I created an online survey back in 2012, asking my Facebook friends from all over the country to give me honest answers about how they view the women’s ministries at their churches and what they would like to see happen in their relationships with other women. I had 66 responses. I wasn’t one bit surprised by their answers. The results of this survey just confirmed what I already suspected about women and as I’ve studied Paul’s writings, I get the feeling that Paul knew what our problems were too. Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us that there is nothing new under the sun, so we can be sure that the problems we have today are very similar to the struggles of women in the first century church.
This week we studied Titus 2, which is a famous chapter in the women’s ministry world because of it’s references to older women and younger women. Titus 2 also addresses older men (they should be dignified, self controlled, sound in the faith, etc), younger men (they should show integrity, seriousness and self-control as well), and even slaves (they should be subject to their masters in everything). At the end of the chapter, Paul offers some ideas on how to live out the life he is calling us to live in the preceding verses. He doesn’t just leave us hanging with a to-do list. He tells us how to do it as well!
The number one thing that my (totally unofficial, amateur) survey showed me is that young women are crazy busy. Over and over, women cited “scheduling conflicts” and “conflicts with other plans” as reasons why they don’t participate in women’s ministry events and activities. One woman put it this way: “Really not interested in anything more right now. A full days work, home, and personal needs to be met are enough to fill my day.”
I get it! Women are NOT looking for more activities to fill their calendars – we have enough junk cluttering our days as it is! So here’s Paul’s answer.
G)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> but to teach what is good. or addicted to much wine,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29912G" data-link="( to love their husbands and children, and pure, to be busy at home,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29914J" data-link="(J)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29914K" data-link="(K)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> so that no one will malign the word of God.
Paul tells Timothy that he needs to teach the older women first, so that they can teach the younger women. (Now, just who is an older woman here? Well in Paul’s day, the age of 40 was customarily the dividing line between older and younger. That’s obviously not a set-in-stone rule, just a custom of the day. Sheesh, I remember when 40 seemed old! Now, not so much!) The idea Paul is presenting here is that we are each responsible for teaching the women who are younger than we are. Paul isn’t talking about teaching a formal Bible study in a church with a book and corresponding DVD. He’s not talking about taking over a Sunday School class. Paul is talking about every day discipleship. God has placed women in your life and he’s placed them there for a reason! As we go about our business, we are to live in such a way that we teach the women who are younger than we are how to walk with the Lord and live right lives. But the older women can’t do that unless they are living right first – reverent, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. The older can’t teach the younger to follow the Lord unless they are following the Lord first.
So what does Paul say the younger women need to know? First, they need to love their husbands and children. The word used here for love is “phileo”, which is the brotherly kind of love. This is the kind of love that comes across as actually liking someone. You may not ever admit to anyone that you struggle with liking your kids or your husband, but we all have our moments! When the dishes are piling up and the bills need to be paid and the washing machine breaks down and the kids are fighting with each other, young women need to remember to like their kids and husbands!
Paul also says that young women need to be urged to be self-controlled and pure. Self-control is HARD, and not something that usually comes naturally to anybody. Purity (keeping oneself from being polluted by the world) is to be taught to the younger women as well. Older women can also encourage the younger to be kind, as well as to submit to their husbands. But there’s one other thing that Paul wants us to work on – He wants the older women to urge the younger women to be busy at home. This is precisely what I saw in my survey – young women struggle with keeping their schedules clear! Many young women aren’t busy at home because they’re never at home! Some spend their days at work (Paul is not against working outside the home) and then rush the kids through the drive thru and on to baseball practice. By the time they get home, it’s past bedtime and the whole routine starts again early the next morning. Some stay-at-home moms fill their schedules so full with play groups and play dates and zumba and coffee with friends and committee meetings and appointments that they have little time to spend at home either. Neither situation is ideal. Young women need to be reminded of that.
Do you have a young woman in your life that needs you to speak words of encouragement to her? Do you have an older woman in your life that you could ask to hold you accountable and teach you a few things? We don’t have to walk this road alone. In fact, we’re not supposed to! God created us to live in community with each other and he wants us to share life together. The point is for us to look more like him each day, so it helps to have someone walking with us to show us ways we can improve as well as ways we are beginning to resemble Jesus. And if you read a little further into Titus 2, we see that it’s His grace that teaches us to say NO to ungodliness. I’m glad I’m not alone in this, aren’t you?
I challenge you to go get your Bible and read all of Titus 2. Ask God which relationships you can invest yourself in more. Ask him to show you a younger woman and an older woman that you can begin to develop a more intimate relationship with. He will do it!