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.
If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Leviticus 27, Psalm 34, Ecclesiastes 10, Titus 2. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Titus 2.
Titus 2 beautifully describes why the church needs to be intergenerational. It begins in verse 1 by telling us that there is an appropriate way to live if you believe in the truth of the Christian faith. Verses 2-10 describes what that appropriate way of life looks like. Titus was to teach older men how sound doctrine should lead them to live carefully and in ways that are healthy in faith, love, and endurance (v 2.). Verse 3 tells us that Titus should teach older women to live reverent, good lives but that their purpose for living such lives was, in part to “urge the younger women” to live lives devoted in purity to their families (v. 5). Meanwhile, younger men needed to be taught how to control their actions (v. 6) with Timothy himself being an example for them to follow in every way (vv. 7-8). Likewise slaves should seek to serve their masters as best as they can in all honesty (vv. 9-10). The reason for all of this is God’s grace (v. 11). It has appeared to “all people”; this phrase, in context refers to “all types of people” whether old (vv. 2-3) young (vv. 4-6), men (vv. 2, 6) or women (vv. 3-4), free or slave (vv. 9-10). Although we never lose our sinful desires in this life, God’s grace teaches us to say no to them (v. 12a). This is what being “self-controlled” (vv. 2, 5 & 6) means. It is learning to say no to sin no matter how strong our desire is for it. Older people have had more experience with sin—in their own lives and in seeing its effects in the lives of other—so they can tell younger people how much sinful passions lie to us in what they promise and how to avoid giving into those passions. The result of this teaching is that believers will learn how “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (v. 12) while we wait for the return of Christ (v. 13). One of Christ’s main purposes in coming the first time was “to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (v. 14b). Without older men to lead the way for younger men, without older women to mentor and instruct younger women, a local church’s adults will make the same sinful choices over and over again. But one of God’s gracious gifts to us is the gift of older, wiser believers who can encourage, instruct, guide, and lead (by example and by words) the younger adults in the church. Then, as each generation grows in its understanding of the gospel and person holiness, the church gets stronger and Christ accomplishes the goals he came here to accomplish (v. 14). If you’re an older person, are you having an effect in the life of someone younger? If you’re a younger person, do you have relationships with older believers who can help you grow in your faith? This is what Christ wants for his church so consider how you can serve or benefit from the service of others to grow more like him in your faith and walk with God.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.