This morning I found a simply wonderful sermon on Godly womanhood on the website of Northbrook Baptist Church, Cedar Rapids, IA. I was blessed by this and, hopefully, you will be, too:
You can listen here : Titus 2:4-5 – Biblical Womanhood
Or, read the transcipt below (note: not a word-for-word transcript but one that covers-the-bases):
I was sitting in a hospital waiting room a few months ago, where I came across a copy of Forbes magazine, which contained their 2007 list of the “100 Most Powerful Women.”
As I thumbed through that magazine, reading the summary of what made each woman “powerful,” I read about many women who were presidents, chairmen and CEO’s of large companies and many who held political offices.
None of these women, however, was noted for being a wife or a mother. Several of them likely were—but they were not noted as “powerful” or “influential” for that reason.
None of them was commended for possessing the qualities listed by Paul in Titus 2—their reverence, their love for their husbands and children, purity, working at home, kindness and submission.
The world’s picture of what makes a woman significant is much different than the picture painted by Scripture. Even though there is a “Mother’s Day,” our world does not truly honor womanhood or motherhood. And, if we are not careful as a church and as Christians, our minds will slowly be conformed to this world and not, as Paul writes in Romans 12:2,“transformed by the renewal of your mind” so that we may test by the Word of God to see what God approves of.
God is the one who created women, wives and mothers. And, therefore, he is the one who gets to define what they ought to be. And, therefore, his opinion is the one that ought to matter to us—even if it offends and confuses the world.
Train the Young Women
We are looking this morning at Titus 2:3-5. These verses call for the older Christian women to instruct the younger Christian women in how to live.
These verses are instructions for all Christian women, about Christian womanhood. We discuss them on Mother’s Day because biblical motherhood cannot be divorced from biblical womanhood. You cannot be a biblical mother without being a biblical woman.
Notice something from these verses: Being a biblical mother, wife, and woman is not a matter of evolutionary instinct. It requires biblical teaching and training. It is not something that you grow up “just knowing.” It is something that you are trained in by those who have gone before you. If this training is not provided, then it is likely we will fail to be what God calls us to be.
This responsibility here falls first on the church. These instructions are part of Paul’s letter to a man named Titus. Titus has been left in Creteby Paul to “put what remained into order,” as Paul writes in Titus 1:5. Several new churches have been formed in the towns on the island ofCrete. Titus’ task is to “put them in order,” beginning in chapter one with appointing elders in each town’s church.
In chapter two, Titus’ next task, as an elder, is teaching sound doctrine that calls the older men and the older women to live godly lives. They, in turn, are called to “teach what is good and so train the young women…” Mature, godly women are called on to teach and train the younger women to embrace biblical womanhood.
Notice that this begins with teaching in the church. Christian instruction does not begin with what you ought to do, but with what you ought to believe. Nevertheless, sound doctrine will always move into what our lives should look like. The Gospel trains us in how to live. A mind full of the gospel should result in a life that displays the gospel. And so, the church that does not value instruction in sound doctrine will not value sound living.
The training will come by way of spiritual mentoring. In our verses, the older women are to be intentionally encouraging, advising, and urging the younger women by setting an example in word and in deed of what it means to be a biblical woman. It will mean an older Christian woman investing herself in the life of younger Christian women with the intentional purpose of helping them to apply sound doctrine to their lives as women.
Before we move any further, let me ask you:
- As a mature Christian woman, are you intentionally teaching and training the younger women in what it means not only to be a Christian, but to be a Christian woman, wife and mother?
- As a younger Christian woman, are you intentionally seeking out teaching and training from a mature Christian woman in what it means not only to be Christian, but to be a Christian woman, wife and mother?
Biblical mothers and women are called…
Paul lists 6 things that Christian women are called to; they are…
1) …to Love Their Husbands and Children
Have you ever considered that it requires training and teaching to love your family—not just “instinct.” We assume that love just comes naturally and easy. If “loving” your husband and children were a matter of mere instinct, then Paul’s command for the older women to “train” the younger women to “love their husbands and children” would be senseless. It is something that is taught and worked at.
This love is something that goes beyond the realm of duty.Certainly, the laundry, the dishes, the dusting, the vacuuming, the playing taxi with the minivan, and the cooking are all included in love. But, we would be sadly mistaken if we concluded that was the sum-total of love.
The model for love in any relationship that we are called to is the love that God has for us in Jesus Christ. God’s love for us is seen in him working on our behalf—sending his Son to die on the cross for our sins, raising him for the dead, pouring his Spirit into our hearts and drawing us to himself. God’s love for us is seen in what he does for us—but it is not limited to that.
God’s love in action flows from the affections of his heart. Our Father God is a God of tender compassion, mercy, and grace. He is a God who works for the good of his people—a people over whom he sings andrejoices. Listen to this description of God’s affections for his people:
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
The love of God that he shows to us in redemption through Jesus Christ is not the love of duty, but the love of delight.
Biblical love is not duty separated from the affections of the heart. That is not to say that we should not behave as we ought even if our affections are lacking. We should do what is right, and pray for the affections to come.
We should realize, however, that duty without any affections at all is not honoring; it is offensive. John Piper uses this classic illustration, which can hardly be improved upon. Imagine that your doorbell rings and you open the door to find your husband holding two dozen roses. He says, with a smile, “Dear, go put on your best dress. I’ve arranged a sitter, and I’m taking you to your favorite restaurant this evening.” You respond, “Oh, honey! Why did you!?” And he replies, “It’s my duty. Don’t worry about me being self-serving. I take no joy in being with you. I’m doing this because I’m supposed to.” Did he honor you? No! Absolutely not! His actions for you, void of any affections for you, are an insult to you.
Take two: Your husband replies to your question, “I did this because nothing makes me happier than spending time with you.” You do not respond, “You selfish pig! You want to spend time with me because ‘nothing would make you happier’!” No! His joy in you honors you.
God has never been pleased with people who go through outward forms of worship while their hearts are far from him. It does not honor him. And such duty, devoid of any affection, is not honoring to your husbands and children.
Mothers and wives, the love of God is the model of the love that you should have for your husbands and children. Does your heart rejoice and sing over the family that God has given you to love? Do your husband and children know of this affection?
If not, you should be driven back to the Scriptures to search out the sinfulness of your heart and pray to God to sanctify you and fill your heart with his love.
I would have us note here that the command is for women to love “their husbands and children.” God has designed women to be directed toward family love. God redeems women to love their families.
You have love for something. Where is yours directed? To yourself? Your career? The world? Money? Physical beauty? Our sinful hearts are naturally inclined to pursue what God has not called us to pursue. Part of what it means to be sanctified is to have our affections redirected to those things that God has created us for.
No Contingency Clause
I would also have you notice that this command includes to no contingency clause, no qualifications. Paul does not say that women should love their husbands and children “only as much as they deserve to be loved” or “if they are doing their part in return.”
Paul says nothing about what your husband and children deserve.That is because, once again, our love for one another is based on God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.
Christian love in marriage and family is not based upon the Law. Law-based love is giving to one another what we deserve. It says, “If you do what I want and keep your end of the bargain, then I will love you.”
Christian love in marriage and family is based on the Gospel. In the Gospel, God shows us tender compassion, grace and mercy freely. God loves us even though that is the last things that we deserve. Gospel-driven love says, “Even though you are a sinner, who daily offends me—I will love you as God has loved me in Jesus Christ.”
2) …to be self-controlled
This refers to being “prudent and thoughtful” in respect to how you live. This means subduing our own lives and exercising dominion over them. This is an outworking of the Gospel. Paul says in verse 11 that “the grace of God has appeared…training us…to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for” the appearing of Christ.
The Christian life is lived in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ. This means applying his thoughts, which is biblical wisdom, to our speech, our eating, our sleep, our actions, and our relationships.
A woman who is self-controlled is one who has learned not to be loud, boisterous, domineering, manipulative, pouting, nagging and controlling. She does not blurt out her every opinion, thought and piece of advice without first stopping to think of how it may reflect on her Savior. She does not pout or nag when things do not go her way.
She is not a slave to sleep, television, food, the scale, the fashion magazines or the opinions of others. She has learned the liberating strength of submission to her master, Jesus Christ.
3) …to be pure
To be pure means to have moral sense. It means to know the difference between right and wrong and to live in a way that pleases God.
It is applying the Gospel to our lives, the fruit of believing the Gospel. This is what Paul will speak of later in the chapter, verses 11-14, where he says that the grace of God in the Gospel trains us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.” Jesus Christ redeemed us “from all lawlessness” to purify us to be a people “zealous for good works.”
We live in an age when purity is not valued amongst men or women. It is a strange phenomenon: We live in the age when women have supposedly been “liberated” and “enlightened” from the old-fashioned views and purity scruples. They are encouraged to pursue their own pleasures and to do whatever makes them happy. Women are encouraged to use men sexually, to dress immodestly, and to be self-centered divas.
Such impurity is not an option for the Christian woman. She now belongs to her master, Jesus Christ. Her sex life is purified within the confines of marriage. She does not a flirt with or fantasize about other men. Her mind and body belong to her husband alone.
She does not adorn her body with suggestive and revealing clothing so that she might be the object of lust of men. She is purified by the Gospel so that her modesty and good works might adorn the Gospel and show the world its beauty.
Her mouth is not full of the filthy speech of gossip, slander, grumbling and complaint. It is full of the sweet words of edification, encouragement and grace.
- Content (c) Northbrook Baptist Church, Cedar Rapids, IA
To read in full, please go to http://www.northbrookbc.org/sermons/080511am.html