For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good
Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)
Read: Titus 2:1-15
Consider: Paul’s letter to Titus was sent to encourage Titus and the believers in Crete. In Titus chapter 1 Paul tells Titus that he was left in Crete to establish the church there by appointing suitable elders in each town where the believers met (Titus 1:5). The characteristics of an elder espoused by Paul were exacting (1:6-9), but reflected the need for Christlike individuals to be involved in leading and teaching in the church. Paul is particularly concerned about false teaching and says: You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine (2:1).
Having addressed the issue of leaders and teachers (elders) in chapter 1, Paul turns his attention to the believers that make up each congregation (group of believers). As you read Titus 2 you may have been struck by his inclusion of ‘older men’, ‘older women’, ‘younger women’ and ‘younger men’. No-one should be exempt from Paul’s encouragement and exhortation to live a Godly life. I particularly like that Paul has something different to say to each group:
- Older men – teach them to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance (2:2);
- Older women – teach them to be reverent in every way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good (2:3);
- Younger women – teach them to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind (2:4-5);
- Younger men – encourage them to be self-controlled (2:6).
While reading today’s passage it struck me that many church congregations do not fully represent the categories of older men, older women, younger women and younger men. It is equally bad for the membership of a church congregation to be skewed towards any one age group. What we need to see are all-age congregations, where each age group is equally catered for and valued. There is nothing worse than those in any age group feeling superfluous and not needed. This is sometimes the feeling of older members of a congregation, where they think that the younger members see them as ‘old’ and in need of a rest. Most older Christians are still passionate about their faith and do not see themselves as ‘old’, but as those who have more life experiences that are worthy of sharing with the younger generation. Ask yourself these questions: What age group was I in when I committed my life to Christ? What age group am I in now? In ten, fifteen or twenty years’ time, what age group will I be in and will I still have something valuable to offer the church to which I belong?
As the body of Christ, we have a duty to look out for the needs of others and to show by example that we value each member’s contribution to the life and witness of the church. If the membership of your church congregation is skewed in any way, then take the matter to God in prayer, asking him to guide the leaders in seeking to cater for and involve all age groups appropriately.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27).
Pray: Father, we pray for those churches that struggle to cater for all age groups within their membership. May we not discount people from service in the church, by seeing them as too young, or too old. May we seek to encourage each member, valuing their unique contribution to church life. Amen
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