My previous post ended with the question ‘what does this wonderful life look like?’
Firstly, lets look at Titus 2:1-10 and notice what’s different about these exhortations. There are different instructions to different people categories. They assume different roles and different temptations.
What are the temptations facing older men? To be grumpy or to pick arguments or to be cynical, perhaps? So Paul says: ‘Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.’ (2:2)
They are to endure. Caleb is 85 and still wants to be in the midst of the action. He’s not retired from serving God. We’re going to talk about younger people following the example of older people. But that’s a two-way street. For that to happen older people need to be ‘worthy of respect’. You want people to look at you and think, ‘I want to be like them’. You don’t want them saying, ‘I hope I don’t lose my radical edge like that.’
What about older women? What are their temptations? Maybe to be a bit rebellious. Or to criticize other people, especially younger women: ‘they’re not the wives or mothers they should be, they don’t serve in the church as they should’. I do hear this from older women! What does Paul say? ‘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.’ (2:3)
What about younger women? ‘Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 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.’ (2:4-5) It’s not that younger women can’t have a career, but if they are wives and mothers that’s the primary place where they’re to serve – and to be content with that, even in a culture that often despises those activities. Last week in The Guardian there was a review of a new book by former Observer Political Editor and now full-time mother, Gaby Hinsliff. The review said:
If you do as Hinsliff has done, and hang up your working suits in exchange for a Cath Kidston apron, the danger is that the once-dynamic ‘career mother’ can suddenly, and overwhelmingly, be replaced by a woman who feels like a nobody. How very true this is. Hinsliff’s description of mums at the school gate who had once ‘been somebody and are now mainly somebody’s parent’ is spot on.
Younger men? Only one word of exhortation for them: ‘encourage the young men to be self-controlled’ (2:6). But that does cover the temptations young men face! Lust, ambition,and impatience.
Then Paul has a word for Titus himself. Here’s a message for our gospel community leaders: ‘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.’ (2:7-8)
And then a word for slaves or, in our day, employees: ‘Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.’ (2:9-10)
What I want you to notice is that Paul has a different exhortation for different groups. Different people have different roles and face different temptations. Don’t assume other people should be like you. Don’t assume you should be like other people. ‘Act your age,’ really is good advice.
If you’re in your twenties, don’t live like a teenager – on your Xbox all the time. It’s time for you to take responsibility in your home, work and gospel community. If you’re in your forties or fifties don’t spend your time wishing you were still young and fit or young and beautiful. Live life in the present. Enjoy being the age you are.
In your gospel communities, home groups or bible studies you might want to work out what you would say to these different groups. What are the distinctive roles in which each group must be faithful? What are the distinctive temptations they face? How does Titus 2 speaks to these different roles and temptations?
 Rosie Millard, review of Half a Wife: The Working Family’s Guide to Getting a Life Back by Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian.co.uk, Friday 6 January 2012.
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