Teach What Accords With Sound Doctrine
As I think about my church family, so many older and younger men and women, as well as covenant children, come to mind. I have come to know and love them, and pray for them often. Just like in families, there’s a lot that can happen in church families. Behavior isn’t always the best, and beliefs aren’t always accurate, but when the pastors and elders preach sound doctrine and practice godly behavior, the members will likely respond by learning the truth and living in light of it. In Titus 2 Paul exhorts the entire church to have godly behavior that flows from godly beliefs.
Behavior That Flows From Belief
Paul began his letter by saying he was writing “for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness…” (Titus 1:1). This theme that one’s behavior flows from one’s beliefs permeates the entire letter. In contrast to the false teachers who “profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (1:16), believers are to adorn their profession by their words and works. Paul charges Titus to teach the church in Crete that sound beliefs lead to sound behavior. In Titus 2 we learn that everyone’s beliefs and behaviors matter in the covenant community. Embedded in instructions for older men (v. 2), younger men (vv. 6-8), and bondservants (vv. 9-10), Paul instructs older women and younger women how to act in the household of God (vv. 3-5).
Paul makes it clear that older women are a vital part of the covenant community, and their beliefs and behavior impact the entire church family, especially the younger women. They “are to be reverent in behavior” (Titus 2:3). This means their beliefs are to shape their behavior, so that they are God-centered in all that they do. They are not to use their tongue to harm, but to edify and encourage others. They are not to be slaves to alcohol, but to the Almighty. And they are to teach the younger women in the church what is good, especially regarding their relationships with their husbands and children, if they are married. If you are an older woman in the church, does your practice accord with your profession of faith, and if so, how are you investing in the younger women in your church?
There are younger women in your church who need you to train them in godly living. You are to “train the young women to love their husbands” (Titus 2:4). This means encouraging her to be a wife in whom her husband can trust, who does him good, and who supports his leadership, as she trusts in the Lord (Pr. 31:11-12, 23, 30). You are also to train them to love their children, encouraging them to discipline and disciple their children by instructing them in the Word and warning them of the world. Encourage them to provide food, work hard, set a godly example, wisely teach, and bless their children (Pr. 31:15, 17, 20, 26, 28). You are also to train them “to be self-controlled” (v. 5). They are to be pure, devoting themselves to the Lord (Pr. 31:30). They are to engage in household work, willingly and wisely managing the affairs of the home (Pr. 31:13-25). They are to be kind in their words and works (Pr. 31:20, 26). And “they are to be submissive to their own husbands” (Titus 2:5), willingly placing themselves under his leadership.
Our attitude and actions either honor God’s Word by being in conformity with it, or revile it by rebelling against it. Younger women need a great deal of encouragement to live in light of the truth, regardless of what season of life they are in. If you are a younger woman, you need older women in your life to disciple you. If they aren’t taking the initiative, don’t be afraid to ask an older woman in your church to pray for you and give you advice. In most cases, she will be delighted!
Belief That Is Foundational For Behavior
Paul states, “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11). Grace is necessary for the Christian life. We cannot do anything to earn favor with God, and we cannot behave righteously apart from God. Christ trains us “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (vv. 12-14). Gospel living is godly living.
Does your love for the church continue to grow? Have you come to know, love, and pray for those in your church family often? If you’re an older woman, are you training the younger women in your church to live out the gospel in her relationships and responsibilities? If you’re a younger woman, are you listening to the wisdom of the older women? The beauty of the church is that it’s multi-generational. Older women and younger women have so much to learn from each other. Let us, then, eagerly encourage, edify and equip one another to walk in the ways of the Lord, as we wait for “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, homeschooling mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more, please visit www.sarahivill.com.