VIRTUES OF A WOMAN

 

Cathy Photo

Catherine Donovan, contributor for today’s blog post

It is amazing how one can pick a new message every time you read the Bible. Reading through the book of Titus again I was struck by the words in Chapter 2 verses 3 to 5 on the virtues of a woman.

I pondered whether I would consider myself to be in the older women category or the younger women? Obviously I would like to put myself in the category of the younger women. That has a certain appeal to my vanity as it virtually means my age is static and that is flattering to my ego. This thinking is of course contrary to the spirit of Paul’s teaching in Titus where the outward appearance appears to bear absolutely no relevance and the focus is on eternal life. So my thoughts are indicative of the fact that I have a long way to go on being more Christ like.

The message for the younger woman is so hard in our current generation and God knows I have struggled and failed at so many levels. Paul says in Chapter 2 verses 4-5 that the younger women are 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.”

thKYNGM54IThis is not an easy task! On the face of it I could easily say: but of course I do this every day; of course I love my husband and children and am busy at home, in fact, too busy. However, every time I fail at self-control with my tongue speaking or biting back at something said, I am not reflecting self-control, love or purity. When I think about this scripture, I become instantly uncomfortable in the knowledge that sometimes the love I am giving my children by indulging their every wish is perhaps not pure. After all the best love I can give them is teaching them the values for life and godliness. The instant Amazon purchase for something they are after may stop them nagging at me, but may not necessarily be love and a reflection of the purity that God desires from us. I am also equally baffled by the meaning of the words “subject to their husbands” in this day and age of “independent women” and “gender equality”. These are certainly no easy tasks and it takes God’s grace and the Holy Spirit for us to perceive and understand the meaning of these scriptures for application in our lives on a daily basis. I wonder whether if Paul looked at my life, he would say “you are a good example of what a young Christ like woman should be?” I find myself falling very short if I place myself against the standard God has set before us and am thankful for God’s grace to forgive me every time I fail and the knowledge that “ I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” ( 2 Corinthians 5:21). So I am not there yet, but on my way, as God continues to purify me.

So perhaps it’s easier to switch camp and get the message for 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…(Titus 2:3-4)

I guess this scripture explains why I am drinking more wine; perhaps one is more prone to drinking a bit more as they grow older. I did not drink wine until I got married to my husband but I can admit that the amount has gone up every year and whilst my coffee addiction is more prevalent than the wine drinking, the question is: “Can I be considered to be reverent in the way I live? Am I a slanderer? Am I teaching what is good or in fact am I teaching anyone at all? Paul adds to the older women the responsibility to teach the younger woman. It would appear that if I do not learn the virtues Paul specified for the younger woman, I will not in fact be qualified to train the younger women as an older woman.

We live in a society that appreciates the importance of qualifications to do a job, the need for training and career progression. How much more important it is to understand the message for daily living and eternal life on how we must live our lives, acquiring God’s virtues for godliness, acknowledging we are in training, so that we can reflect Christ to the world so that “no-one will malign the word of God”.

I am encouraged that whilst I can achieve none of the required traits or virtues on my own, there is abundant grace for me and for you as Paul says:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

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THE LAST FRUIT

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor of today’s blog post

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

Hi girls!
After travelling internationally three times in October, I am happy to stay on the ground for awhile! But I am not sure where the time is going…I was in Sainsburys the other day and everything is Christmas! Where did November go????

Well, actually it hasn’t gone just yet, because we have our Titus Bible Study, The Good life, coming up on Monday night, 26 November at 7:30 in the CBC Church Hall. I and my study buddy considered Titus 2:1-10 bible study along with the relevant cross references. It is comforting, challenging and thought provoking. I hope you will not miss the chance to do this study with your study buddy!

Studying about self control in this Titus context has really driven home to me the importance of humbly cooperating and obeying the Holy Spirit as I grow and mature- cuz’ I certainly can’t do it in my own strength! How about you?

It comes down once again to our heart. When we diminish the importance of this fruit of self-control and fill it instead with self -indulgence, self justification, and all the other “selfs” in any area of our lives(and there are lots of areas if you really think about it), God will give us what we want. And our hearts will begin to darken. But…God’s grace through His Holy Spirit is ever drawing us to Him;  to redirect and give us the desire for the “true good life” only found in Christ.

It doesn’t have to be gloomy because we are God’s girls! Instead, let’s pray for one another and be honest with one another where we lack self- control. As we grow together, we will grasp the freedom Christ gives us as we bear fruit for Him.

See you Monday!

KEEPING IT SIMPLE?

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Esther King, contributor of today’s blog post 

You don’t have to know me for very long before you realise that I tend to overthink things. One minute I’m resolving to not only live out my faith but be bolder in doing so, and the next I’m thoroughly bogged down, agonising over just how difficult it is to put this into practice.
I read Titus 2.1-10 and initially it seems simple: Teach (or learn) sound doctrine, live lives that reflect sound doctrine and the effect will be so compellingly attractive to others that it will actually ‘adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour’ (ESV) in the eyes of onlookers. Namely, even those who want to reject the teaching about God will have to concede that the fruit of accepting Christ into one’s life is beautiful.
Wow! Everything within me is saying ‘Yes God – I’m so on board with this! Please help me to live a life that honours you and your word and please help me to demonstrate your love and the beauty of your amazing grace to everyone I meet.’ So far, so good.
But wait, in verse 8 Paul acknowledges that there will be ‘opponents’ who will try to find ways to condemn what we say and point out perceived evil in our way of thinking. We only need to switch on the TV or venture onto social media to see what this looks like in our day and age.
Far from finding sound doctrine / biblical principles attractive, many think them intolerant, unloving, and backward and when they think of people expressing or promoting these values, they deem it as an abhorrent attack on their human rights.
Do people really connect pleasant interactions with Christians with their understanding of biblical principles? How do we make sure we’re not just adorning ourselves as ‘nice’ people in their eyes and instead truly ‘adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour’ by honouring Him and upholding it?
Here I am, thoroughly bogged down. How do I avoid damaging conflict without staying silent when I should speak? How do I gently help people to grapple with ‘hard teachings’ in the Bible so they get to a point where they can understand God’s heart in the matter? How do I make sure I don’t give people the impression that I don’t really believe the word of God by being defensive, apologetic or embarrassed when I shouldn’t be?
It’s at this point I notice how the focus of all my questions has been on myself and not God. If I had to get all the above right in my own strength, I’d be in big trouble! But thankfully that is not the case. I need to stop worrying about my inadequacies and start trusting in God’s power and sufficiency.
I really can simply concentrate on living for God and let his Holy Spirit work in the lives of the people I meet.
‘But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.’
2 Corinthians 2.14-16a (ESV)

GIVING GOD THE GLORY

grace place bio photo christine

Christine Coltman, contributor for today’s blog post

I’ve been really excited that we’re studying Titus this term, especially as it’s such a small book that we can really get our teeth into the ‘meat’ of it. I also love that Titus is a really practical book and isn’t afraid to state things plainly.
That’s why I have to admit that I used to be a little shocked by the fact that in Chapter 2 verse 12, it says that the world we live in is an “evil” one. Going for a walk in beautiful Corsham on a sunny morning, most people would be hard pressed to agree with this statement. It seems a little over-dramatic. But God’s Word is always true and always wise – and, as usual, has been proved so for me.
We have recently had a family bereavement, in horrible circumstances. The impact of it is widespread, and will be long lasting, but the encouragement of Titus has been significant for me. Despite living in this evil world, with seemingly senseless sadness all around us, Paul writes that we are to live “with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God.” What clear and specific instruction to help lift us up out of the mire and refocus us on what matters: giving God the glory.
However, my favourite section of Titus is the one that follows:
“While we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”
I find it so refreshing to turn my eyes away from the mess of the here and now and look forward to what God, “who does not lie”, has promised to his children – his daughters – us! This life is such a small part of God’s glorious plan for us, but what is equally amazing is that it can be used for such a great purpose – to reveal Jesus to others who need him just as badly.
I’m grateful that God is always with us in this world, and is always ready to hear our cries and comfort us in our tears. We are having many moments like that just now. But I am more grateful that he was willing – determined, even – to send his Son so that we can have a glorious future ahead of us with our loving heavenly Father, no matter what our earthly lives hold. I hope you find that as much of an encouragement as I do. As Paul writes at the end of the letter,
“May God’s grace be with you all.”