Archive | July, 2019

What Christians need to say “No” to – Titus 2:11-15, Part 3

31 Jul
Photo by Zach Ilic on Unsplash

How are you with saying “No” to people or opportunities or temptations in life? It can be difficult, especially for those of us who have people-pleasing tendencies or addictive personalities. Being able to say “No” is vital in many areas of life, and in our series on Titus 2:11-15, Paul brings it up.

In verse 12 Paul says that God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. Because we need to learn to say “No” to them, in this post we’ll take a closer look at what they mean.

First, what is ungodliness? What one person thinks is ungodly another might not, so we need to be clear as to what Paul is referring to.  The word Paul uses is defined as “to live in a manner contrary to proper religious beliefs and practice.” (Louw & Nida)

Sounds technical, doesn’t it? What is Paul talking about?  Well, before you can know what is “contrary to proper religious beliefs and practices,” you have to know what are proper religious beliefs and practices.  Thankfully, Paul has already told us. In a Bible or Bible app, look at verses 1-10 of Titus chapter 2.  Remember that section?  There Paul describes how the older people in the church are to set the example for the younger people. (You can read my series of posts on that section starting here.)  Paul says that the older people in a church family are to teach the younger people how to live.  In other words, in Titus chapter 2, verses 1-10, Paul is teaching right practices. 

Ungodliness, therefore, would be the opposite of everything you read in Titus 2:1-10.  Look at Titus 2:2, for example, and turn all the godly practices listed there into opposites, and you will get a description of ungodliness: getting drunk, being disrespectable, lacking self-control.  Now scan down to verse 3 and do the same. Ungodliness is found in people who are irreverent, slanderers, and addicts. Keep going and you find more descriptors of ungodliness: impurity, unkindness, lacking integrity, talking back, stealing, untrustworthy.  These are all evidences of ungodliness. Therefore, in Titus 2:11-12, when Paul says we receive God’s gift of grace, that grace is teaching us to say “No” to all those various descriptions of ungodliness.  It is also teaching us to say “No” to worldly passions.

What are worldly passions?   Passions are desires, lusts, or cravings.  Our bodies are created to have these desires.  Desires are not automatically evil, however, as we can also desire goodness, beauty, and truth.  But look at the word that Paul attaches to desire or passion: “worldly”.  The most literal translation of this phrase is “the desires that people of this world have.” (Louw & Nida)  If that was all Paul meant, he would be talking about passions in a very neutral sense via the basic human biological desire that we all have.  But Paul is not talking about neutral desire here.  Otherwise he wouldn’t have said that God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to it. 

Some people across the ages have actually misinterpreted Paul here (and in other biblical teaching), believing that all desire is evil. Thus they teach that the best way to live is to abandon or deny all desire.  That’s not what Paul is saying.  We know this because Paul specifically mentions that God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to worldly desire. Paul is referring to negative or evil desire that is not in line with God’s grace.  Because he spent plenty of space in verses 1-10 of chapter 2 on this, we aren’t going to cover it again.  Instead, I encourage you to make time this week to dwell on chapter 2, verses 1-10, read the posts on those verses (linked above), and seeking to answer the primary questions we asked in that series of posts: Who is teaching you?  Who is discipling you?  And in turn, who are you discipling?  Who is helping you to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly desire, and who are you helping to do the same?

As I mentioned above, and blogged about previously, there are plenty of disagreements between Christians as to what is godly versus what is ungodly.  In Titus 2, Paul is not so much focused on making lists of rules as he wants to encourage the people that God’s grace has appeared to teach us to say “No” to what is ungodly.  As a result, Paul continues his teaching in Titus 2:12 by pointing us to focus on what is important: “living self-controlled, upright, godly lives in this present age.” 

The best example of that kind of godly life is Jesus himself.  I encourage you to spend time reading the stories of Jesus and learning from him how to live.  Remember that Jesus himself lives in you, through the filling of his Spirit, and wants his kind of life to enliven and energize your life to look more and more like his. 

So often we think about how close we can get to the line of ungodliness without crossing it.  Paul here is saying that we should focus on becoming more godly!  Let’s turn our gaze away from how close we can get to being ungodly, and look to Jesus, asking him to teach us how to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in the here and now. 

Maybe you desire that kind of life, but you struggle. Maybe you admit that it is difficult to be good. As we continue this series, Paul will talk about a vital process that needs to happen in our lives if we want to live a godly life. Check back in to the next post!

Do you really know God? Titus 2:11-15, Part 2

30 Jul
Photo by Federico Vespini on Unsplash

As we continue studying Titus 2:11-15, Paul says that salvation has appeared to all.  “Appeared” is the Greek word where we get our English word, “epiphany.”  Epiphany gives us the idea of light appearing in the darkness, like at sunrise.  Here “epiphany” refers to God’s grace like a new light of truth in Christ appearing in the darkness.

This reminds me of the story of the first Easter morning. Jesus had been dead for Friday, Saturday, and now into Sunday, and his followers are distraught.  Do you remember that moment where Mary from Magdalene is in the garden where Jesus’ tomb was located, and she discovers that the tomb is empty, and assumes that someone must have taken the body?  She wanders in the garden, confused, bumping into a man whom she thinks is the gardener.  Through tears, she asks him where the body of Jesus is.  And the gardener simply says one word, her name, “Mary.”  At that moment Mary has an understanding.  An epiphany.  It was not the gardener who stood before her, but it was Jesus. 

Now back in Titus, Paul is saying that salvation is revealed to all.  How has the grace of God that brings salvation appeared to all men?  The word “to” can also be translated “for”.  Either works.  It is salvation for all and to all. Paul is not saying that all are automatically saved.  Instead he saying that the scope of salvation is that it is revealed to all. 

So before we continue, let me ask a question: do you know that God wants to be in a relationship with you?  His grace has appeared.  He has initiated it.  He has done it.  He is reaching out.  He really wants to know you and be known by you.  Do you know him?  Do the people in your family really know him?  How about your neighbors?  Friends? 

When I think about really knowing him, I go back to our Faith Church Logo and that vertical black line in the middle of the four squares.   We call that the Matthew 7 line because of the short parable Jesus tells in Matthew 7:21-23. He describes people who thought for sure they were going to enter Jesus’ Kingdom, but he shocks them saying, “Depart from, I never knew you.”  Do you really know him?  Or do you think you know him, but he would say, “I never knew you.”  And how do you know if you know him?

As we continue walking through this passage in these series of posts on Titus 2:11-15, we’ll see how Paul answers these questions. For now, think about the questions I’ve asked. How would you answer them? Have you experienced the epiphany, the revealing of God’s grace in your life?

When you forget to save your work – Titus 2:11-15, Part 1

29 Jul

I was listening to a podcast recently that was talking about research into the mob.  Organized crime families.  What the research revealed was fascinating: most mobsters don’t want to be mobsters.  In fact, even when they themselves cannot break free from a life of crime, they will go to great lengths to help their kids and grandkids do so.  While you are likely not living a life of organized crime, you have likely felt frustration about the difficulty of being good and doing good in your own life.  It might be a struggle with addiction.  It might be that difficult family member or friend.  It might be a bad habit.  It might be a money problem, stress at work, the difficulties of school, of parenting.

Even though we make fun of goody-two-shoes people, as if there is something uncool about do-gooders, and even though we humans have a natural tendency to sin, we also have a desire to be and do good.  Often we forget that very first chapter of the Bible, which tells the story of God creating the universe, we read that after God would create something he said over and over again, it was good, it was good, and it was very good. Yet we can struggle to be good. How, then, do we become good?  As we continue studying Paul’s short letter to his friend Titus, Paul talks about this very concept of being and doing good. 

I encourage you to open your Bible or Bible app to Titus 2:11-15. As you turn there, remember that Paul and Titus had previously started churches on the island of Crete.  He then sent Titus there to appoint leaders in the churches, and now in this short letter, he is giving Titus important instructions for the churches in Crete.  We’ve heard how the people in Crete were known for being wild and crazy, and Paul is very hopeful that these new Christians will be different.

In verse 11 Paul starts off with the word, “For.”  That’s one of those connecting words, meaning he has a flow of thought, where one idea leads to the next.  So glance up at verse 10 to see where his flow of thought is coming from. 

He has just talked about how Christians who were slaves could behave honorably, so that they would make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.  When we studied that passage, I suggested it can apply to us too, maybe especially in our workplaces.  How we act, how we live, how we make choices, what we say, all of our life choices, make the teaching about God either attractive or repulsive. 

What Paul is saying in verse 10 is that oftentimes actions speak louder than words.  So live in such a way as to give people a compelling reason to want to hear the words of the story. Because the story of the Kingdom of God has important words, concepts, and ideas, what are the words?  That’s where Paul goes next in verse 11, and thus we now have an idea of his flow of thought.

He begins verse 11 with a foundational concept to the story of good news: the Grace of God. What is grace?  Paul says that whatever grace is, it is “of God.”  There is, then, a unique grace that comes from God.  It is not human.  It is the grace of God.  

This grace is best understood and favor or kindness coming from God.  It is not earned.  It is God’s choice to act with kindness to us, based solely in his desire to be that way.  He doesn’t owe it to us.   

This is why the word Paul uses for “grace” is also translated “gift” in many other places.  In that idea we see something important about grace.  God’s kindness or favor to us is a gift he gives us. And what is the gift he gives us?  Paul says God’s grace brings salvation.  So in his kindness to us, God gives us the gift of salvation.  We Christians throw around this word “salvation” a lot.  But what does it mean to be saved? 

We save things that are in danger of being lost.  We save things to preserve them for the future.  How many of you have had the agony of working on an email or paper for school or maybe you were playing a video game, and you have made so much progress, and the something happens, there is a glitch, or you accidentally turn off the computer, and you forgot to hit the “save” button?  Your work, your progress is gone!  Whew, that hurts right? 

That’s very similar to the salvation Jesus brings.  There is the real possibility that people, because of their willing choice to not believe in Jesus and not follow his way, are separated from his Kingdom, not a part of his covenant family.  But God is gracious to us, making salvation available to us.

At this point in verse 11 Paul only tells us that salvation is available to us by God’s choice to be gracious.  How does grace bring salvation?  Keep following this week’s posts, as Paul will get to that! 

Learning how to be a good employee from an unexpected source – Titus 2:1-10, Part 5

19 Jul

Are you a good employee? How do you know? Do you receive good evaluations? What would your bosses say about you? In this post we’re going to learn how to be a good employee from an most unexpected source.

In this series of posts on Titus 2:1-10, Paul has been talking to various groups in the church: older men and women, and younger men and women. That pretty much covers it, right?  Especially when you consider that parents are to lead their children. But nope, there is another group.  It might have been the largest group.  Do you know who Paul hasn’t talked about yet?

Slaves.  In the Greco-Roman era around first century AD, there were millions and millions of slaves.  Slaves in the churches?  Yes.  Slavery was a normal part of that culture, though theirs was a different kind of slavery than what we are used to in our American past.  Ours was racially based. There’s was not.  You could become a slave through war, for example, when Rome defeated your country and conscripted all your people.  Slaves could also earn freedom, become Roman Citizens, and gain property and wealth.  But slavery in any era is still slavery: slaves are people owned by other people, and at times the owners could treat their slaves horribly.

So why were there slaves in churches? Shouldn’t the Christians set their slaves free? As we look at verses 9-10 where Paul addresses the slaves in the churches in Crete, I first want to confirm that Paul is not supporting the concept of slavery.  Paul’s approach to the institution of slavery will come up on this blog in the near future when we finish Titus and study the next short letter in the New Testament, Philemon, so we’ll get there.  For now, Paul is simply providing teaching for slaves who are Christians, and how they should live the life of Christ in their current enslaved position. 

He says, “Please your masters.  Don’t talk back or steal, so you can be trusted.”  Interestingly, in Ephesians 6, Paul says, “slaves obey your masters because it is the right thing to do, not just to win their favor.” Now here in Titus he says that slaves should obey their masters to win their faith in Christ. See what he says in verse 10, “so that in every way slaves will make the teaching about God our savior attractive?”

Paul is showing how much he is concerned for the mission of God.  Imagine, in other words, a Christian who also happens to be a slave behaving with respect and truth and honor before their master.  That will stand out.  Especially if the master is a jerk.  That will increase the likelihood that the master could become a Christian.

Even though slavery is illegal in the USA, and many parts of the world, it is still an awful problem. As I mentioned above, we’ll talk about Paul’s thoughts on the institution of slavery when we study the letter of Philemon in a few weeks. Because Paul doesn’t address the institution of slavery in his letter to Titus, what can we learn from his teaching to slaves? I think there are some principles in verses 9-10 that carry over to employees and employers.  How many of you are an employee who has a boss?  Me too.  In my denomination, I have a District Field Director and a Bishop who are my bosses.

I’m not saying our bosses are like slave driver, by the way!  What I am saying, though, is that they way you work, the way you handle your employment, will say a lot to your boss about your faith in Jesus.  Maybe your boss is a Christian.  But maybe not.  You make the teaching of Jesus attractive by working hard, by being competent, trustworthy, and creative. 

So we need all these groups in the church.  Especially, we need the older to teach the younger.  First, older men and women, you set the example for the younger by how you live.  Live lives of discipleship to Jesus, clearly showing the young what it means to be selfless, committed to Christ, passionate about the mission of his Kingdom. 

And then train others to follow Jesus.  Teach them to live like Jesus.  Meet with them.  Weekly.  Read the Bible together.  Talk about how to apply it to your lives. 

Who is your Titus?  This passage is a discipleship passage.  Paul is discipling Titus through a letter, and in turn he wants Titus to disciple or train the people in the churches in Crete to train others.  Who are you investing in? You’ve got a really wonderful guide here in Titus 2:1-10.  As you meet with a person, read this passage, maybe for starters, and talk about how their life and your life is demonstrating all these areas that Paul is talking about.  So, who is your Titus?

How older people can impact younger people – Titus 2:1-10, Part 4

18 Jul
Photo by Monica Melton on Unsplash

Older people, are you irrelevant? Out of touch? Maybe you feel that way. But know this, you can and should have an impact on the younger generations. They need you. But how can you connect with them?

Thus far in our series on Titus 2:1-10, Paul has taught older men and women how to age well, so that they can have an impact on the younger people in the church. In the previous post, for example, he describes what the older women are to teach the younger women. Now in verse 6 the one and only thing he says to teach the young men is to be self-controlled, which is the idea of being sensible, making wise choices. 

You might think, “Why doesn’t Paul say more about what to teach the young men?”  It sure seems like there is a lot more he could suggest.  Follow his flow of thought into verses 7-8, though.  There Paul returns to addressing the older men.  It seems that Paul is primarily concerned about the older men, and that makes sense because they hold such an influential position in that first-century Greco-Roman society.  The older men are to have an impact on the younger men.  If the older men can live the way of Jesus, then they can pass that on to the younger men. 

So of course he says in verse 7, “In everything, set them an example by doing what is good.”  The older men are to set the example for the younger men.  Their example is the best teacher.  How we live says more about what we believe that what we say. 

Older men and women, what example are you setting the younger men and women in the church family?  Parents, what example are you setting your kids?  Grandparents, what example are you setting your grandkids? 

Older men and women, could the younger ones learn how to live the way of Jesus by observing you?  There is a sense, older ones, that you are teachers whether you choose it or not.  You teach by how you live.  You teach by the choices you make.  You teach by the way you spend your money.  You teach by the way you spend your time.  And the younger ones are watching. 

So, in particular, Paul says that the example the older men and women set is by doing what is good.  All along in the letter to Titus, we’ve seen how there are two main themes that Paul wants to convey: sound doctrine and good works.  In 2:1-10 we see both very clearly.  The older men and women should hold to sound doctrine, and they should set an example of good works.  By this they will teach the younger men and women. 

Teaching, of course, also includes words.  And Paul addresses that next in the latter part of verse 7 and into verse 8.   There he says that, in their teaching, the older ones should show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech.  There’s that word “sound” again.  In chapter 2 we’ve heard about sound doctrine, sound faith and now sound speech.  Paul wants the older men to be sound, to be right.  He is referring to teaching that is marked by right doctrine, right faith and right speaking. It is very sincere speech.  That doesn’t mean that their teaching shouldn’t include humor.  Humor can actually be very helpful to sound teaching.  What Paul is talking about is an intentionality about our teaching, where we are purposefully seeking to pass on the truth about Jesus. 

It might seem that this is obvious, and Paul shouldn’t have to say this about sincere speech. Isn’t it obvious that teaching should be sincere?  Well Paul wants there to be no doubt, especially in a Cretan society that was wild.  The Christians were to be different, and that should be clear in their teaching, both in what they teach and how they teach it. 

Paul concludes verse 8 explaining why this sincere teaching is so important.  Sincere teaching cannot be condemned.  It is not hypocritical.  It is truth.  It is not a sham.  It is serious.  It is sound doctrine.  And when that sincere teaching is matched with a life lived in congruence to the teaching, the teachers cannot be condemned.  So older men and women, practice what you preach. 

How not to become a bitter old maid – Titus 2:1-10, Part 3

17 Jul

I’ll never forget the time, as she in hospice and weeks away from passing, when my maternal grandmother admitted to me, through tears, that she was afraid she was becoming a bad Christian. She was referring to the aging process, and how she could become impatient and angry, or judgmental. No doubt she was always a rather intense person, but she was concerned in a new way. I am fully confident that my grandmother remained a faithful Christian to the end, but she was pointing out something that many others going through the aging process can identify with. As we age, we can struggle. Sometimes we hear about an older person who “has no filter,” or “doesn’t care anymore.” Do you have an older relative that no one wants to be around because they are so negative? How can you avoid becoming that person?

In the previous post, we saw how men can age with grace and dignity. But what about women? As we continue looking at what Paul has to say to various groups in the church in his letter to Titus, in chapter 2, verse 3 he talks to the older women.  What that means is that, older women, you matter!  How you live will be an example for the younger people in the church. 

First, he says the older women should be reverent in the way they live.

Reverent?  This is pertaining to being devoted to a proper expression of religious beliefs—devout, pious, religious.” (Louw & Nida)  Just as he did with the older men, note how Paul is connecting their beliefs to the way they live.  In both cases, there is a direct and important relationship between their belief and their life choices.  Sound doctrine leads to right living.  Or in this case, reverence.  They are to practice their faith in Jesus.

And when they do, Paul goes on to describe what they will look like.

They will not be slanderers.  This is the Greek word diabolos – which is a word that has a connotation of something being of the devil. In this context it is referring to speech, such as slander, gossip.  Gossip can ruin a group.  Older people should set the example by keeping confidences, by being encouraging and uplifting in their speech.

Next he says that the older women should not be addicted to much wine.  Clean water in that society was hard to get, so wine was everywhere, and as with our society, people could overdo it. Some people have said that Jesus changing water in wine or starting the practice of communion must not have been using alcohol, but grape juice, something with little or no alcohol content.  But clearly it was addictive and could lead to drunkenness.  So the point is not the wine, but the addiction.  Christians should not be addicted to anything.

Finally, a great summary for the women.  Teach what is good.  There’s that word “teach” again. This is a theme popping up numerous times as we have seen in the previous posts about Titus 2:1-10.  Older women, you are to teach.  And when you think of teaching, Paul is not thinking of creating lessons for Sunday School classes.  Some of you might think, “I’m not a teacher.”  But the reality is that you all teach.  Yes, some teach in a more formal way in a class setting, but everyone teaches in many other ways, especially through your life choices, your example.

So who are you teaching?  The church needs you!  Who do you mentor?  Who is your Titus?  Who are you having an impact on, even in a very informal way?

In 2:4 Paul describes what they should teach, and as you’ll see, Paul is not talking about a classroom.   The NIV 1984 edition uses the word “train.”  This means: “To instruct someone to behave in a wise and becoming manner.” (Louw & Nida)  Paul is not talking about sitting in a classroom to receive knowledge.  Training implies action.

Training in our American concept can have a negative connotation of mindless obedience.  Almost brainwashing.  We do this with dog training.  We take them to obedience school so that that obey perfectly almost every time. Is this what Paul is talking about?  Creating robots?  No.  Instead, he is talking about older women helping younger women to creating godly habits, practices. 

Paul then lists what the older women are to teach the younger women. Rather than go into detail examining each point, we can summarize Paul as saying that if the older women set the example and live like Jesus, they are then to teach the younger women to live like Jesus too.

And what will that look like?  They are to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled (again the idea of being “sensible” or “moderate,” as we have seen in Titus 1 and 2). Paul says he wants the older women to teach the younger to be pure, busy at home, kind, and to be subject to their husbands. Why? So that no one will malign the word of God.  What does that mean?  “Malign the word”? 

If the Christians in the church behave according to the pattern of life of Jesus, with purity, kindness, love, self-control, and so on, not only will they be living the best possible life that can be lived, they will be practicing what they preach.  They will be consistent.  They will not be hypocritical.  And no one will be able to say otherwise.  Remember that Crete was an unruly place, and these Cretan Christians more than likely were going through a change from living the old Cretan way to now living the Jesus way.  And their friends, family and neighbors were watching.  If the Christians were hypocritical, saying they were now living like Jesus but actually living the old Cretan way, the people in their community would have cause to accuse the Christians of being hypocritical, and thus to say that the word, the message about Jesus, was a sham.  In other words, how you and I live should be in line with what we say we believe.  Our life choices are the most important way we share the good news about Jesus.  This is what Paul wants the older women to teach the younger. Don’t just believe in Jesus. Live like he lived.

I do want us to look a bit more closely at a few phrases in Paul’s list. There were two phrases that might sound offensive to contemporary ears:  “Busy at home” and “subject to husbands.”  Before we get offended, we have to remember context. Paul is speaking to a first century Greco-Roman culture that was super patriarchal.  He is not saying anything here that would have been surprising to them.  Instead, he is reflecting exactly what that culture was like, in the area of the role of women in marriage. He knows that the church is in a precarious position, as it was brand new and very different from the culture in Crete.  So the Christians in the church need to be cautious about how different they are.  For now Paul wants them to focus on being different in their behavior, choosing to live blameless lives.  It seems that Paul does not believe the Christians and the church are at a place where they could lead societal change such as equality for women, or the eradication of slavery, which we will get to later in this series on Titus 2:1-10.  Instead, Paul maintains what were cultural norms of marginalization of women and slaves, instead asking the church to focus on living blameless lives.

How not to become a grumpy old man – Titus 2:1-10, Part 2

16 Jul

I wonder how I will age. Obviously, my body will get older and change. It already is, as more and more gray hair pops out of my chin and head. I’m also feeling new aches and pains as the years go by. That is all inevitable. What is under my control is how I will age spiritually, behaviorally. Most of us have heard stories about or know people who have not aged well, often getting meaner, angrier, and more unhappy in their elder years. I’m referring to the classic “grumpy old man.”

Want to avoid becoming the disdain of your family and friends as you grow older? Want your grandchildren to actually desire to hang out with you? And furthermore, want to have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives? Then you don’t want to become a grumpy old man. Instead, follow what Paul teaches Titus in our next section of Titus 2:1-10.

First, Paul says Titus is to teach: “what is in accord with sound doctrine.” He already talked about this in chapter 1.  But as we will see, Paul, when he starts to describe this sound doctrine in verse 2, he does not describe sound doctrine using theological categories.  You’d think that he should be teaching first and foremost the content of the good news of Jesus.  He will eventually get there in verse 11.  Instead he starts with teaching various groups in the church about their behavior.

Why would he start with behavior?  Because our life choices are perhaps the best way to show that we understand what it means to follow Jesus.  It is so easy, too easy, to say that we are a believer, and demonstration nothing or very little of the life of the Jesus in our lives.  In Crete, the general pattern of behavior was selfish, out of control, lying, and self-destructive.  So Paul starts with what is really important, that these new Christians should follow the way of Jesus in the midst of their culture.

Now go to verse 2, and he addresses the first group – older men.  Scholars tell us that Paul is specifically referring to adult males advanced in years, not just any grown men, but the kind of men that we think of as having greater status and dignity. 

In first-century Greco-Roman culture age was honored, much like many places around the world today, for example in Japan.  As I said in the previous post, here in the USA, for decades, we have an infatuation with youth culture.  In Paul’s culture, the older men set the example.  This is important for us to hear too, even 2000 years later: older men can and should still set the example today.  Even in our culture where youth is prized. 

Older men, you are not irrelevant.  In fact, you are important.  What we will see from Paul in Titus 2:1-10 is the vital principle that how you live matters.  What are the older men to live like? 

First, they are to be temperate.  We don’t use that word very much, so what did Paul mean?  It means restrained, in control. 

Next, older men are to live a life worthy of respect.  They are older, but are they worthy?  Just because they are older doesn’t mean they are worthy of respect.  How do you become worthy?  First, Paul said, older men become worthy of respect by making a set of life choices defined by being temperate. Now he continues describing more life choices.

Third, they are to be “self-controlled,” though this is better translated “sensible” or “moderate.”  We saw this same concept in chapter 1 verse 8.  What is sensible or moderate?  It is wisdom to choose well. The opposite of this is when people lack sensibility, lack moderation, when people give in to temptation.

He continues with his list, next saying that the older men are to be sound in faith.

Sound is one of those classic English words that has multiple definitions that are wildly different, making you wonder how that one word got all those meanings. Sound is noise that we hear.  Sound is the name for a body of water.  But in this case, Paul is talk about “being correct in one’s views, with the implication of such a state being positively valued—to be correct, to be sound, to be accurate.” (Louw & Nida)

In this case, he is referring to believing and teaching what is true about Jesus.  Sound or true faith is in line with the teaching of Jesus, and the teaching of the apostles. 

Next, older men are to demonstrate love.  If you want to know how to love, first and foremost look to Jesus.  He is the example of love.  Spend much time thinking about Jesus, contemplating who he is.  Then you love like he loved.  It is a selfless, generous, gift of your love on behalf of others.

Finally, Paul says that older men should practice endurance, which scholars define as the “capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances.” (Louw & Nida)  Paul himself demonstrated this in many beatings, shipwrecks, and stonings.  For example, in the city of Philippi, though Paul and Silas were in prison, they sang songs of joy.

So take a good look at this list of life choices. Do they describe you? What do you need to address in your life so that you can be an example for the younger ones around you?