Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 8

Leslie Basham: Your example speaks volumes. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: What you do to serve and to bless and to train others flows out of who you are. You can’t teach others something that you don’t have in your own life.

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

Think about the generation coming up behind you. If they look to you as an example of behavior, would they be living godly lives? Think through that question with Nancy as she continues this helpful series, "God's Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy: Some of you have heard me share this before, but I distinctly remember a moment when we were praying about starting Revive Our Hearts and asking the Lord whether that was what He wanted us to do. We were meeting with the board of our parent ministry, Life Action Ministries, and asking their counsel.

We’d asked them to be praying about whether we should start this radio ministry. We knew there would be challenges and expenses and changes in my lifestyle and commitment. One of the older godly men in that group who had been praying about this with us for some time, after everybody else had said what they thought, our director turned to him and said, “T.W., what’s God put on your heart?”

T.W. Hunt, some of you know that name, he’s a long-time, faithful intercessor and teacher on prayer, and has prayed for me for many years. He said,

You know, as I’ve been praying about this whole possibility, I’ve been so, for years, disturbed in my spirit about the increased widespread corruption among women in our culture. It’s been a great heaviness of heart to me, and I’ve asked myself, "What can be done about this?" I really believe that God is raising you and this ministry up for this time to help the church speak to this issue of this increased widespread corruption among women in our culture.

Well, that was a moment. That was a marker. We just all felt that God had spoken through His servant in that moment. It wasn’t the only thing that convinced us that we should do this, but it was certainly an important moment.

I’ve thought about that comment many times since. You don’t have to look very far at all to just see the coarsening of women in our culture, and not just out there in the culture, but even within the church—in the manners and the dress and the talk and the attitudes. We’ve just taken on the flavor and the attitudes of the world. In many cases, as Christian women, sadly, are contributing to the coarsening rather than being that which preserves and prevents and slows down the coarsening of the culture.

I’ve often said, and you’ve heard me say it, that we’re supposed to be like salmon swimming upstream and reflecting to our culture the beauty and the wonder of the gospel and Christ and His ways, so as to beautify and soften and sanctify, in a sense, the culture, to make it receptive to the gospel of Christ.

Well, that’s the very heart of what the apostle Paul has in mind, I think, as we come today to Titus chapter 2, verse 3. He begins to address older women. What are they to be like?

Let me read verses 3–5, because we’re going to park on these verses for some time to come here, just one phrase at a time, but I want you to have the whole in your mind.

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 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.

Now let’s just take the first phrase, "Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in behavior." That’s what I want us to look at today.

First of all, "older women." That’s the only occurrence of that phrase in the Bible, that exact Greek phrase. Paul doesn’t specify how old you have to be to qualify. I think it’s actually wise on Paul’s part that he didn’t, because some of us would think that maybe we don’t qualify.

We do know from 1 Timothy 5 that in order to be put on the list to receive financial support from the church, widows had to be at least sixty years of age (see v. 9). That might be the age that Paul had in mind when he’s saying older women. Generally, commentators consider that an older woman is a woman who is past her child-bearing and her child-rearing years. Child-bearing years, capacity for child bearing is about forty. Child-rearing years, then, would end in their fifties or around sixty. Some of you are pushing that a little bit one way or the other, but that would be approximately what Paul is having in mind here.

Now keep in mind, too, that the life expectancy in those days would have been shorter than it is today. So today, what he’s talking about would likely to have been mature, middle-aged women who have fulfilled their responsibility in terms of child bearing and child rearing.

Now, as we look at this paragraph, we see that Paul talks about first of all what kind of woman this older woman is supposed to be like—who she is. She is to be a model. This has to do with her character—a model, not a physical model, but a model of exemplary, godly lifestyle and heart attitude. That’s who she is. Then he’s going to talk about what she does. Who she is is the first part of verse 3—"older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine." That describes her character. She is a model character.

What she does, the outworking of her life and ministry starts at the end of verse 3 where it says, "She is to teach what is good and so train the young women." She is to not only be a model of godly behavior, but she is to be a mentor. She is to be actively involved in passing on truth and discipling the next generation.

I started when I think I turned forty receiving a catalog in the mail called As We Change. I don't spend a lot of time in that catalog because I don't put a lot of stock in what those things can do for me. But it is true that our bodies are changing as we go into that older season of life. As our bodies are changing—hormonally, physically—our lives are supposed to be changing too. Our character is supposed to be growing and maturing and developing and becoming more like Christ. As we change, we are supposed to become involved in helping others change. So we are supposed to be growing and maturing so that we can help others grow up and mature in their walk and their faith.

Notice the order here. It starts with who she is, her character, her own life. That precedes what she does—the teaching, the training, the discipling of other women. What you do to serve and to bless and to train others flows out of who you are. You can’t teach others something that you don’t have in your own life.

That’s why Paul puts it in the order that he does. He doesn’t start by saying you’re supposed to be a discipler or a Bible teacher or you’re supposed to train other women. He starts by saying, “Look at your own life and make sure that your life is in accord with the Word of God in these particular areas.”

So who she is, her character, first of all, "older women are to be reverent in behavior." Now many of the different translations and paraphrases translate that in some very different and interesting ways. Let me read several of them to you.

The New Living Translation says, “Teach the older women to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord.”

Another one says, “Aged women, likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness” (KJV). That’s an older translation.

The Amplified says, “Bid the older women to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service.”

The New English Translation, “Older women, likewise, are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy.”

Then here’s my favorite. It says, “You must charge the older women to be in demeanor such as befits those who are engaged in sacred things” (NRSV).

That word reverent—reverent in behavior—it’s the only time it’s used in the New Testament. It’s a word that means "sacred or holy or set apart to God, and fitting or suitable or right, appropriate, holy, reverent in behavior." The root meaning actually is priest-like.

The person who is reverent in behavior is a person who acts in a way that is appropriate to holiness. This woman acts like a sacred person. She is a saint. She’s set apart for God’s use, and she acts that way. Her deportment, her behavior, her manner is reverent in behavior. So Christian women are to live as those who are engaged in sacred duties or service.

Now we are not priests, and we are not called to be pastors or teachers of the Word to men or elders in our local churches. But we are, as women, called to sacred duties and service. If you’re a wife, serving your husband is a sacred duty and service as unto the Lord. If you’re a mom, caring for those children is a sacred duty and service as unto the Lord. If you’re a single woman in the work place, serving the Lord, whether it’s in a secular job or a ministry position, you are involved in a sacred duty or service. 

Our manner of life, in whatever season or calling God has placed us, is to be like that of priests in the temple. What they are doing is sacred; it is holy, and they are conducting themselves in a way that is appropriate for people who have a holy calling.

There’s a great example of this older woman who is reverent in behavior who lives in a priest-like way in terms of her deportment, and that’s the woman Anna that you read about in Luke chapter 2. We’ve talked about her on Revive Our Hearts before, but let me just refresh your memory.

From Luke 2, it says,

There was a prophetess, Anna . . . She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was 84. [So here’s an elderly widow.] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour [the hour when the baby Jesus was brought into the temple to be dedicated—coming up at that hour and seeing Christ the Messiah], she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were awaiting for the redemption of Jerusalem (vv. 36–38).

So you see, here’s a woman who is, could be frittering her life away on countless things. She could be doing Internet gambling (well, Anna couldn't have been). Women today could be gossipping, reading novels. They could be wasting or wiling away their lives, but not Anna. She’s spending her life productively worshiping God—praying, fasting, waiting, anticipating the redemption of Jerusalem, waiting for the coming of Christ to this earth. It’s a picture of a woman who is reverent in behavior.

Now, you don’t have to live at the church or spend all of your life fasting and praying to be a woman who is reverent in behavior. But it’s saying whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, and whatever your calling in life is, you’re living as a woman who has been set apart as a sacred person for God’s service.

Reverent in behavior. The word behavior has to do with our deportment, how we act, how we carry ourselves. I want to read you two passages from the book of 1 Timothy. In fact, let me ask you to turn there, 1 Timothy chapter 2, two passages that describe women who are reverent in behavior. It just gives a few more details. These are not all the details, but it’s some good examples of what it means to have reverent behavior.

First Timothy chapter 2, beginning in verse 9, Paul says:

Likewise, women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel [So reverent behavior has to do with how we dress; not just how we act, but how we look. They should adorn themselves in respectable apparel] with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, [Not that those things are wrong, but they’re not to be the focus of the obsession. A woman’s physical appearance and beauty is not what is to drive her.] but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

Then verse 11 describes a woman’s heart attitude that is reverent.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. [Then he tells why, and we’ll, we’ve done other teaching on Revive Our Hearts about this passage, so I won’t exegete it now, but it’s the created order.] For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and [it’s also the fact that] Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet the woman will be saved [I believe in this context, it means saved from uselessness, not saved as in her justification, but she’ll be saved from a useless life] through childbearing [through doing whatever it is that God has called her to do, which, for most women, involves child bearing]—if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control (vv. 9–15).

So there you have a portrait of a woman who is reverent in behavior. It’s in the functions that she has in the local church, and doesn’t have. It’s in her dress; it’s in her manner; it’s a teachable spirit; it’s a humble heart; it’s all those things put together.

Then turn over just a page or two to 1 Timothy 5, and here you have another beautiful description of an older woman, who is a widow in this case, and the description is of a woman who is reverent in behavior. The context here is talking about a woman who is qualified to be cared for financially by the local church.

She must be a widow. "Let a woman be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age." She has no other means of provision, is the context here. "Having been the wife of one husband." Now that doesn’t mean she could not have been married more than once. She may have had a previous husband who died; she may have remarried, but it means she’s a woman of one man. She’s faithful to her husband. She’s not married any longer because she’s widowed, but she has been faithful to her husband. Verse 10,

And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.

That description doesn’t sound like a woman who spent her thirties, forties, and fifties just fooling around living a frivolous life, spending her life on her own pleasures and her own enjoyments. Now it’s not to say that she never did anything pleasurable or enjoyable, never took a break, but what has been the focus of her life? She has lived a life of purpose and intentionality and service and giving and blessing others. She’s been a faithful wife, a faithful mom, a faithful giver of hospitality, lover of other people, caring for people with needs. This is a woman who has been reverent in behavior.

The word reverence, according to www.dictionary.com, speaks of "an attitude of deep respect tinged with awe." Respect and awe, and it also has to do, the dictionary says, with the "outward manifestation of this attitude." So it’s something that is true within you to have a reverent heart full of awe toward God and His gospel. Then how that comes out in the way you live, the way you dress, the way you talk, every aspect of your life governed by that reverence for God.

Let me read to you what two or three commentators said of this concept of women being reverent in behavior. One writer said:

Women are to be reverent in their bearing and demeanor in a way befitting the sacred. The apostle commended womanly behavior suited to life in the presence of the holy, carrying into daily life the demeanor of serenity and holy composure.

That's a lot of words stuck together. But it is essentially saying that a woman walks into all of daily life with a holy heart and attitude and mindset. 

Clement of Alexandria was a teacher in the church in the late Second and early Third Century. He said, “The Christian must live as if all life was a sacred assembly.” Now we’re not talking about just being that way when you get old. If you want to be that way when you are old, which we are told we must be, you’ve got to be becoming that way when you are younger; living as if all of life was a sacred assembly.

Warren Wiersbe on his book on Titus says, "A woman's deportment must always reflect holiness."

I think the concept here is that there is no division for the godly older woman, or the godly younger woman, no division between the sacred and the secular. She doesn’t compartmentalize her life. Christianity is not one category of her life, and then her family is another compartment, and her job is another compartment, and her golf life is another compartment, but Christianity is the whole of her life. We have to always remember that we are engaged in sacred things. Whether we are working or playing, in social settings or more casual settings.

This says to me that in all of life, as we talked earlier about the coarsening of the culture and the coarsening of women in the culture, that godly women who are reverent in behavior will not be coarse in how they talk, how they joke, how they walk. They will not be foolish. They will not be vulgar. They will not use crude or suggestive humor. You say, “Do you really need to say that to a group of Christian women who are here to study the Bible?” Uh-huh.

I was talking not too long ago with a woman, who’s an older woman, who lives out this verse. She is just a great picture of the Titus 2 woman. She was just lamenting how coarse Christian women have become. She said,

I was at a conference for Christian women, and there was a comedian who did a whatever there. And some of the humor was so suggestive and so coarse, and not edifying. I was so grieved, and I thought "surely people won’t like this." But they were laughing hilariously and uproariously.

On the way home [she was with a group of woman that she thought were mature godly women, and she thought, Surely these women were troubled by what we heard, but when it came up,] these women thought this was just wonderful. "Wasn’t he wonderful! Wasn’t he funny! Wasn’t this great!" I was so heavy hearted, so shocked that people that godly, Christian women could consider this entertaining.

I have to say that I think what she experienced could be repeated over and over and over again in the Christian world today. In big settings and little settings. In private and public as well.

We have to be conscious that we are always serving Christ, conscious, as Paul said, that the angels are watching. We are a spectacle to angels. When you’re just with a group of girlfriends, having a night out, having fun—have your fun—but live in a way that is reverent in behavior.

Now sometimes we have misconceptions about what is reverent. Sometimes we think of the old European cathedrals where everything is all hushed, and it's a very somber atmosphere. That's not necessarily what it means to be reverent in behavior as women. A lot of people think that this kind of woman is joyless or dour or just always really very serious, but I say, to the contrary. Godly women should be winsome. In His presence, which is how we’re supposed to be living—that’s what it means to be reverent in behavior, living in the presence of God—in His presence is fullness of joy.

Some women cross their t's and dot their i's and do everything right, but they are not really very appealing to the gospel because there is this constant somberness (is that a word?). They are not expressing a sense of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the joy of Christ in their lives. That's part of being reverent in behavior.  

I read an old writer who said,

My mother’s habit was every day, immediately after breakfast, to withdraw for an hour to her room and to spend that hour in reading the Bible, in meditation and prayer. From that hour, as from a pure fountain, she drew the strength and sweetness which enabled her to fulfill all her duties, and to remain unruffled by the worries and pettinesses which are so often the trial of crowded neighborhoods.

As I think of her life, [the son said] and all it had to bear, I see the absolute triumph of Christian grace in the lovely ideal of a Christian lady. I never saw her temper disturbed; I never heard her speak one word of anger . . . or of idle gossip; I never observed in her any sign of a single sentiment unbecoming to a soul which had drunk of the river of the water of life and which had fed upon manna in the barren wilderness.1

What a testimony! He said, “I saw my mom when I was a kid go in to her bedroom and get filled up with the Water of Life, the Bread of Heaven, the Manna from God, the Word of God, and when she came out, she was a different woman.” What he described about his mother is a woman who’s reverent in behavior.

What a mark that woman left—not just on her son's lives, but undoubtedly on others.

When it’s said and done, what kind of testimony will your children write about you? Your friends, how will they summarize the influence, the fragrance, the perfume of your life? Will they say, “She was a woman who drank deeply from Christ, who lived in reverence of Him, who was in awe of Him, and whose life reflected the awesome wonder of life lived within His presence”?

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to lead us in prayer.

Her final questions are important. We need to be careful not to rush past them. What will your family and friends say about you some day? Are you developing reverence for God now? I hope you won’t move past those questions too quickly, but will study this topic deeper by reading Nancy’s new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. Nancy, what does the book have to say about this area of reverence?

Nancy: Leslie, what if we ended today’s program and I didn’t realize the microphone was still on and I started saying a lot of vile things? What if the recording got out? How people would want to listen the next time I got up to teach God's Word? Now, by God’s grace, I want the way I speak off mic to be the same as the way I speak when the microphone is on. But that's not a goal just for those of us who sit behind microphones teaching the Bible. All of us need to make sure our lives match up with what we say. That's the idea I develop on this chapter on reverence in the Adorned book.

I have a friend who sometimes says, "Live like the mic is on—because it is." It's true. All of us are on mic and on camera all the time. In the book, I help you think about how many cameras are trained on us and how our lives really are on display all the time. Then we talk through how to make sure our lives line up with God’s Word so what is on display is actually His beauty. We talk about how that process is what it means to be “reverent in behavior” as we read in Titus 2.

The idea of being reverent really isn't one of the top topics people say they want to read about, but it is one of the most important topics we can understand as women of God.

I hope you’ll dig in to that topic for yourself by getting a copy of my brand new book, Adorned. We’d like to send you a copy to say "thanks" for your donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts this month. Now, there are other ways you can order this book and many of our other resources. You can do that at a local bookstore or through an online retailer. But in order to continue opening God's Word together through this program, we need support from listeners who believe in the ministry and want it to continue.

Your gift will help make it possible for us to continue calling women to live out the beauty of the gospel. So thank you for your support of this ministry. It means so much.

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. To get a copy of Adorned, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959. We’ll send one copy per household when you make a donation of any amount during this series.

Are you ever guilty of slander? Nancy will take that abstract word and show us how to apply it to our lives. That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. And now here’s Nancy with prayer and one more reminder from today’s Scripture passage.

Nancy: "Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in behavior."

Oh, Father, that’s quite a standard, and even as I’ve been teaching, I feel I’ve stumbled around a bit, searching for the right words, as You’re tutoring me in this passage. I’m just uncovering and discovering parts of what this means, but I know it’s something I want. I pray You’ll give to each of us as women the ability to live reverent lives, lives that are lived in Your face, in Your presence, and it reflects that, and at the same time, it reflects the fullness, the joy that’s found in Your presence. May our lives make a difference as we revere Christ as Lord. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth loves it when older women teach younger women, and is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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

1Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. A Place of Quiet Rest, p. 256.

 

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