Message 4: Grow Up & Step Up

Sept. 29, 2017 Susan Hunt

Session Transcript

Susan Hunt: A couple of months ago I was having lunch with a young woman who had just graduated from college. As we were talking, she was talking about transitioning from college life to adult when she said, “I’m making life decisions without the life experience to make them.”

And I said, “Well, Emily, Titus 2 is God’s strategy to provide what you need.”

Emily knew what I was talking about. Her mom has been a spiritual daughter for years. She’s in my Titus 2 discipleship group. So Emily is a spiritual granddaughter, and she’s now in our group.

She smiled and said, “You’re right. I love just to be with all of you. I like to listen to you talk to one another. I like to hear you talk about the various situations you’re in. I like to hear you pray for one another. I learn just from being with you.”

Now, let’s be honest: This is not the strategy you would expect to advance the kingdom of God in a culture that is hostile to Christianity.

Before we get started, let me set before you two big ideas.

Number one: This is God’s strategy. It’s viable not because of who we are or what we can do, but because of who He is, what He has done, is doing, and will do.

Second: This strategy is designed not only to advance the kingdom of God in the world but to advance the kingdom in the hearts of those who obey it.

So let’s look at the gospel imperative in Titus 2:3.

They [referring to the older women] are to teach what is good and so train the young women.

Now, if we pluck these thirteen words out and isolate them, they’re a good idea for any context, but this is more than a good idea. This is a gospel idea that is to take place in the context of sound doctrine. The uniqueness of these relationships is that they’re gospel-inspired and gospel-empowered. They exist in the shadow of the cross and in the power of the resurrection.

To understand the magnificence of this strategy, let’s zoom in on three words: teach, good, and train. Hang on to those three words, and then let’s zoom out and look at them in the context of creation, fall, redemption, and transformation.

Here we go:

God created man and woman equally in His image but assigned different, equally valuable functions in His kingdom, and He said that “it is very good.” They were created to live in relationship with God and to reflect His glory to one another. They knew good because they knew God, but they turned away from God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now they knew evil. Their relationship with God was broken. Their knowledge of Him was terribly tarnished and twisted. When the man and woman sinned, they expected and deserved death, but amazingly, they heard a promise of life.

In Genesis 3:15, they listened as God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman [what they heard was freedom—He would free them] and between your offspring and her offspring. [Offspring meant life. They expected death.] He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." This offspring would defeat the enemy. This is a promise of life. It’s the promise of Jesus.

Adam affirmed his faith in this promise in verse 20. “The man called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all living.”

Eve means life-giver. Because of the gospel, the one who became a life-taker can be a life-giver. This is not just biological. When we have been crucified with Christ, as we read in Galatians, it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us. Therefore, we have the potential to be life-givers in every relationship and in every situation because Jesus lives in us.

The virtues that we are to adorn are life-giving virtues because they’re characteristics of Jesus. But in a fallen world, living out the goodness of the gospel is not just counter-cultural. It’s counter-intuitive.

When the triune God redeems us, we begin the process of transformation, of dying to self and living to Christ. Our minds have to be renewed. We have to learn how to be life-givers in practice. We need to be discipled. And that is exactly what Jesus commissioned His Church to do: “Proclaim the gospel, make disciples, teach them to observe (or to do) all that I have commanded you, and I’m with you always” (see Matt. 28:18–20).

Then we come to Titus 2, and we learn that some discipleship—not all, but some—is to be gender specific because some of the “all things” that Jesus has commanded are gender specific.

The mandate for older women, to teach younger women, is given to the pastor of the church. This is not simply an individual responsibility. It is a church responsibility. This is one way that the Church obeys the Great Commission. Spiritual women are to teach what is good because we no longer know what is good.

Some of you may be thinking, But I’m not good. You don’t know my failures.

News flash: We are not called to point to our goodness. We are not the story. Jesus is the story. He is good. (applause)

Psalm 100, “The Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting. His truth endures to all generations” (v. 5 NASB).

There’s an intriguing passage in Exodus that helps us unpack this word "good." In Exodus 33, Moses prayed, “Please show me Your glory.” And God answered, “I will cause my goodness to pass before you.”

Now, God had shown Moses the outward manifestations of His glory—at the burning bush, at the fire on Mount Sinai—but now He shows the inward manifestation of His glory. He shows His goodness, the essence of His character.

He hid Moses in the cleft of the rock, and in chapter 34 we read, “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin” (vv. 6–7).

We are to teach what God’s Word says about His goodness, about His mercy and His graciousness and His slowness to anger, His steadfast love and faithfulness and forgiveness.

This is a description of Jesus, who is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact imprint of His nature. This is the story. This is what we’re to teach.

But the verse goes on to say also to “train the young women.” This is a Greek word that is sometimes translated as "admonish or encourage." It carries the idea of a saved or a sound mind. It involves showing someone how to behave wisely and appropriately. It’s showing a way of life that displays the character of God. It’s showing how to do what Jesus commanded us to do, how to be life-givers.

Let’s be clear: We don’t do this to earn more of His love, but as evidence of His life-giving love in us.

Now, here’s where the story becomes a mystery story.

Back in Exodus we read that, “When Moses came down from the mountain . . . he did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God” (vv. 29–30).

When we gaze on the glorious goodness of God in His Word, when we begin to see the redemption story of Jesus in all of Scripture, His Spirit begins to transform us into His likeness. We begin to shine, to radiate the glorious goodness of God. And usually, like Moses, we’re unaware of it because we are increasingly unaware of self.

So not only do we teach women about Him, but because of the mystery of our union with Christ, because He lives in us, our life begins to show the gospel story—not always, and not perfectly—but sometimes, there are goodness sightings in us because the gospel has advanced in our hearts.

Paul captures this idea of teaching and training in 1 Thessalonians 2 when he writes, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel but our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (v. 8).

Teaching and sharing the gospel and our lives with one another.

And note how Paul uses mother imagery: He talks about a nursing mother taking care of her own children. This is a nurturing ministry. It is a mothering ministry. Whether or not a woman has ever birthed a child, she can be a life-giving spiritual mother.

This is not just about formal teaching. We’re always teaching—in our relationships, in our conversations. Think about how often as Jesus was out and about among people He used questions rather than immediately telling them what they should do.

I have five questions that I call my Titus 2 questions that I just have tucked in my mind so that I can use the whether I’m teaching a Bible study or in a conversation.

So let’s pretend for a moment that you have just shared with me a difficult situation or a difficult relationship. I would begin to intersperse these questions into the conversation. Here they are:

  • What will it mean for you to bring this relationship or situation under the authority of God’s Word?
  • What will it mean for you to glorify God in this relationship or situation?
  • Is there any way you’re being a life-taker?
  • What will it mean for you to be a life-giver?
  • How can I pray for you?

Good questions help us to orient women to God’s Word rather than to her feelings and frustrations. It helps her to think about what is good and true and beautiful.

At a True Woman conference a few years ago, I had done a seminar on Titus 2 discipleship. During the Q and A time, a woman told us that she had approached an older woman in her church and said, “Will you disciple me?” She reported that the older woman eagerly and immediately said, “Yes.”

And then the young woman said, “That was six months ago, and I have heard nothing from her since.”

I looked at her, and I said, “I can only imagine how devastated you are, but may I suggest that that woman is equally devastated because every day she wakes up, and she thinks, I really want to do this, but I do not know what to do. What have I gotten myself into? So she delays another day. And each day she feels more and more guilty.”

So, what can we do?

Many of you are women’s ministry leaders. When the women’s ministry in a local church designs a Titus 2 ministry, trains Titus 2 leaders, and facilitates bringing women together, then we do not have frustrated, disappointed, guilt-ridden women.

Titus 2 Tools are the resources to help you do this. There are ideas for designing various kinds of Titus 2 kinds of ministries and also a section on how to train leaders.

But some of you are thinking, But our church doesn’t have a women’s ministry.

Well, you have women. So invite a younger woman or an older woman or each or several to meet with you maybe once a month and to read through the book Adorned together.

However you do it, when Titus 2 discipleship begins, it is unstoppable. It will not be confined to assigned groups. It becomes a way of life. It changes the culture of a church. It makes church feel more like family.

But some of you are saying, “Well, I’m not an older woman yet.”

Last summer I did a Bible study on biblical womanhood for middle-school girls. At the end of our time together, I asked them to write about a Titus 2 woman in their life. Kate, a twelve-year old, who is our youngest grandchild, wrote about two twenty-something-year-olds in her church. This is Kate’s story:

Two older girls at my church are making a huge impact in my life as they disciple me. Kristen and Autumn are so faithful and kind to give their time to us younger girls every Sunday to teach us about Jesus. During the week they text me and the other girls in our family group Bible verses and wise advice to help us make good choices as middle-school students.

We also share prayer requests. We have built such close relationships that when girls have gone through tough situations, such as parents getting divorced, family members being diagnosed with cancer, or struggles at school, we can share with the group and know we will be prayed for.

I’m so blessed to have Kristen and Autumn in my life. They are life-givers who teach me more and more about being a life-giver.

So, girls, now it’s your turn. Whatever your age, grow up and step up. Share the gospel and your life with another woman and be a part of extending God’s kingdom. I don’t know what will happen in the life of the other woman, but I do know that the kingdom will advance in your life because Jesus has promised to be with us.

Who, but God, would have thought of such a strategy, using ordinary, weak women to accomplish such an extraordinary mission? Let’s pray.

Father in heaven, how I thank You that You have equipped us because You’ve given us Your Word, You’ve given us Your Holy Spirit. Father, You have given us all that we need for life and for godliness and for sharing the gospel and our lives with other women. May we fulfill this glorious mission for Your glory and the advancement of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.