Recently, one of my Christian sisters, who is a photographer, offered to shoot my bridal portrait for me. I gratefully took her up on the offer and spent the entire day with her. She was so wonderful, patient, and encouraging to me throughout the photo shoot. Because she took me under her wing, I learned fun things like how to do my hair and makeup better for the wedding day but she also taught some life lessons. By watching and her welcoming me into her home, I got to interact with her and her husband and their new precious baby boy. She taught me life lessons on how to be a better wife, mother, and Christian to others. She followed Titus 2:3-5 and she may not have realized it. 🙂
In Titus 2:3-5, God shows us Christian sisters how we are supposed to act with each other: We are to disciple each other.
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5 (ESV).
Who Can Disciple?
As you can see, older women in faith, not just age, disciple the younger women in faith to pursue godly characteristics. You could be 18 years old and growing in faith and there’s a 16 year-old girl you see that desires to grow, go take her under your wing and teach her the lessons God has already taught you. Or you can be a 30-year-old growing in faith, discipling a 45-year-old new believer.
If you are reverent in behavior, you can disciple a younger sister. But what does it even mean to be “reverent”? Paul uses the Greek compound word, hieroprepeis, combining hieron (temple) and prepeis (is appropriate to, fitting.) The woman who disciples her younger sister in Christ must be like a woman who is fitting for the temple. Her body is the temple of God and she acts as one set apart for holiness, whose walk is blameless and fitting for duties for Christ.
Verse 3 continues on, saying the older woman should not be a slanderer or malicious gossip, as some translations take it. The Christian sister qualified to disciple must have control over her tongue, not spreading false information, or going around gossiping about her other sister who’s going through a hard time, all in the disguise of a “prayer request.” Instead, she edifies those around her and encourages the young women because she “opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue (Prov.31:26).”
Paul then states that the older woman must not be addicted to much wine. A woman who does this has turned to others vices to ease her pains, frustrations, and solve her problems. She does not go to God for strength and thus teaches other women not to seek out the Lord for their strength. This kind of woman is useless to making the gospel of Christ attractive. Her lack of self-control taints not only her reputation but the Gospel’s, as well.
One more thing that must be possessed by the older sister is sound doctrine. In verse 3, it says, “They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women…” These women must be serious students and respecters of Scripture so they can then, in turn, teach and encourage the younger women with strong biblical principles.
It doesn’t matter the age or marital status: any Christian sister, married or single, sixty years of age or twenty, if she has these characteristics, she is fit to teach younger women in the faith by example and instruction.
So who should be discipled? There’s a very simple answer to this question: Any woman who needs spiritual maturing and all Christians have spiritual maturing to accomplish throughout their earthly lives, even if they’re 80 years young. That means all of you are qualified to be discipled. The women in Titus 2:3-5 were younger women in the faith. There will always be someone older than you in the faith whom you can learn from, and there will always be someone younger in the faith, which you can teach.
What Do You Teach?
The first thing is to love your husband and children (v.4), whether you have them or not yet. The Greek word phileo used in verse four, means a love that is tender, affectionate, and passionate. It is not the same agape kind of love, which husbands are commanded to express to their wives in Ephesians 5.
(Note: Many people term agape love as a self-sacrificial love. This is not consistent with its use in Scripture – Demas (2 Tim.4:10) could not self-sacrifically love the world. However, there is an element of sacrifice involved when a person truly loves someone or something. There were things that Demus gave up in his pursuit of loving the world, ie., his ministry and his integrity.)
Author Douglas Wilson makes an interesting observation regarding the use of phileo:
“Women are fully capable of loving a man, and sacrificing for him, while believing the entire time that he is a true and unvarnished jerk. Women are good at sacrificial love.”
While all Christian women are to have a sacrificial love for those around me, especially their families, the disciple should teach her younger sister how to have an affectionate love her family. Husbands and children should be cherished, enjoyed, and time spent with them should be treasured.
My older sisters in Christ, who are already married, have been teaching me how to have a phileo love for my future husband through example and instruction. They’ve been training me by telling me little things such as, “When your husband comes home from work, drop what you are doing and greet him at the door. Show him affection and your love for him. The “duties” can wait but your husband needs you first.” Little things like that are what Christian sisters should do for each other. Imparting little pieces of wisdom like that is how easy discipleship can be.
Self-control and purity are other things that Paul lists as things to be taught. This involves so many things such as, self-control of spending money, eating, sleeping, even your thought life. Older sisters should teach the younger sisters in faith to be wise stewards, be in control of their emotions, and practice self-control of their speech so as not to be slanderers or gossips. They need godly older sisters showing them how to put God in control and rely solely on His power.
In a world that puts wives like those in “Housewives of Orange County” on a pedestal, wives that engage in regular drunkenness and self-indulgence, it is no surprise that purity is another important teaching for younger sisters. Girls today are told to indulge in their passions, in any way possible. They are told it is liberating and completely natural to lust after men, have impure thoughts, and even act on those thoughts. Younger sisters in the faith need godly examples of healthy marriages, marriage beds that have been kept pure, and couples that still love each other after many years of marriage. Older sisters must show them how to set their minds on things above and set boundaries for moral purity so that there is not even a whiff of sexual immorality within their home and churches. The world is watching, so teach them how to make the Gospel attractive to the lost world.
Some may be thinking that Paul’s command to be a worker of the home is archaic. Young women are told, “Do not waste your youth and potential being a homemaker. Make something of yourself instead.” Maybe this is the reason why in 2003, 77.8% of mothers with children ages 6-17 were “making something of themselves” and having a full-time career. As you can see, being a worker of the home, as Scripture commands, is an unpopular belief in today’s society. Culture should not matter to those of us in Christ. Scripture is our only guide. Proverbs 31 is a clear example of what God calls us to do. The home should be taught to be a priority for a Christian woman.
I cannot tell you how many times I have thanked the Lord for my mother’s example to me as a homemaker. She devoted her time to making the home a place of peace, showing me how to cook meals, balance a checkbook, even how to grocery shop efficiently. Was that a waste of time? Did she waste her talents and skills? Of course not! She was a Proverbs 31 woman and has taught me how to be a better wife, mother, and homemaker someday, so then I can teach my daughter to be as well. If older women would teach the younger to be lovers of their homes, maybe a more positive view would be held by unbelievers and more Christian women would follow God’s guidelines for the home.
It is interesting that Paul would list kindness as the next quality to be taught to younger women. What does kindness have to do with loving your husband, children, and home? When you have all those responsibilities on your plate, what is your natural propensity to do? I know mine is definitely not to be the warmest and caring person. When I get stressed after a long day of “to-do” lists tasks, I’m stressed which means I’m usually not kind. Sinful people, when put under stress, tend to be unkind. I’m in an older sister’s home quite frequently and just by watching her, she has taught me how to be kind and caring no matter what problems or stresses are happening. Problems are not an excuse to be unkind to anyone.
The last lesson listed for older women in the faith to teach is to be “submissive to their own husband.” This is a hard one for women today. In today’s world, we are told to be independent and that no man is to be the head of us. But God has established his role for husbands and wives in Scripture. Women are commanded to be submissive to their own husbands in 1 Cor. 14:34, Eph. 5:22, and Col. 3:18. Men are to sacrifice for their wives, as Christ gave himself up for the Church and wives are to be submissive to their husbands, as Christ is the head of the Church and they submit to Him.
Why Disciple/Be Discipled?
The younger women watch and they learn how to act from the older women in faith. Our society emphasizes training and education for everything, except for marriage and motherhood. Society that tells them to forget God, love themselves, and pursue the pleasures of the world. The world is their teacher right now but it is our job to make sure they learn biblical principles, not the world’s. Who will train the next generations to be godly women if their older sisters don’t? If younger women don’t learn from godly Christian sisters, they’ll only have the world to look at for instruction.
There is one more reason to disciple that’s most important:
“That the word of God may not be reviled or blasphemed.” v.5
“So that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” v.8
“So that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” v.10
God gave us the Titus 2 discipleship command because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. HE is the reason. What people think about the Gospel depends on how you act. When unbelievers look at Christians, they want to see why they are different. When you live out God’s commands and act as one set apart for Christ, you make the gospel of Jesus Christ attractive to those lost in sin. When you are the precious jewel in Proverbs 31 and you are teaching your sisters to be flawless gems, as well, you are making the gospel of Christ pleasing to a lost and watching world. It is for the sake of unbelievers and for God’s glory that you disciple and be discipled!
So I encourage all my sisters to see who God might be leading you to disciple or be disciple by. Let’s step up to the plate and train generations of godly women!