This is the first of a series of articles, the substance of which was a sermon from Titus 2:4, 5 preached in Randolph Protestant Reformed Church on February 5, 1995. It is published by request. Although applicable especially to wives and young women who desire to prepare themselves for holy marriage, it is also applicable to older women—whose calling it is to instruct their daughters and younger women in these crucial truths, and to young men, who ought to seek these virtues in a wife.
Today I call your attention to the Bible’s instruction concerning an aspect of Christian family life. As we have seen often before, God has given marriage for our spiritual good and the good of his church. We are blessed who receive marriage and family life as God’s good gift. But we must also recognize that in order for it to serve for our spiritual good, our family life must conform to the will of God and the precepts of his word.
As we turn to Paul’s epistle to Titus, his fellow minister in the gospel, we find him giving Titus instruction concerning the ministry. Titus must emphasize in his ministry the calling of God’s people to put sound doctrine to practice. That is emphatically true when it comes to family life. Satan recognizes the importance of the institution of marriage and the family. For that reason, he levels numerous assaults upon the family, placing many temptations before the children of God.
This second chapter of Titus begins with the connecting word “But.”
The Apostle had just referred to the influence of the ungodly world upon the church. The world lives in open defiance of God, shamelessly trumpeting its sin as a great fun.
And because of the sinful natures even of God’s people, and also because of the reprobate that are found even in the development of the lines of the covenant, within the walls of the church, such wickedness in the world has an influence in the church.
In the very last part of chapter 1, Paul had warned of those who are defiled and unbelieving. He was speaking of those in the church. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).
“But….” In opposition to such and in defense against that influence of evil, “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.” That is, speak concerning that godly life which is fitting with the confession of a Christian, which is consistent with the great truths of God’s word.
And part of that sound doctrine which Titus must preach and teach is the application of God’s truth to holy marriage and to family life.
Teaching Young Women
As we consider the instruction of verses 4 and 5 of Titus, chapter 2, it is striking that the instruction actually belongs to the calling of the older women in the church. It is not the calling of Titus and other ministers to teach the young women of the church, first of all, with respect to their calling in family life. But the older women have that responsibility.
Titus must preach sound doctrine and apply that truth to the life of God’s people.
But the members of the church must enter into the application of that truth.
That is an urgent responsibility! The opening words of verse 4 really do not convey the emphasis. But the text says literally, that the older women are earnestly to teach the young women. The word used actually means “to discipline, to hold one to her duty,” and therefore to exhort earnestly. That calling belongs to you older women.
When we use the terms “older” and “young,” we realize that age is a relative thing. But the text somewhat defines the terms here.
The young women are those who are married or of age to be married, and include mothers whose children are yet at home and whose life, therefore, is characterized by the tremendous daily responsibility of child-rearing. In that case, we might regard young women as those in their late teenage years and perhaps well up into their 40s.
The older women, on the other hand, although not exclusive of unmarried women, are generally those who are married and have already borne the responsibility of raising children. That may include those as young as in their mid to late 30s, as well as those who are older. Their children, if not already out of the house, are older.
These women, who have grown by experience and also have some spiritual maturity, are to show concern for the younger women of the church by teaching them the ways of God-fearing marriage and motherhood. You are to set before them, not only the pattern of your own life, but you are earnestly to speak to them the Word of God concerning the calling of a young wife.
Called to Love
The fundamental element of your calling, Christian wives, is that of love.
We speak now of that spiritual virtue which recognizes marriage and the family as God’s wonderful gift to his church.
That young women have husbands and children is only by God’s appointment.
That God has given to his church marriage is by his sovereign appointment. He has done so, according to Ephesians 5, in reflection of that amazing relationship between Christ and his church which he has established by his sovereign and eternal decree of election. The inspired Apostle speaks of the institution of marriage and that holy relationship, when he says in Ephesians 5:32: “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
For a young woman to love her husband, she must recognize her God-given place.
In Genesis, chapter 2, we learn that man alone was not able to perform the calling that God had for him. God created the woman as the help fit for him. What a tremendously important calling you God-fearing wives have! Without godly wives and mothers in the home, the family and the church could not exist! The church, after all, is founded upon the life of the family.
What a glorious place God has given you women! You are indispensable to the welfare of us all. The home, the church and the cause of the kingdom depends directly upon your work as godly wives and mothers. Knowing that indispensable place given you by God, you are called to love your husband.
The love, therefore, which unites the Christian husband and wife together is much deeper than mere physical and romantic attraction. You will not find this love in the world’s books or the world’s movies.
This is a love which bears all things, which forgives many faults, which seeks the welfare of its object. It is the love of God in Christ which he works in their hearts through the Holy Spirit. And that love, as a matter of the soul, comes to expression.
Such love is the giving of one’s self to another.
This is the love of self-denial, the love which seeks the other and gives to the other.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme example. We read in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” He gave Himself to the death of the cross for the welfare of his bride, for her salvation.
Here in Titus 2:4 the same calling of love is set before the young wives in the church.
Husbands must indeed love their wives. That is their chief calling in marriage.
But the text before us today sets the same calling before you wives.
To love your husband is to live for him, recognizing his headship as the picture of Christ’s headship over the church. It is to pray for him and to support him in all his endeavors. It is to be a spiritual help to him. It is to apply yourself in your daily life to preparing for him the most comfortable home possible. It is to be there for him, to fellowship with him.
To love your husband is to live with I Corinthians 13 written upon your heart. Such love also comes to expression in many other virtues, as we shall see presently.
Besides the love for her husband, the young mother is to love her children.
This, again, is not a natural love. Else it would not have to be taught you.
Your calling here is a calling to that deeply spiritual virtue of love. You are called to reflect the love of God in your relationship with your children.
That is often difficult, because our children are sinners. Not only so, but they are sinners in such a way that they reflect the sins of our own natures. That makes it very painful to experience. But you are called to love your children.
Such love is a love that provides for the children. A God-fearing mother is there for her children. She is not selfishly pursuing other interests to the neglect of her children. She is there, recognizing that her children require full-time labors of love. They must be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
During those several hours of the day when her husband is at work, the full responsibility for that calling rests upon mother’s shoulders. She must love her children, providing discipline for them, teaching them, having devotions with them, praying with them.
This love, love for her husband and love for her children, is the foundation of the Christian home where the young wife has her calling. Such love comes to manifestation. (To be continued.)