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The gospel mandate in Titus 2:3–5 captivated my heart and imagination thirty years ago.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They 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.

Now, at age seventy-seven, I still wonder—have I become a Titus 2 woman yet? My inclination is to answer by evaluating my performance. Invariably, this leads to despair or arrogance depending on the numbers. Then the Spirit renews my mind as I read God’s Word. He shows me markers to help me think biblically.

In verse 1, Paul tells Titus, “But as for you. . . .” The imperative for older women to disciple younger women is given to the leaders of the church. This ministry is to take place in the context of church life and under the oversight of church leadership.

Marker No. 1

Is my heart joyfully submitted to the concept of ecclesiastical authority and to the practice of being “subject for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13) to those who “watch out for my soul” (Heb. 13:17)?

Paul continues, “teach what accords with sound doctrine.” Titus 2 discipleship happens in the context of sound doctrine as women help women apply the doctrine to their relationships and life situations.

Marker No. 2

Do I have a teachable spirit that feasts on the “solid food” of God’s Word so that I “grow up into salvation” (Heb. 5:14;1 Peter 2:2)?

Titus 2:2–10 describes a vibrant covenant community where one generation displays God’s glory to the next generation. The Westminster Confession of Faith gives a stunning description of this communion of the saints by explaining that those who are “united to Jesus Christ their Head” are also “united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.”

Marker No. 3

Do I understand that my union with Christ unites me to His other adopted children? Do I love the covenant family where God has called me to share my gifts and graces with others?

Titus 2:3 lists some virtues that characterize women who are entrusted with the care of younger women. Women who “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (v. 10) show younger women what it looks like when the ordinary relationships and moments of life are alive with the beauty of the gospel.

Covenantal discipleship is neither merely academic nor merely relational. It is a beautiful blend of sharing the gospel and our lives with one another.
Marker No. 4

Is my heart adorned “with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4)?

Titus 2:4 calls older women to “train the young women” and gives examples of some practical lessons young women need to learn. To train means to show or to demonstrate. Paul describes this kind of discipleship in 1 Thessalonians 2:7–8:

We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

The mother imagery is striking. Covenantal discipleship is neither merely academic nor merely relational. It is a beautiful blend of sharing the gospel and our lives with one another. Jesus used the mother imagery: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . ! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matt. 23:37).

Marker No. 5

Am I a gatherer? Do I gather women into my heart and home and tell them about the Savior who gathers us under the protection of His wings? Do I pray for the Holy Spirit to change my selfish heart into a welcoming, nurturing heart that shares the gospel and my life with other women?

Paul tells us why we should make such a costly investment in others: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. . . . [We are] waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11–13). Jesus first appeared in grace, and He will appear again in glory. Between these epiphanies, we are to make disciples.

Marker No. 6

Am I motivated by gratitude for salvation?

Paul assures us that it is the gospel, not our effectiveness, which saves and sanctifies God’s people. “[Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (2:14).

Marker No. 7

Do I rest in the power of the gospel to redeem and purify God’s people?

The magnificent mandate in Titus 2 is timeless. It transcends age and role. College women can nurture high school girls. Single women and women without children can be spiritual mothers. Whether Titus 2 relationships are informal or formal, the command is clear and the result is compelling: “that the word of God may not be reviled” (v. 5).

Becoming is a hopeful word, a transformative idea.  I cannot do everything I could ten years ago, but the markers God’s Word gives are not limited by age and circumstance. I am becoming what I behold. “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

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Nov 2017 Issue