Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Wise Reprover and the Listening Ear of Titus 2

Titus 2:3-5--"Older women... are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

Proverbs 25:12--“Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.”

1 Peter 3:1-4--"Likewise, wives... Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."

What woman doesn’t appreciate a great hairstyle, nice clothes, and fine gold jewelry? Yet, such adornments pale in comparison to the beauty God is after. What God finds "precious" and "beautiful" in the feminine heart is something Peter calls a "gentle and quiet spirit." What such a spirit looks like is described in practical ways in the verse above from Titus 2. It includes having a heart that's being "trained"-- in loving one's husband and children, in self-control, in purity, in being a worker at home, in being kind, in being submissive to one's own husband. Note the idea of training as a key ingredient in attaining to this beautiful condition. Note the implication that we aren't born, nor do we go into marriage and child-rearing, knowing how!

Proverbs 25:12 lists two elements necessary for the kind of training that results in beautiful godliness: (1) a wise reprover and (2) a listening ear. It takes both to get the lovely result, comparable in beauty to gold rings and ornaments. Titus 2:3-5 supplies a New Testament identity to these two elements: the older women of the church (wise reprovers), willing and able to teach, and the younger women (listening ears), willing to be taught, and to change, so that "the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).

Becoming trained in this kind of beauty pleases God so much because it glorifies him. At stake is the reality of the gospel lived out before a skeptical world. Without this kind of grace and transformation in the lives of women, therefore in the lives of families, and therefore in the life of the church, the truths of God are in danger of being blasphemed (that's the meaning of the word translated "reviled" in Titus 2:5). The world sees the difference between our words of profession and how we actually live our lives.

So I ask you today, as I'm asking myself: as Christian wives and mothers, how are we doing in living this out? Do we really want this; are we willing to pay the price to become women who teach and encourage one another to become women with these habits, with these qualities, so precious and beautiful in the sight of God our Savior? Are we willing to submit to God's plain words and work out, in a practical sense, how all this plays out in our homes and in the church? Are we seeking to become both "wise reprovers" and "listening ears," or are we resistant to believing that these words of God could really apply in this way to us?

This is not an easy thing. God's words here, like all doctrine, are open to all sorts of misunderstanding and/or mischievous misrepresentation, especially in our day. But it's imperative, especially in our day, that we grasp its importance. It's not being dramatic to say that the lives of our children and the future of the church depends on it.

When we stand before God to give an account of our lives, he won't ask us how we did with our careers, our portfolios, our workout routines or our wardrobes. Instead, we'll be called to account for how we believed his word and tried to obey it. None of us will perform perfectly--thank God for his gift of righteousness, imputed to the believer through the atoning death of his Son!-but the desires of our hearts will be laid bare, and our failure to love what He loves will surely be cause for regret. I am praying anew, as an older woman, for the grace to be both a wise reprover and to have a listening ear, for the opportunity both to teach and to be taught, for that is the true Christian life. Will you pray about this, too?

2 comments:

Tami said...

Thanks Jeri, what a profound truth for us mothers, daughters and wives in Christ. I will meditate on this today.

Missy said...

As one that has failed miserably this week on most accounts, I am thankful for God's Grace and ladies such as yourself for being in my life!