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Healthy Doctrine for Younger Women

Living with Grace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  53:28
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Titus 2:4-5
So far, Paul has given Titus guidance for pastors on the island of Crete, and he has given instructions for bad influencers in the church, too. In contrast to their unhealthy teaching, he’s described healthy teaching for older men and women, and all of this teaching centers around the right way to respond to God’s grace in our lives.
God’s grace is the free, unlimited ability from God to be what we should be and do what we should do.
In this letter, Paul calls this grace-driven lifestyle “good works.” It’s how we should behave once we’ve turned to Christ alone as our God and Savior. It’s how followers of Christ should live in contrast to the unbelieving world around us.
In Tit 2:4-8, Paul shifts focus from the lifestyle and reputation of older Christian men and women to the lifestyle of younger men and women, younger in age. By “younger,” Paul likely envisioned men and women from younger teens to upper 30’s/lower 40’s.
More than age, he likely envisioned men and women with minimal, underdeveloped life experience. They had not received advanced education nor developed a professional career portfolio. These would be men and women who, in many cased, had been married and become parents, but were on the early side of these things.
In the guidance we’re looking at today (Tit 2:4-5), Paul focuses on younger women, especially younger married women.
He does not exclude younger unmarried women but informs younger women who aspire to be married. His guidance should even encourage younger women who are reticent to be married to view marriage as a positive thing if God allows. In our present American culture, we increasingly view marriage as a necessary evil or an experience to delay. We take the same view towards children by tending to put off having children for a long time and then viewing children as a difficulty or hindrance.
Paul’s guidance here does not say everything there is to say for young women, wives, or mothers. Instead, he targets some areas of need in the churches on Crete.
For whatever reason, the younger women there presented some distinct challenges, which we conclude from noticing how Paul gives them more detailed and specific guidance than the other groups of people he speaks about. Nevertheless, his offers timeless teaching for young women that is equally authoritative and relevant for us today.
We should notice how Paul instructs the older women to teach younger women. He presents these topics as more appropriate for older women than pastors to teach. A pastor knows less firsthand about how to be a good wife than an older, experienced woman for sure!
That said, these instructions apply not only to younger but to older women, too, since to teach these things they must first be examples of living these things themselves. So, what kind of teaching does Paul say is healthy for younger women to receive in the church?
For the younger women, Paul gives what appears to be a list of seven points, yet these seven are actually four. Using grammatical clues, he gives these instructions in three pairs of advice followed by a fourth standalone piece of advice. These four objectives are:

Love your husband and children.

“Admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.”
Love here means something like “brotherly love” and portrays words and actions of affection and friendship. This would include things like hugs and kisses and would further include any behavior or speech that shows you like and care for someone, which is a husband and children in this case here.
While such guidance seems unnecessary to newlywed wives, it’s not unusual for a young wife to “feel” less affectionate to her husband over time. This diminished affection tends to decrease especially after childbirth, when she easily shifts attention to the kids.
It’s also possible to show less affection to your children as they grow older. And while a teenage boy may not appreciate repeated hugs and kisses from his mother as he once did, a mother should always find ways to show love to her children. This guidance holds true even when a mother grows frustrated during difficult stages of a child’s development.
Recognizing these possible trends, it’s spiritually healthy to remind younger women to show affection and cultivate friendship with their husbands at all times throughout marriage, not just at the start.
It’s also spiritually healthy to remind younger women to show affection and cultivate friendship with their children throughout the parenting journey, not just when they’re easy to love.
Young wives should be reminded of their crucial role in spreading affection, companionship, and friendship within their family. It’s easy for young women to lose heart along the way, whether as a wife or a mother, but God’s grace enables her to rise above the challenges and show affection to the people in her home.

Be self-controlled and morally pure.

“[Admonish the young women to be] discreet, chaste.”
Here Paul repeats the word he’s used for pastors, older men, and older women – self-controlled (discreet in NKJV). It refers to “a sensible life of balance and restraint.”
Such a woman controls her appetites. She does not indulge in overeating, binge-watching Netflix shows, getting drunk, excessive shopping, wanderlust, personal hobbies, hanging out with friends, surfing the web, or even physical exercise. Whatever she does, she does with balance and is neither compulsive, extreme, nor out-of-control.
Paul paired this word with another word – pure (chaste in NKJV). This word emphasizes sexual morality and reminds younger women to stay clear of any behavior that would compromise or call in to question her devotion to her husband. It goes without saying that younger women should never commit an affair.
She should not try to attract the romantic attention of other men through appearance or flirtation. No woman is responsible for what another man thinks, and a man must answer to God for his thoughts and behavior. Still, a young, married woman should never make deliberate attempts to connect romantically with a man who’s not her husband. She should concentrate her romantic interests on her husband. Though unbelieving women may behave differently, God’s grace enables believing women to be morally pure.

Work hard at home and be kind.

“[Admonish the young women to be] homemakers, good.”
Homemakers means something like “work hard (be busy) at home.” This instruction does not forbid a wife from working outside the home, but it reminds her of her primary responsibility, which is to work hard caring for her family at home.
If a woman’s outside obligations prevent her from fulfilling her household duties of providing an orderly, well-fed, well-cared-for home for her husband and children, then she needs to make adjustments to her outside work not the other way around. Whatever she does, she must take full responsibility for her domestic duties as a wife and mother.
A wife serves as a domestic administrator, overseeing the various functions within her household. This does not require her to do everything at home, but it does assign her the responsibility of ensuring everything gets done. For wealthier families, the wife may hire people to clean the house or do the laundry. For less-wealthy families, the wife may need to do those things herself or find ways to involve her children and husband.
This responsibility also requires a wife to manage family finances and resources well. As a home manager, she should not waste money on frivolous or unwise expenditures, nor should she incur avoidable debt and financial strain on her husband’s income stream.
Whatever the case, young wives should be reminded that they are responsible before God to manage a well-run home. Though they may do a variety of other things as well, whatever they do should never diminish this crucial responsibility. When this responsibility seems impossible or overwhelming, they need to be reminded by older women in the church that God’s grace can enable them to meet the challenge.
What’s more, they should be reminded to manage the affairs of their home with a gracious spirit. Paul attached the word “good” here, which teaches her “to exhibit kindness towards all those with whom she comes in contact as she applies herself to her domestic duties.”[1]
Whether it be her husband, children, household employees or contracted workers, children’s instructors or tutors, the bill collectors or service providers, etc. – she should conduct her household duties with kindness. She should not act or speak like a ruthless taskmaster, bitter nag, argumentative combatant, snappy touchy person, etc. She should be a hard-working, diligent person but never mean or uncaring.

Follow the leadership of your husband.

“[Admonish the young women to be] obedient to their own husbands.”
This final guidance to younger women stands alone without a complementary word or additional description. It also stands out as the only thing Paul has said here which was unique to being a Christian in that time.
Greek and Roman culture upheld the ideals for wives that Paul already mentioned. First-century Western culture respected women who loved their husbands and children, practiced good morals, and managed their affairs at home with a gracious spirit. This instruction to be “submissive” (obedient, NKJV) was a uniquely Christian virtue which was modeled by Christ himself.
What does “submit” mean? It speaks of order in social relationships, of how various roles and positions in life relate to one another, but it does not speak about inherent value.
A soldier submits to his commanding officer, not because the officer is better than him but because that’s how their roles are assigned to function.
A student submits to her teacher, not because the teacher is better than her but because that’s how their roles are arranged to function.
Christ himself submitted to God the Father, not because he was inferior or less God than the Father, but because that’s what he needed to do to rescue us from our sin.
From God’s perspective, then, a wife submits to her husband, not because he is better than her but because that’s how God designed the marriage roles to function.
Submit (ὑποτάσσω) differs from obey (ὑπακούω). Children obey parents out of duty but wives submit to husbands voluntarily, by choice not coercion. They should seek neither to control, dictate, nor manipulate the decisions and leadership of their husbands.

Wives have a challenging role.

After they express their feelings, concerns, and opinions, they must step aside to let their husbands make final decisions for their families so long as those decisions. They also face the challenge of not just letting their husbands make final decisions, but of getting behind those decisions rather than complaining, criticizing, pushing back, and finding ways to sabotage their husbands’ choices.
Perhaps this submission is not so difficult when the decisions in view are like what restaurant to go to for dinner, movie to watch, or presents to buy the kids at Christmas.

Submission gets harder as the magnitude of decisions increase.

The more deeply and directly a husband’s choices affect a wife’s career, finances, sense of security, and children, the harder it is for her to accept his choices and follow his lead.
Even then, a wife should support her husband’s decisions so long as they do not clearly violate something God has said in Scripture. In many instances, however, this is not the dilemma at hand. It’s either (a) a husband is actually providing godly, biblical leadership and the wife is unwilling to follow or (b) a husband is making decisions that are either insensitive, inconvenient, frustrating, or unwise.
In the case of (a), the Christian wife should recognize that the Lord is using her husband to guide her in the right direction. She should respect the fact that he’s making tough choices. She should recognize her own spiritual weaknesses and immaturity and follow his lead rather than arguing with him, manipulating him, accusing him of hypocrisy, bringing up past failures, or refusing to cooperate. She should thank God for a husband who wants to do right in the situation at hand.
In the case of (b), the Christian wife should also submit to her husband even though he may not be making the best choice. In fact, it’s possible that in some cases the husband may actually be making the best decision. But regardless of who has the better idea, the more mature perspective, the more spiritual mindset, or the wiser plan, the wife should submit to her husband. Consider the following examples of when submission applies:
A wife wants to deposit money from the refund of a joint tax return into a college savings plan for their child, but her husband wants to purchase a risky stock instead.
A wife wants to spend Christmas with her side of the family, noting she and her husband already spent Thanksgiving with his side of the family that year. He wants to stay at home for a low-key, private Christmas instead.
A wife wants to stay at home and home-school the kids, but her husband wants her to find employment and would rather send the kids to a school nearby.
In each scenario the wife could make a moderate to strong case that she is pulling for a fair, reasonable, and even better or wiser decision than her husband. You can also see how the husband may be wanting something unfair or ill-advised.
In all these cases, the wife should share her views and weigh in on the decision, but she should submit to her husband’s final decision, not because she respects the decision but because she has chosen to respect him.

This teaching applies to all kinds of husbands.

It doesn’t specify, “Submit to your husband only if he’s a Christian,” or, “… if he’s an incredible godly person,” or, “if he’s been nice to you this week,” or, “if he’s smarter than you.” This truth applies to wives whose husbands may not be saved and who may be less mature, godly, talented, intelligent, or professional than their wives. God’s grace makes this kind of submission possible.

“That the word of God be not blasphemed.”

When young wives and mothers resist God’s instructions for their role in the home, they bring shame upon the message of Christ’s salvation and make the grace of God, which is the only hope to transform our lives, appear ineffective.
When wives refuse to show affection to their husbands, to accept their husband’s decisions, to nurture and care for their children, and neglect their domestic responsibilities or do them with an irritable, nagging attitude, and pursuing their own selfish desires (whether immorality, luxurious living, wasteful spending, etc.), they make the message of God’s grace laughable rather than attractive, repulsive rather than compelling.
One of the ways this contradiction hurts the most is when children in the home see the contradictions and find it difficult to follow Christ as a result. The same reticence also occurs more broadly in the church and community as Christian wives contradict God’s grace by their behavior towards their family.
Though the world may respect and even aspire to most of these qualities, God’s grace enables us to do these things well, to a much greater degree of genuineness and reality than nonbelievers can experience. Christian young ladies should be a testimony to the world in the way they behave in their homes and care for their families.
Though the details of your home situation may differ with your life situation, your relationship with your husband and children should be as Paul describes. And if you’re young and unmarried, then aspire and prepare to be this kind of wife as God allows.
[1] I. Howard Marshall and Philip H. Towner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 249.
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