The context of a wonderful life
We’ve already seen that Paul views Titus as ‘my true son’ (1:4). Here is Paul as an older man nurturing the faith of the young Titus. Now in verses 3-4 Paul says: ‘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. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children …’
What is the context of a wonderful life? It’s a community in which older men and older women teach younger people, in which younger people are seeking out the advice of older people, in which older people are setting an example to younger people, in which younger people are submitting to the direction of older people. It’s a community in which age and experience matter.
So my key message this morning is this: If you’re young, find someone to disciple you. If you’re old, find someone to disciple. If you’re anywhere in between, do both.
Now this, too, is profoundly counter-cultural. Our culture is obsessed with youth and with personal freedom. In our culture old people are irrelevant. They are a problem. Trends are set by the young. The young define what is important. We choose the new thing over the old thing.
Think about this. If you call someone ‘old’ or ‘old man’ you’re being rude. It might be a joke, but the joke only works because old is bad in our culture. This is not normal! This is not how it’s been in the past. This is not how it is in most of the world.
This was one of the things Samuel found most striking returning from living in the middle-east. In the middle-east there is complete respect for age. Young people don’t talk when old people are present unless spoken to. And then coming back into western culture, the way young people treated older people or parents made him wince. ‘Grey hair is a crown of splendour,’ says Proverbs 16:31. ‘Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.’ (Proverbs 23:22)
It’s counter-cultural. But we already know from Titus 1 that we’re to be counter-cultural when the gospel confronts our culture. The God-given context for a wonderful life is a community in which older people are ‘worthy of respect’ (2:2) and treated with respect, in which older people teach younger people how to live God’s wonderful life.
I sure this hardly needs to be said, but notice it’s men to men and women to women. Titus is to ‘teach the older men’ (2:2), ‘teach the older women’ (2:3), ‘encourage the young men’ (2:6) and ‘teach slaves’ (2:9). But in verse 4 we read: ‘Then they [i.e. the older women] can urge the younger women’. The one group Titus is not told to teach is the young women.
Now that means that if younger women are to be taught, then older women must be their teachers. It means that those of you who are older women should take responsibility for discipling the younger women in your gospel community. And younger women should seek out older women to guide you in marriage and motherhood and life in general.
Again, my key message is this: If you’re young, find someone to disciple you. If you’re old, find someone to disciple. If you’re anywhere in between, do both.
Approach other people and say, ‘Would you like me to disciple you?’ or ‘Would you disciple me?’ Or, if that seems a bit formal, you might say, ‘How about we meet to chat about how you’re doing and pray together?’ or ‘Can I study the Bible with you on a regular basis?’ Reading this you may be thinking ‘But how do I go about discipling someone?’ We’ll look at some of the practical ways you can acheive this in the next post.
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