REAL women are self-governing, "...not slanderers, not given to much wine, and teachers of good things." They depend on the power of God, not their own power.
How could you be an example to others without behavior that is reverent? Well, maybe reverent is not a good word for you, so how about “showing profound respect, especially for God.” Does that help?
As an older woman your “reverent behavior” is highly respected. I see reverence to both a humility and faith component. If you are “showing profound respect, especially for God” that implies you know Him enough to not only have faith that His ways are best, but also and more importantly, you fear Him which produces humility. You know that He is much higher than you and you only have worth because of His provision of His Son, Jesus Christ our Savior.
You may have noted that God desires reverence of both older women and older men. As an older woman, you are asked to display decency and decorum in your outward conduct, clothing, actions, looks, and speech. Of course, the immediate implication is that outward conduct is driven from inward Godly principles such as:
Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. – Philippians 4:8
Now what do you think about the immediate next item that Titus lists – not slanderers? You have just been provided the first criteria of a godly older woman, which is “reverent in behavior,” and that is followed with “not slanderers.” God states things in exactly the way He wants us to read them. Think about what Jesus said to the Pharisees –
Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. – Matthew 12:34
You may believe that you have reverent behavior, but if you are slandering others, that’s evidence that you do not. A godly older woman does not sow discord, falsely accuse, backbite, or speak badly of people.
Do you want to know something very disturbing? If you are a slanderer, you are being equated with Satan. “Slanderer” is the same name God uses for Satan! That means, as a slanderer, you are doing the devil’s work. A slanderer’s tongue is set on fire by Satan himself. The fire can be kindled by various slimy things like hatred, envy, or comparison. What a contrast to reverent behavior! Even more contrast is that true reverent behavior would be exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Since you are a Godly older woman, God asks you to let His Spirit control you, not your sin nature.
Self-control or self-governance is the same thing God desires of older men. Why does God want this from older believers (in age or spiritual maturity)? Because it is linked to verse 1—sound doctrine. When you are older in age or spiritual maturity, it makes sense that you should have learned how to act properly.
Sound doctrine is God's word showing up in everyday life. That means you are decent in your conduct, clothing, actions, looks, and speech. Outward conduct is driven by inward Godly principles.
“Not given to much wine” is clearly about drinking, a problem in that culture and today. It is specifically addressed to older women because it creates a bad example for young women, and it is unfitting for teachers of good things. Much so-called “help” is given when drinking – think about all the advice that is provided, especially as you get “smarter” due to the influence of alcohol! Maybe you do not drink, but I know from my past that when I drank, the curse of alcohol worked on me. I was always smarter and better looking when I drank.
Being the influence of anything except the Spirit of God prevents objectivity and reality. It is neither helpful nor befitting an older woman when she has a problem with alcohol. Of course, there are too few alcoholics that are willing to admit that alcohol is controlling them.
The broader meaning of “not given to much wine” is Self-control. Without self-control, you will be operating in the flesh, “Flashing your ME,” which creates problems in any relationship.
And, while you take on the role of teacher, you will need self-control. One of the most critical attitudes to have while you are teaching or helping anyone is to remember that you do not have to help them. That sounds wrong, doesn’t it?
But, if you think that you have to help, it becomes more about you doing a good or poor job. Notice the subtle shift in focus – from them to you. It is much better to let God use you. There are numerous pitfalls when the focus is on you doing a good job rather than just being available. You want to make time with them about offering truth in love, no matter how the other person chooses to respond. Your job is to simply share the truth as best you can, allowing God to speak through you. Their response is between them and God.
When you choose to follow the Spirit so that He is controlling self, not flashing your “ME," then you have the best chance to help. But your efforts may or may not help. It does not matter. That is up to God.
That is a good implication that there is self-control or control of self in your life. And guess what isn’t a better term for addictions, like alcoholism, a lack of control of self? Self-control comes from your walk with the Holy Spirit and nothing else. If you see too little self-control in your life, it may be an indication of how little you trust God and follow the Spirit. It is not always that way, but it is a good place to start looking!
Did you note the teaching sequence that Paul provided to Titus? Paul said the teaching was to happen this way – Titus teaches the older women and the older women teach the young women. Seems a little inefficient; why not have Titus teach them all at the same time?
My speculation is 1) God wants the teachers to grow more through the teaching time, 2) God wants to protect Titus and the younger women from getting involved with each other, and 3) women can more easily identify with other women. No matter why, it is the way God asked that the teaching occur.
Before you teach, how about taking inventory of what you know and what you actually apply. Your teaching will be a great benefit to both what you know and what you apply. Of course, you may not be prepared to teach some things stated in this passage, but it is never too late to learn! Find someone to talk with you and even teach it to you, because God wants you to teach the younger women what they should know and maybe what you did not know when you were young.
Your teaching has an impact when you talk about the reality of the pain you experienced because you did not apply God’s truth. You can be the example of “what not to be.” That is best taught with humility and humor.
The Apostle Paul provides a great list of things to teach. Before you start, you can ask yourself some basic questions like the following:
- Loving her husband Do you know what that involves?
- Loving her children How might she not be doing this?
- Being discreet Why does this matter?
- Being pure Is this really necessary?
- Being good What does this look like?
- Being a homemaker But what about a career?
- Being subject to her own husband What if he is an untrustworthy jerk?
You may have doubts that God is calling you to teach younger women. If so, remember, it is easier to say no than yes to this opportunity. Ask God to reveal His desire for you. And remember, it is God who is offering you this great opportunity to serve Him through your teaching. His will and plan will take place. He is so gracious that He allows us to receive credit for the work He is doing – all we are asked to do is trust Him and do what He asks.
If you do believe God wants you to teach, then ask God to make each of these truths real to you through His Word, your past, and other’s experience. Ask Him to reveal ways to teach younger women from your mistakes as well as your victories.