Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 6

Leslie Basham: Do you feel unqualified to teach others? Nancy Leigh DeMoss understands how a lot of women feel.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I’ve blown so much of my life. I’ve made so many wrong choices. I’ve failed in so many respects. I’m sure the older you get the bigger catalog of failures you have that Satan can throw up in your face and say, “There’s nothing you could offer.”

Teach out of your failures. Teach out of what God has shown you where you did blow it, where you didn’t trust Him, what you learned through that, where God found you, about the addictions that you had, about the ways that you failed. Teach out of your life, and help those who are coming behind you to be guarded and protected in their steps. My life is so much richer today as I’m getting older because of older people who have poured into my life.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, for Monday, February 13, 2017.

We’ve got some good news today for imperfect people as Nancy continues in the series called "God's Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5." You'll be encouraged to be involved in mentoring relationships and at the end of the program, Nancy will tell us about a woman who's been filling that role for her in the last couple years.

Nancy: Pat Moore was an industrial designer who designed products that were used by people for different applications. One day at the age of twenty-six, she began to realize that a lot of the products that were being used in our culture were not adequate or working well for older people for a variety of reasons. So at the age of twenty-six, Pat Moore set out to discover what life was really like for senior adults. She set up this fascinating experiment.

Over the course of three years, she traveled throughout the United States and Canada, visited 116 cities, disguised as a helpless eighty-five-year-old woman. She used professional makeup; she wore this gray wig; she wore special glasses that caused her to have blurred vision. She did a lot of things. She wore a special brace that made her body just move more slowly, and things that would make her feel and act and conduct herself in a way that was elderly. She wanted to see what kind of responses and reactions people would have to her. I’ve seen pictures of her in this getup, and you would just not believe this was a twenty-six-year-old woman.

In 1984, after the three years of this experiment, she wrote a book called Disguised. It’s a firsthand account of what she experienced over those years. It tells about how other older people, as a rule, treated her kindly, but how younger people were often harsh with her. At one point, she was mugged by a group of thirteen-year-old kids. She was badly beaten so much so that she suffered a serious back injury that has been permanent. She uses the term “social dismissal” to describe how many younger people treated her as a older woman.

Now the attitude of Scripture toward older people could never be characterized as “social dismissal.” Nothing could be further from the way God views older people. To the contrary of “social dismissal,” in Titus chapter 2, we’re going to see that older people, older believers play a vital role in the church and in the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Let me just take a moment to reset where we are. I hope that through this series, which is going to go on for a number of weeks, that you’re reading along in Titus with us. I hope you are taking time each day over thirty days (we gave that thirty-day challenge to read the book) to meditate on it, to let God speak to you through it; so that these few little verses in Titus 2 that we’re going to focus most of our time on, you’ll have the feeling of where they fit and how they relate to the rest of the book.

We saw that in chapter 1, the apostle Paul addresses spiritual leaders—elders, overseers. These leaders are to live godly lives; that’s what qualifies them. They cannot be spiritual leaders in the church, or are not supposed to be, if their lives are not exemplary—their lives and their families. Their function and their responsibility is to teach sound doctrine and to correct those who don’t, so that the flock may be protected from things that are not healthy doctrine (see vv. 5–9).

Then in chapter 2 we come to an emphasis on church members, the followers, those who are not necessarily the leaders. We see that they are to live their lives in a way that is consistent with sound doctrine. We see the influence and the impact that our lives have on others. Whether we’re men or women, younger or older, any position, season of life, we’re to live lives that accord with sound doctrine. Our lives are to have influence—they do have influence, for better or worse, on others.

Paul says in chapter 2, verse 1, "but as for you, Titus, teach what accords with sound doctrine." Again, that means not just the sound doctrine itself, but how it applies to life. It’s the Word of God that produces lives that are pleasing to the Lord.

Then he goes on, in verse 2, and he says, older men—this is what accords with sound doctrine, this is the application of the sound doctrine, this is what it looks like when you flesh it out. "Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness."

Then this is what sound doctrine looks like on older women, 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, here’s what sound doctrine looks like on young women: "The young women are to learn to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled."

Verse 6, "Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled." That’s what sound doctrine looks like on younger men. Then he goes on to talk to those who are slaves or servants and continues on in the text.

Let me just stop there because this is the paragraph we want to focus on during the series. Notice, first of all Paul gives specific, distinct direction to men and women, different for men than for women. I think that’s because men and women have different temptations, different proclivities, different inclinations as to how we fall into sin.

We all need sound doctrine, but how it fleshes out in our lives and what needs to be emphasized for our lives may be different. He makes distinctions between younger and older, because at different seasons of lives there are different temptations, different ways that we need to be reminded to apply sound doctrine. People in different socio-economic status, people with different roles and responsibilities, leaders and followers. Paul makes distinctions between these categories of people because the outworking of sound, healthy doctrine has practical implications for each of these categories.

Notice also that, in this paragraph we just read, there are no exceptions. Everybody pretty much falls into one of these categories. You’re either a man or a woman; you’re younger or you’re older. Now it should be pretty clear whether you’re a man or a woman—it may not be quite so clear whether you’re younger or older, but this covers us all. He covers leaders; he covers followers. He’s saying that doctrine applies to everyone.

It’s not just ministers who are supposed to know doctrine and live doctrine. It’s not just some class of mature Christians that are supposed to know doctrine and live doctrine. He’s saying every person in every season and category of life has implications that they need to follow in relation to doctrine.

Notice that he starts with older men, then he moves to older women. He starts with the older folks first, which is what we’re going to do in this series. Then he moves to younger women and then younger men. We want to take them in the same order. Today I just want to introduce the concept of older believers. We’re going to actually look at both the men’s and the women’s passage, because there are applications for all of us as women.

First I just want to concentrate on this matter of older people in the church. The church needs and should have both older and younger people. It’s a sad thing to me today when I see certain churches or Christian groups becoming so homogeneous that they just fit one group of people. You hear about churches that are trying to reach generation-this or generation-that, or a particular group of people.

I was in a church recently, a small church that had almost exclusively older people. I thought, that church is missing out on what younger people would bring to the life of that church. But then there are churches today that are almost exclusively twenty-somethings, or thirty-somethings, or young families, or young professionals, young singles. You have these groups that maybe enjoy and like and have a lot in common with each other, but they don’t have the benefit of the wisdom and the grace or the mentoring of the older people.

My friend, Kim Wagner, was telling me she took a group from her church to a Revive Our Hearts conference recently. They had women in the group as young as seventeen or eighteen and a woman in her seventies and everything in-between.

She was telling me how they stopped at a Quick-Stop for a break en route to the conference. They got out and were getting some snacks and stuff. Kim said she was the last one to check out. She said that the woman who was checking them out commented on how unusual it was to see a group of women with such an age range who were also enjoying each other.

Kim said how happy that made her because her dream for their local church (her husband is the pastor of that church) is that they would be a family that would have the benefit and the blessing of both the younger and older and each season of life represented.

When we talk about older women or men, older believers—first of all, what is older? Everybody’s waiting for me to answer that question. They say that old age is always fifteen years older than you are. The older I get, the more I think that’s true.

I read a story recently about a woman who was waiting in a dentist's office, waiting for an appointment with a new dentist. She looked at the certificate on the wall of his diploma and saw his whole name. The name brought back memories. She thought back to high school and this tall, dark, handsome young man that she had had a crush on. She thought, Surely that can't be the same guy.

Then when the dentist walks in and she sees this balding, gray-haired, old man with a deeply line face, she thought, He's way too old to have been in my class.

Anyway, she asked him as he was examining her teeth, "Did you happen to attend Morgan High School."

He says, "I sure did."

She says, "When did you graduate?"

He says, "1969. Why are you asking?"

She said, "You were in my class."

He said, "Really? What did you teach?" (laughter)

Well, that woman had a rude awakening.

What does that have to do with this text? Probably not much.

Commentators generally agree that older women in the Scriptures talk about people who are past their child-rearing years, somewhere in the range of fifty to sixty or older. We’ll talk more about that when we get specifically on the verse of older women.

Generally, the older population in this country, as you know, is increasing at a huge rate. In 2006 there were thirty-seven million Americans who were sixty-five or older, about twelve percent of the U.S. population—one in every eight Americans. By 2030 there will be about seventy-one million people who are sixty-five or older—more than twice the number there were in 2000. In 2000, people who were sixty-five or older represented twelve percent of the population. By the year 2030, they’re expected to be twenty percent of the population. Of course, this is partially the aging boomers, etc.

We need to deal with this whole issue of aging, both how we view our own aging and how we view the aging of others. There are women in this room who are dealing with physical and health and emotional and life issues of elderly parents. It must occur to you as you watch your parents that one day you’re going to be there, and some of you are there. We have women listening who are in these different seasons of life.

I got an email from a friend some time ago. We were exchanging thoughts about this whole thing of getting older, and she said something I think a lot of women feel. She said, “The thought of getting old scares me and horrifies me.” Now that was a woman in her late forties. I think for a lot of women, this is the way they feel. The thought of getting older is a scary thing and a horrifying thing, perhaps even, to some.

While I was studying this passage last week, two different people sent me articles through my email within an hour of each other. It was just interesting to me that both of them pointed out our culture’s fixation on staying young looking. The first was an AOL interview with a woman named Anne Kreamer, who is fifty-one years old, and she’s written a book called Going Gray. The sub-title is: What I Learned About Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters.

The interview was called "Good-bye to Hair Dye." It pointed out that sixty-five percent of women over age forty dye their hair. In this interview Anne Kreamer was asked, “You decided to go from bottled brunette to natural gray. Why did you do that?” Her answer was,

Two years ago, age forty-nine, I saw a photograph of myself, and I thought, Who am I kidding? I looked fake. My hair dye wasn't fooling anyone. So after twenty-four years of coloring my hair every three weeks, I decided to find out my real color and get off the treadmill. All those years of dying my hair added up to $65,000 [she calculated]. If I invested that money, today I would have $300,000—enough to pay for both my daughters to go to private colleges.

I’m thankful to say I got off that treadmill in my mid-thirties. About that time I decided, “You know what? I earned this gray hair.” One of the happiest days of my life was throwing away that bottle. But that’s an issue for a lot of women today. I don’t mean to say that whether you color your hair or you don’t is a matter of spirituality. I’m just saying we are a culture that cares a lot about staying young looking.

Somebody sent me within that hour another article from The New York Times’ Fashion and Style section called, “Is the Mom Job Really Necessary?” It talked about what plastic surgeons call a “mommy makeover.” One plastic surgeon said, "The severe physical trauma of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, can have profound negative effects that cause women to lose their hourglass figures."

This article was about various procedures and surgeries designed to “overhaul a post-pregnancy body.” The article said, “Mommy surgery appeals both as a quick-fix for stubborn post-pregnancy weight and as a way to control aging itself.”

Now, I don’t care how many surgeries you have, you’re still going to get older, but it shows that our culture has this fixation on staying young looking. As I read these pieces I thought, How are we as Christian women supposed to think about all this? And what are we to contribute to this discussion? Are we just going to go with the flow as to what's important for women as they age?

As we come to Titus chapter 2, where we’ll spend the next several weeks, we see the value of older believers and the fact that they are crucial to the life of the church. We also see a respect for mature women, and for their experience, for the experience that comes with age, as opposed to our mindset today where we idolize youth and youthfulness. We cater to youth and have a tendency to discard or disregard the elderly.

Now, not only does the apostle Paul emphasize the importance and the value that older people bring to the life of the church, but he talks about what matters for older people, what should be their priorities, what should be their focus, what should concern them most. So, before we dig into the details and the specific characteristics and qualities that are to be true in older women, I want to just say a few words to those who are in the older season of life and then a few words to those who are younger, to help our perspective about this whole thing of age and aging.

First of all, a few words to those who are older, and you can decide if you fit there—all of us are getting older, so this would apply in that sense to all of us. First, chronological maturity—that’s like aging, having birthdays, getting older—chronological maturity should be accompanied by spiritual growth and maturity. As you’re getting older age-wise, you ought to be maturing spiritually, maturing into Christ-likeness. I love that verse, Proverbs chapter 4, verse 18, and I often put this on birthday cards or birthday greetings to people. It says, "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day."

When you’re getting into your fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, you don’t tend to think of your life as getting brighter and fuller. We tend to think of going downhill—that’s the way people talk about aging today. But it’s not God’s perspective on aging. God’s perspective is if you are a righteous person, if you are a believer, your life is like the light of dawn—it starts out just like a little glimmer of light, and then as the day moves along and moves closer and closer to noon, the sun gets higher and higher in the sky, until at full noon the light is at its brightest.

That’s the way aging should be thought of spiritually. There should never be a time in your life, no matter how old you are, when you stop flourishing, growing, and being fruitful—never. There’s never a time to retire spiritually; never a time to be put on a shelf.

There’s never a time to retire spiritually.

Again, here’s another passage I love, Psalm chapter 92, verses 12–15.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they’re ever full of sap and green [picture of vitality], to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

That’s a description of godly, old people. They’re flourishing. They’re growing. They’re full of spiritual vitality. Their physical bodies may be diminishing, that’s a part of the curse of the fall. Their inner man is being renewed day by day. They’re growing; they’re flourishing, and they never stop being fruitful. They never stop proclaiming to others the goodness and the wonders of Christ and His gospel.

Older people, let me say to you that you’re supposed to be a model. You’re supposed to be an example. Your character, your lifestyle should be worthy of respect. You should have a life that others can point to and say, “That’s what I want to be like when I’m your age,” a life that’s worthy of emulation; a life that’s worthy of following. Because you follow Christ, you should be a model.

But here’s something else—you should also be a mentor—not just a model, but also a mentor. You need to be drawing on your life experience to provide encouragement and exhortation and challenge to those who are younger.

Now you say, “I’ve blown so much of my life. I’ve made so many wrong choices. I’ve failed in so many respects.” I’m sure the older you get the bigger catalog of failures you have that Satan can throw up in your face and say, “There’s nothing you could offer.”

Teach out of your failures. Teach out of what God has shown you where you did blow it, where you didn’t trust Him, what you learned through that, where God found you, about the addictions that you had, about the ways that you failed. Teach out of your life, and help those who are coming behind you to be guarded and protected in their steps. My life is so much richer today as I’m getting older because of older people who have poured into my life and have modeled for me and mentored me in the ways of God.

I want to challenge you older people to be willing to take initiative and reach out to younger people in the community of faith. One of the things I hear about older people, about older women in the church, I hear it said, “They just don’t want to mentor.” Then, of course, I hear some of the older people saying the younger people just don’t want to be mentored.

You know what? Whether you’re younger or older, take the initiative. Reach out. If you’re older, find a younger woman. You don’t have to be a PhD in theology. You don’t have to have been to seminary. You don’t have to be a great Bible teacher. Just open your life and open the Word of God, and come alongside some of these younger women and be willing to share out of your life.

Then just a brief word to those who are younger: Job 12, verse 12 says, "Wisdom is with the aged and understanding in length of days." You can be young and wise, but there’s some aspects of wisdom and understanding that you only get with life experience. Remember that, and then remember that God cares about how we treat older believers. They are to be treated with honor and with respect.

Leviticus 19, verse 32 says, "You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God. I am the Lord." The way you treat older people is an evidence of the way you treat the Lord.

The way you treat older people is an evidence of the way you treat the Lord.

Now that doesn’t mean that they will never do wrong, but the apostle Paul taught pastors Timothy and Titus, if they are wrong, those older people; that when you appeal to them, you are to humbly and respectfully make your appeal. It’s not that you can’t challenge the lifestyle and the choices an older person is making, but Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5, "Don’t rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father . . . younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters in all purity" (v. 1).

Then younger women, and we’re all younger to somebody, and we’re all older to somebody. Younger women, be teachable; be humble. Value the life experience of the older women around you. Solicit their input. Receive instruction and correction with humility. Ask questions. Listen.

Again, I have learned so much by finding older people. I went in and sat down not too long ago with my dear long-time-ago pastor friend, Ray Ortlund and his wife, Anne. Ray is now in heaven.

I asked them for counsel. I asked them for input. I’m so glad I did, because within a matter of months Ray was in heaven, and I didn’t have another chance. But they poured into my life over that lunch. There were some tears. There was some wisdom shared. I’m still living on much of the rejuvenation and the encouragement and the grace that I got from that older couple as we sat over lunch together.

Ask questions. Listen. Learn. Learn from their lives. Learn from observation. Learn by listening to what they have to say. If you want to be the kind of older woman who brings glory to God, then learn from the lives of older women who have already walked there before you.

Leslie: If you’re not learning from older women, you’re missing out on an invaluable resource. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been reminding us of this, and she’ll be right back to pray.

Nancy, how has this material affected your life? Have you sought out an older woman to give you input?

Nancy: Yes, I have actually. Several women have filled that role of “older woman” in my life and I’ll just tell you about one of them. A few years ago, I contacted my friend Jani Ortlund. You may know that name. She's a pastor's wife, and author, and a speaker. And she's been a guest here on Revive Our Hearts. But at the time I was in a season where I really felt the need to have another woman speaking into specific areas of my life. Jani did that in such a precious way as we had weekly phone calls over a period of months. We would pray together, and she would pray for me. She would come back with things that Lord put on her heart during that week.

Then, when a certain gentleman named Robert Wolgemuth started contacting me and we were exploring the possibility of a friendship, I thought of Jani. Jani and her husband Ray know Robert. I felt that Jani could give advice as I was considering entering into marriage. And I’m so thankful for some really wise input she gave to me in those months. Now as a married woman, I find myself sometimes going back to her for advice as woman who’s been down this road already.

That’s just one example of the precious women of God who have influenced my life. And an example of the kinds of relationships you can be developing—especially as we explore Titus chapter 2.

And I hope you won’t just listen to these teaching segments during this series on Revive Our Hearts. I want to encourage you to explore this passage more deeply by getting a copy of the new book I’ve written called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. It’s a verse by verse study of the first paragraph of Titus chapter 2. We’ll send you a copy of this brand new book as our way of saying "thank you" when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount.

This ministry can’t continue discipling women in God’s Word without support from our listeners. That's why your gift at this time is so important to this ministry. Ask for the new book, Adorned when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Thanks to the involvement of listeners like you, Revive Our Hearts can continue day after day calling women to greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. 

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. We all have weaknesses and defects in our character. If you don’t let God deal with those weaknesses, they’ll grow more pronounced as you get older. Find out why when Nancy continues in Titus 2 tomorrow. Now, she’s back to pray.

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, for the godly and wise example of some of the older people that You’ve put into my life. I pray that in this season of my life You would be making me into a kind of woman who would be a model and a mentor, who would have a life worth emulating for those who are coming behind. Father, teach us within the church, older and younger, to glorify You in our relationships and how we grow and learn through each other’s lives and to encourage one another in our faith as You have instructed that we should. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is a supporter of mentoring relationships everywhere, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

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