Today we’re reading Titus 2.
Self-control is a key theme of this chapter. Older men are to be taught to have it (v. 2), older women are commanded to teach it to younger women (v. 5) and Titus was to encourage young men to be self-controlled as well (v. 6). Why all this emphasis on self-control?
One reason is that a lack of self-control feels good. It is always easier and more fun to eat an entire pizza or cake than it is to eat one modest slice–or none at all. The same is true when buying clothes or cars, expressing your opinion, or venting your frustration and anger. And we haven’t even talked about intoxicants or sexual activity. These–and other–things promise an immediate hit of pleasure and they usually deliver, at least at first. Self-control is hard when pleasure is easy. We all struggle with it at times and in various aspects of our lives.
Verses 11-12 told us that it is God’s grace in salvation that teaches us “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.” Self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit makes us desire to be self-controlled as does the gospel (again, here in Titus 2:11-12). Desiring self-control, however, doesn’t make exercising self-control easier. That’s why it is something that has to be taught (vv. 2, 4), encouraged (v. 6) and modeled (v. 7).
Do you have an area in your life where you need to work on self-control? Have you sought out someone who is self-controlled to help you, just as Titus was to help the older and younger men and older women were to help the younger women?
Honestly, a lot of self-control can be learned by modeling, as Paul commanded Titus to do in verse 7. Would Jesus click on that link? Would Paul order another round of beers in this situation? Would John MacArthur (or John Piper or whoever) take a hit from that bong? While we don’t worship men and women as idols or slavishly copy them, we do follow the example of others as they follow the Lord. When we wonder if it would be OK to indulge in something, it can be helpful to ask ourselves if someone we respect in the Lord would do it. In those situations we are not subjecting ourselves to someone else’s morality; we are learning self-control by following “an example [of] what is good.” So consider where you need to learn more self-control, trust God’s power and teaching on that, then look for other believers who can coach you, guide you, and model it for you.