Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:3-5)
Now she calls me her 'spiritual mom'. I’ve been thinking about the fact that she’ll begin discipling her daughter, teaching her to be a godly woman as she grows up. The Lord has expanded some thoughts about these verses that I'd like to share.
The words ‘older woman’ have a different connotation to us now, but when the apostle Paul wrote a letter of encouragement to Titus, who was the pastor of the church in Crete, it was honorable to be a ‘presbytis’, an older man or woman, meaning 'elder' or 'ambassador'. He encouraged Titus to look for women who were good examples to the flock, living reverent lives, loving the family and modeling submission where proper, to honor God’s word above all.
So I’ve been digging into this bit of Scripture and thinking about my friendship with McKenzie. I’ve asked myself if I’ve been this kind of example or if I’ve fallen down on the job. A better question is how I might continue to encourage her. I think there are three key issues presented here: reverent behavior, loving behavior, and submissive behavior, none of which is easy to do.
The word reverent means sacred or set apart to God, and refers to a woman who is ‘outstanding or conspicuous in her godliness’. She’s a God worshiper, one who models good moral behavior and is worthy of respect. Personally I respect McKenzie because she loves the Lord and applies His word to her life. She loves learning about the Bible and she goes to church, not because she feels obligated but because she wants to be there. We meet every week at Bible study and she always has things to add, or good questions to ask. I know her daughter, Avigail, will grow up with a mom who loves Jesus — and what better thing can a mom teach her child?
Reverent behavior includes avoiding a couple of things, identified here as gossip and intoxication. On the surface it seems easy to steer clear of these things — don’t spread rumors and don’t get drunk. But there’s something a little deeper here, I think. Personally I feel very safe with McKenzie. If someone told her a rumor about me I know she would come to me and discuss it, not as a tattle-tale but to determine the truth out of kindness and love. You don’t trust someone who gossips! Reverent behavior results in trustworthiness.
Intoxication, on the other hand, isn’t just about drinking alcohol. McKenzie (an elementary school teacher) told me about a little boy on the last day of school who was practically shaking because he was so excited and anxious about the gifts he was taking home. He was in a sense ‘drunk’, meaning he wasn’t thinking or behaving the way he usually did because of the desire to get all these things home with him. Have you ever felt that way, jumpy and upset, trying to carry too much?
In contrast, I’ve watched McKenzie streamline her life, giving up her career as a teacher in order to become a full time wife and mom, a decision I respect immeasurably, but I can tell you that I’ve met other young women who weren’t willing to do that. Why? Well, I can’t judge their motives, but I ask them to seriously question whether they’re ‘drunk’ on this world and the stuff they want... If the stuff of this world is making you anxious and not allowing you to think clearly, it might be time to streamline and focus on God’s way of doing things. So, a reverent woman is trustworthy, not a gossip, and focused on God, not drunk on the world.
These verses emphasize loving behavior, too. Older women are to teach the younger gals to love their husbands and children. How hard is that? We have to go a little bit deeper here and analyze this word. In ancient Greek there are several words for ‘love’, one that means eroticism, another meaning sacrificial love, and the word used here, which means friendship. I was talking with McKenzie’s mother-in-law not long ago and she mentioned how her kids are friends. They’ll be silly together sometimes, enjoying each other’s company. We wives are meant to be best friends to our husbands, in a lot of ways. Friends want the best for one another, they trust each other, and they spend time together.
Are we supposed to be best friends with our kids? No, not the same way — that’s too heavy a burden for a child — but I do think we’re meant to spend time with our kids. I know how much I enjoy being with my son, who is now 24. The idea is that we prefer being a mom to doing other things. Kids don’t learn what you teach them as much as they learn what the live. It’s important to nourish their little minds and let them see the primary love relationship between mommy and daddy acted out every day. I suspect McKenzie will be the kind of mom who is sensible and enjoys being with her husband and daughter. It’s a joy to provide a home that’s a sanctuary, not necessarily full of toys or belongings, but most definitely full of 'friendship' love.
And then we come to the hot-button issue so many women squirm over: submissive behavior. My pastor gave me a wonderful insight on this concept not long ago. He explained that at root the word for ‘submit’ in Greek literally refers to molding objects. People would make a mold and pour molten metal into it, shaping it into a useful object. The metal 'submits to' the mold. Likewise, when we submit to our husbands we willingly, fluidly allow our lives to be molded to theirs. Out of that molding comes our most important use, that of wife.
McKenzie is a pastor’s wife and she has the choice to allow that to mold her or to resist it. I see a woman whose life is happily shaped by her husband’s calling, as he is molded to the life of Jesus. I can tell you, however, that I recall a time when she was resistant to it! She’s never thought of herself as a girly-girl—no rugby player would! Pastor’s wife conjures up all kinds of church lady images, doesn’t it? But she has trusted God, and let Him mold her life, changing her heart.
Now I see a woman who is reverent in her behavior, trustworthy, and focused on God. I see a woman who is a friend and companion to her husband, and who I’m confident will model loving behavior to her daughter. And I see a woman who is truly submitted to God and understands that her life is molded to that of her husband.
So it’s a privilege to have had a part in her discipleship, standing next to her as she’s grown in understanding, and to be her friend. I look forward to witnessing the wonderful, godly adventure she will go through as she raises her little one.