Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Beautiful Design for Women, Day 45

Leslie Basham: The Bible tells older women to teach younger women. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says that doesn’t necessarily rule out activities in your older years.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: But I am saying, as you get older, you’d better have a mission that is greater than traveling the country and having your hobbies. God has put something in you that needs to be passed on to the younger generation.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Friday, April 7, 2017.

You want your life to count—all of us do. Even though a thousand distractions try to keep you from a legacy that will last, you can still live significantly today. Let’s focus on what really matters as Nancy wraps up the teaching portion of this series "God’s Beautiful Design for Women."

Nancy: We come today to the very last day of our lengthy series on Titus 2:1–5. When we started this series, I had no idea it would be this long. I'm looking at my notes and I'm on page 139. It sounds like a book to me. But it's been a rich study for me and I know for all of us as we have dug into God's Word to find out His plan for us as women.

Today I want to give us an overview, a wrap-up to this series; pull it all together, tie up the loose ends, and have us look back at where we’ve been in this study.

We’ve seen that the goal Paul is presenting in the book of Titus is to make the gospel believable in a pagan and corrupt culture. What could be more relevant for us today, as we live in the kind of culture that Titus lived in? How do we make the gospel believable?

This call in the book of Titus is a call to be missional in every season of our lives. It’s a call to live a life not for ourselves but for others. It’s a call for us to live our lives for the kingdom of God and the glory of God, for the spread of the gospel.

Paul is reminding Titus that, in whatever season you are in life—whether you’re a man or a woman, young, old, slave, free, whatever your situation—your life has significance. As a child of God, your life really can make a difference for the kingdom of God and for the spread of His gospel.

At the beginning of chapter 2, after Paul talks in chapter 1 about how corrupt and fallen this culture is, he says, “So what do you do in this kind of culture?” In verse 1 of chapter 2, Paul says, “But as for you [Titus, pastor, spiritual leader in this culture], teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

We talked about the importance of doctrine and how that is foundational. People today say they’re bored with doctrine. They want to hear something more practical.

As you read the book of Titus, you realize nothing could be more practical than sound biblical teaching that informs us, in every area of life, how we are to think and how we are to live. We see in chapter 2 of Titus that sound doctrine has specific, practical application to men, to women—to each of us in every season and situation and station of life.

Over these last weeks we have been focusing on what Paul has to say to those of us who are women. He starts with older women.

Now, you can decide, and maybe you have over these last weeks, whether you fall in that category or not. All of us are older women to someone, and I’m at the season of life where I am realizing I have an “older woman mandate” in my life; I have a responsibility as it relates to the younger women in the body of Christ.

Paul talks to older women about, first of all, who they are, what their lives are to be like. He says they are to be reverent in behavior; they are not to be slanderers; they are not to be slaves to much wine (see v. 3).

What he’s saying is that older women’s lives should model for the rest of the body of Christ—and for younger women in particular—what accords with sound doctrine: in our spirit, our attitudes, our words, our habits, our behavior. We should be examples of what a real Christian looks like as we become older women.

He talks to us not only about who we are but about what we do. What is our mission and our ministry in life?

We saw in verses 3 and 4 that older women “are to teach what is good, and so train the young women.” As we become older, we have a responsibility to pass on to the younger women the baton of truth, to teach them what is good, to train them.

What are we supposed to train them in? We’re supposed to train them in sound doctrine, how to think soundly and how to live godly lives that accord with that sound doctrine.

As we studied this passage, we saw that discipleship takes place not mostly in a classroom or from a pulpit. The pulpit is important; the classroom is valuable; but discipleship takes place life to life, older woman to younger woman. It takes place in the context of community.

When women write to us and pour out about major issues they are experiencing in their lives . . . Sometimes they will tell us things that you can't believe they are telling to a total stranger. We love getting their emails; we love praying for them. But there is not a whole lot we can do from miles away without knowing them, without walking with them through life.

That's why we encourage them to get into a Bible preaching church, and to get into the context of committed discipleship relationships with people who actually do know them and know the Lord and know the Word of God and can help them apply the Word of God to their lives.

There’s a woman here today who came to us recently and shared about some issues going on in her life that are very, very difficult. I did what I could to encourage her, to pray with her, but the next thing I did was try to connect her to a woman in her community who was able to meet with her to encourage her. She will be there when I can’t be there, to give her some godly wisdom and counsel about this difficult situation.

I had dinner one evening not long ago with three women who would be in the category of older women—not old women, but older women. As we talked we were reflecting on . . . I was asking them questions about their early married life. What were the biggest surprises they faced? What were the biggest struggles they had faced in marriage. We had a really sweet time as those women opened up and shared very honestly, very transparently about the issue they had faced as young married women. These women had all been married over twenty years. We talked about what God had taught them in dealing with these issues, about responding to husbands in particular areas.

As I listened as they shared their struggles and how God had walked them through those, I thought, These are things all young wives need to hear. But there are some things that would not be appropriate for me to share on the air or in a public setting. They talked very frankly about sexual issues, for example. I thought, Younger wives need to know these things. How do they get taught? Older women sitting down with younger women and sharing life-to-life, heart-to-heart, "This is what God has taught me."

How do we make this personal? A word to older women (and you decide if you fit there): Older women, you need to be intentional, proactive about engaging with younger women about spiritual matters. You say, “I don’t know what I would say.”

  • Share out of your life. “Here’s where God has found me. Here are some of the struggles I faced as a younger woman.”
  • Be open.
  • Be available.
  • Be intentional. Seek out one or more younger women in whom you can invest the positive truth God has placed in your life.

And then a word to younger women: Seek out older women. Be intentional about that. Ask questions.

Go find a woman who’s been married twice as long as you have. By the way, you don’t have to be in a crisis to do this. Hopefully, you should do it before you’re in a crisis, and then you may not get to the crisis.

Go to those older women, the women with gray hair, and say, “You earned that gray hair, and I have some questions I want to ask you. What did you do when . . .” It may be about being a wife or being a mother or about some other aspect of life.

If you’re a single woman and you’re twenty-three and you’re thinking God may never bring a husband to you, find an older single woman and ask her, “How did you learn contentment? Do you struggle with this? What has God taught you?”

  • Go and ask questions.
  • Be humble.
  • Be teachable; learn from the experience and even the mistakes of women who have been down the road further.

So, Paul says that the older women are to teach the younger women. Then in verses 4 and 5, he gives us the curriculum. Here’s what they are to teach, and we talked about how this curriculum centers on roles in the home. Paul says that they are to train the young women to do seven things:

  1. To love their husbands
  2. To love their children
  3. To be self-controlled
  4. To be pure
  5. To be working at home
  6. To be kind
  7. To be submissive to their own husbands

We’ve taken time over the past several weeks to delve into each of those seven aspects of the curriculum. It occurred to me, as we were wrapping up this series and I was thinking back over where we’ve been and what we’ve learned, that this is God’s plan for our lives as women. But for every area where God has a plan, Satan has a counter-plan, and we can see in our culture how he has been very intentional about teaching the counter-plan to the younger women.

Let me walk through the things we’ve seen in Titus. You won’t be able to jot this all down, but it will be on the transcript and on our website. God’s plan vs. Satan’s counter-plan—I want you to just catch the contrast here.

For example, God’s plan is that there should be sound doctrine, the truth, which should be the basis for our living. What is Satan’s counter-plan? Deception, false teaching. He minimizes the importance of sound doctrine.

God’s plan is that older believers, men and women, should model godliness, that they should be spiritually mature, and that they should be intentional about passing the baton and investing in the next generation. They should be actively engaged in discipling and mentoring. This is their calling as they get to the older season of life.

Satan’s counter-plan for older people is that they retire, pursue their own pleasures, live their own life. “I’ve paid my dues. I can relax and take it easy now, so I’m going to spend my life in my RV, spend my life traveling, spend my life with my hobbies, spend my life taking it easy.”

Now, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have an RV or to travel or to have hobbies; but I am saying, as you get older, you’d better have a mission that is greater than traveling the country and having your hobbies. God has put something in you that needs to be passed on to the younger generation.

God’s plan is that older women should be reverent in their behavior. Satan’s counter-plan is to have women be coarse and vulgar in their speech and in their behavior.

God’s plan is that older women should not be slanderers, that they should speak the truth and words that build up. Satan’s counter-plan is loose lips, gossips, slanderers, tearing others down with their tongues.

God’s plan is that women should not be addicted. They should not be slaves to much wine or other substances. What does Satan do? How many older women, and younger, today are addicted to various substances, eating disorders, areas of lacking self-control?

God’s plan is that older women should teach what is good, that they should train younger women. Satan’s counter-plan is to ignore this mandate and to devalue what older people have to offer. He makes them feel useless and marginalized.

I'll tell you something else he does in our culture, that's to elevate our view of youth so that we think the young people know it all. They are the ones we look to to be our entertainers, our teachers, our role models, rather than saying our role models ought to be people who have been there, done that, and know how to walk with God through the hard times of life. If we don’t have God’s plan in place, these younger women are left adrift to fend for themselves. That’s what so many are doing today, sadly.

God’s plan is that younger women should love their husbands, that they should value marriage, that they should esteem the permanence of the marriage covenant. What is Satan’s counter-plan? He gets wives to resent their husbands rather than loving them, to dishonor them, to neglect them, to leave them.

Most of the emails we get at Revive Our Hearts are from women and there are so very, very sad situations that we hear about where husbands have not been faithful. But we also get some emails from men who are crying out and saying, "My wife has abandoned our marriage, our children." That's Satan's counter-plan either way.  

The divorce culture—disposable marriage—this is Satan’s counter-plan to God’s good, perfect plan, that wives should love their husbands and husbands love their wives.

God’s plan is that women should love their children, that they should value motherhood; that, when God makes it possible, they should have children. That’s part of God’s plan for His creation.

Satan’s counter-plan is to make women resent their children or the demands of having children, and to keep women from having children at all. We hear so much of this today, even in the Christian world, about women who are selfish or afraid, or for whatever reason they say, “I don’t want to have children.”

I sat across the table not long ago from a women about fortyish, she had been married a number of years. She said, "Honestly, I am terrified to have children." Then she talked about how it would affect her career. Now, here's a woman who loves the Lord, but she has bought into Satan's counter-plan at points—as so many women have.

This whole concept that once you have children, you let others raise them, or you spoil them, or you abuse them—all these are part of Satan’s counter-plan. God’s plan is for women to have children when He gives children, and to love those children as God loves His children.

Well, we could go on—women self-controlled, pure—Satan has a counter-plan for both of those. What about this one: God’s plan for women to be working at home? We talked about what that means, what that looks like, valuing homemaking and the priority of home and family.

What is Satan’s counter-plan? To devalue homemaking; so we have hospitality as a thing of the past. We have homes today in a state of chaos—physically out of order, disordered; but also emotionally and spiritually disordered. We have a culture that for generations now has made a concerted effort to pull women out of their homes in terms of where they spend the majority of their time and focus, and we’ve elevated working outside of the home above working in the home.

So a woman today who has chosen the career of wife and mother and homemaker almost has to be embarrassed to say that that’s what she does. Now, she shouldn't be embarrassed, but that's a result of Satan's counter-plan. Women are being convinced that they can’t make it financially if they focus their efforts on their homes.

Again, throughout the series (go back and listen to it so you get the whole context for this) I’ve not said that it is wrong for women to have a job outside of the home, and you won’t hear me say that. But what you will hear me say is what God’s Word says, that the woman who is a wife and a mother, the focus of her energies and time and effort ought to be on building a home that pleases the Lord.

Women should be kind and others-centered. Satan’s counter-plan is self-centered, “each man for himself.”

God’s plan: women submissive to their own husbands. Satan’s counter-plan: women resistant against their husbands, controlling, competing, rebellious, etc.

Do you seek the contrast here? Now the question is, are you fulfilling God’s plan, or have you bought into Satan’s counter-plan? The outcome will demonstrate which plan you have bought into.

As we looked at Titus, we saw that the outcome of women living according to God’s plan is “that the Word of God may not be reviled” or blasphemed (v. 5). Women who are true women, women of God, make Christianity believable, and their lives are a marked contrast to an unbelieving world.

Satan’s counter-plan, on the other hand—when people live that out, what’s the result? Christianity and the Bible are treated with contempt, with scorn, with disbelief. “You all claim to be Christians, but look at your marriages. Look at your children; they’re wild; they’re rebellious.”

We want to live lives that make Christianity believable, and the impact of that on an unbelieving world cannot be calculated.

In 96 A.D., less than forty years after the writing of the book of Titus, a man named Clement, who lived in Rome, wrote a letter to the Corinthians. He observed the profound impact that the gospel had made in their lives, and here’s what he said:

Nobody could spend even a short while among you without noticing the excellency and constancy with your faith. . . . Your women-folk were bidden to go about their duties in irreproachable devotion and purity of conscience, showing all proper affection for their husbands; they were taught to make obedience the rule of their lives, to manage their households decorously, and to be patterns of discretion in every way.1

That was the testimony of the women of Corinth just decades after the New Testament was written. That’s the kind of thing we want the secular culture to be able to write about our homes, our families, our lives. As unbelievers look at the “Christians” they know, what conclusions do they draw about Christianity?

You see, the mission and vision God has given us here at Revive Our Hearts is to cultivate true women—women who live according to God’s plan and whose lives reflect the beauty and order and love and grace and purity of Christlikeness.

Even in homes where they may have unbelieving husbands, where they may be in very difficult or very painful circumstances, God’s women can still manifest the beauty of God’s ways so that the world looks on and says, “Wow! I want to know the Christ they love and worship.”

  • What would happen if every Christian woman would live out the instructions found in Titus 2?
  • What would our homes look like?
  • How would our husbands and children respond to that kind of radical transformation?
  • How would the men around us be inspired as they watched the transformational power of the gospel in our lives?
  • Would they hunger to know God better?
  • Would they begin to feel the freedom and confidence to take on the role of spiritual leadership that we’re always saying we wish they would?
  • Would the watching world begin to see a tangible, obvious difference in our homes and in our environment?
  • Would the same power of the gospel that has transformed us begin to affect them?
  • Could revival occur?

Many of you have heard my friend Holly Elliff. She’s been with us on the program Revive Our Hearts many times over the years when we have what we call “Table Talk,” where Holly and other friends and I will sit and talk about the sessions we’ve just taught on.

Holly is a wife and a mom, and she received a really, really precious letter recently from a listener. It was sent directly to Holly, but Holly shared it with me, and I want to share a portion of that letter with you, because it so illustrates the power of a true woman and the power of living out a life according to God’s plan. This letter says,

Dear Mrs. Elliff,

I just had to stop to write a note to tell you how much you have influenced my life for godliness through your advice on Revive Our Hearts. I have only recently come under sound doctrine, and I have struggled to learn how to live out godliness in the ordinary paths of life. When Nancy first invited you to give comments, my soul was so famished for help that your calm, seasoned comments bore me out of a deep, dark place.

What helped me was my sense that your knowledge wasn’t just theoretical. It sounded like words from someone who had learned it from the trenches—marrying, raising a family, cooking meal after meal, raising each child, and glorifying the Lord in it. You cannot imagine what it has meant to me to have a godly example as a role model to follow after.

Women, younger women are starved for this. Older women who have never had it are starved for this.

Holly, your friendship and counsel have really helped to establish a godly framework in my thinking.

See, it is born our of a sense of friendship, connectedness.

Thank you for giving warm words of counsel and advice; for standing on the Lord's commands to us instead of compromising. You cannot know what kind of impact that has made on a life and soul so marred and scarred by sin and without any godly women to turn to for help. Thank you for helping to pull a despairing sister out of the muck and mire of sin.

I’m sure when you were changing diapers [Holly’s kids are now all out of the diaper stage] or listening to the same story again, you could not have known that those were the very things that would make your advice so weighty and true for me, a single woman. [This is a single woman saying that this is what has impacted her life, is hearing truth from a woman who has lived it in the context of marriage and family.]

When you speak it is from the point of view of someone who has lived it, who has raised a family, and who has had to work out the Scriptures in close quarters. The Lord's Word has molded you so that that broken life is sending out such riches, such wine.

Please let older women know that the most valuable thing they can do is develop in righteousness—not the career or the beautiful home. It’s a life of righteousness that alone can help redeem broken lives. I never thought I would come to value God’s ways above the world’s, or actually see how beautiful holiness is, but I have, and I thank you for being part of the Lord’s way of revealing Himself and His loveliness and the beauty of living a godly life to me.

Isn’t that a precious letter? Holly was so moved. I was so moved as I heard it, because it’s a challenge to all of us to say, “Lord, could my life reflect to those around me—to younger women, to other women, to my family, to others in the body of Christ, and to a lost world—the beauty of holiness, the beauty of Christ, and the beauty of living a godly life?”

The answer is yes; my life can, and your life can. That’s what this whole passage in Titus 2 has been all about.

Teach things that are according to sound doctrine. Teach the older women to live pure and godly lives, and then to teach the younger women how to live lives that reflect the beauty and the goodness and the greatness of God’s ways. That’s what being a true woman is all about.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray for older and younger women who need to connect and reflect God’s glory together.

That message wraps up the teaching portion of our current series "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5." Next week we’ll spend a few more days looking at how to live this passage out by talking with some guests.

Nancy’s written in depth on this passage in a brand new hard cover book called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. And during this series we’ve been offering to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. That offer will only last as long as the series is on the air, so if you’ve delayed getting your copy, now is the time to call us at 1–800–569–5959. Ask for the Adorned book when you call. Or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com to support the ministry and get your book. We’ll send one copy per household for your donation during this series. Next week we’ll hear from some women who are learning how to live out Titus 2 and develop mentoring relationships. I hope you’ll be back. Now, let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, how I thank You for true women that You have used in my life, for dear friends like Holly and others who have reflected Your ways to me and have made Christianity desirable and have shown me that this life really can be lived by faith and by Your grace. Lord, I want to be that kind of woman, a true woman, whose life creates hunger and thirst in other women to follow after Christ and to become true women themselves.

Forgive us for those places in our lives where we have bought into Satan’s counter-plan, and give us the courage and the faith and the humility to live lives that are according to Your plan, and to repent when we fail to do so.

Oh, God, I pray that this passage in Titus that we’ve looked at over these weeks would bore it’s way deep into our hearts, into the warp and woof and the fabric of our lives, not just for one radio series but for a lifetime, that You may be glorified, and that Your kingdom and the gospel of Christ may be advanced. We pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you understand God's Word better, and it is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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

1Oden—p 117; 1 Clement 1-2; translation from Penguin Classics volume Early Christian Writings, p. 23; also—Oden, 117; citing Ancient Christian Writers, 23; from the church at Rome to the Church at Corinth.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.