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.”
This 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).