Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 28

Episode Resources

Download the chart: Are You Sophron (Sound Thinking)?

Leslie Basham: The Bible invites you to develop a sound mind. This is very important, according to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You can’t love your husband and your children if you don’t have sound thinking. Because when they are not loveable, if you don’t have sound thinking, you’re going to respond in unloving ways.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Sometimes pressures come at you so fast, it seems like you can’t think straight, but Nancy has been explaining how God can teach us to think wisely, to have a sound mind, no matter what. It’s part of the series "God’s Beautiful Design For Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy: Some of you are school teachers or perhaps you are teaching your own children. You know how important it is for kids to learn the basics. You start with the ABCs. You don't read massive books or texts until you've learned the fundamentals.

You have to have the foundational tools and skills in your educational system. If you don't get those, you are going to have a tough time with everything else. If you don't learn your numerals, your numbers, you're not going to be able to move to multiplication tables or advanced math. You have to start at the basics.

In this series on Titus chapter 2, we’re talking now about a virtue that I have come to believe is foundational for living the Christian life. It's not the only one that matters, but it is a really important one. It's as foundational as the ABCs or the times tables are in your educational process.

If we don’t master this one particular virtue, I’m coming to believe we’re going to struggle with everything else. I’m starting to see—the Lord is starting to connect some dots in my own life, in my own thinking about why this virtue is so important.

It’s something that is emphasized throughout the book of Titus and also through 1 and 2 Timothy, the pastoral epistles, in particular. Paul spoke to these pastors about the development of these young churches, and he emphasized this virtue of self-control.

So as we’re looking in Titus chapter 2, let me just remind you for context here that we’re studying about this curriculum. It’s a curriculum for the training of women to become followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. This is what mature Christianity looks like on a woman. This is how it takes place.

It’s the older women living lives that are exemplary, that are models of godliness, and then those women being intentional about training and teaching the younger women to have the qualities and the characteristics that they need to live out their Christianity.

We’ve said that these qualities are very personal. They’re centered around our relationships, and they really focus a lot on our relationships within the family. So let me pick up in Titus chapter 2, beginning in verse 2, just to give us some context here.

I want you to see how this concept of self-control, the word is sophron—we were looking at it in our last session—sober-minded, of a sound mind. You see how this phrase occurs three times in these verses we’ve been looking at.

Titus 2, verse 2: First of all, “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled.” There’s our word—sophron—self-controlled. It’s of a sound mind. They’re to be “sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.”

Verse 3: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women . . .”

Now, you don’t see the word “self-control” there, but that word “train” is in the same family in the original Greek language as the word sophron. It actually means to train them to have sound minds, to train them to think soundly, to train them to be sober-minded.

You don’t see all of that in the English translation, but that’s what’s behind it in the original. “Train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled” (v. 4). There’s our word again, sophron—sober-minded, of a sound mind. In the New American Standard Bible, you have the word sensible there. Sensible, discreet in the King James, sound-minded, of sound thinking.

That word sophron is something that, as we saw in the last session, is rooted in sound doctrine. First of all, we have to think correctly about God’s Word: Who He is, and what the gospel is, and what it looks like, and how it works. If we have sound doctrine, then that will result in sound thinking about all of life—wise, discreet, sensible, self-controlled, sound thinking about all of life. That will result in sound living.

One Bible dictionary talks about this word sophron—sensible, self-controlled. It says "this is a person that has developed the ability to govern or discipline himself, his mind, his passions, his affections, and his behavior."1 So it’s putting the rein on your life—your affections, your behavior, your tongue, your thoughts. Everything is being reined in by the Holy Spirit as a result of having thinking that is sound.

I'm starting to realize how many, many, many areas of my life are impacted by whether or not I am sophron, of a sound mind, sound thinking. 

I'm thinking of making this the grid for different reactions I have in life, in the ways I respond to different circumstances. I'm starting to ask myself, "Was that a sophron response? Was I sophron in that situation, or was I not sophron? Did I have a sound mind in that reaction and in that way I talked to that person and in the way I processed that piece of information? The way I ate today, was it sophron? Was it based in sound thinking?"

This virtue is basic to every believer in every season of life. I’m realizing that we cannot fulfill the other qualities and characteristics that are in this curriculum for younger women and older alike if we’re not sophron, if we don’t have a sound mind. You can’t love your husband and your children if you don’t have sound thinking. Because when they are not loveable, if you don’t have sound thinking, you’re going to respond in unloving ways.

You can’t be pure. You can’t be a home keeper, a home worker, a worker at home; you can’t be kind. You can’t be submissive to your husband if you aren’t sophron, if you don’t have sound thinking, a sound mind.

Now, I’ve been trying to grasp as I’ve been meditating on this word, on this concept in recent weeks. I’m trying to grasp what a sophron woman looks like and what difference it makes if we have a sound mind or we don’t. So today I want to paint a picture for you of two different kinds of women. One who is sophron and one who is not sophron.

I took some time in recent days just to make two lists, a list of characteristics of these two different kinds of women. I want to start with some of the kinds of characteristics that indicate that a woman is not sophron, that she does not have a sound mind. She’s not self-controlled.

That doesn’t mean that in any one person all of these things would be true. Because if we don’t have sound thinking, that comes out in different ways, depending on our personality, our circumstances, our upbringing. But here’s a kind of composite portrait of characteristics that could be true of a woman who does not have sound thinking—her attitudes, her emotions, her tongue, her behavior.

Let me just tell you at the outset, a lot of this list is autobiographical. The way I made parts of this list is to just look at my own life and to say at times how does it come out? What does it look like if I'm not thinking soundly, if I'm not thinking in ways that are rooted in sound doctrine.

For example, how does not being sophron affect our mindset and our attitudes? What does that look like? A woman who is not sophron may be impetuous or impulsive. For example, in relation to spending, buying things she can’t afford and doesn’t need. In relation to eating, talking, decisions—impulsive. You see it; you have to have it. You act now; you regret it later.

That’s a woman who is not sophron. A woman who is not sophron is not discerning. She’s not careful in relation to things that she lets come into her thinking, into her mind. By the way, don’t try to write all these down because I’m going to go really fast at points. If you want all of these, we have a list available for you at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can get that and pray through that list. So just listen with your heart, and perhaps jot down particular ones that the Lord triggers as being important for you.

A woman who is not sophron is going to be easily taken in by worldly philosophies and wrong ways of thinking. She’s going to feed her flesh. Her flesh is going to control her spirit, instead of her spirit controlling her flesh. She will tend to be a victim of her circumstances or of her past.

A woman who is not sophron may have great intentions, but she’s slow on follow-through. She’s quick on making commitments, but she has a hard time keeping commitments and living them out. She tends to have a self-centered life. How does this affect me?—is the way she thinks.

She’s easily discontented. She has this mindset, “I deserve better than this.” In fact, as it relates to the mindset and attitudes of a woman who’s not sophron, I have come to believe as I’ve been thinking about this that many mental and emotional disorders that are very prevalent among women today are the result simply of not having a sound mind, not thinking straight.

How does it affect our emotions? If we’re not sophron, we’re going to tend to be unstable, out of control, an emotional roller coaster, our emotions controlled by circumstances. Our behavior and our responses will tend to be controlled by circumstances. So if we feel like doing something, we do it. If we don’t feel like doing it, we don’t do it.

That has to do with getting out of bed, the way we eat, the way we respond to difficult people—driven by our emotions. Moodiness, chronic depression—these things can be evidence of not having sound thinking. If we’re prone to emotional outbursts or emotional wide swings of emotional ups and downs. These can be evidence that we’re not of sound thinking, sound mind.

A woman who is not sophron may be silly or vain or trite or foolish. Life is a party. Now, there is nothing wrong with having parties in their time and in their place. But a sophron woman knows when to party and when not to party, when to have fun and when to be serious.

A woman who is not sophron will tend to look for escape from her problems—anything to avoid pain and hardship in life. She may do that in the way she eats or drinks or medicates herself, trying to get rid of pain, rather than facing it and dealing with it God’s way.

A woman who is not sophron will tend to be easily provoked. She may fly off the handle easily, may have a problem with anger or temper. You may be thinking that that doesn't apply to you. Listen, the fact that you don't have outbursts of anger doesn't necessarilly mean you don't have an anger problem.

Some people express their anger by flying off the handle and having a temper tantrum. Others express it by inwardly stuffing and mulling over and grinding people up in their hearts. So maybe inward or outward. You may explode or you may stuff, but it’s an evidence of not being sophron.

A woman who is not sophron will tend to fall apart in a crisis or when she receives bad news. She may be a fearful person. When life doesn’t work, which it many times doesn’t in many different ways. When life doesn’t work, a woman who is not sophron will tend to become angry, resentful, fearful, depressed—she’ll lose hope.

Now, if we are not sophron, it will affect not only our attitudes and emotions, but also in our tongues, the way we talk.

A woman who is not sophron will say whatever she thinks without thinking. It’s just going to come out. She’ll go blurt it out. She’s going to be quick to express frustration or anger, to vent. She may be highly opinionated, quick to speak or argumentative—has to get the last word.

A woman who has rough talk or profane or crass or trash talk coming out of her mouth evidences that she is not sophron—she’s not of sound thinking. Sometimes the women who are not sophron, the way they express themselves is that they don’t talk or they’re not comfortable talking to others because they’re overly concerned about what other people think, what others will think of them. They’re not sophron, so they get paralyzed. They can’t talk.

Then it affects us in our behavior. A woman who is not sophron, her life will tend to be out of order. There will be chaos and confusion. She may be rash. She may act without thinking about the consequences and the impact of her choices.

Her behavior may be unpredictable. She may be morally careless, rather than careful. If she’s not sophron, lacks discretion, she may be flirtatious or sensual or easily led astray sexually, and she may end up leading others astray.

The woman of Proverbs 7, the adulterous wife, the seductive woman—if you go back and examine that passage, this woman is definitely not sophron. She does not have sound thinking and is not rooted in sound doctrine. As a result, she leads this simple man into temptation. She wrecks her marriage. She wrecks the other guy's marriage (if he's married). She wrecks her own life because she is not sophron.

A woman who is not sophron may tend to procrastinate, to put off hard or unpleasant tasks—play now, work later if I have to. That’s not sophron, not sober-minded or sensible or self-controlled in our thinking.

A woman who is not sophron may be given over to excess and extremes in her behavior, or she may live a frivolous life. She may be a lover of vain pleasures. She lives for fun, lives for pleasure. She’s consumed with things that are temporal and physical, rather than things that are spiritual and eternal.

She yields easily to temptation. Of course, the person who comes first to my mind here is Eve, the mother of us all who was not sophron. She was not vigilant in her thinking. She let wrong thinking take root in her mind. As a result, she got carried away by her emotions and what seemed to make sense to her, even though it was very foolish thinking, she ended up sinning, making foolish, sinful choices.

A woman who is not sophron will be a slave to her flesh and her desires. This is where addictions come from that we talked about earlier in this series. If we have addictions, and we all do in varying ways and in varying degrees, it is an evidence that we are not sophron; we don't have sound thinking.

A woman who is not sophron will struggle to develop consistent disciplines and routines in her life. How many of us struggle with just consistency in practical areas like our devotional life. That consistency or lack of it is an evidence of whether or not we are sophron, sound thinking.

Here’s one that’s been very convicting to me. A woman who is not sophron will tend to be easily distracted, flitting from one thing to another. An inability to focus or concentrate or finish a task is an evidence of not being sophron.

A woman who is not sophron will enjoy mindless entertainment. The word amusement means "without thinking." It’s not that any entertainment or amusement is wrong, but frivolous, mindless entertainment without thinking. Becoming a couch potato, just living to be entertained—this is a woman who does not have sound thinking.

A woman who is not sophron will tend to fritter away her life, to fritter away time. Eat, drink, be merry—live for the moment. Isn’t that how a lot of us tend to live, just for the moment, not thinking about the long-term, the future, next generation, implications of the choices we’re making today. It’s not sophron. It’s not sensible, sound-minded thinking.

A woman who is not sophron may make decisions based on her personal feelings or what is easiest or most comfortable, rather than what is wise and prudent and good.

A woman who is not sophron will deal with her unfulfilled longings, which we all have, by becoming demanding, taking matters into her own hands, perhaps holding others hostage. An illustration that comes to mind is that story in Genesis 30 of Rachel, who couldn't have children. It says that "when she saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister [who was having children, Jacob's other wife]. She said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or I shall die!'"

She became demanding. "Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, 'Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?'" Look, this isn't my choice. I can't do anything about this. Who do you think I am? God?

So what does Rachel do? She is determined to have her way. She's not sophron. She's not of sound mind. So she says, "Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her." She takes matters into her own hands. She holds others hostage by her emotions and her demands because of her unfulfilled longing.

We could go on and on, but let me just say that ultimately we can justify any sort of irrational, violent, or debauched behavior to the extreme if we are not sophron, if we are not sensible and sound-minded.

Now, by contrast—and I’m going to move through this quickly. But a woman who is sophron has a sound mind, exhibits the following kinds of characteristics, just the opposite of what we’ve been talking about over these last moments. Her heart and her mind, if she’s sophron are grounded in the Word and the ways of God.

The Word and the ways of God form boundaries for her life. Whereas, the woman who is not sophron, her life is like a river in flood stage. No boundaries, out of control—she can do a lot of damage to a lot of people, right?

But a woman who is sophron, the Word of God, the truth of God, the ways of God form boundaries for her life. Therefore, she exercises restraint and self-government in every area of her life—her thoughts. She brings every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. She doesn’t allow unauthorized imaginations to build a nest in her mind.

She exercises her restraint in relation to her tongue. She speaks pure, gracious words, measured words. She’s slow to speak. She thinks before speaking, not just blurting things out.

Think of Proverbs 29:11. It shows this contrast. “A fool,” a person who is not sophron, “gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man or woman,” who is sophron, sensible, “a wise man quietly holds it back.”

A woman who is sophron exercises restraint in her eating. She’s temperate. She’s moderate. She eats to live versus living to eat. She’s temperate in her spending. She doesn’t spend money she doesn’t have. When she does spend money, she thinks in terms of eternal values.

She’s temperate in and restrained in her reactions, not easily provoked, slow to get angry. She’s emotionally stable. She can be calm under pressure. She’s purposeful in her use of time. She’s a good steward. She’s morally chaste and pure. She has a well-ordered life. She has good judgment, the ability to solve difficult problems.

When she faces a crisis, as we all do—and really, if you’re a mom or a wife or in the work place or a student, every day you’re facing mini-crises. So whether it’s in the mini-crises or major crises of life, the woman who is sophron has presence of mind. She has sound thinking. She knows what to do. She doesn’t lose it under pressure. She doesn’t crater. Her confidence is in the Lord.

There are so many Scriptures that describe this. In my quiet time several days ago I was meditating on Psalm 57, where David is very realistic about the things he’s facing. He says, “My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords . . . They set a net for my steps” (vv. 4–6).

He’s in trouble. He’s in a crisis. But what does he say? Psalm 57, verse 7: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!”

In the midst of the crisis, a person who is sophron is calm and has an ordered mind and response. The sophron woman is able to respond in faith versus fear when she faces challenges. She guards her heart. She guards her mind. She’s careful and discerning in relation to what she reads and what she watches and what she allows to come into her mind.

She evaluates what she reads and what she hears and what others say in light of the Scripture, not just do I feel good about this, but is this true according to God’s Word. She’s mentally disciplined. She’s able to resist temptation. She’s able to delay gratification. She can say "no" to her flesh and "yes" to the Spirit of God in order to have long-term benefits and character.

Her behavior is controlled by the Spirit of God and conviction rather than her circumstances and emotions. The woman who is sophron lives a God-centered and an other-centered life. She's selfless. She denies self and serves others.

She lives in the light of eternity. That’s what determines her choices and her reactions.

She’s diligent, faithful in fulfilling her responsibilities. Work first; play later.

She’s modest in her dress and her behavior. She lives a thoughtful and intentional life. She doesn’t just drift or go with the flow. She’s intentional about her life. She’s willing and able to endure hardship for the sake of ultimate gain and reward.

When life doesn’t work, the woman who is sophron hopes in God anyway. Her heart is steadfast. She can give thanks in all things. She experiences grace in the midst of the fire. She makes her life decisions based on what is wise and biblical, even if that requires difficult choices. She’s able to pray.

The Spirit of God controls her flesh rather than the other way around. She’s spiritually and morally vigilant. Her heart and her mind are always under the guard and the protection of the Spirit of God, the truth of God, and the truth of God’s Word.

Now, I’ve run through this really quickly. But do you get the picture? Are you a sophron woman? You say, well, it depends which day, which hour, which circumstance.

I can be acting in a very sophron—or thinking—in a very sophron way while I’m in the middle of my quiet time or first thing in the morning. Then two hours or ten minutes later I can be acting like a wild woman, out of control. What happened?

You say, “Well, my kid did . . .” or “This phone call came,” or “This email came,” or—no! What happened was I reverted to thinking that was not sound.

So we go back and forth. I’ve just begun to see and to evaluate in my own life, is this sophron? Is this sound thinking? Is this sensible thinking? Is my thinking in this circumstance sound, or is it unsound?

Lord, how I pray that You would make us sophron women—sensible, self-controlled, discreet, wise, restrained by Your Holy Spirit. May we have lives that flow within the boundaries of Your Word and Your ways and that can bring blessing and fruitfulness and joy and beauty to others' lives rather than being out of control.

Lord, help us to see, to recognize, when we are not being sophron and to bring everything we are—our lives, our thoughts, our minds, our emotions, our responses, our tongues, our behavior, everything—under the control of Your Holy Spirit. For Jesus' sake I pray it, amen. 

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us how important it is to develop sound thinking. It’s part of the series "God’s Beautiful Design For Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy, in the first century, Paul told Titus women needed sound thinking. Is that still true today? Especially when we have so many computers thinking for us?

Nancy: I think it may be even more true today, more needed than it was in his day. For sure, we live in an age of plenty of information, but that information doesn’t necessarily result in sound thinking. In fact, it can be just the opposite. All that information can tempt us to stay in shallow waters rather than diving down deep into the truth. I know what it’s like to respond to the constant “ding” of my phone. But I have also seen the value of soaking in God’s Word for an extended period of time.

That’s what I had the joy of doing while I was writing my latest book called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. I spent much of the last several years pondering, meditating, studying those first several verses in Titus chapter 2. Now you don’t have to spend years doing it, but I think you’ll find great value in mining the depths of this powerful paragraph for Christian women.

I hope my brand new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together will help you better understand and apply this passage. I pray that studying this passage will help you develop sound thinking. The kind of sound mind you need to process all the information that is thrown at us day after day. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’ll show our thanks by sending you this brand new, hard cover book.

Ask for the Adorned book when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation and get your copy of the Adorned book. We’ll send one copy per household for your donation of any amount this week.

Thank you so much not only for your interest in this topic but also for your investment in other women who are being impacted through this ministry.

Leslie: How do we get sound thinking? How does it develop? We’ll look at that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you develop sound thinking. It is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.) (G5182). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

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