Friday, September 16, 2022
During our most recent homeschooling year, my children and I studied world history from Creation through Greek civilization, reading the biblical accounts alongside mainstream history that was happening synchronologically. It was so interesting to see all of the historical events weaving together to validate the Bible! When we studied Greece, we also learned about the Greek gods and goddesses, which proved to be a great opportunity to reinforce to my children the concept of false gods and idols. It also allowed for discussions about why we follow YHWH, the one true God.
Titus, to whom Paul wrote this letter, was a Greek convert to Christianity. He was leading a church, and there were a lot of problems within it. The gods of the Greeks were corrupt (for example, Zeus, the main god, was a promiscuous liar), and the Cretan Christians were getting mixed up with the qualities of the Greek gods versus the one true God, as well as copying the behaviors of the people around them. As such, there were many issues that needed to be addressed to maintain order in the church and help the new Christians get back on track with Jesus. Paul specifically speaks of men and women (both young and old), as well as slaves, with different ideals that were specific to their situation. However, all of the things Paul listed are qualities that we should all aspire to attain. I like the way The Message records verses 1-10 (I’ve put in bold the main actions):
“Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, trustworthy in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around. Guide slaves into being loyal workers, a bonus to their masters—no back talk, no petty thievery. Then their good character will shine through their actions, adding luster to the teaching of our Savior God.”
Yet again, though written for a certain people in a specific time, we are not that different from the Greeks; we, too, have idols, are prone to wander, and can easily be misled by the culture around us. All of these qualities Paul listed are still admirable ambitions for all of us today! Which ones will be your focus in the coming weeks?
Much of Paul’s advice to the Cretan church involved the older people being good examples and leaders to the younger people. There is an old saying that goes, “It takes a village to raise a child,” meaning that it is important for the child to have many good influences, as well as for the parent to have support in the difficult journey of parenting. No one could have prepared me for the mental and physical exhaustion that accompanies the wonderful joy of being a mother – and it isn’t getting much easier as my children grow older, either! I know I need help sometimes and have been grateful to some wonderful ladies in my church family (and actual family) who have come alongside me to offer help when needed. There is someone out there who can benefit from your prayers, your stories, your listening ears, and your godly wisdom, and there is likewise someone more experienced in the faith who could be all those things for you as well.
Paul ends by reminding us that we have been saved by grace, and through our salvation, we are called to deny the passions of this world, striving to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives”. But that is not all! We are still waiting for our promised hope, when Jesus will return and redeem us again, bringing us into the Kingdom as his family. That is our goal. That is our hope. That is our happy ending. We must stay focused on the goal, spread the good news, and seek strength to live for God during this life, no matter what it may bring.
-What does it mean to you to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life? Are there any changes you need to make to do so?
– Is there someone younger than you (or younger in the faith, rather than in age) whom you could mentor? What about a godly person who might be willing to mentor you? Invite each of these people into your life.