Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sound doctrine - Titus 2:1-10

"But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. " (Titus 2:1-10)
What is "sound doctrine?" Our problem in answering this question is that we often think of "doctrine" as knowledge; the object of what is taught and the knowledge that is learned. However, doctrine is more closely connected to instruction than information. Information is sterile and in and of itself is powerless. It contains no call to action, no germ of change, and no reason of itself to cause a person to choose one course of life over another. Sound instruction is not content with information but with producing change, godly change, in those who hear it. If we look at what Titus was to instruct the people in, it has nothing to do with information but everything to do with attitude and behavior. Sound doctrine is instruction on how we aught to live! In detaining that in which Titus was to instruct the church, Paul writes of various people in different stages of life.

Older men are to live lives that are honorable, not given to dissipation but to self control; lives that are worthy of being emulated. They are to be solid men of faith and love; those who can be depended on; those whom others can look to for hope and assurance during times of storms. These are the rocks that never move; the anchoring points of the church; those whom others, who might have wandered far away, can always return to. Likewise, older women are to live honorable lives; lives worthy of imitation. They are also not to see themselves as idle or beyond use but to give themselves to the worth task of teaching and instructing the younger generation to live worthy and useful lives in the household of God.

Raising a family takes hard work and requires sacrifice. It can be a difficult transition for a woman to go from being single and independent to giving birth to a child who is wholly dependent on her. I remember my wife's response when we brought home our first child. My wife's first thought was, "Now what?" It is a moment of time that few people are adequately prepared for. It is an honorable thing for an older woman to find meaning and purpose in aiding, helping, and instructing the younger generation as they tackle new challenges and the inevitable changes in life. The main point of instruction from old to young is how to love. Emotional and physical love is one thing, but selfless love is another and often takes encouragement and instruction. This is true for all of us.

Young men are to live life that is purposeful and intentional; not given to every impulse of desire, but living according to principal and with a mind that is circumspect and enlightened. Young men should "seize the day" rather than letting the day seize them. Their guiding principal should be that which is godly and pure. Purity for a young man may be difficult but it is an honorable aim and one that is greatly helped by God's Holy Spirit should we choose to trust in His help.

Finally, Paul addresses those whom, while enslaved to another, are freemen in Christ. Slavery was a reality of Paul's day and one which was not going to change any day soon. It was a condition that had to be addressed regardless of its morality or ethics. Paul encourages slaves to live as freemen, not free to choose their own destiny, but free to chose how they respond to the live that was their reality. They still had the power of a free moral agent; they could still choose for faithfulness, joy, and fidelity in God. While they could not change their situation, the could still choose to live honorably and to do their duty to their best, as unto the Lord. One who in imprisoned in his natural state can still be free in his spirit and, one day, Jesus will return to grant true freedom to the who person.

David Robison

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