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Teaching Children as Holy Mothers

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness… teachers of good things… that they may teach the young women to be sober, keepers at home,… that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2: 3-5.

Paul is giving Titus instruction how to teach the different levels of church-saints in the island of Crete. (1:5) he must set certain things in order in this church which has recently been converted from heathendom to the faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul has here specific instructions how he must address the “aged” women in this church. The term “aged” in the Greek text does not suggest that these women were senile women in a “rest home”, but rather that they have arrived at a certain age of authority in the midst of their family; they are come to the years of seniority, and who should be respected as mothers in Israel. Their station under their husbands, (if he still lived) was that of being instructors, teachers in the family. They were particularly teachers of their daughters, the “young women”. These were women, who had to have the necessary instruction how to conduct themselves as Christian young women, wives of their husbands, and mothers to their children.  They must be different from the women of their world, who do not confess godliness.

Full well do I realize that this passage from the pen of Paul refers to what Titus must teach the elderly women. At the same time this refers to what the “young women” must learn in the pattern of sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1) And so this is a very relevant word to our young people, not excluding our young men. And married fathers, who are still young, can very well sit down and listen in. For it deeply affects their lives too in relationship to their youthful wives, mothers of their children.

Now it is very noteworthy that the Holy Spirit has a definite word of instruction and a word of correction for these elderly wives. And these elderly women in the church are to be teachers of good things. These “good things” are the beautiful words, the doctrine which is sound, health-giving words. They are words which are basically words of the Gospel; they are not some Ann Lander’s advice, which cannot give spiritual health, but which are simply some worldly wisdom, which is from below: earthly, natural, devilish, (James 3:15) but they are the words of the wisdom of God, which are rooted in the power of the Holy Spirit working sanctification in our life. They are not merely some practical morality, but they are practical Christianity of those who are prophetesses, priestesses and queens of God! It is instruction in the “newness of life,” and not instruction in the oldness of the letter!

Yes, it must be instruction of such women who walk as “becometh holiness”. Perhaps the term in the Greek could more accurately be translated “reverent in demeanor”. The term really means that they must conduct themselves as if they were servants in God’s temple. “For such indeed they are,” says the late Dr. W. Hendriksen! Now these women instructors can take the shoes from off their feet, and the Lord will need to take coals of fire from the altar to purify their lips.

Now such is your future calling as mothers in the family, young maidens and youthful girls in the church. Yours is a great and important and responsible future next to your husband, under him, in claiming the “honor” which must be given to father and mother, according to the Fifth Commandment! You must conduct yourselves as priestesses, as servants in the temple of God. And this temple is the church of Jesus Christ!!

Now the spiritual sobriety which characterizes a teacher of good things in the family is that she be not a slanderer. She must not be a veritable she-devil. The Greek term is exactly that. Her tongue must be set entirely in the service of truth, and her words must be seasoned with salt, and she must know the Scriptures very well, and be able to speak good, beautiful teachings from the heart.

Then, too, she must not be enslaved with much wine. She must live a sober life of one who has her eye fixed upon heaven, and who is filled with the Spirit and not with wine, wherein is excess. (Eph. 5:17, 18) It seems that this drunkenness among women was prevalent on the island of Crete; we are told that drunken women, are such slaves of this sin that it is a very hard battle, to truly live sober lives away from former slavery.  The little wine for the stomach’sake, is a far cry from the “much wine’’ here spoken of. And a social drinking woman is like a very wretched haggard, a wanton woman, who has lost all her natural beauty, and even social grace. Such every woman in the church in Crete must cease being. Only thus will they be servants in God’s temple!’

Do not think that any mother can teach effectively if she does not have a demeanor which befits the holiness of those teaching in God’s redeemed Church, His temple! Such sobriety becomes all of us, in a world that reels and reeks with drunkeness and, contextually, this refers to all future women and present women teachers in God’s sanctified homes.

What young women must be taught by their mothers is that they be lovers of their husbands. They must not be mere lovers of men, which is the cursed sin of those who are slaves of much wine. They must love the yoke of the “bondage” of holy matrimony. I have lived in a matriarchal culture where children were born generally outside of wedlock, and where the “aged mothers” did not love their own husbands, and where mothers lacked the spiritual-psychological aptitude to teach their daughters to love likewise. These “daughters” grew up in a situation where they never had a father in the home, and if so, they did not have a father who was husband to their mother. I remember a young man who said: “Rev. Lubbers, I am sorry, but I do not have a father.” I told him, “you have a father, young man, but your mother has no husband.” And these situations call for specific instruction that daughters be taught to have a husband, and to love him as a “husband” and not simply as a “man”. Then this quasi-marriage is not far above beastiality, although the ordinance of God, that a man leave his father and mother, and that he cleave to his wife and thus become one flesh, can never be totally eradicated. If this were true the wicked in hell would not be punishable, and those repenting to Christ could not have the new leaven of grace purify their marriage as a picture of the eternal covenant of God in Christ with His church, in the Mystery of marriage.

And such the young women are to be. This must not be a fleeting love of the wife to her lawful husband, but an ever more holy and sanctified relationship. This is emphasized in the Greek text!

Yes, they must be sober in the purity of grace. And they must not be gadabouts, ever flitting about in social activities. They must be workers at home! They must be like the “virtuous woman” in Proverbs 31:10-31. She must be the woman who “layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff”. She must be working out her salvation in the midst of her home, her children, loving her husband. And unto this course of life young girls must be trained and instructed! Such a woman is “virtuous”. She is strong in mind and body. She has the faculty and power to produce something; she can show and exert strength. Wealth and property are in her hands, and her family, children and servants suffer no lack. She is a skilled housewife, mighty in the battle. Such is a worker at home. She is not a weakling, a mere clinging vine. She has two feet and stands on them, and is the “glory” of her husband! She is brave and courageous in the battle of life. Her own works praise her in the gates!

Such a woman is submissive to her own husband!

No, she does not cower before every man, nor does she cower before her husband, her own husband. She is proud of him because he is her husband, who is her only head amongst men in this world. She acknowledges none other. Such is her great courageous bearing; she is a gallant woman in loving obedience to her own husband.

Teach your daughters to be such women in their families, their homes, as the spiritual adornment of their husbands. Teach them thus, mothers; more you cannot do, less you may not!

And have the high motive that you would not have your daughters by sinful conduct “blaspheme the word of God.” The word of the Gospel must be glorified in our lives! And thus they must adorn the Gospel; others must be drawn to Christ by their exemplary lives. Yes in this island of Crete where men are designated by their own poets as “always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies”. That was true of both men and women!

Now they must be some firstfruits of God’s creation!

Light of the world and city on a hilltop!

Aged mothers, teach your daughters.

Young women, learn your lessons well!