HOS 4:6 - My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27
PRO 31:27 starts with the Hebrew letter tsadhe. Tsadhe pictures a reaping hook and speaks of a fruitful harvest.
The virtuous woman bears fruit in her own home.
I recently spent a month with my daughter in Perth. It was a joyful and rich time as I watched her care for her one-year-old and three-year-old and give birth to her third child—a healthy and happy little baby boy. Katie’s life is so full right now: full of smiles and laughter and swings at the park, full of diapers, spilled milk and sleepless nights! Each day brings both joys and challenges; each moment shapes the minds and hearts of tender lives. My little daughter, like so many other devoted wives and mothers around this world, is not eating the “bread of idleness,” but looking “well to the ways of her household.” She is bearing fruit for both time and eternity from within the walls of her own home. Home is where our mission begins.
On the long flight home from Australia, I started reading the book, Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall. The author examines the lives of many heroes throughout history, most of them tucked away in some corner of the world—just living a very vanilla life—until one day they are confronted with a crisis. And then, suddenly, off comes the work shirt, the tie, or the apron, and out comes the “Superman” within! McDougall spends some time debating what transforms a nobody into a somebody and comes up with this conclusion, “compassion!” He says,
“Heroes care. True heroism, as the ancients understood, isn’t about strength, or boldness, or even courage. It’s about compassion. When the Greeks created the heroic ideal, they didn’t choose a word that meant ‘dies trying’ or ‘massacres bad guys.’ They went with the word ‘heroes,’ ‘protector.’ Heroism isn’t some mysterious inner virtue, the Greeks believed; it’s a collection of skills that every man and woman can master, so that in a pinch they can become a Protector.”
I started thinking about his conclusion in relation to this lesson. Because I believe every wife and mother, who truly seeks to live within the walls of her home with virtue and faith, has donned the Superman costume. She is a hero and protector for her husband and children. The love of Christ drives her to daily lay aside self and minister to those she loves. It takes work, it takes devotion, it takes energy, time and sacrifice, it takes patience, and it takes compassion! We rarely even use the term “housewife” anymore, but I think I, too, am ready to trade it in for something a little more meaningful—how about “house-hero”?
In the book of Titus, the Apostle Paul is writing to instruct Titus on how to get the Church in order, for the glory of Jesus Christ. He gives special instruction to elders, older men, older women, younger men, younger women, and bond slaves. Here is his admonition to the older women:
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved
to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women
to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being
subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be dishonored.”TIT 2:3-5
I find it interesting that in a letter instructing Titus on how to get the Church in order, the majority of Paul’s instruction to the women relates to her function within the home—not the Church. Why? Because the virtue of the woman adds virtue to the marriage; the virtue of a marriage adds virtue to the family; and the virtue of families add virtue to the Church. Weak marriages lead to weak families, and weak families lead to a weak Church. If there are problems in relationships between a husbands and wives, they very often spill over into the congregation, and others are adversely affected. I have seen churches split over problems with only one family. On the other hand, strong marriages lead to strong families, and strong families lead to a strong Church.
Let’s take the pieces of this verse apart to better understand Paul’s instruction. He begins in TIT 2:3 by describing three characteristics an older woman should strive to display. She is to be:
The Greek word used here means “holy” or “temple-fitting.” The woman’s behavior should be respectable, as if she is living and serving in the temple (e.g., Anna in Luke 2). Our soul is now the temple of the living God—live accordingly!
“not malicious gossips”
Gossip is not fitting behavior for a member of the Body of Christ and is likened to a flame that can destroy a mighty forest (JAM 3:5-6). Gossip, too, can destroy families, friendships, and churches!
“nor enslaved to much wine”
We are not to be drunkards; by application, our lives should be free from enslavement to earthly pleasures. It’s not that we can’t enjoy a glass of wine or a chocolate chip cookie now and then, but we are not to be enslaved to them. Discipline your body for the sake of godliness!
The older woman should have these characteristics in her life not only to be pleasing to Jesus Christ, but in order to invest her life in teaching others. Paul’s next instruction exhorts us to do these things in order to have a godly influence on younger women. In TIT 2:3-4, we are to both “teach” and “encourage” the younger women:
“teaching what is good”
The Greek word used here is kalodidaskolos. It is a compound word from kalo, which means “good, valuable, or virtuous” and didaskalos, which is “to instruct, to master, to teach.” As older women, we are to be virtuous in our own life in order to teach virtue to others.
“encourage the young women”
The Greek word used here is sophranizo, meaning “to make sober minded, to recall a person to their senses, to give sound thinking, to school or train.” It is in the present tense, meaning we should keep on doing it as a daily activity.
In this passage, Paul instructs us all to be teachers of God’s Word. Some women have a gift and platform to verbally teach God’s Word in a public setting. But biblical teaching is not limited to that platform. I think the main thrust of Paul’s instruction here is to encourage women to teach by example! Paul, himself, said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ,”1CO 11:1. Imitation is one of the greatest teachers. I learned so much from my mother-in-law Ruth. She never taught me a Bible class, never sat and opened the Word and instructed me in it. But through 35 years of observing her love for serving Jesus by serving others, I learned so much. She taught by example. Her life was a Bible class with hands and feet!
My first pastor’s wife, Janet Miller, is now aged and widowed, but she is one of the most faithful prayer warriors I have ever known. Her life is a Bible class to me, exhorting me to run my race strong and to never quit short of the finish line!
I could go on and name many other women who have been my teachers in life, teaching not by lecture and word, but by attitude and example.
We are all teachers of life by our lives. You don’t have to be an old person to do this. There is always someone younger around us who is watching, considering, and imitating our values, attitudes, actions, and reactions. After we are gone, what remains of our life will be found in the lives of those we have taught. In our home, we have a little framed quote that I cherish. It says, “Teach, and Touch the Future.”
Paul then goes on in TIT 2:4-5 to continue explaining what the older women should teach the younger:
“to love their husbands”
The word for “love” here is from the Greek word philandros, a compound word from philos, which refers to love between friends or associates and aner, which means “fellow, husband, or man.” Our husband is to be our “man-friend”! Let’s learn a principle: the Spirit of God is encouraging us, as women, to share the likes, passions, and interests of our husbands. You know when he wants you to hang out in the garage while he changes the oil? Sit on the couch during the Super Bowl—even for the commercials? Sleep in a tent in freezing weather so you can watch him skin out a deer? Most guys love it when their wives go outside their own feminine comfort zone to “hang out” with them. We are encouraged not only to love him in a sexual manner, but in every day friendship-love. Don’t just be his lover, be his companion, his associate in life, and his friend—his best friend!
As a young wife, this verse baffled me. After all, if I didn’t love my husband, I wouldn’t have married him. But as time went on, I gained insight into what Paul was instructing women to do. There comes a time in life and in marriage when you have to love based on a decision to love and based on obedience to God’s Word, rather than on emotions and feelings. Emotions are powerful, but they are also fickle. PRO 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.” To truly be a friend to someone, it takes the power of the love of Christ—an unconditional love that looks beyond what the person has to offer you—and looks to what you can offer the other person because of who you are in Jesus Christ. From this love flows forgiveness, acceptance, and assurance that you will be there for them in the ups and downs of life. Older women need to be ready to guide younger women through this time with understanding and wisdom.
“to love their children”
Again, the word used for love is from phileo—apply the same principle toward your children. To take an interest in their lives, to nurture their gifts and goals is a virtuous thing for a mother to do. Love, in regard to child-raising, also involves training them up in God’s Word, as well as the teaching of discipline and obedience.
This refers to self-control and wisdom. The older woman has the wisdom that comes with experience, is able to understand and communicate the consequences of bad decisions and, therefore, encourage good decisions.
This refers to moral purity and modesty. In considering the application of this verse to your life, don’t just brush by this one. Let’s compare this verse with 1TI 2:9-10:
“Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly,
not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,
but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.”
Here, Paul encourages women to dress in a modest manner. One thing that extensive travel in many areas of the world has taught me is that modesty differs from culture to culture. What is considered modest in an American church would be considered bold and brazen in an Indian church. Yet, Americans would be taken aback if a young woman came walking into the church with “the pantry” wide open like nursing mothers in Africa often do. According to the standards of our culture, we should dress in a modest way that does not attract undo attention to our sexuality—especially in the Church! My husband is very fond of the saying, “Every woman should be a kitten in public, and a tiger in private.” Mull that one over in your mind!
“workers at home”
The Greek word used here actually means “domestically inclined.” Many women work outside the home in today’s society. Paul is not taking a chauvinistic stand here and encouraging women to remain inside the home—barefoot and pregnant. He is encouraging women to recognize the value of their “housework.” To keep the house clean and in order adds to the health and stability of the family and the pleasure and comfort of the home.
Housework can be some of the most frustrating work on the planet because it is never done! There will never be that perfect someday when everything is crossed off your list. Isn’t it at least comforting to know that if we work within our home—whether it be dusting, laundry, cooking, dishes, or whatever—if we are domestically inclined, we are fulfilling the commands of Scripture. These simple tasks (which are often routine, mundane, and boring), when done with an attitude of submission to God’s Word, are transformed from work into ministry. Since the housework needs to be done anyway, we might as well do it “as unto the Lord” (COL 3:23) and receive His approval for our efforts.
This verse was written about 2,000 years ago. Think about how many women, all over the world over the past 20 centuries, have cleaned their houses, cooked the meals, and washed the clothes. From mud huts to mansions, from log cabins to nomad tents, women have labored to care for their families. For centuries, the eyes of God have moved through the homes of these lands, and He recognizes their work. His eyes move within the walls of your home as well. Your husband may come home and not even notice that you spent the whole day cleaning—but the Lord does!
Kindness is part of the fruit of the Spirit and an outpouring of love (see GAL 5:18 and EPH 4:32).
“subject to their own husbands” (emphasis added)
I think it is important to consider here the use of the word “own.” The Greek word for “own” is idios, meaning “separate, private, relating to self.” Your husband is your own private, separate husband; he belongs to you and no one else. And someone else’s husband is their own private, separate husband; he belongs to her and no one else! There is such a danger and temptation in life to be infatuated with someone else’s husband instead of your own. Let me warn you, it only leads to heartache and ruin! The moment you find yourself dwelling on being a “friend” (or more) to some man other than your own, start running! Fast! Confess those thoughts and flee as far away from them as you can.
Likewise, if someone else’s own, private husband approaches you with words or flirtations that are inappropriate, continue to run! Guard your thoughts, guard your words, guard your desires, and guard your actions. Over the course of my life, I have seen so many young women really wound their own heart and future by getting involved—emotionally or sexually—with someone else’s own, private husband.
Submission should also be taught through our words, attitude, and example. We need to teach and display the privilege and beauty of submission according to 1 Pet 3 (see Lesson 13).
Now, with all of these admonitions in mind, let’s get to what I consider to be the most powerful part of Titus 2:3-5. The very last phrase says:
“so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
The Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. It is the mind of Christ sitting before us in written form. It is to be more treasured than silver or gold, sweeter to the taste than the finest of honey. God breathed His life into every word, every page, and every principle. It is the Bread of Life to nourish our soul and the Sword of the Lord to pierce our soul. The Word of God is “alive and powerful” (HEB 4:12)! To have the opportunity of honoring the greatest treasure in the world by living a virtuous life is a privilege beyond my comprehension. This is the privilege of a fruitful harvest within the walls of our own homes. This is a divine motivation: to face every day and every task with purpose and passion!