Updated: Jul 20, 2019
Have you ever had a favorite teacher? Maybe an elementary or high school teacher who took you under their wing and opened your eyes to the delights of a new subject. Or maybe a college professor who took the time to mentor you when you felt lost and confused. We tend to remember the teachers who not only taught from text books, but taught with their heart. I've had teachers like this in my years of learning.
I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Kershaw. Mrs. Kershaw was a big woman and she loved her students just as big! When she hugged me I used to feel I would melt right into her squishiness - a comforting feeling for a shy little girl afraid to be away from her parents for so long. Then there was Miss Walker, one of my sixth grade teachers. When my best friend was killed in a car accident right before Christmas break, Miss Walker took the time to check on me. Once I returned to school she spent one-on-one time with me helping a shy, lonely, grieving girl learn how to process and cope with that grief.
In high school there was Mrs. Wright, my twelfth grade AP English teacher. Mrs. Wright was not your normal high school teacher, she was crass and a bit eccentric. She often made fun of my quiet demeanor, telling me to "speak up". However, she just as often complimented me on my writing ability. Each time she returned an assigned paper she would choose a line from a poem, play, or classic lit book she felt best described our work. When she handed these papers back she would read that line aloud then tell the class why she chose that particular line. I don't remember the topic of the last paper we wrote senior year but the quote she chose and the words she spoke about my paper and about me have stayed with me all these years later. Verbal affirmations from someone we admire sink deep into our being. Mrs. Wright chose the line "a thing of beauty is a joy forever" from John Keats poem, "Endymion". The words she spoke to that shy, scared, unsure young woman were: "Your words reveal your soul to be as beautiful as your appearance. Remain true to your inner beauty and you will remain a beauty forever to those who know you." I grasped those words tight and held on for dear life as I left for college the following fall.
All three of these women impacted my life, not only by the words they taught but also by the example they set. Their lives were lived in ways that revealed their true character. Teachers tend to make enormous impressions, for good or bad, on their students.
Paul knew this truth, that was the purpose for his letter to Titus. False teachers were leading "whole families" away from the truth of Christ. Last week we learned about these false teachers. The things they were teaching, the lives they were living revealed their true character - they put themselves above God by insisting everyone follow their human traditions. As stated last week, these false teachers valued religion over relationship.
In Titus 1 Paul described the types of behaviors not appropriate for teachers of God's people. "They profess to know God [to recognize and be acquainted with Him], but by their actions they deny and disown Him. They are detestable and disobedient and worthless for good works of any kind." Titus 1:16 www.bible.com/1588/tit.1.16.amp
Turns out the old adage we learned as children is true after all: "actions speak louder than words." As a matter of fact that's exactly how Eugene Peterson paraphrased Titus 1:16 in The Message. In Titus 2 Paul turns his attention from false teachers to the characteristics of a godly teacher. Just as he did with with the qualifications of elders in chapter one, Paul lists 20 characteristics of a godly teacher; 16 with positive connotations and 4 with negative.
Take time to read through Titus 2 listing the characteristics of a godly teacher. Keep in mind some are listed more than once in each section (i.e.: vs. 2 lists "to live wisely" which is also listed in vs. 5,6,&12 so include it only once in your list!) I made my list in the margin of my Bible titled "Characteristics of Godly Teachers", again with two columns marked +/-
I also included each verse in which that characteristic was listed, along with the people group Paul was addressing (i.e.: live wisely; vs. 2,5,6,12; older men & women, young men and women, all Christians)
We all fall into one of the groups Paul mentioned here: older men, older women, young men, young women, slaves (think employee). In which category do you find yourself? As a Christian how are you living out each of these characteristics? Which do you need to ask God to develop in you? How can you guard against the negative behaviors listed?
Though no specific ages are mentioned as Paul addresses each group, the Greek word used for "older" in reference to men and women implies an elderly person, someone who has lots of life under their belt, who is settled in their faith as well as their home and work lives. Such a person is mature in all areas; their character is proven by their actions. Their upright character is fleshed out in their upright behavior. Both the older men and older women were to mentor the younger men and women by modeling how right behavior is woven into a life which is based on right beliefs.
The Greek word used to describe the younger women is neas which means "new, fresh, young". Neas doesn't simply refer to a woman young in age but new to the faith, new to marriage, new to motherhood. These women needed the example of a seasoned wife and mother in order to learn the proper love to give their husband and children. Those new to the faith needed the example of a seasoned saint; someone immersed in God's Word, marinated in God's wisdom, drenched in His knowledge, soaked with his Spirit.
Which are you - a newbie to the faith or a drenched disciple of God's Word? If you are a newbie prayerfully look ahead for a woman who is seasoned in her faith, in her marriage, in motherhood. Ask God to bring you the woman who will model right beliefs for you and motivate you into right behaviors; not only in your spiritual life, but also in your marriage and motherhood. If you are a drenched disciple prayerfully look behind you for a newbie who needs a mentor. Ask God to lead you to the young woman for whom your specific life and faith experiences bear resemblance and can serve as an example. If you are single, don't despair! God has a mentor for you too! Earthly marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ's relationship with His people. Ask God to send you a woman seasoned in her faith who loves others with the love of Christ and can instruct you in this love.
The latter part of verse 5 states the reason all Christians - young, old, male, female, married, single - are to model these behaviors: "Then they will not bring shame on the word of God." The KJV uses the word "blasphemy" instead of shame. Blasphemy is to make light of what is holy. God has called His people to be holy as He is holy, this means we live a life marked by godliness; to call ourselves Christian and live otherwise is to make light of God's holiness. www.bible.com/116/lev.20.26.nlt Christians must not only avoid speaking or doing evil but we must speak and do what is good and right. Obedience to God brings honor to God's Word, disobedience brings shame.
How do your words and actions reflect God's holiness? What adjustment do you need to make to avoid bringing shame to His Word?
Gathered manna from Titus 2:1-10 is:
A Christian teacher must exhibit consistency in character, lifestyle, and teaching.
Where is there inconsistency between your character, lifestyle, and teaching? What are some practices you can implement in order to bring consistency?
Gathered manna from Titus 2:10 is :
Upholding Christlike character in the workplace despite injustice reveals God and makes Christianity attractive to non-believers.
How do you uphold Christlike character in the face of injustice? In what ways does your life make Christianity attractive to non-believers?
The final verses of Titus 2 turn to a discussion of God's grace. Verse 11 begins with the word "for". The Greek word "gar" implies Paul is about to give Titus the doctrinal basis for all he has stated thus far. In verses 1-10 Paul emphasized godly behavior as a result of wholesome teaching; verses 11-14 emphasize God's grace as the fundamental feature of that wholesome teaching. When we fully understand the meaning of God's grace we fully desire to live godly lives.
The grace of God was revealed in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. We learned in our study last week that God in chronon time planned to bring salvation to the world and in kairois time He did so. John 3:16 tells us God loved the world, meaning His grace that brings salvation is for ALL humans. 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us God desires for everyone to be saved and understand the truth of His grace. Later in 1 Timothy 4:10 we learn God is the Savior of all people. Finally, in 2 Peter 3:9 we are told God: "isn't really being slow about His promise...He is being patient...He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." www.bible.com/116/2pe.3.9.nlt God's grace is for all people, unfortunately not all people will choose to accept His gift of grace. More unfortunate still is the fact that some will reject God's grace; not because they can't believe but on the basis of the behavior of those who call themselves Christian. Thus the importance of our behavior matching our beliefs.
In verse 12 we learn the results of God's grace in our lives; again categorized by positive and negative. When God's grace is revealed to us we are led into a negative: we say a resounding "no" to ungodliness and sinful pleasures. Our no always leads to our yes: yes to God's wisdom, yes to God's righteousness, yes to devotion to God. A right understanding of God's grace encourages right behavior, as we remember our life before His grace and as we look forward to the day we will see God face to face. Looking back we are grateful God rescued us from our sin therefore we desire to live godly. Looking forward our longing to please Him and hear the words: "Well done My good and faithful servant" spurs us into continued godly living. Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 5:
"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again." www.bible.com/111/2co.5.14-15.niv
It's the whole idea of being born into slavery to God expressed in Titus 1:1. Fully understanding God's great love for us in sending His own Son compels us to live His way. Christ died to set us free and to make us "His very own people". He did so, according to Titus 2:14, so we would be enthusiastic, totally committed and passionate to do what is good and right in His sight. Perhaps The Message says it best:
"He offered Himself as a scarifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people He can be proud of, energetic in goodness." www.bible.com/97/tit.2.14.msg
A right understanding of God's gift of grace should compel us to live in a way that makes Him proud of us. Just as a child wants their parents to be proud of their accomplishments, a child of God should desire to live in a way that pleases Him and makes Him proud to say, "That one's mine." Because of His grace, our lives should be lived as a thank-you note to God.
Finally in verse 15 Paul implores Titus to be bold in his instruction. Titus is not to be intimidated by anyone but should encourage those who are living as they should and rebuke those needing correction. We are reminded again of Paul's instruction to Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because of his youth but to be an example of godly living to all. Just as Titus and timothy, we are to be prepared in all circumstances and at all times to preach God's Word; as St. Francis of Assisi said, "when necessary, use words."
What is your understanding of God's grace? How does your life convey this understanding? Where do you need to correct your behavior to better communicate God's grace to others?
Gathered manna from Titus 2:11-15 is:
Correct understanding of God's grace leads to correct living of God's truth.
Gathered manna from Titus 2 is:
A Christian mentor motivates others toward right living by modeling excellence in character and lifestyle.
What does your lifestyle say about your character? Where is your behavior out of sync with what you profess to believe about God? What do you need to do to realign behavior and belief? How are you modeling excellence to those coming behind you? In what ways can you do this better?
Our study of Titus is winding down but we still have wonderful truths to uncover in chapter 3.
Until next time,
God bless and keep you,
1) Continue our Scripture Reading and Writing Plan for May.
2) Read through Titus 2 and mark all the references to teach, teacher, and mentor.
Make your list of characteristics of a godly teacher found in Titus 2.
Look up the word teacher in a concordance and read the references listed. Add any new characteristics with the Scripture reference to your list.
3) Prayerfully answer the questions in this lesson. Pray for God to send you the right mentor and to show you the one He would have you minister to through a mentoring relationship.
If you are interested in a mentoring resource check out Lifeway Women's new program in collaboration with Passion City Church called Flourish. This is a one year mentoring program that can be used within a church or one-on-one. Check it out at www.flourishmentor.com
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