Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Beautiful Design for Women, Day 30

Episode Resources

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

Leslie Basham: The way you think about a problem can become part of the problem. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We need to remember that the battle is in the mind. We think it’s our emotions, our circumstances, or other people that are the battleground—and sometimes they get in the fray. But ultimately, it goes back to the way that we think.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Friday, March 17, 2017.

Nancy’s given us a little Greek lesson, talking about being sophron—or having a sound mind. It’s part of a series called "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy: I want to continue with one more session on this whole concept of being sophron. (We’ve been having a little Greek lesson over these past few sessions.) It’s a word that is found multiple times in the book of Titus.

It’s translated in the ESV as “self-controlled.” If you have the New American Standard Bible, it’s translated as “sensible.” It’s a word that means “sound-minded; of sound thinking.” It’s a saved mind, a sound mind, a restrained mind, a mind that is restrained by the Word of God and the truth of God’s Word.

As we were talking during a break before this session, we were saying to ourselves that this affects everything. The way we think determines the way that we live. If we have a sound mind, then our emotions, our appetites, our passions, our thoughts, our words—everything will follow after. Our decisions and our behavior will all follow after the way that we think.

And if we don’t have a sound mind, then our behavior, our words, our attitudes, our emotions—everything will follow that unsound thinking. That’s when we end up in trouble.

We’ve been talking about this word based on the passage in Titus 2 that tells us that older women are to train younger women to be sober—sophronizo; it’s a related word. They are to train these women to think straight.

All of us can remember . . . those of us who are no longer younger women can remember how much, as younger women, we needed someone at times to come alongside us and say, “You’re just not thinking straight.”

In fact, those of us who are older women still need people to come alongside us at times and say, “You’re just not thinking straight,” and to help us counsel our hearts according to the truth of God’s Word.

So the older women are to train the younger women to be sober—to be self-controlled, sober-minded, to think with sound minds—so that they can love their husbands and their children, they can be pure, they can be keepers at home, they can be kind, and they can be submissive to their husbands. Everything else about our roles and responsibilities in life flows, to some degree, out of whether we have sound thinking.

Now, as we’ve been talking about being sober-minded, that very word "sober" or sound sounds very serious. I’m a little concerned that some may think that this sophron woman—this sound-minded, sober-minded woman—never has any fun or that she’s boring, rigid, uptight, legalistic, always disciplined, restrained and restricted, all head and no heart.

Let me say that there are some women that that describes. And gathering from your response, there may be some women in this room that that describes. We can be this way, as women who want to do right, who want to please the Lord and who are conscientious and responsible—those of us who are first-borns specialize in this. You get it right. You dot the i’s. Cross the t’s. Amber, am I right? First-born.

We can end up being very disciplined, but also having no joy and not being a blessing to others. That’s not what I’m talking about. That’s not what God is calling us to. We’re talking about a quality, a characteristic that is alive and vital and vibrant and pulsing with life. This quality, this spiritual sensibility—this sense, self-control or sound-mindedness—is initiated, produced and enabled by the grace of God.

It’s not something we can manufacture. It’s not something we just make happen by sheer willpower. Now, there is will involved. There are choices on our part. There’s a part we play, and we have responsibility.

But we’re dependent from start to finish on the grace of God to make us want to be that kind of woman, to place that mind of Christ within us, and to live out that gracious sophron lifestyle within us.

How do I know that? Well, we’ve been reading and studying in Titus chapter 2 about women being sophron, being self-controlled. But look at verse 11 in Titus chapter 2. The apostle Paul has been going through all these ways that older men, younger men, older women, younger women, servants, etc., are to live out the gospel, and what that looks like. He keeps bringing up self-control, sophron, not just speaking of women but of older and younger men as well.

After he’s talked about all of that, Paul says in verse 11,

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled [here’s that word sophron] upright, and godly lives in the present age.

We are dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. As Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear”—that’s not a sophron mind—“but of power and love and self-control”—sophronismos, or a “sound mind,” as the King James says (v. 7).

Where does it come from? Who gave it to us? God. We don’t have that naturally; we don’t naturally think straight. It’s the grace of God within us that enables us to think in sound ways.

So if the kind of self-control and sensible thinking that we’re talking about is being produced by the grace of God and by the Spirit of God, this is a person who will not be uptight, rigid, and legalistic, but a person who will be winsome, compelling, beautiful, and free—free to live within the parameters that God has designed for our lives. Having this sophron, or being sophron, increases our capacity to pray, to love, and to serve others.

As we think about how we develop a sophron lifestyle, how we develop this kind of sound thinking, we need to remember that the battle is in the mind. We think it’s our emotions or our circumstances or other people that are the battleground—and sometimes they get in the fray. But ultimately, it goes back to the way that we think.

That’s why, in Philippians chapter 4, Paul says, “Think on things that are true and good and lovely and excellent and commendable. Think about those things” (v. 8, paraphrased).

In Colossians 3, Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (v. 2).

Romans chapter 8 says,

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. [Those are the people who are sophron.] For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace (v. 5–6).

Isaiah chapter 26, verse 3: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Where does the peace come from? From the mind, sophron, fixed on God.

First Timothy 5 describes a woman who is a widow. She’s left all alone, but she has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day (v. 5). She lives a sophron life. She could have lots of reason to despair, to be depressed, to be melancholy, to be discouraged, to be self-centered, to be demanding. But no: She sets her hope on God. So what does she do? She spends her time profitably by praying, in a ministry of intercession.

Then, in the very next verse, Paul describes the woman who is not sophron. The other widow is self-indulgent. This woman who is not sophron, he says, is “dead even while she lives” (v. 6). She doesn’t experience the life and peace that come from a mind set on the things of the Spirit. We need to have our minds renewed, transformed by the Word of God.

I was talking with a friend several days ago who just had a new grandchild born with a serious birth defect. The child has been having seizures and is not out of the woods yet, so I’m not sure exactly what the outcome is going to be. But my friend has been walking with her daughter through this process.

The daughter already has, I think, three or four other children, so she’s got her hands full. She’s a homeschooling mom, and now she’s got this little one that is needing constant care and attention and can quickly stop breathing. So it’s not like you can turn away or not pay attention. There’s round-the-clock care required here. It’s a scary, difficult, exhausting time of their lives.

But my friend, Susan, who is the grandmother in this situation, has learned herself how to be sophron in these kinds of crises. Do you know how she learned? Because thirty-some years ago, she had a child who was born with a serious birth defect that required years of round-the-clock care.

Susan went night after night after night after night, for days and weeks and months and years, caring for her son. In the process, she told me, “I had nowhere to turn but the Lord.” She said, “I didn’t have a woman in my life to teach me how to root my thinking in the Word of God. But I was desperate. I went to the Lord, and God grounded my heart and my mind in His Word."

Well what is she doing now? It’s decades later. She’s an older woman who’s been there. She knows the exhaustion. She knows the fear. She knows how all this can paralyze you, and you can think, I just can’t go another step.

Now, as a mother with her grown daughter, she’s teaching the younger woman to be sophron, to be sound-minded. She’s directing her daughter Lacy to the Word of God and helping Lacy to think soundly in this situation.

It’s such a beautiful thing to see, in this tough circumstance, the power of an older woman coming along and training a younger woman to be sophron.

After our last recording session, a couple of us gathered with a dear friend who was here at the session. She told us at that session that she had been diagnosed with acute leukemia and was getting ready to go into the hospital, where she is now, for extreme chemo. Over the next several weeks, this woman will be having massive doses of chemo to try and deal with this leukemia.

The prognosis, humanly speaking, is scary. As we talked and prayed together with this woman, what was touching to me . . . I’ve known this woman for a long time, and this is not the first difficult thing she’s faced. I’ve watched this woman, through trials, get into the Word of God and get sophron.

She’s taken to walking so she can memorize and meditate on Scripture. For years, she was doing this because she was desperate. She had to. She has been renewing her mind with the Word day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Well, here she is now in the greatest physical, life-and-death crisis of her life, facing only God knows what, and knowing that the best she faces, humanly speaking, is not a pleasant situation—at least for the next several weeks. But she is sophron.

Now, she’s tempted to fear; she’s got emotions. This is all very real. She’s not escaping from reality. But her mind is so grounded in the Word of God that when pressures come and a crisis comes, her default is to think, Trust in God, to have a steadfast heart, to sing to the Lord, as we read in an earlier session.

So we see the importance of Scripture meditation, filling your mind and heart. And don’t wait until you get in the crisis to do it, because if you wait until then, you won’t have it when you need it.

We’ve been studying sophron—self-controlled, sensible, sound-minded thinking—from the book of Titus. But I want us to turn for a few moments to the book of 1 Peter, where you see this same concept. There are three references in the book of 1 Peter to sober-mindedness and self-control. Turn to 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 13 and 14.

Peter says, “Therefore”—and the “therefore” is talking about what just preceded it, which is the wonderwork of salvation that he has just described. Because of what God has done and this awesome work of salvation, “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Peter is saying, “If you have sound thinking about the gospel and prepare your mind for action based on what you know to be true, then you will have holy living instead of going with your natural fleshly passions.”

That’s what he goes on to describe in verse 14:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.

So sound thinking—preparing your minds, being sober-minded—results in holy living.

Now, that phrase, “preparing your minds for action”—that’s the way it reads in the ESV, which I’ve been using. But the literal phrase in the original Greek would be “girding up the loins of your mind.” In fact, that’s the way some of your translations read.

Girding up the loins of your mind, or preparing your minds for action, refers to the ancient practice of gathering up your robes when you needed to move quickly, when you needed to run or to fight a battle.

Here it’s applied to the way that we think, girding up the loose ends of your thinking—gathering your thoughts together—so that you can reject wrong ways of thinking and the allurement of temptation and worldliness, and so that you can live holy lives because your thinking is sober-minded.

To do this, to be girded up in our minds, to be sober-minded, to be preparing our minds for action, requires effort and vigilance. And that whole thought of discipline is not a popular concept. It doesn’t sound like fun.

We want the end results—a trim body, a happy marriage, and healthy relationships. But we don’t want to discipline ourselves or work to get there. We want to be able to take a pill or call an 800 number and have it just happen.

But Peter says—move over to chapter 4 of 1 Peter—“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled”—sophroneo; there’s our word again—“and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (v. 7). The New International Version says, “Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”

As I was studying this passage, it occurred to me that one of the reasons I struggle so much with private prayer is because my mind wanders. I’m so easily distracted. And I thought, If I don’t learn to gird up the loins of my mind, to be sober-minded, sophron, disciplined, controlled in my mind, one of the things it will hinder is my prayer life.

It does hinder my prayer life. And I think, “What might God want to do through my prayers? What might He want to do through your prayers as a wife, as a mom, as a woman in the workplace? But you can’t pray because you’re too distracted.”

It’s another reason to become sophron. And being sophron not only enables us to pray, but it also enables us to love well. Look at verses 8–9:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling (NIV).

You see as a Titus 2 woman, you’re going to be called upon to give, to serve, to love, to pour out your life when it’s not easy, when it’s 24/7, when you’ve got that crying baby or sick child up in the middle of the night. How are you going to handle it?

You’ve got to be sophron if you’re going to be able to love well and to extend hospitality—first to those in your own family—without grumbling. It starts with being self-controlled and sober-minded.

And then 1 Peter 5, verse 8, says: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If we’re not sober-minded, sophron, and watchful, we’re not going to have any spiritual defenses.

Proverbs 25 says, “A man without self-control is like a city that is broken into and left without walls” (v. 28).

Do you remember at the beginning of this series when I gave you an illustration, a story, about an experiment that was conducted by a Stanford researcher? He took children, four-year-olds, into a room and showed them a marshmallow.

He said, “I’m going to leave this room and run some errands. I’ll be gone about twenty minutes. While I’m gone, if you let this marshmallow just sit here and don’t eat it, when I come back I’ll give you another marshmallow, and you can have both of them.”

Then he would leave the room and watch what these children would do. Some of these children were so impulsive that they could not control themselves. They immediately ate the marshmallow.

And then some tried. They held out for a while, but they couldn’t hold out any longer. They finally gave in and ate the marshmallow.

And then there were about a third of the children who waited until the man got back. They controlled their impulses, and they got the reward of the second marshmallow.

Then the researchers studied those four-year-olds fourteen years later, when they were eighteen, and showed the incredibly different courses that their lives had taken—the ones who were self-controlled versus the ones who weren’t. If you heard this session, you remember that illustration.

It came to mind as I studied 1 Peter and Titus on this matter of sober-mindedness and self-control. Both Peter and Paul, in the book of Titus, tie self-control to future reward, to a future hope.

Listen to Titus chapter 2, verses 11–13:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. [What’s the key?] Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Does that sound like that kid waiting for the man to return so he can have another marshmallow? We’re waiting for something far more wonderful than our minds can comprehend. That’s what will keep us sober-minded, self-controlled, sound in our thinking, now: waiting for the blessed hope.

Peter says the same thing: “Preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).

Peter says, “The end of all things is near. Therefore”—in light of what’s coming, in light of our future hope, in light of our future reward—“be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray” (1 Peter 4:7).

Some of you have read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is one of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia. In that book, Edmund and Lucy and Caspian are on a voyage from Narnia, headed eastward toward Aslan’s country at the end of the world.

At one point in their long journey, their ship, the Dawn Treader, anchors near land, and they all go ashore. At this point, some of the sailors are tired of the long journey. They want to stop and spend the winter where they are, then turn around to the west and return home to Narnia in the spring. They’re told that if they stay where they are, they will be given a feast fit for a king every night. That makes them even more reluctant to press on to the end of the world and Aslan’s country.

While this is going on, Caspian and Edmund are trying to figure out how they can motivate the sailors to keep heading toward Aslan’s country.

Do you remember Reepicheep, the noble, talking mouse? He speaks up, and he expresses his determination to keep pressing on no matter what. Here’s what Reepicheep says:

My plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I shall paddle east in my coracle [which is a small boat], and when she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

Preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age—waiting, hoping, longing, eagerly anticipating, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been calling you to some inward disciplines of the mind so you’ll be ready for whatever challenges you face. Today’s message is part of the series "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

And Nancy, you spent many years studying Titus 2:1–5 as you were writing the brand new book, Adorned. Was there one thing that affected you the most in this passage?

Nancy: I don't know if I could say there is one thing that has affected me the most. There are so many different topics and themes that run throughout this book. As I was working on each chapter, that became the latest, most important thing in my life at that moment.

But I'll tell you, now that the book is completed and I've been talking with women and talking on this broadcast about the book, I've just become more and more convinced about the power, the life-giving, life-changing power of living out this message—woman to woman, life to life, older to younger, but also, us older women needing the younger women in our lives as well.

I just really believe that if we could see this kind of paradigm lived out in the church, not so much in formal structured ways, but as a way of life, for not just a few select teachers, but for all of us as women of God; I think all of us would be spiritually more healthy, more vibrant, more alive, more fruitful, and enjoying more of what God is doing to make the gospel known throughout the world.

Well, this passage in Titus 2:1–5 is packed with helpful, practical, meaningful counsel for us as women. I hope you’ll explore it with me and find out how God wants to use this passage in your life, in your relationships, and in your church community.

We’d like to send you the brand new book Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. It’s our way of saying "thank you" for helping to make Revive Our Hearts possible when you support us with financial gift of any amount.

Call us to make your donation at 1–800–569–5959, or you can support the ministry online at ReviveOurHearts.com. You’ll find a place there to let us know you’d like the book Adorned.

Now, in a world when it seems like girls have gone wild, the book of Titus is very practical. Find out why Monday, when we’re back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helps us develop sound thinking from God's Word. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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