Sunday, November 6, 2011

Teachers of Good Things

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)

After taking a hiatus for several weeks, this morning I would like to return to our text in Titus and Paul’s description of the lessons that we as the people of God are to learn from the women in our midst. After all, the reason that Paul gives these specific admonitions to older women and younger women is that he desires them both to be models of Christian character for the entire congregation. So what do we learn today?

Paul urges older women to be “teachers of good things” and to use their age and maturity to instruct the younger women. Paul then goes on to specify what these “good things” are – loving husbands, loving children, etc. For the moment let us reflect on the fact that Paul calls all these things good.

Historically, Christians have been concerned to uphold the three great virtues of truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth points us to that which corresponds with the way the world actually is. Jesus came, we learn in the Gospel of John, to testify to the truth, to point us to what is really real, ultimately pointing us God’s revelation of Himself in His Word and in His Son. Goodness points us to that which is right and virtuous, reflecting the character of God Himself, which is, again, revealed both in the pages of Scripture and in the life of our Lord Jesus. God is goodness itself – and the law and Jesus’ life point us toward this goal. Beauty expresses those things that have a sense of proportion, order, and glory. The garments of the priests in Israel were made “for glory and for beauty” indicating that beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder but a reflection of the character of God. God is Beauty itself and has woven it into creation to point us to Him.

In labeling these things “good”, therefore, Paul is directing older women to the Word of God written in the law and incarnate in Christ. He is urging these Cretan women to be models of biblical living, models that reveal the wonder of God’s work in redeeming the most mundane duties of life. Increasingly we are surrounded and seduced by alternative definitions of the “good”, definitions that have little to do with the character of God and much to do with our own selfish drives and impulses. Increasingly, therefore, we meet men and women and children suffering the ravages of evil choices.

And so Paul wants the Christian community, and Christian women in particular, to be a haven of peace and righteousness and stability in the face of such suffering. Therefore, the challenge that Paul issues to us, issues to you, is this: are you so attached to what is good, so fond of it and experienced in its application in daily life, that you are able to model it to others. You older women, in particular, have you embraced the good and fulfilled your God-given calling to pass that good down as a heritage to the next generation?

Our God is the fount and source of all goodness and He has revaled that goodness in His law and in His Son – so how passionate have we been in pursuing both? How eager are we to read and understand and feast upon the Word of God? How zealously do we present ourselves before the Son of God and seek from Him an abundant supply of goodness?

Reminded that this is our calling – a calling that older women are to embody and that the rest of the congregation is to learn – let us kneel and confess that we have often fallen short.