“Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance,” Titus 2:2.
Last post we looked at what it means to be temperate, worthy of respect and self-controlled now we will look at the last three of Paul’s admonitions for older men.
The New International Version translates the introductory phrase of verse two as “teach the older men.” These qualities that are to be cultivated in older men do not necessarily come naturally, but must be taught and demonstrated to them by the church leaders. Even as we grow older we have much to learn about the Christian walk and our learning and growing never stops.
That older men should be “sound in faith,” may seem obvious, but it has been my experience, that often, the older we become the less orthodox we tend to be in our thinking. In verse one Paul encourages Titus to teach “sound doctrine” so there seems to be an obvious connection between verses one and two. It is important for us to remember that what is sound doctrine for one person may not be sound doctrine for another. People differ on practically every verse of the Bible and will fight to the end for the validity of their interpretation.
Sound in faith keeps us anchored in Jesus and helps us from following every new and novel teaching that comes our way. A strong faith in the saving grace of Jesus is the core value of any Christian and any interpretation or doctrine of Scripture has to give warrant to that core value.
Christians should be able to look to “older men” and see people who have walked and talked with God and have staked their ground in the love and redemptive power of Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary. Older men should reflect the leadings and promptings of the Holy Spirit so that they are a source of help and strength and encouragement for younger men and women who have accepted Jesus into their lives.
To be sound in faith is to be sound in doctrine, but that doctrine always reflects the grace of God and His majesty. Older men are called upon to not only be sound in faith but also in love. There is no room for the judgmental and harmful pronouncements that many old gentlemen feel entitled to within the church body.
Many years ago I remember one older man standing up in church to pronounce that no woman should be allowed on the rostrum if she wore a pantsuit. Dresses of the appropriate length were to be the norm and anyone who didn’t see things his way were either sinful, rebellious or unworthy of attending that church any longer. He eventually left the church over other issues, but not before we lost an entire creative and talented family who were deeply offended at what they believed to be a personal attack by this older gentleman.
Love of God will always direct our actions and bridle our tongues when it comes to our relationships with fellow Christians and non-believers for that matter. Younger Christians should be able to look up to older believers as examples of charity, compassion, understanding and acceptance. If we walk in love we will be careful not to offend and instead encourage those who are struggling and unsure of their footings on their spiritual journey. The older men of the church should be lights that reflect their years of following Jesus and loving His people.
Lastly, older men are to have endurance in their walk with Christ. Nothing is more important to model for younger Christians than a life that has been consistent in trusting in the grace and mercy of Jesus. Many older men have seen a lot of water flow under the bridge in their lifetime and have experienced a great deal of pain, disappointment and loss.
They are no longer wide-eyed idealists tossed and turned by every new cause or doctrinal stance presented to them. They have sifted through the chaff and separated the wheat and know what is authentic and what is simply dust in the wind. They are people in the church who have placed themselves firmly in the hands of Jesus and will not be shaken loose from His hold on them.
Older men “in Christ” are a treasure to the church and their wisdom, love and sheer endurance in the Christian walk should be acknowledged and appreciated by the younger Christians. As a young Christian I was always encouraged and strengthened in my faith by talking to my uncle who had stayed faithful to Jesus regardless of the storms in his life. That uncle was an inspiration and source of encouragement to me as he explained love, grace, and redemption to me. Without his sensible and theological sound insights I would probably have drifted into a very destructive form of legalism and never gone into ministry.
Like I said at the beginning of this post these character traits don’t necessarily come automatically or easily, but must be learned from those who characterize these gifts. You younger Christians would do well to observe then get to know an older Christian that can encourage you and strengthen you on your journey.
My friends Bob and Bev are kind enough to read this blog each posting and I would like to say I think everyone of us who were privileged to know Bob’s father could say he was one of those older men that taught us much about the love and grace of God. His kindness, openness and love of Jesus still shine in my heart and I am sure in the hearts of countless others. This blog is for him.
* All’s quiet in the front…really? Just because it’s hardly reported in the news these days doesn’t mean it’s not happening anymore. Many people around the globe are STILL experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death. They need our support and continuous prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet but you have to search for it