According to Proverbs 29:18 – “Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint.” – we are all in need of vision. So what should that vision look like?
We are all uniquely created with our own set of talents, interests, and resources. Consequently the particulars of our lives will look different, but fortunately the basic guidelines for living given in the scriptures apply in all times – yesterday, today, and tomorrow – to all women in all places.
That’s our amazing God for you. How many other owner’s manuals do you know of that are timeless? Every new appliance we purchase comes with a different set of instructions. Not so with His creation. What was good for Eve is good for us. The issues important to Sarah and Mary are still critical to us. The outworking may look different but the concepts are still intact.
These words were written by Paul to Titus as counsel for establishing sound order within a local church. So how does this affect you and me? I guess it means this: our mission is to learn the concepts listed by Paul and apply them in this day and age.
Does that mean every woman? What about single ladies? Does it include young women? How young? What if I’m newly saved? Raised in a Christian home? Working? Staying at home?
Whatever your lot in life, whatever your station, God has wisdom for you today! If you are young, remember this: you, too, will one day be counted among the older women. Wisdom says that it is best to prepare today for tomorrow. And if you are already “older”, it is never too late to start learning and functioning.
God laid out some clear, concise guidelines in this scripture to aid Titus in establishing orderly and functional churches. We need this instruction today as much as ever because we need proper vision, true vision.
Imagine a group of people standing on the edge of a large open field facing a vast, thickly treed forest on the other side. They all know that somewhere in that forest is a hidden treasure chest. What they don’t know is that only one of them has been given a map revealing the whereabouts of that treasure. What is the outcome? Who moves most efficiently, taking the most direct route? Which one has more confidence, less stress? Who leaves the others behind second guessing their every step, looking over their shoulder to see where everyone else is going, wondering and worrying all along the way? Obviously the one with the inside scoop, lucky fellow, gets the treasure with comparative ease.
Look around you. What do you see in any given direction? Women in this culture, in any culture really, are searching, stumbling around like the guys without the map, trying to find meaning, some kind of instruction that will lend purpose and bring fulfillment to their lives. If we smarten up and lend God our attention, looking to Him for wisdom, we can be like the lucky fellow. We can gain vision, our very own map to guide us to hidden treasure.
There are essentially two settings with correlating visions for Biblical womanhood and they encompass all women:
#2 – I am an older woman. I will function in that role as God dictates, starting with what little I may have, trusting that God will give increase (remember that young boy with his little lunch that our Lord multiplied); He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten. I will be of use in His kingdom.
To discover the curriculum neatly tucked within the Titus 2 passage above we simply begin by studying the pre-requisites for ministry listed by Paul, followed by the topics older women must themselves teach. Some of the topics included are reverence, controlled speech, self-control, and good things, such as loving husbands, chastity, and homemaking. In the coming months we will be exploring these issues and more.
This curriculum is not optional; these are the required courses, not “electives”. If we hope to be effective in our ministry we must develop these things. And we must become effective. If we fail to fulfill this calling as women it is a serious failure; His word will be blasphemed. We do not need to know a single other thing. God has, in those simple words “…that the word of God may not be blasphemed…”, placed a seal of “top priority” on this particular calling. Therefore we must function. And we must function in these specifics. Period.
Failure to function as Godly older women is not merely a miscarriage of obedience; this failure interrupts God’s plan for generational building. Without functional older women teaching younger women those younger women will end up as orphans in the church struggling to accomplish what was intended to be done by two or three generations.
Back to a common response.
“That’s for older married women,” I hear young women and unmarried women say. “They (older married women) should be responsible and get with the program, but why should young or unmarried women concern themselves with the curriculum laid out in these verses? Paul wasn’t talking to us.”
As to the issue of being young and therefore not responsible for this kind of ministry, consider two things. First of all, no matter who you are, there is someone younger looking up to you. Remember being in fifth grade? Those seventh graders had mighty big impact on how you dressed, what you thought, how you acted. Being a year or two older automatically puts you in a position of influence. The kind of influence you make on those younger than you really matters to God (and to the mothers of those other kids – trust me, I know.)
Secondly, the kind of fruit Paul refers to here does not develop overnight. If you want to be effective in the years ahead, you need good fruit; you must plan carefully now. Guidance counselors are not only needed for high school students charting a pathway to future earthly success. God established that concept right here in Titus 2:3-5 by laying down requirements for ministry so that women might function successfully in the kingdom of God through the local church setting. We are not without knowledge of what to study for preparation.
How do single women fit in? Titus 2 seems to be addressing only wives and mothers.
Most of the topics included in this passage are “across the board” qualities and accomplishments appropriate for all women regardless of age, marital status, or station in life. Single women are needed to be living examples of reverence and obedience, to teach younger women, to nurture new believers in the local church, and to provide care in a community. There is much for a single woman to do. Are single women exempt from chastity or reverence? Of course not. Beyond that, single women can and should understand and embrace a working knowledge of what it means to love a husband and children. Should they not be able to encourage a sister who is struggling as a mother? Can they not counsel a woman who has lost hope in her marriage? They can and should.
Our culture encourages training in most every occupation, but learning to nurture and serve, to function as women with contentment and kindness, and to be successful wives and mothers must often be learned on the job. Let’s change that. We can begin to turn that around by starting right now to gain vision according to His word. He wants to establish a Biblical worldview in your heart and mind, including specifics for walking out womanhood with fulfillment and grace.
Next week: a testimony regarding the importance of establishing a Biblical vision.