“How to Live So That Christianity is Compelling”
Titus 2:1-15

Paul may have been writing a letter to Titus, who lived on the island of Crete but the message he was sending is just as important today, 2000 years later. We say we are Christians, however what we say and what we do don’t always agree. Part of the difficulty comes from our passion to do the “right” thing. I am sure the Jewish Christian leaders Titus was confronting were convinced they were keeping Christianity pure and connected to God by demanding circumcision. Humility is a key component in living a Christian life that is compelling. 
Last Sunday we began reading the book of Titus. A letter from Paul to his co-worker Titus. The letter was intended to guide Titus in the task of finding appropriate leaders to replace the corrupt leaders of the Christian churches on the island of Crete.  
The culture of Crete at the time was known to be associated with “liars, vicious beasts and gluttons.” Not only the culture, but the Christian churches had fallen to the leadership of ethnically Creten Jewish Christians, who demanded Jewish practices such as circumcision and were greedy for money. Paul reminded Titus that the gospel of Jesus Christ promoted a God that did not lie, was faithful, and desired His followers to do the same. So, Titus was called to find leaders who were mature and demonstrated Christian values. The first chapter gave us a list of ways this maturity was to be demonstrated. 
Maturity started at home with their marriages and families. 
Their maturity was to be shown through integrity, self-control and generosity, as they served by spreading the gospel. 
Chapter 2 begins with Paul reminding Titus, and I will quote the Living Living Bible translation,  

“But as for you, speak up for the right living that goes along with true Christianity.” 

I suspect this exhortation was given because Titus needed to hold on to the truth he was presenting and not be intimidated by the older, Jewish Christians who were going to argue with him. Paul provided particular  exhortations for the congregation depending upon who they were. He divided them into the following groups:
The older men
The older women
The younger women
The younger men
The slaves
Paul then gave aspects for Titus to focus on with each group. He began with the older men. This had to have been a sticky wicket for Titus. As a younger man, it would not have been easy to teach men who were older. The culture would have definitely frowned upon such a thing. However, since Paul gave the command to teach such things it must have meant these characteristics didn’t automatically come with age. Older men were called to be sober, reverent, and temperate, having the maturity and wisdom that their years should give them so they could be stable in the right things such as faith, love and patience. The Greek word used for patience, hupomone, has the meaning of being steadfast and actively enduring, rather than passively waiting for time to come to an end. Paul was presenting the idea of continuing to endure the challenges life brings, even the challenges of old age.

Okay older men, don’t sit around waiting for time to come to an end, you are to have, hupomone, the type of patience that allows you to actively endure, stay alert, be thankful for each day you are given, and eagerly seek what God has for you to do in it. 

Next, Titus was told how to guide the older women. Again, keeping in mind that as a younger man, teaching the elder women would have been a challenge. But the criteria of how older women should be living was much like that of older men. They were to be “reverent in behavior.” For the women this would have also been a focus on their dress and how they would have carried themselves. They were not to be “slanderers,” which happens to be the same Greek word for “devils.” Meaning that slander and gossip was known to be work of the devil. Like men they were not to be addicted to much wine. 
This was a direct portrayal of the Creten environment. Paul wrote a similar instruction to Timothy about the church in Ephesus. However, the Greek words used in this passage demonstrate a more severe issue, these words are translated more directly as “having bondage or being slaves to drink.” 

Okay, older women, watching what you wear, how much alcohol you drink and more importantly, checking your words for slander and gossip. 

There was a purpose for keeping check on these behaviors. Titus was to encourage the older women to make sure they weren’t doing such things so God could use them to lead and teach the younger women. Paul told Titus to instruct the older women to teach the younger women, rather than for Titus to be in charge of teaching the younger women, a wise instruction. 
The older women were to teach the younger women to love their husbands and love their children. You would think that would have come naturally, but we need to remember the culture. Marriages were decided based on what the fathers decided, not out of love. The aspect of self-giving and sacrifice which Jesus demonstrated had to be learned as the culture did not promote such ideals. Today’s culture which focuses on making sure you take care of yourself first is in direct conflict with this instruction. 

This list continues with the younger women needing to be discreet, chaste and a homemaker, all necessary for the Christian woman of that day. They were also called to be “good,” and “obedient to their own husband.” In a world that blurred the line between good and evil, having an older Christian woman as a guide was not such a bad idea. 
Paul then tells us that when we fail to demonstrate these characteristics there is a cost.  God’s Word becomes slandered. This goes for all those who call themselves Christians. We should be seeking to live lives that resemble Christ, not just for our good, but for the good of the gospel. So those who are not following Jesus would see Him in the way we live and desire to follow Jesus too.

Paul continues giving guidance for the young men. The next word, “Likewise,” is a linking word, showing that the young men needed to learn pretty much what the younger women, older women and older men needed to learn but with a slightly different emphasis, based on their stage in life. For the younger men, they were to be instructed on how to be “sober-minded.” This does not have to do with wine, but the Greek word sophron, describes being of the mind which has everything under control. 
Having the strength of mind to control every instinct and passion and to respond to them with thought and prayer. 

Got that younger men? Self control over your instincts and passions and only responding to them after thought and prayer. Excellent advice. 

Since Titus was a younger man, Paul then gave instruction on how Titus should demonstrate such behavior, while teaching. Titus was to show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech, in such a way that no one could come back to condemn him. 

May we all live in such a way. 

Paul then went on to address the bondservants within the communities. The early Christian churches shocked the larger culture by allowing servants to be a part of the congregation in the same social setting. 
In fact, this meant a slave might have been an elder to their own master within the church. Paul was not able to change society’s views on slavery, but he was able to change the views on salvation. Christianity was for “anyone” who chose to believe, regardless of their position on society. Paul understood the various societal positions and that was why he was offering suggestions to Titus on how to lead them. 

Bondservants were to be obedient to their own masters. Paul did not say they had to be obedient to every free man, only to their own masters. Only to the person they had an obligation to in the first place. They were to be good workers, demonstrated by their hard work and humble submission. They were not to steal from them. Commentaries state this was a common offence in the ancient world. In fact, the words “servant” and “thief” were used interchangeably. 
There was an assumption that servants would steal from their masters in even small ways. That still exists today. How many goggles and gloves with the BIW stamp can be found in family garages around the state? By not stealing, but by trusting in God to provide, even the lowest position in society would demonstrate how attractive it was to be a Christian. 

Paul addressed the older men, the older women, the younger women, the younger men and the slaves. Verse 11, sums it up quite nicely, 

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.”

Regardless of where you fit into society, God’s grace fits for you. It is grace that teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. 
Why should we seek to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age? 

Because of grace, God’s grace. 

Paul writes we do this while we wait for the blessed hope.

That hope is the day, our Savior, Jesus Christ who gave himself to redeem us from our sins, will return. Today we celebrate that grace. The grace demonstrated by Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own and who are eager to do what is good. As we take the bread and the juice today, let us take Paul’s teaching to heart. Whether you are a younger or an older man or woman, or for those of us who are bondservants, as we partake of the grace offered to us today in the symbol of bread and juice, may we consider the list of character traits for which we should strive.
May our goal for learning them and striving for them be so that our lives can be an example of what it means to live for Christ, so that others in our society will want to receive God’s grace too. 

The Lord’s Supper.