Last time I told you how I felt that the Spirit was whispering that Titus 2:3-5 was the next passage we should study here on my blog. Today we’re going to start focusing on the specific actions we are to take to show that the Word of God is true in our lives.
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5).
The first action I see is that older women are to train the younger women to love their husbands and children.
What Kind of Love?
One of the reasons why God probably chose to have most of His Word communicated to us in Hebrew and Greek is because Hebrew is a very picturesque language, and Greek is a very specific language, both more so than English. The word love is an excellent example of this. The one word love in English has a multitude of words in Hebrew and Greek, so that we can know exactly what God is trying to tell us.
Obviously, Scripture teaches that we should all love each other deeply, with a sacrificial love. A second type of love that we women are to have for our husbands is the physical love between a man and wife.
But the love mentioned in Titus 2 is neither of these.
“…train the younger women to philandros and philoteknos“
Philandros means to be “fond of man.” Philoteknos means to be “fond of children.” Both come from the Greek word philos, which means “dear, friend, fond, or friendly.”
God is telling us women to be friends with our husbands and children.
As strange as it sounds, I see that being friendly with my husband and children won’t come naturally to me. I must be “trained.”
Sometimes I get the impression that I should naturally want to snuggle all the time, to be a picture-perfect wife and mother, always sweet and caring, always using a soft and gentle manner, always wanting to spend time with others and to let them climb up on my lap so I can read books with them and do craft projects.
Hmm… maybe not. It sounds good, but the fact is, I just don’t feel like this most days!
Titus 2:4 actually uses very few words to convey something that the various English translations have to struggle to put into words. Let’s look at it in Greek:
“Sophronizo the neos to philandros and philoteknos.”
“Teach the young to love their husbands and love their children.”
The word “teach” here is complicated, though. We just don’t have a word like it in English. The King James translates it, “Teach the young women to be sober,” where the English Standard Versions says, “Train the young women.”
Sophronizo means “to make of sound mind, that is, (figuratively) to discipline or correct.” The lexicon at the BlueLetterBible.org mentions that it has four shades of meaning.
1. To restore one to his senses.
Sophronizo is used in this way in Mark 5:15 and Luke 8:35, to describe a previously demon-possessed man.
“When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones” (Mark 5:2-5).
However, listen to what happened when Jesus came:
“When [the people] came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).
The man was sōphroneō, or in his right mind.
So Titus 2:4 is telling us younger women that we need Jesus’ power to have our unclean and evil pasts sent away, so that we can “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), in our right minds.
It also tells me that when I react in unkindness to my husband and children, I am not acting in my right mind.
2. To moderate, control, curb, disciple.
Sophronizo also means that not only do we need a Savior, but we need to learn to discipline ourselves to learn to moderate our behavior, bringing our passions under control and curbing our tongues.
Peter tells us, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray” (1 Peter 4:7).
Self control is a fruit of the Spirit, but it is cultivated by discipline. It is a habit that must be slowly improved upon.
Susanna Wesley once said that “whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind — that thing is sin to you.” I think God is telling us that we especially need to moderate and curb our sinful natures when it comes to how we treat our family members. It’s not so hard to be nice in public, but it can be dreadfully difficult on a rainy day when surrounded by grumpy children. All the nice thoughts in the world won’t make us nice; sometimes, it just takes self discipline.
3. To hold one to his duty.
I’m not sure how well I would take it if I started to speak unkindly to my husband, and if a woman in my church overheard and rebuked me for it. How dare she!
Yet sophronizo also carries with it the idea of holding someone to her duty. It means accountability. It means that I don’t live to myself and that my sisters are supposed to hold me up to God’s standard.
That’s tough! It’s hard for the young woman being “held,” and it’s hard for the older woman having to “hold.”
This is true love, though. It reminds me of how Aaron and Hur “held up” the arms of Moses during an important battle:
“Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Exodus 17:9-12).
Sometimes we moms grow tired, and that’s the excuse we give for acting grumpy. Quite frankly, we need our sisters to come along beside us and hold us up, one on each side, so that we can remain steady until bedtime!
Do you have a younger sister who needs to be held up? Do you have an older sister who can hold you up?
4. To admonish, to exhort earnestly.
Finally, sophronizo means that if I see younger women “out of their senses,” I need to wake them up, by pointing them to the Savior who can change those evil, unclean spirits into “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
If I’m the older woman, I need to have such good character (Titus 2:3) that my words will be well received. If I’m younger and still struggling to be “friendly” with my husband and children, I need to be humble enough to accept the reminders of the older women.
But I’m Afraid I’ll Fail!
Me, too! Even Paul felt that way, for he wrote:
“I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27, NKJV).
One of the most comforting verses I know of says,
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
God has given us a sound mind, a sōphronismos. He casts out the evil, unclean spirit of fear, and He replaces it with a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind. Of course, He uses older women in our lives to do the cleanin’ up! But what peace our homes have when He enters, cleans us up, and leaves us “sitting there… in our right minds.”
Sitting there as friends with our husbands and children, held up by our sisters.