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.