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?