Setting the Church in Order.
[Titus 2:1-10, 15]
Intro: Restructuring, business in a mess, unprofitable, inefficient – manager sent in to sort things out. His job is to set things in order, establish lines of communication and responsibility, appoint sub-managers over departments. Looks at assets and what should be done with them - staffing, how they should be trained and utilised. Look at departments and deal with each separately and set them in order. Start with middle management and work down to the workers, making sure each in functioning as they should. This is what Titus had to do in Crete – the church (and society) there was in chaos, needed to be set in order (Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains). Paul looks at the different people making up the church and tells Titus what he should be doing to make sure all is functioning in an orderly manner. It is advice to Titus as a pastor, one with the responsibility over the flock (Read Tit 2:1-10, 15) Note the emphasis on teaching and doctrine – order is to be established through sound teaching. Last time we looked at the danger from false teaching of legalism, as in Timothy’s letters, the counter to false teaching and heresy is sound doctrine, wholesome teaching. When false teaching abounds - what should you do? -continue teaching what is healthy. maintain sound teaching as a beacon in a dark night (cf. 2 Timothy 1:13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.)
Reform by teaching sound doctrine:
Older men (Tit 2:2) temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith , love, perseverance - What is Titus to teach? It is very practical, it concerns our conduct, character and behaviour. (cf. Tit 1:16) "Temperate" - sober - it refers here to a general restraint in indulging desires - sober-minded, clear-headed . "Dignified" - gravity, serious - the word denotes moral earnestness, affecting outward demeanour as well as interior intention. "Sensible" - sober-minded, to think and act soberly, discretely - to use sound judgement and moderation, to be self-disciplined; mind and body under control and discipline. Great stock is placed on a mind in order, for from this flows behaviour and character - giving a mature and respected bearing - not shallow, but depth, seriousness, maturity. The picture is of a man who is wise, whose life is in control, consistent with the faith he holds to – seen in practical love. Consistency, constancy steadfastness are needed.
Older women (Tit 2:3, 4) reverent, not gossips, not slaves to wine, teaching good Women are to be reverent in behaviour like the men - as described in the previous verse: sober, sensible, dignified, self-controlled. But several prohibitions are given for the special case of older women because of their propensity in certain areas: their weakness for gossip and weakness for wine, being less alcohol tolerant than men -"malicious gossips" - (διαβόλους) slanderer - gossip is the devil’s work! Older women are to teach what is good. Paul had prohibited Timothy from allowing women to teach men (1 Tim 2:12) - the "teaching" he refers to is this teaching of younger women, training them in the appropriate conduct for a women - something a man is not qualified to teach. The things they have learnt from experience about the duties of a woman: the appropriate way to behave, they are to pass on to the younger women - teaching them in the practical issues of womanhood: how to love their husbands, be subject to them, to love their children, run a home, to be discrete and pure etc. This is not teaching doctrine in church, but "what is good" i.e. good conduct - practical living, how a woman of God should conduct herself and her family. "Teaching what is good" - the word does not refer to formal instruction, but rather the advice and encouragement they can give privately by word and example.
Young women (Tit 2:4, 5) love husbands, love children, sensible, pure, work at home, kind, subject to husbands - What is the "good" the older women are to teach? - to train the young women to be self-controlled. To love your husband and children takes self-control - it doesn’t happen naturally, training is required. So Titus is to give teaching to older men and women, but the older women are to do the practical training of the younger women - not the pastor/elders themselves - it is not appropriate for men to be giving younger women this instruction - that is the women’s domain. The older Christian women are to train the younger women to be "sober" (serious-minded); lovingly devoted to their husbands and to their children; "discrete"; holy or chaste "Pure" - chaste - the word covers not only chastity in matters of sex, but also the innocence and integrity of heart. In the unruly, rebellious, atmosphere of Crete it was especially necessary that young women be trained in the appropriate behaviour, to be home-workers; "good"; subjecting themselves to their husbands. Mature women have a role in training the young how to be good wives. We think you "fall in love", you have to be taught to love. Why do marriages break up? - false romantic notions (prince charming is seldom a prince and just as seldom charming, find you are living with a man and his obsessions, idiosyncrasies, self-absorbed, dirty washing) young people think they know it all, they know how to love, – but it doesn't come naturally, you have to learn it. Someone who has been married 20-30 years has learned to love her husband through all the irritations. Do we teach young women to love their husbands and children? No, we leave them to get on with it, learn the hard way by their mistakes just as you did. Young people think they know all about love and that the older generation know nothing. But the older people were young once and through life’s experience have come to know that love is more than the flush of youth. Love doesn’t come naturally - it must be learned, training is required. A vital role for elderly women is to train the younger to love their husbands and children. This important task is, sadly, much neglected today - not only do the older not do it, the younger are not receptive to it. The older are to train the younger to be sensible, self-controlled, pure, chaste, discrete, how to run a home, do good and to be subject to their husbands – the natural thing is to assert you own will – it ain't easy. All this requires training - it takes experience gained through a life-time to do this. The picture is of a healthy family life - the woman’s role is in the home and her responsibility is the family - a home where there is love, purity, decency, efficiently run and in order. This is regarded today as a menial thing - yet it takes the highest skill, dedication, application and perseverance to achieve. Why is this role for women so lightly esteemed today? It is a high calling and a great challenge. It is no easy task, that is why the advice of those experienced in it is so necessary. The purpose or motive for such action is that God’s Word may not be blasphemed - brought into disrepute because of unruly, insubordinate wives. God is honoured by a home well run and in Divine order - but if it is not, discredit is brought on His Word! So a woman’s role in the home is worship! By it they are upholding the very honour and reputation of God’s Word itself! We neglect this vital area at our peril for it threatens the authority of God’s Word! How vital and of utmost importance is the woman’s role in the home and family.
Young men (Tit 2:6) sensible - Paul now addresses the case of younger men. Young men are also exhorted and urged to be serious-minded (sensible).Titus, as pastor, is to encourage the younger to be sensible. This quality is essential in all ages and sexes and is a mark of spiritual maturity - in fact it is the quality that marks out a Christian - but it is especially to be encouraged in the youth who tend to be frivolous, excitable, keen and enthusiastic but without that sense and sensible self-control that lasts the distance. The young tend to not take life seriously but to lark about - there is a tendency to be ruled by passions and emotions - an instability that is not to characterise the Christian. This is a key quality mentioned five times already (σώφρονας = of sound mind, self-controlled, sensible, sober-minded cf. Tit 2:2, 4, 5, 6, 12; 1:8). This is to be the continual attitude of the young - it is rarely seen in young Christians today. How highly esteemed and greatly emphasised this quality is in this letter which is God’s word, especially when one considers how little importance or emphasis is placed on it in our own day. We praise the enthusiasm and energy of youth but what is needed is sober-mindedness and self-control, discipline. This self-control and sensible, rational, holding of one’s being in check is scorned - regarded as old fashioned, repression, not being "real". We are encouraged "to live and let live", to "just do it" - existentialism and experience are everything, don’t hold back or bottle it up etc. Often Christianity is portrayed as irrational faith - even by Christians in their mysticism, who encourage living by "sensing" or "feeling" the "Spirit’s" promptings. But Paul here consistently calls for a rational, sane, sensible, serious, sober, self-controlled attitude to life - the very opposite of what some churches exhort!
Slaves (Tit 2:9,10) subject to masters, be pleasing, not argumentative, stealing, good faith - Paul now he has instructions concerning servants, a significant sector of society in those days (analogous to employees today). The slave/employee is to submit himself, be subject to his master/boss in everything. Consistency is called for (ἐν πᾶσιν is repeated) - it takes consistency in humble obedience, compliance and blameless conduct to adorn the teaching of God our Saviour. God Himself is our Saviour! Bless His Name! This is a beautiful teaching - our transformed lives adorn His beauty - set off its intrinsic beauty. For it is His salvation that has made our behaviour beautiful. A slave/employee must be well pleasing to the one over him, not arguing the toss, answering back or contradicting or speaking against him. Our conduct in the work place must be blameless - no taking for yourself what is the business’s - no "perks". We are on display! A living demonstration! - testifying to the reality of the doctrine of salvation, the truth of God! How we behave at work reflects back on God! What an awesome responsibility and high privilege! Does my behaviour at work adorn the Gospel? What image is conveyed of the doctrine of God’s salvation through my conduct? Does it attract and draw people to God as Saviour? We are to be living demonstrations of good faith - faithful in everything - totally reliable and dependable.
What is required in teaching: (Tit 2:7, 8, 15) Paul now turns to the case of Titus himself, the pastor (v.7,8) - his own life and example as leader and shepherd of the flock. Others will follow his manner of living, so his conduct must be exemplary. Paul lays great emphasis on teaching/doctrine - it is the vital life-blood that ensures the church’s health (Tit 1:9, (2x); Tit 2:1, 3, 7, 10). The honour and reputation of God's word is at stake. The honour and standard of teaching/doctrine must be upheld (cf. v.8, 10, 15). It must be seen in the lives we live. If we are unruly, not loving, undisciplined, lazy, not subject to husbands, people will say what unruly people Christians are, this is their ethic, this is what their Bible teaches – people will write the Bible off – someone said that we are the only Bible that some people ever read. So sound teaching is necessary. What is required in teaching? A high standard is expected, teachers speech must not be able to be condemned, teachers will be judged (James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.) Teaching will be opposed, so there must be no grounds they can have against you.
Example the purpose of the pastoral example was that: he be so exemplary that the one that opposes him would be put to shame, having nothing bad to say concerning the young pastor. We must have nothing that can be used as a means of getting a grip on us, to bring us into disrepute and thus bring shame on our Lord (as has happened with Jimmy Baker et al) Titus was to be an example that could be followed - how? - in the good deeds he did (cf. Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.). Our actions must be consistent with what we teach. , sound doctrine There was corrupt teaching doing the rounds, Titus was not to be corrupted by it but teach uncorrupted doctrine, "Purity" - literally "uncorruptness", "sincerity" - it is purity of motive, without desire of gain or respect of persons and purity of doctrine, sound teaching., dignity "Dignified" - the word denotes moral earnestness, affecting outward demeanor as well as interior intention (cf. Tit 2:2). Titus was to exhibit the same quality required of the older men in the fellowship. A serious, dignified, bearing should be found in a pastor (cf. today’s pally comedians, entertainers with the respected minister of yesteryear), sound speech sound in speech - speak healthy words i.e. God’s pure word - undefiled. , irreproachable A pastor will be subject to public scrutiny, attack, accusation and slander - there must be nothing that sticks of the dirt that is thrown at him. He is to be blameless, unable to have anything pinned on him (cf. 1 Peter 3:16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.). Our lives are to be so irreproachable that those that accuse us and oppose us are themselves shamed by it being shown that their accusation is absolutely baseless - they are the ones with evil intent, not us. They may look for dirt but they must not be able to find it - unable to say anything bad against us. We are to be blameless - for the sake of Christ’s name which we bear. Titus’ character reflected on the churches reputation. The pastor’s conduct determines the view the world has of us, exhort encourage, - Paul tells Titus to instruct the people about "these things" - "these things" being the godly behaviour required of those who belong to Christ (Tit 2:1-14 cf. especially Tit 2:1 "Speak the things ....") - the conduct required of each segment of the church, as outlined here. Those that have received salvation by grace are to be different, changed, not the same as the world around. It is necessary to tell people of the different standard required, to tell them how to live, to change from their old way of living. This is a vital role that the church plays - note the emphasis placed on re-educating the church on its manner of living - it is not enough to just tell them, speak to them about it- also exhort, encourage, urge, do everything to promote this behaviour. Reprove/rebuke, Teaching is both positive and negative: encourage and rebuke, if behaviour is not according to the sound teaching leaders need to exercise discipline, tell them off, correct them, pull them up on what they are doing- to rebuke with every command - tell those off who continue to live as the world does (cf. Tit 1:9, 11, 13) Discipline is to be exercised in the church but we fear men too much to exercise it, we don't want people to leave because they are upset – how would my family run if I did that?! authority is needed, rebuke and teach with authority, don't let people look down on you., Note there is nothing "spiritual", to do with God per se, in these qualities – it is practical teaching seen in every day living: sensible, controlled, respectable. Straight teaching of what is required, enthusiastic promoting of what is required (positive reinforcement) and strict, authoritative reproof of what is contrary (negative reinforcement). The pastor is to exercise authority and not let his teaching, exhortation and rebuke be ignored. He must be heeded, taken notice of. How different to today’s ethos where each is "entitled to his own opinion" and we are not to "force our opinion on anyone" - if someone chooses to disregard us, that is their choice. How authority, a clear laying down of what is the way, is needed today - and oh how people resist it when confronted by it! We have the same rebellious, independent, spirit that characterised Crete! Many churches exhort in the right way but sound teaching is rare today, even more scarce is a church that exercises discipline, rebuking error with the authority invested in them by Christ. That is why rebellion thrives and we each do what is right in our own eyes. The church needs setting in order.