Models of Christian Maturity
When life gets difficult, you won’t need a three-ring binder full of notes or a self-help guide to life. No, you’ll need an arm around your shoulder. You’ll need the tender eyes of an older Christian who understands. You’ll need compassion. Such ministry in a church is not programmatic; it is relational. It is as a result of knowing people. It is a result of being able to open up to people.
This is why every church needs older men and older women who are marked by maturity, who are not coasting but growing in faith toward God, in love toward others, and in steadfastness in the face of trials.
Titus’s role in the congregation to which he ministered was to encourage and exhort the older men to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, and healthy in their faith. He was to be no less concerned with the spiritual health of the church’s older women. Just as older men have a significant role in the life of a developing congregation, so the older women are absolutely vital. Churches need older men and women that have run the race and kept the faith to model for younger generations what it looks like to live for Christ.
The church needs older men and women because they can “teach what is good” to those who are younger. The teaching here is lifestyle teaching before it is any other kind of teaching. When Paul wrote these words, he wasn’t anticipating a classroom setting with textbooks. This kind of instruction takes place in casual yet intentional conversations as well as arranged meetings, and simply in rubbing shoulders with one another in day-to-day life.
Where are you going to go when your marriage begins to struggle? Who are you going to talk to when your teenager goes into “I don’t ever want to talk to you again” mode? Where will you turn when you don’t know where to turn? You can visit your pastor, who can pray with you and give you some guidance, but you’ll also need an older man or woman who has walked the same path and can say, “Let me tell you how I lived through it. Let me tell you what I did. Let me tell you how I prayed. Let me tell you about the grace of God. Let me encourage you.”
Most of us can be such an “older man” or “older woman” to someone of a younger age and earlier stage in life than us. Intentionally make yourself available in this way. And most of us can find someone older and wiser than us and ask them to pray with us, counsel us, and be there for us. Intentionally seek out that kind of friendship, for it is one of the greatest blessings that the church of God gives us.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Teach Sound Doctrine
1But as for you, teach what accords with sound1 doctrine. 2Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9Bondservants2 are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
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