Teachers of What Is Good
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).
“Likewise…” at the beginning of a passage always reminds us to consider what else is being referred to. Paul has already stressed teaching “sound doctrine” to Titus as a requirement for leaders in the congregation by using the word “must” in Chapter 1. The motivation for Christ-like behavior is secondary to sound doctrine. I want to live a sanctified life because—by faith—I grasp the magnitude of what Christ has done for me.
While that grace in and of itself would be enough motivation, I have also been called by God to be Christ’s ambassador proclaiming the message of reconciliation: that in Christ the sins of the world have been forgiven. That is how we “shine among [unbelievers] like lights in the world, as [we] hold onto the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-15). It seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? If that awesome role were up to me alone, I’d surely fall so short. Yet I have been assured that the Holy Spirit will work in me “both to will and to work for the sake of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). As Paul turns to guide Titus in instructing various groups in the congregation, the “likewise” connects sound doctrine with the teaching that underscores women teaching other women.
Sound Doctrine Produces Sanctified Living
There are many examples in Scripture that help us see sound doctrine producing sanctified action in God’s daughters’ lives. Mary is the obvious example of sitting at Jesus’ feet even while other important tasks needed to be done. But Martha too is a wonderful example. I feel badly for Martha, as she often is pictured as the less noble of the sisters. Her determination to take care of Jesus’ needs as well as the needs of his followers while in her home, however, is exemplary. Lydia was compelled to care for Paul’s needs as well as for Timothy and Silas who were with him. Both women did so because they knew by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Christ.
Martha is the one who again rushed to meet Jesus when he came to Bethany after Lazarus died. Her confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ was stated clearly, and she knew her brother would rise again at the last day. That’s the comfort of sound doctrine, and Martha was living it. So was Mary. Her conviction that her brother wouldn’t have died if Jesus had been there is true for all of us, isn’t it? Because Jesus IS here, we don’t die—not eternally. Because Jesus is here, we have opportunities all the time to proclaim him as the Christ—the Son of the living God—when those around us see how differently we live our lives. They see how differently we speak about and treat our family members, especially our husbands and children if that is part of God’s plan for our lives.
How to treat family and friends doesn’t come naturally to the sinful nature each one of us is born with. It must be taught. It flows from sound doctrine as we are being renewed in the image of God. What then am I to be teaching if I’m an older Christian woman, and what am I to be looking to learn if I’m a younger Christian woman?
What then am I to be teaching if I’m an older Christian woman, and what am I to be looking to learn if I’m a younger Christian woman?
Teach What Is Good
In his instructions to Titus, Paul begins by encouraging women to use their communication skills in a God-pleasing way. Slander and gossip are so popular in the culture in which we live. Social media is now a way to feel popular if that gossip or slander garners more “likes” than speaking well of others or putting the best construction on everything. But that is not the blessing for others that the Lord intended for women when he built them as the suitable helper. Paul further cautions to watch the wine. There’s nothing like alcohol to loosen the tongue—and not in good ways.
After the caution on use of communication skills found in rich measure in women, the attention turns to what should be taught: “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands” (verses 4-5). Beginning the list with “love their husbands and children” is the foundation of blessed, strong relationships. Relationships were so important to mankind that creation was “not good” until the man had a partner built from him with whom to have a relationship. The woman named Eve, the mother of all the living, was made to be the blessing from God to build blessed relationships with her family and acquaintances. Every woman has a family to whom she can be a blessing, whether in a marriage setting, a daughter setting, or the family-of-God setting. Every woman is part of a family.
But every woman needs to be taught to love her family. That’s a bold statement, isn’t it? The love needing to be taught isn’t the self-serving, self-gratifying emotion of the world around us. The love here is the Greek word agape. Agape is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love does not fail.” Love, agape, does not come naturally to sinful human beings. Agape describes God’s love in John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Those who are being renewed in the image of God are able to model God’s love for the people around them. This is the foundation of blessed, strong relationships. This relationship insight and emphasis is part of the “not good” to “very good” truth that occurred with the building of the woman from the man. Christian women—with the foundation of sound doctrine—are able to model and teach how to love those around them.
Those who are being renewed in the image of God are able to model God’s love for the people around them. This is the foundation of blessed, strong relationships.
This is the love, then, that will compel the actions that follow in Titus. For an example of what it looks like “to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands,” refer to Proverbs 31:10-31 and Ruth 1:16—3:14. Both examples describe women: “noble” women, women of “strong character.” These examples aren’t there to give Christian women today a “to do” list. Instead, they are the “older women” we can look to today to see application of the encouragements Paul instructs Titus to raise up women—“teachers of what is good”—who are for many reasons best suited to teach younger women what is so vital to all of us, yet what does not come naturally.
A Vital Part of the Body of Christ
The agape that women have responsibility to teach other women is not only vital in blessed relationship in homes and families. Those families are a microcosm of the blessed relationships found in Christian congregations. Christian congregations, founded on sound doctrine, will grow together as the body of Christ. The body of Christ works together—men and women as a team—to strengthen one another and reach out to the dying world around it with the message of reconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ who died for all in the world. We then, as Christian women and Christian congregations, no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us and was raised again.
In a world which is so confused by sin, a world that has no idea of what love really is, a world that is intent on denying the God who made us and then redeemed us, the body of Christ—with Christ as its head—has a lot of work to do. This is not our work, but rather it is God’s work planned for us from before creation.
In a world which is so confused by sin, a world that has no idea of what love really is, a world that is intent on denying the God who made us and then redeemed us, the body of Christ—with Christ as its head—has a lot of work to do. This is not our work, but rather it is God’s work planned for us from before creation. It is work that is filled with purpose for our lives no matter what gifts God has showered on us as individuals or what callings in life for which he has prepared. It is work that God has designed for men and women to accomplish together, each using the strengths God has given while being mindful of sinful attempts to make those strengths self-fulfilling rather than of service to others.
For Further Reflection
Spend time reading and meditating on Proverbs 31:10-3, the book of Ruth (God’s loving message to his daughters through the ages), 2 Corinthians 5:14—6:2, and Ephesians (God’s message to Christian congregations).
- As an older woman, how can I model and teach others—especially younger women—what it is to love husband and children as a married woman or family and co-workers and friends as a single woman?
- As a younger woman, to whom can I look to see what it means to be a “strong woman” in today’s world?
- As a Christian woman, young or old, married or single, how can I be part of strengthening the relationships within the body of Christ so we all can boldly and clearly proclaim the message of Jesus Christ to the world around us and glorify him with our lives?
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.