Strengths, Responsibilities, and Words of Caution
by Kathie Wendland
Likewise, encourage older women to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not enslaved to much wine, but teachers of what is good, so that they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands, that the word of God might not be slandered (Titus 2:3-5, EHV).
Growing up on a farm with six brothers and sisters, we learned how to work together as a family. My sisters and mom sometimes helped with farm chores and field work, such as driving the tractor to disc, cultivate, or chop hay. We couldn’t repair the equipment, though, or do the literal heavy lifting necessary for such tasks. On the other hand, my dad and brothers could certainly get a meal for themselves. However, they relied on my mom, my sisters, and me to do the baking of bread, desserts, and preparation of vegetables, fruit, meat, etc., produced by the farm so they had something to get for their meal.
Furthermore, my parents very wisely “played to our strengths” as individuals during those years, while at the same time guiding those strengths as we grew into them. For instance, one of my sisters could get things done very quickly but sometimes needed to be sent back to finish missed steps or perhaps even redo something. I, on the other hand, always ended with as close to a “perfect” job done as possible but required many encouragements to get moving and actually get the job finished.
From Paul’s letter to Titus, it’s easy to see that in many ways the family of God gathered together in congregations is similar to my family experience growing up. In Titus 2, Paul has specific encouragements and cautions for older men, older women, younger women, younger men, and employees (as slaves of the time would be referred to today). Although Paul significantly uses the words “likewise” or “similarly” a few times, his inspired guidance for each group is different and reflects both general strengths and cautions for men and women as they grow together in God’s family.
Although Paul significantly uses the words “likewise” or “similarly” a few times, his inspired guidance for each group is different and reflects both general strengths and cautions for men and women as they grow together in God’s family.
As older men fulfill their God-given responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the congregation under congregation overseers, Paul speaks of sound doctrine and being worthy of respect as they model faith, love, and endurance. Younger men need encouragement to be self-controlled. Titus, a young man himself, is to show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech in his teaching. Why? “…so that the one who opposes us will be put to shame, because he has nothing bad to say about us” (verse 8). Employees are to demonstrate trustworthiness, “so that they may show the teaching of God our Savior to be attractive in every way” (verse 10).
In today’s reading, we hear Paul instruct Titus, “Likewise, encourage older women to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not enslaved to much wine, but teachers of what is good, so that they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands, that the word of God might not be slandered.”
For young and old alike, for male and female, by inspiration Paul guides the young pastor Titus in speaking to both the strengths and responsibilities of the men and women making up the new congregation. Paul also has inspired words of caution for each group in areas where their strengths can be especially vulnerable to being distorted by sin.
For young and old alike, for male and female, by inspiration Paul guides the young pastor Titus in speaking to both the strengths and responsibilities of the men and women making up the new congregation.
For women, referring back to the devotion on from “not good” to “very good,” it becomes clear through the pages of Scripture that two very significant pieces were built into the woman for the blessing of mankind. One of those pieces is the ability to speak. Studies have shown that on average, women have a much greater vocabulary than men do, and they use it. How many times is it heard that either “women talk too much” when a man is commenting on communication or “men don’t ever talk about things” when a woman is commenting?
The second—and perhaps overriding—difference in men and women is the created ability God gave in rich measure to women to see and treasure relationships. While it’s true of relationships of all kinds, the predominant relationships have to do with husband and children, families, and work associates. Relationships are, for women, often the most important part of life.
Looking forward to this week’s second devotion, take time to read all of Titus to get a fuller picture of Paul’s instructions to Titus, the young pastor of a young congregation totally new to the idea of a loving God and a Savior. Then spend some time thinking about women in Scripture who demonstrated use of verbal skills and relationship-building skills. Were these God-pleasing uses or not? Finally, ponder how women of God learned to be women of God.
For Further Reflection
In view of the Creator’s design and plan for mankind, meditate on or write about how God sees you as valuable and the blessings he intends to bring to your family, congregation, the whole Christian church, and to society through you.
Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see your gracious and loving plan for me as a woman: valuable in so many ways and walking in the plans you have also laid out for my life here on earth. Open my eyes to see the value of my sisters in Christ as we all live out the unique plans you have for us, plans that bring great joy and blessing to the lives of all around us. Keep our eyes focused on your Son, who paid what I owe so I can be with you for all eternity. In his name I kneel before you. Amen.