Titus 2 Men
Case Study #1: Wife was raised in a non-Christian home. Her father left when she was 13 and she barely saw him again. Her mother is a very severe alcoholic and physically abused her daughter while she was growing up. She was put in foster care as a teen and went through three bad homes interested only in the money. Finally at age 17 she had one good foster home, where she was loved and shown she was worthwhile.The husband was raised in a non-Christian home. His parents were good old-fashioned pagan people committed to the family and the values of the world. Heavy social drinking and TV watching were the family mainstays.
Question: Where will these two, members of Hillcrest Chapel, find out about parenting and what it means to be a godly husband or wife?
Case Study #2: The husband doesn't assume responsibility for the family. He lives a single lifestyle with the benefits of marriage, happy in the marriage as long as the wife takes care of his needs and pays the bills. She is disillusioned.
Question: Where will this Hillcrest couple find out about the responsibilities and privileges of marriage? Where will they go to find models of what it means to be a husband/father, wife/mother?
Case Study #3: They had all the appearances of a great American family; they went to church and the father had a comfortable, well-paying job. He was respected at his workplace and in the community. But he ruled his family by intimidation. His expectations for his children were so high that if they brought home a B on a report card, it was not good enough. There was never any affirmation, but many reminders as to how each child had failed. There is great fear in the hearts of the children, and the mother no longer confronts the father because she, too, is afraid. The children have grown up with aching loneliness and a desire for the tenderness denied them. They have feelings of guilt and have difficulty communicating with anyone, because they have stuffed their feelings in order to cope with the pain. Now as young adults, they have difficulties getting along with any male figure, e.g., employer, teacher, friend, even God.
Question: Who will help these young adults find out what it means to be a loving, caring Christian family? Who will help them see what authentic Christianity is about?
Generation to Generation—Titus 2's Mandate for Men
These are all Hillcrest Chapel people. What do they need? They need people in the church to teach and demonstrate to them how to live! When we describe the benefits of the Christian life, we have to include the potential relationships with all our spiritual brothers and sisters, or we are not telling the whole story.
The Christian family unit, regardless of its configuration, is not a lone entity. It does not stand on its own! Christians are inextricably linked to a profoundly blessed and eternally helpful family tree. If families will take advantage of the benefits of the wisdom, blessing, and association they can have with other Christians and Christian families, they will eliminate many of the problems that plague Christians today. On the other hand, if our families disassociate themselves from their rights and privileges as God's extended family of believers, they will unnecessarily pay a high price for that isolation. It is tragic to see an individual Christian family navigating on its own, like preferring to inhabit a small lifeboat in high seas when God intends us to be on board an ocean liner that can withstand the highest seas in safety.
Likewise, singles attempting to function without association with the church will also live in unnecessary pain and loneliness. Let me illustrate how important the church is to us, by taking you to the Island of Crete, in the Apostle Paul's day. Paul had to leave Crete before everything was put in order in the church, so he sent Titus to straighten out what was left unfinished (Titus 1:5). The church at Crete had a number of problems, including:
The False Teachers-1:10-11. They were completely untrustworthy, and needed to be silenced because they were wrecking whole households with their teaching and doctrine-v. 11. This is the strategy of much contemporary teaching as well. The household is under attack by teachings and beliefs designed to reshape our view of family and the household.
For example: Singles, even Christian singles, have bought into the lie that they should live their lives, have fun and do what they want before they "settle down," get married and have a family. They accept as wise counsel, "Better to get it out of your system before you get married than after you are married." The concept is based on a number of lies like:
"I deserve to have fun and selfishly indulge myself because marriage and family life won't be fun."
"Once I get it 'out of my system,' I will be able to settle down with unbelievable discipline and spirituality." Baloney!
Other lies and teachings we must counteract have to do with the male/female emotional profile, work ethics, raising children, sexuality, and moral absolutes. In fact, American Christians need some straightening out because of the teaching they have received through the media, schools and their homes.
The Flaky Character Qualities of the People-1:12. "Even one of their own prophets has said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.'" What a description! Their character was disgusting. We have the same problem.
- What words would you use to describe Americans and American culture?
- Who will teach us any different? (church/family)
- Where are your models/teachers?
We have so few heroes to emulate, and too few teachers of character, ethics, relationships and morality from a Christian standpoint. We need help! Paul immediately offers two solutions to our dilemma in the book of Titus: to rebuke sharply, and to provide trained generational teaching and modeling in the local church. When the character of a culture is deteriorating and prominent belief systems are ruining households, we must rely on Paul's simple but effective approach. In this lesson we will try to combine both solutions-2:13-2:1.
In Titus 2:2-10, we see the specific relationships necessary for our healing and health, regardless of our situation-whether single, single parent, married, grandparent, etc. We are to begin by teaching godly characteristics to the older men-those whose children are grown and gone. 2:1-3—"You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 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."
Notice the qualifiers in this section:
The Quality Qualifier. The kind of doctrine to be taught to all the groups listed here is qualified. "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. The word "sound" is the same word from which we get our English word "hygiene," i.e., clean or healthy doctrine.
The Age Qualifiers. Older men and women are to received focused doctrinal teaching. Note that in verses 3 and 6, Paul used the word "likewise" to apply these standards equally to older men and women. Titus was to specifically teach both, with no gender discrimination. But what was meant by "older" in this context?
There are two possibilities: 1)People were considered young until past age 30; 2) The "older" person was one whose children were grown and gone-maybe in higher education. Which view is right? Though there are some good arguments for the first view, the second is the most likely and fits best with the biblical text. In our society, that includes a very broad span of ages, therefore, if this definition is correct, this passage addresses a far greater audience than senior citizens. Why is this group so significant?
First, they themselves need help, as many of the greatest problems with divorce, immorality, drug use, and alcoholism occur among those whose children are grown. Second, they have experience as parents and in life, having seen their children grow through all the stages into adulthood. (Some who are older have even seen their children marry and have children.)
Notice the qualities desired in the older man-v. 2. At least six qualities must be addressed and developed in this group of older men. "Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance." Paul teaches the older men that they are to be godly and have a number of specific characteristics and qualities, just as is expected of the spiritual leaders. I used to think when a Christian man got old, he would automatically be godly and mellow. Unfortunately, however, the church is full of grouchy, hard-to-get-along-with old men.What's the solution? You begin to be a godly old man by being a godly young man. Young men, if you want to know where you are going, this passage is a preview. It is never to early to start on this list!
First, older men are to be temperate. For one thing, they are to abstain from wine, not drinking or taking intoxicating substances. A man who is under the influence/control of alcohol is not in control of himself. This word also has another meaning- "being sober in terms of judgment or discernment," to be in control of your mental, emotional and spiritual faculties. Sometimes life's worst decisions are made after the kids are grown and gone, because middle age years can prevent us from seeing life ahead and recognizing that greatest service for God often occurs during this period of life. Men, it is not a time to go to sleep spiritually, or to start a long spiritual "coast." In 1 Timothy 3:2, the same word "temperate" applies to one's thinking, meaning "sound of mind;" one who follows sound reason and restrains his passion.
How does an older man/younger man know if he is temperate? It may be revealed by questions like:
- Do you react to circumstances with a soberness/temperance of judgment, that really considers what God wants more than anything else?
- Do you think soundly—with sound reason?
- Do you know how to prayerfully come to a decision about your life and/or ministry?
- Do you cope and think without the interference of any intoxicating or mind-altering substances?
- Do you plan your life based on God's will and what He wants to do with you?
- Are you stable and steadfast, reflecting a clear mind, no matter what happens to you?
The second quality desired in older men is to be worthy of respect—Titus 2:2. This involves living in such a way that others respect them because of their lifestyle. They are "worthy of respect" because they have earned it through the way they act and speak. They are honored among Christians and non-Christians alike for their character. Titus 1:7 ("Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined") is a great list of the qualities and characteristics of one worthy of respect. People listen to men like this. Ask yourself what qualities you respect in another person. Make another list by asking others the same question and then combine the lists. What does it reveal?
Third, the older man is to be self-controlled-2:2. Paul referred to this characteristic five times in Titus. (Note: "Self-control" is a more specific concept than "temperance," which is sometimes used as a synonym for self-control. Temperance refers to mental and emotional stability and reactions, while self-control zeroes in more specifically on our fleshly appetites, desires and impulses.) An older man, then, is not to be in bondage to fleshly desires, impulses, and passions-i.e., he is not to be a dirty old man. He should be in control of his anger, his sexuality, his physical body, his thought life, etc. He is not to be over-indulgent, but is to be in control of his life because he is committed to God. He must learn to bring his body under control. Even the Apostle Paul struggled to bring his body under control. "No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Cor. 9:27). Older men must be protected against excesses, as this control will be crucial if they are to influence younger men to be self-controlled as well.
Fourth, older men are to be sound in faith-2:2. To be "sound" means to be "in good health" (see: 2:1) I don't know why the definite article does not appear in this verse, because it does in the Greek; it should literally read: "they are to be healthy in the faith, healthy in love and healthy in patience." To be "sound in faith" focuses specifically on our attitudes toward God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Faith, of course, is a synonym for trust and belief, so to the extent that we have confidence in our Lord, we are spiritually healthy in the area of faith. If we are constantly in doubt and unbelief, we are certainly not "sound in faith." The true test of faith is determined, to a large extent, by our actions. Active, healthy faith cannot be passive, but must be obvious in our lives by what we say and do. That is why Paul could thank God for the Thessalonians' "work produced by faith" (1 Thess. 1:3) and why James wrote, "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is deadShow me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do" (James 2:17-18).
Fifth, older men are to be sound in love; this is the hallmark of Christian maturity. Paul-referring to faith, hope, and love-clearly stated that the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13). Why? Paul's definition of love clearly answers: "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 in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Cor.13:4-8). To be "sound in love," then, means to live like Christ, for these qualities of love characterized His life. In Paul's words to the Ephesians, we are to be "imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God"-Eph. 5:1.
Older men, finally, should be sound and healthy in endurance. In the New Testament, the concept of endurance (or patience)refers to a person unswerving in his commitment to Jesus Christ, no matter the problems and trials he faces. It literally means remaining under, bearing up under, holding out. What motivates this bulldog word? In order to exist, it must be aligned with "hope." In fact, Paul used the two words together in his letter to the Thessalonians when he thanked God for their "endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 1:3). One "sound in endurance," then, is a Christian who holds fast to what he believes, though he finds himself in the midst of many difficulties. According to Paul, this is not a natural quality of life. Even a "man of God" must pursue it (1 Tim. 6:11
Paul was particularly concerned about these six qualities in the lives of older men in the Cretan churches. Titus was to teach these men to become characterized by temperance, respect, and self-control and to be spiritually healthy in the areas of faith, love, and endurance.
In verse 6, Paul picks up his instruction to younger men. Here we begin to see the tie-in with the local church and spiritual leadership, between older and younger men. The younger men were to be taught something that they are not taught in their homes or in the culture. The same is true today in our nation of dysfunctional families; the church can become a safety net to many who have no other positive source of spiritual input, training, or encouragement.
Notice the qualities desired in the young man-v. 6. "Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us." In this passage Paul instructs Titus to do two things for the younger men-teach them self-control and set an example. Again he emphasizes the same quality of self-control that has been repeatedly taught, but here it is the only quality Paul wants Titus to specifically encourage. Why do you think that is the case? Self-control is the crux of and the best solution to the problems of young men. His focus shows how attuned to human nature he has been made by the Holy Spirit. He knows guys!
But Paul isn't finished with the young men. He also exhorts Titus to "set them an example by doing what is good." Why this added emphasis? Obviously, Paul knew that the young men in Crete, like men today, needed to be taught things that are exemplified in the life of the teacher/discipler. They needed models. What specifically is to be shown by example? Paul singles out three qualities that Titus should exemplify in his teaching ministry and lifestyle: integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech. Let's look at each of these qualities individually:
Integrity. The word Paul used here literally means to be "uncorrupt." Though it is difficult to say what Paul had in mind in this instance, I personally believe he is exhorting Titus to make sure he practices what he preaches, not to teach the young men one thing and live something else
Seriousness. Paul is referring to the quality in a person's life that earns him a right to be heard. Titus certainly could not expect young men his own age to respect him and take his words seriously, unless they saw the same degree of seriousness in his life. Again, Paul is emphasizing the importance of a Christian's total lifestyle, particularly for those responsible as spiritual leaders.
Soundness of speech. His content was to be carefully and accurately presented; otherwise, those who were in opposition to Christ and the "trustworthy message" would be able to attack Titus justifiably and hurt the cause of Christ.
How do we specifically apply this today? Several lessons emerge from this study.
Older men, you are desperately needed as examples and teachers of the younger men in this church. We can't afford to have you ride off into the sunset of spiritual retirement. Even if your life up to this point hasn't been exemplary, you can receive the necessary training and instruction to begin a new life of authentic Christianity and teaching. God doesn't find many perfect people! Are you willing? That is what is needed.
Take this list and begin to study it. Look up the supporting verses. Take advantage of the training we will provide as a church. Wives of older men, please encourage this. Children of Christian fathers, please encourage this as well. As a church we need to stand against society's total disregard and disrespect for those who should be our teachers. While many in their middle 40s think they are too young or too busy to have this kind of impact, many retired men think they are too old to offer this kind of meaningful mentoring and teaching.
Being taught good things does not make a person into a mature and effective Christian. Knowing the truth is absolutely essential in order to recognize and confront false doctrine and the lies of our culture, but we must go further than that. We must not only know the Scripture, but live the Scripture. If teaching doesn't end up impacting our lifestyle and our character, it won't be worth much to us.
People want and need examples of authentic Christianity lived out, and when they see such a person they will listen and follow. Parents, are you listening? Older men and women, are you listening? Younger men and women, are you following and listening?
If you are a single man attempting to function without association with the church, or have limited your associations in the church to single friends, then you will not only live in unnecessary pain and loneliness, but you will probably not experience the self-control God desires for you. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5), but my experience is that we need models of and encouragement toward self-control in order for it to be a reality. Young men, you must make yourselves available to spiritual leaders and older men to be taught and encouraged in self-control. If you are growing in self-control, this list for the older men also becomes a road map for you, showing you your destination if you are growing in the Lord. Take the steps necessary to set yourself on a spiritual journey of eventual influence.