivate a loving friendship (phileo) with their husbands. This is emotional love.
Agape love is never used in the Bible to describe sexual love or responsibility because emotional love can’t be commanded. The beautiful, intoxicating love that God designed for marriages to have sexually is emotional and those emotions can’t be commanded. We can’t make someone feel a certain way; we can command them to “do” something but not “feel” a certain way. Genuine, Biblical, marital, sexual love is emotional intimacy in the highest degree. God commands willful, agape love; but the emotional phileo love of friendship and sexual intimacy can’t be commanded—it must be learned.
When the younger women saw how the older women loved, respected, admired, and were best friends with their husbands—they were drawn to see that close and intimate friendships with husbands were possible and very profitable for daily life. They learned how to encourage their own husband, how to build him up, how to surprise him with their affections, and how to cultivate a life-long growing and deepening friendship.
The best way to calm a home, and to fill a home with joy and peace is to have a husband and wife who are best friends--intimately, emotionally, and spiritually.
What are some practical steps a Titus 2 woman mentoring a younger woman in the faith would teach? Here would be some wonderful starters:
1. Decide that you will make your own husband your number one most important human relationship of life over your parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.
2. Begin to seek your husband’s friendship and love ahead of all other human relationships including your children.
3. Begin examining your lifestyle, and schedule, to see if you are intentionally “spoiling your husband rotten…” if you are doing so as a way of life, then you can be sure that you are his best friend and are truly “loving” your husband.
Here are some habits to cultivate to keep on in your love for your own husband:
• Pray for your husband daily.
• Plan for him daily things like: special acts of kindness; special dinners; special times alone; special meals alone; early bedtimes for the children; going to bed at the same times.
• Prepare for him daily: prepare your heart with being clothed with God’s love; prepare the house; prepare your appearance; prepare your greeting; set the table; clear out all visitors; stay off the phone; pray for his arrival.
• Please him daily.
• Protect your time with him.
• Physically love him, let him know that you are available at any time that would please him.
• Positively respond to him.
• Praise him.
• Pray without ceasing
“Younger women” refers to those women who are able to bear children or are still rearing children. Since women can bear children well into their forties and the main duties of raising a child last for about twenty years, a woman under sixty could be considered young in the biblical sense (1 Tim. 5:9). What qualities ought to characterize her life? Love Their Husbands: One word in the Greek text, philandros, is translated “love their husbands.” Paul used the same terms to describe godly widows (1 Tim. 5:9). It means to be a one-man woman, totally devoted to one’s husband. I’ve had women tell me that their husbands are no longer lovable. But having that attitude is disobedience to the clear Word of God. To help your attitude, keep in mind that loving your husband doesn’t mean you’ll always feel the rush of emotion that characterized your love at the beginning of your relationship. A recent cover story in Time magazine explained that those initial feelings change in a couple of years because of chemical changes and mellow into something deeper (Paul Gray, “What Is Love?” [15 Feb. 1993]:47–51). Marriage is a contented commitment that goes beyond feelings to a devotedness—to a level of friendship that is deep and satisfying. If you don’t love your husband, you need to train yourself to love him. Serve him kindly and graciously day by day and soon you will make such a great investment in him, you will say to yourself, I’ve put too much of myself into this guy not to love him! It is a sin to disobey this command.
The godly older women have the responsibility of teaching the younger women how to be successful wives, mothers, and housekeepers; and the younger women have the responsibility of listening and obeying. The Christian home was a totally new thing, and young women saved out of paganism would have to get accustomed to a whole new set of priorities and privileges. Those who had unsaved husbands would need special encouragement.
The greatest priority in a home should be love. If a wife loved her husband and her children, she was well on the way to making the marriage and the home a success. In our Western society, a man and a woman fall in love and then get married; but in the East, marriages were less romantic. Often the two got married and then had to learn to love each other. (Eph. 5:18–33 is probably the best Scripture for a husband and wife who really want to love each other in the will of God.)