October 22, 2014

Older women targeted?

In thinking about spiritual danger, these verses suggest one that rarely gets mentioned. It is the idea that older Christians should abandon setting a good example and leave the work of discipleship to younger people who have more energy.

In past conversations with older women (of which I am now one) concerning sharing their wisdom with the young, many of them responded with, “I’m too old” or “These young ones have it together; they don’t need me” or “l really don’t have much to say . . .” and so on. Many of the younger women disagree.

In Paul’s letter to a pastor, he gave these instructions: “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 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.” (Titus 2:1–5)

While other instructions could be included, the focus here is on older men setting a good example, and older women doing the same as they help younger women learn about being godly wives and mothers. The spiritual danger is thinking I’m now ready to ‘retire’ from Christian service so the younger ones can do it.

Last weekend while speaking at a women’s retreat, I realized the vastness of my own experience. During the Q&A sessions, God brought to mind answers to every question. They came from the Scriptures and from many lessons the Lord has taught me. Even though we were not discussing marriage and motherhood, it came up. Here also, the Holy Spirit was quick to prompt responses.

I suppose the honor of mentoring others is easily side-tracked. This passage suggest several spiritual traps besides excuse-making. Any one of them could keep me from obeying these words from God.

Irreverent behavior. This is simply a failure to be in awe over God, without the respect and wonder that He inspires. It is being full of all sorts of things instead of thinking and acting according to His character and activities. One that comes to mind is a life filled with complaints about aches and declining energy levels.

The next one is slander. It is about false accusations (which is what Satan does), and probably covers gossip too. If I do either, then I am playing for the wrong side. This is totally ineffective in blessing anyone else.

Slavery to wine. In those days, wine was the main drink. I picture women sitting at their kitchen table, glass of wine in hand and chatting over the current topics. Today this could parallel women spending hours doing the same thing with coffee cup in hand. While addiction to wine or anything else poses many problems, one of them is the havoc it causes to a woman’s Christian witness.

Another is failure to consider goodness or passing it on to the next generation. In a day when the lines of morality are becoming more and more blurred, this becomes an increasing challenge. Older women need a strong sense of what is good, but also a strong awareness of how to present that to others. Statistics show that this is a huge need in our day.

On that thought, some might argue that the ‘curriculum’ given here is cultural and does not apply now. I don’t agree. Impurity slashes a wide swatch in our society and being pure is never obsolete in any culture or situation. This and kindness are both marks of new life in Christ and must be demonstrated at all levels.

Also, young wives and mothers still need instruction about loving their spouse and children. Look at the divorce rates and the instances of child abuse and neglect. Family life is weak, even in Christian homes. Far too many women dismiss the idea of submission because they make many negative associations to the concept. It is considered not only obsolete but awful, a second-rate doormat notion that would ruin their lives. Sadly, even many older women have no idea what biblical submission looks like or how important it is in presenting a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church (see Ephesians 5).

But what strikes me every time I read this passage is the bottom line. If I refuse to be the older woman described here, and if that results in the failure of the next generation to be godly in their home and family life, there is a consequence: the Word of God is reviled.

Reviled is the same word translated blasphemy elsewhere. It means ‘evil spoken of’ or railed at. The only other place I know of where the same warning is given is this: Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.” (1 Timothy 6:1)

God’s Word is our link to knowing Him and to eternal life. It is a link rapidly being dismissed as not true, not accurate, not inspired, and not valuable. Could it be that we have been duped into believing that any kind of submission to what it says regarding home, marriage, and the workplace is nonsense? Have the world’s ideas infiltrated our minds to the point that we resist God the same way non-Christians do? Do we, in the resisting, make it look as if their ideas are right and ours are, at the least, out-dated and something to blaspheme? Or is the greater danger in thinking that I am just too old?

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