The Complete Woman— A 21st Century Woman of Grace
March 16, 2012
By John Barnett
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In a full and rich life like many of us lead, there are those satisfying moments here and there, when one thing is “complete” in our lives. That’s why I love Jiffy Lube—they do a complete 16 point check of everything vital for my safety and the best operation of my car. So when I drive away that task is complete, all done, nothing left to do.
Things completed, give such a great feeling: a completed assignment so our work is done; a completely balanced diet so we are healthy; all our requirements completed, so the pressures are off…all of those feel so good.
The Joy of Completion
The dictionary defines this word so well:
com·plete adj., = Having all necessary or normal parts, components, or steps; Having come to an end; concluded; Entire: a complete meal. Accomplished: a complete musician. Thorough; consummate: a complete coward. Caught in bounds by a receiver: a complete pass.
In our spiritual lives God says that we are ‘complete in Christ” (Col. 2:9).
Colossians 2:9-10 "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power". NKJV
The word Paul used for complete is pleroo means ‘full or filled to the full’. That is one amazing spiritual truths we’d all do well to ponder for long enough, until we started realizing that all we need for life and godliness God has overflowed into our lives through Christ. We know that, believe that, rest in that—and then often feel so incomplete on a day-to-day basis.
Have you ever felt less than ‘complete’? Are their parts of your life that you are unsure about what it is exactly that God wants for you? Anything that is important to God that involves our life—He has clearly explained His wishes.
God has left a complete way of life for us in His Word.
Anything that God desires for us to know and do—He has written down and given to us.
And, for every woman and young woman who are believers this morning, God has reduced your items needed to be ‘complete’ to a list containing just 33 words in the Greek language.
That complete list of God’s expectations for women to completely please Him by their daily lives contains just 12 qualities every woman is to use to measure their lives against. This morning we can read that amazing list found in God's Word at Titus 2:
Titus 2:3-5 "the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." NKJV
God is not looking for Superwoman
One of the most beloved chapters for women, wives, and mothers is that venerable old chapter 31 of Proverbs. There we see in the Old Testament that incredible woman of virtue whose “pricelessness” is beyond rubies—she is the woman of excellence, the mother of mothers, and the wife that excels them all.
For centuries the Proverbs 31 woman has been extolled and held forth as a model for all, but for many she seems to be superwoman. In fact when this passage is read, often on Mother’s Day, many women sit a little lower in their seats as this Proverbs 31 woman seems to never sleep, never tire, never fail, and seems to be just plain perfect.
Much as we love the example of Proverbs 31, the passage never says that this is God’s command for every woman—it is just a picture of what one virtuous woman’s life was like. This passage was never intended to be a one size fits all for all women of all ages. It is just to be an inspiring look at what a virtuous woman was like 3,000 years ago.
So God does not expect every godly woman: to stay up all night, to sew clothes for every member of her household, to be a gourmet chef, to sell her wares to others on the side. Proverbs 31 is an inspiring picture of all the ways a woman can bless her husband and children. Most of us could never do all that she did and survive.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum from the inspirational Proverbs 31 woman is the God designed Titus 2 grace-energized woman.
Titus 2 is God’ Plan for ALL Women in Christ
Titus 2 is not meant to be an inspirational picture of some yesteryear woman of virtue from 2,000 years ago.
God's Word presents the Titus Two woman as God’s plan, God’s desire, and God’s marching orders for all women in Christ of any age in any era of Christ's Church.
If there is one passage every young lady should memorize it is right here.
If there is one paragraph in the Bible every bride-to-be should have down as a part of her preparation to be married—this is it.
If there are a handful of verses every tired mother and busy wife need as the ones they hold to as they have just enough strength to make it through one more day—look no further.
Welcome to the complete woman of God, the “Complete Woman” as defined and described by God.
The Complete Woman of Grace is saved by grace, and energized by the Spirit of God to live such an extraordinary life that the world, her husband, and her children all notice that she is different because she is in step with the Spirit and Word of God.
Ministry in Christ's church was never easy even from the start. Turn back in Paul’s letter to Pastor Titus, missionary church-planter to Crete—and look at the description of the cultural background of the congregation Titus served two thousand years ago.
Titus 1:12-13 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith (NKJV)
Wow, just think of what a miracle it was to find group of believers saved out of such a godless society. They came from centuries of culture dominated by total (‘always’) untrustworthiness (‘liars’), total out-of-control living (‘evil beasts’), and the total undisciplined pursuit of personal lust-filled appetites (‘lazy gluttons’).
Again we see from these two verses that when the Gospel of Jesus Christ entered the Roman world of the New Testament the landscape was very bleak. Christ's church was born into a sin-warped, sin-darkened world of mixed-up marriages, sin-scarred lives, and confused families.
I really believe that this insight into the Cretan culture can stir our hearts to glorify the amazing grace and saving power of God.
• If the Gospel of Christ can reach into a culture of people who were the descendents of the wicked, pagan Old Testament Philistines (as in Goliath and David) and build them into grace-energized servants of Christ's church—He can work with anyone.
• If God can make saints out of people who had so descended in their personal character until Paul describes them with this trio of disparaging words “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons”—He can change anyone no matter how weak, how wicked, how undisciplined.
What was the plan God had in mind to transform these very un-saintly people? The same plan He has for all of us this morning. Save them by His grace and sanctify them by His Word.
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.
Older Women are to be Mentors
v. 3a “the older women likewise,
that they be reverent in behavior” (1)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 life.
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. A 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.
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.
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 are “show-and-tellers”. 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
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
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’.
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 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.
Younger Women are to be Mentored
Those new believers, fresh out of paganism 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.
v.4b “the young women to love their husbands,” (6)
Titus 2 women encourage a grateful army of husbands who feel deeply loved by their wives.
• What was the first thing that the Holy Spirit chose to have taught to the young married women believers? LOVE THEIR HUSBANDS.
• Can you imagine what a deep and lasting impact upon this local body of Christ's church to have men coming home to a wife who is earnestly being taught how to love her own husband?
• Such love is a powerful testimony in a culture where women are being pressed into being worldly, self-seeking, independent, and do-their-own-thing women.
v. 4c “to love their children” (7)
Titus 2 women train younger women in one of the hardest and yet most rewarding investments in life—children who feel deeply loved by their mothers.
• The Holy Spirit emphasizes very clearly that the key to raising children is LOVING them.
• Titus 2 women train, teach, model, and mentor moms into the deepening of love for their children that can be felt.
v. 5a “to be discreet” (8)
Titus 2 women train younger women to be discreet, sensible, wise in the decisions and choices they make.
• What a rich resource for new marriages and families to have a young woman walked through those days side-by-side with a godly, Spirit-filled woman who will regularly, personally, individually mentor, mother, coach, and cheer on younger women in skillfully living as a wife, mother, and woman of God on a day to day basis.
• Titus 2 women were hands on tutors nurturing younger women in the laboratory of life--walking through life together praying, sharing, learning, and loving.
v. 5b “chaste” (9)
Titus 2 women train younger women in the holiness and purity that pleases God and unleashes the power of the Spirit.
• The training that a Titus 2 older woman gives is a seven-part package, that is immensely practical not theoretical. Modesty, purity, chaste behavior must be learned, modeled, and practiced.
• God directed the power of godly, Spirit-filled women of Biblical maturity sitting over a cup of tea discussing with younger women what pleased God in dress, in behavior, conduct, and so on.
• Christ's church needed younger women who learned Biblical modesty through a godly older woman lovingly applying God's Word to daily life.
v. 5c “homemakers” (10)
Titus 2 older women teach younger women the centrality in God’s plan of a woman’s priority being her home.
• Home making is a learned art and so many women never have the hands on training that is needed.
• Life is so full, our culture has moved away from homemaking and few young women get mentored in the godly, Biblical art of home making.
• God placed the first two priorities on the Titus 2 list as loving husbands and loving children. Younger women are called to see the priority of their homes; and the only way they can learn that priority is by a long-term relationship with a godly woman that has mastered that art.
v. 5d “good” (11)
Titus 2 older women teach younger women the utter necessity of kindness being the law of her tongue and the flavor of her life. Since everything will be measured by Christ as whether of not it was done for His good, and for His glory—she learns that means being done in Christ-like goodness and kindness. Her husband, her children, and her friends see a growing kindness that spreads through all her life.
v. 5e “obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” (12)
Titus 2 older women teach younger women the supreme joy in life and ministry that comes from voluntarily embracing submission as God’s plan for our role in the home and church.
• Submission to husbands is a learned way of life that godly older women model and train younger women to embrace and display.
• Since God designed both men and women, husbands and wives for His Divine purposes, the more we follow His plans the more we know Him, His power, blessings, and favor in our lives.
So there is the complete woman of the 21st century.
That is God’s desire for every woman of any age in Christ's church today!