Grace-Energized-Women: No Slander and No Excess
Conclusion Part 4 Continued from October 31st
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.”
“You will note the similarity of this form to characteristics of elders, “prudent” (1 Tim. 3:2), and older men, “sensible” (Titus 2:2). Older women are to train the younger women to learn the art of self-restraint. This training process requires that you older women be committed to being responsible, confrontive, and affirming in an ongoing relationship with a younger woman.”
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 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 two older woman-in-the-faith’s life is a pattern for others to use in shaping their own lives.
This one word is variously rendered into four different English words by the top four versions: “teach” (KJV); “admonish” (NKJV); “train” (NIV); and “encourage” (NAS). The context and the word imply that this was to be a process of teaching, explaining, encouraging, training, and holding the young wives to a standard that was unfamiliar to them and yet vital for the success of their marriages and families.
One of the strongest forces for spiritual ministry in the local church lies with the older believers. Those who are retired have time for service. It is vital that we mobilize and use these important people. In my own 30 years of pastoral ministry, I have been constantly helped and encouraged by godly older saints who knew how to pray, teach God's Word, visit, troubleshoot, and help edify Christ's church.
So the older-in-the-faith, godly women of the church were:
- To behave like holy priestesses of the Almighty God,
- To show restraint and discipline of appetites and words,
- To live what they speak so that the younger women want to learn from them how to live and please God in their lives and families.
So what was their very first lesson? Loving husbands God’s way!
v. 4b “the young women to love their husbands” (6)
Among the Bible believing women of the first century, there was a big challenge in “loving” their husbands. For various reasons and in various degrees those women found themselves with either minimal or no “feelings of love” for their husbands. Believing wives almost always want to obey the Lord, thus they submit and fulfill their responsibilities to their husbands—but often only dutifully and not lovingly. It is not that loving your husband is a virtue, Paul says that not loving him in a way that he can feel is a sin!
In Paul’s day, men and women were saved out of a culture where romantic love usually did not exist in marriages. Wives were only seen as the trusted keepers of the home and bearers of the children. Emotional love, psychological needs, and sexual desires were satisfied outside of marriage by most husbands. The opportunities for illicit sex in the Roman world were endless. For most women this was in some ways a relief as they did not have to “perform” sexually on a regular basis for their husbands. But the emotional super-glue that the marital relationship produces was thus absent. Salvation stopped the immorality in most believing men’s lives back then, but salvation did not make them or their wives instantly close, intimate, and life-sharing friends and lovers.
Just as modern pre-marital moral laxity has scarred many young couples into a troubled, often superficial marital relationship, so were most of the marriages of the New Testament church. What was Paul’s Spirit prompted answer? What was to be the way to solve the distant, detached, and constantly tempted husband daily buffeted with the overpowering allurements of the flagrantly immoral Roman culture?
Christ led Paul to deploy a legion of older-in-the-faith, godly women to go from house to house, become a close and trusted friend of those young wives, and train them in how to become their husband’s best, closest, dearest, and most intimate friends.
Physical or sexual love without romance is soon empty and meaningless; and as Solomon (who had a lot of experience) said, soon becomes “Like gravel in the mouth” (Proverbs 20:17). Paul knew that to protect those newly believing husbands and fathers from the tidal waves of temptation, they must have a vibrant, attractive, satisfying emotional and physical relationship with their wife. Husbands who are drawn to think about and want to see their wife throughout a day away from home are protected from attraction and distraction by a wicked world about them. Loving, caring, romantic wives are trained not born.
The key to understanding this bold new dimension of the early church’s training is in the word Paul uses for love. Every believer has already repeatedly been commanded to “love” with agape love, which is an action. We are commanded to act in a loving way towards each other, our saved and unsaved friends, and even our enemies. This agape love is not a feeling, it is an action. Paul explains agape love in Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19 as a husband acting towards his wife in the same self-sacrificial way as Jesus loving the church.
Women were also commanded to obediently submit respectfully to their own husbands (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18). Peter adds that they were to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit that was beautiful to God and of immense value in the marriage (I Peter 3:4). This was the reciprocal relationship of a godly marriage on a behavioral level. The commanded attitudes and behavior of believers in marriage is the foundation and the formula for a Christian marriage. But soon it gets back to dutiful, obedient, often unemotional, and detached relationships. So Paul says that it was imperative to go further. Titus is given the key to flourishing marriages and homes—train the younger women in how to cultivate a loving friendship (phileo) with their husbands. This is emotional love.
Agape love is never used in the Bible to describe sexual love or responsibility because emotional love can’t be commanded. The beautiful, intoxicating love that God designed for marriages to have sexually is emotional and those emotions can’t be commanded. We can’t make someone feel a certain way; we can command them to “do” something but not “feel” a certain way. Genuine, Biblical, marital, sexual love is emotional intimacy in the highest degree. God commands willful, agape love; but the emotional phileo love of friendship and sexual intimacy can’t be commanded—it must be learned.
When the younger women saw how the older women loved, respected, admired, and were best friends with their husbands—they were drawn to see that close and intimate friendships with husbands were possible and very profitable for daily life. They learned how to encourage their own husband, how to build him up, how to surprise him with their affections, and how to cultivate a life-long growing and deepening friendship.
The best way to calm a home and to fill a home with joy and peace is to have a husband and wife who are best friends--intimately, emotionally, and spiritually.
What are some practical steps a Titus two woman mentoring a younger woman in the faith would teach? Here would be some wonderful starters:
- Decide that you will make your own husband your number one most important human relationship of life over your parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.
- Begin to seek your husband’s friendship and love ahead of all other human relationships, including your children.
- Begin examining your lifestyle and schedule to see if you are intentionally “spoiling your husband rotten” if you are doing so as a way of life, then you can be sure that you are his best friend and are truly “loving” your husband.
Here are some habits to cultivate to keep on in your love for your own husband:
- Pray for your husband daily.
- Plan for him daily things like: special acts of kindness, special dinners, special times alone, special meals alone, early bedtimes for the children, going to bed at the same time.
- Prepare for him daily: prepare your heart with being clothed with God’s love; prepare the house; prepare your appearance; prepare your greeting; set the table; clear out all visitors; stay off the phone; pray for his arrival.
- Please him daily.
- Protect your time with him.
- Physically love him, let him know that you are available at any time that would please him.
- Positively respond to him.
- Praise him.
- Pray without ceasing.
“Younger women” refers to those women who are able to bear children or are still rearing children. Since women can bear children well into their forties and the main duties of raising a child last for about twenty years, a woman under sixty could be considered young in the biblical sense (1 Tim. 5:9). What qualities ought to characterize her life? Love their husbands: One word in the Greek text, philandros, is translated “love their husbands.” Paul used the same terms to describe godly widows (1 Tim. 5:9). It means to be a one-man woman, totally devoted to one’s husband. I’ve had women tell me that their husbands are no longer lovable. But having that attitude is disobedience to the clear Word of God. To help your attitude, keep in mind that loving your husband doesn’t mean you’ll always feel the rush of emotion that characterized your love at the beginning of your relationship. A recent cover story in Time magazine explained that those initial feelings change in a couple of years because of chemical changes and mellow into something deeper (Paul Gray, “What Is Love?” [15 Feb. 1993]:47-51). Marriage is a contented commitment that goes beyond feelings to a devotedness—to a level of friendship that is deep and satisfying. If you don’t love your husband, you need to train yourself to love him. Serve him kindly and graciously day by day and soon you will make such a great investment in him, you will say to yourself, I’ve put too much of myself into this guy not to love him! It is a sin to disobey this command.
The godly older women have the responsibility of teaching the younger women how to be successful wives, mothers, and housekeepers; and the younger women have the responsibility of listening and obeying. The Christian home was a totally new thing, and young women saved out of paganism would have to get accustomed to a whole new set of priorities and privileges. Those who had unsaved husbands would need special encouragement.
The greatest priority in a home should be love. If a wife loved her husband and her children, she was well on the way to making the marriage and the home a success. In our Western society, a man and a woman fall in love and then get married; but in the East, marriages were less romantic. Often the two got married and then had to learn to love each other. (Eph. 5:18–33 is probably the best Scripture for a husband and wife who really want to love each other in the will of God.)
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