As I was studying for today, I couldn’t help but think of something called target marketing. What does that mean? Basically, it’s pretty common knowledge, at least now, that companies that try to be all things to all people don’t do well. Even the few that do really well, like Walmart or Amazon, started out with a very narrow, specific target. Amazon was what? It was an online bookstore! That’s how they became a huge successful business, that thenadded to their market pretty much anything you could ever need. But Walmart too, funny enough, specifically targeted rural areas that were far from the conveniences of the city. They had a little bit of everything in their stores, for those that were far from the city and didn’t have easy access to the products they needed. Obviously, Walmart has grown from that.
Most successful companies have a very specific product and specific group of customers, called a target market. The reason I bring this up is because many modern churches, particularly in metropolitan areas, narrowed their goal to reach young people. That’s their number 1 goal. The worship, the sermon, the activities, just-about-everything are all aimed at young people, and in particular, young families.
Now, I’m all about making sure that we reach young families. These are people who are important to God. And we should have in mind how to reach young families. But I have say, the church is not merely for a target market.The church is a place for all people to become and grow as disciples of Jesus. The biblical model for the church is a beautiful picture of intergenerational, inter-racial, and intercultural fellowship. By aiming for intergenerational discipleship, in particular, we might be lessening our chances for success according to modern business practices. But we will be greatly increasing our chances of experiencing real, authentic, biblical discipleship and fellowship, which is not separated by age, race, socio-economic status, political party-lines, or anything else.
But even with that, intergenerational discipleship is a struggle, even for churches with multiple generations represented. Why is that? It’s easy to get into our little cliques of ages and life phases and never really have meaningful relationships with those outside of our life-phase circle. We all are naturally drawn to those who are in the same place we are: empty nesters, singles, retired, married with young kids—most of us naturally relate to those who are similar to us. But when we limit our meaningful Christian discipleship—meaning helping one another become and grow as disciples of Jesus—when we limit this to those in our group, we miss out on one of the most beautiful things about the Body of Christ, and honestly one of the biggest avenues for discipleship.
Today, we’re looking at “Why Disciple?” And with that, we could have chosen a lot of different ways to go with this, but I wanted to focus in specifically on discipleship among the generations, which is why we will be in Titus chapter 2. In this chapter, as [Zach, Duane] comes up to read it, Paul just lays out some of what discipleship among generations looks like. We’re going to read Titus 2:1-6, and then 11-15. Titus 2:1-6, 11-15. [Zach, Duane], take it away.
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
As you can see, this is Paul instructing Titus on how to lead in churches in Crete, in particular. Paul is painting a picture of intergenerational discipleship. Now, this word, discipleship, is used in a lot of different ways in the church. The word itself is not actually in the Bible. But the word “disciple” certainly is. A disciple is simply a follower of Christ. And so, what we mean by discipleship, is learning how to follow Christ. That’s what discipleship is. So, specifically with this text: how does learning, and being taught how to follow Christ, happen among the generations? The first thought, very clearly, which I’ve already kind-of pointed out:
Discipleship in the Bible is Intergenerational.
This text speaks to all ages, right? So let’s walk through this together, starting in verse 1: “But as for you, teach what accords, or fits, with sound doctrine.” To give a little bit of background for the book of Titus, Paul and Titus had gone to Crete to evangelize and start churches. Paul had left Titus in Crete to appoint elders and to finish what they had started, and make sure that the churches were doing OK. This whole “what accords with sound doctrine” thing does not just involve doctrine in the sense of beliefs. It also involves practice. Which is why after verse 1, Paul begins to lay out this Godly living and practice that comes with Godly belief. And he starts with older men.
- Older men are to be dignified and faithful. [repeat]
That’s how I’m summarizing verse 2 for you. Look at verse 2: “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” Sober-minded does including avoiding drunkenness but really also avoiding any type of over-indulgence. He’s also to be dignified, another word for this is honorable, revered. Not smug or haughty, but honorable. “Self-controlled”: another way to put that, sensible. For older men, with age and maturity, particularly spiritual maturity, should also come self-control, the ability to restrain yourself, not just react to your emotions or desires.
Then he moves to saying that older men are to be sound in faith, love, and steadfastness. Faith means he’s to trust and be dependent upon God. Love naturally comes next, because if you really depend on God for significance and identity, you will love Him and others, even those you may not like too much! Older men are also to be sound in steadfastness. They’re to be able to go through hard things and not be completely shaken by them. They find their satisfaction in Christ and have for years so have learned to go through hard things and yet be content.
So here’s the question for those of you who are older men. First of all, raise your hand if you consider yourself an older man… Ok. I will say that Paul used this term of himself and he was in his sixties. Here’s the question for allof us, but particularly older men: Are you pursuing these attributes? Where are you with these? The stereotypical older man doesn’t really fit these attributes. What’s the general stereotype: set in his ways, maybe a little crotchety, grumpy. Now don’t be offended by that, we’ll be getting to the older women and younger women and men, so no worries. But, older men, are you shaped by these attributes that Paul lays out? If not, work on them! Pray for God to help you with these! Because, by pursuing these you are growing as a disciple of Jesus, and also you’ll likely be helping others, particularly younger men like me, grow as a disciple of Jesus. By watching you, and knowing you, I can grow. We can grow. Next, Paul moves to addressing older women. To summarize what he says:
- Older women are to be reverent, and teaching younger women.[repeat]
Verses 3-5a: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
Now before we work our way through these attributes for older women, let’s talk common attributes of older woman. Once again, these are general things, not true of everyone at all. But, I asked several of you to see what you thought, including mainly several older women: How would you describe the stereotypical older woman? Either really nice or really not nice, absolutely consumed by family and grandkids, and one that I got from multiple people: gossips. Gossip is not relegated to a particular age or gender, obviously, but it does seem that particularly for women, maybe even particularly for older women, gossip is a common struggle. That’s the stereotype; Let’s walk through these Godly attributes in verse 3:
“Reverent in behavior.” That’s an unusual word, this is the only time it’s used in the New Testament. Its root meaning is that of being priest-like, or like a priestess. Not in some official sense, but in the sense of being a Godly example of holiness and reverence. That makes sense as far as the next part that says, “not slanderers.” Slandering means talking about someone for the purpose of something other than building them up. And, I do want to mention that New Testament commands against gossip and slander also include that which isn’t intended to harm.
In other words, just because we don’t mean anything by it, doesn’t mean we have any place talking about it. The real standard for reverent behavior that is completely devoid of gossip is really just not talking about other people negatively at all! And NOT masking it by saying that it’s for the sake of prayer. I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to mention it again: Gossip is one of the most subtle destroyers of churches. Because it’s so often justified. “Oh, I don’t mean to be negative at all, or anything like that, I’m just concerned.” If we are truly concerned, we need to go straight to the person we’re talking about and express our concern with them.
We have no business talking about people behind their backs. That’s what the world does. Part of intergenerational discipleship, really helping one another grow spiritually, means going directly to those we have issue with, and not gossiping in any way. With that I have to add something that I occasionally like to clarify at Raintree about gossip: maybe you do not struggle with gossip, but hear it sometimes, here’s my encouragement: don’t even receive it! Hold your brothers and sisters accountable, by stopping them in their tracks, and saying, “Hey, have you gone to this person to talk with them directly? Because this isn’t helpful, talking behind their backs, even if you’re ‘just concerned’.” Churches seem, at times, to be just breeding grounds for gossip. We’ve got to kill it. As followers of Jesus, we cannot talk about other people behind their backs. If you are doing this, it is called sin. Go to the person directly and in love address your concerns. Don’t talk with others about it, and especially don’t use “prayer” as an excuse.
Paul goes on here with attributes for older women: “not slaves to much wine.” That’s pretty straightforward. Do not be consumed with alcohol. If you struggle with this, get help. We’d love to help you. The last thing that the older women are to do is at the end of verse 3 and following: “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.”
The last thing that older women are to do is to teach younger women. Now, how do you teach younger women? Well, it may not be best to start a class called “What Young Women Need to Learn!” It also doesn’t mean that you approach a younger woman, and say something: “You can learn a lot from me.” That’s just not how it’s going to work! The primary way you can teach younger women is my modeling for them a life of Godliness, in the most simple of ways, the daily things, family stuff, work stuff. In the midst of intentional relationships, you can model what it is to live the Christian life as a woman. This is a huge part of what it is to disciple others in the church.
This goes for older men as well, and just generally! The Body of Christ is not only to learn from preaching and Bible Studies, but also learn from each other! This is why I want to so heavily encourage those of you without strong relationships with other generations: Seek them out! Those of you who are older, find specific ways to love and serve younger men and women. Get to know them. Model Godliness for them! For those of you who are younger, seek out ways to love and serve the older generations! Get to know them! And yes, model Godliness for them! Sign up for 1-on-1 discipleship; join an intergenerational small group.
We all know there are cultural differences between generations. Don’t let those differences stop you from seeing what you have in common in Christ. Just because a young mom is maybe making different choices than you did, doesn’t mean you don’t have ways to encourage them along in their faith. For that matter, none of us should let any differences in choices keep us from teaching one another and modeling Christ for one another. Married with kids-single; 90 years old- 20 years old; been a Christian forever-a brand new Christian . Homeschooling their kids-public schooling their kids; stay-at-home mom-working mom. We all have something worth teaching and showing one another in this church. Are you open enough with different people to help them along in their walks with Christ? Are you actively fostering relationships with others in this church who are different from you?
Do not think you have nothing to offer. You do. Don’t think you’re done with really having an impact on the church. Let me put it this way: UNLESS YOU’RE DEAD, GOD IS NOT DONE WITH YOU YET. Invest into the Body, invest into younger men and women. Build relationships, and yes, teach us! Show us what it looks like to follow Christ! Show me; teach me. Paul goes on, and encourages the older women to teach the young women what, specifically?
- Younger women are to be Godly wives and moms.
That’s the third point in your notes, if you’re following those. Younger women are to be Godly wives and moms. Now, obviously this is referring to women who are at least married, or married with children. That’s his focus here in verses 4 and 5, but certainly some of the attributes are applicable to those of you who are single as well.
Now this part about “working at home,” this doesn’t mean notworking outside the home. Ok? It’s very easy to read our culture into this text. In the first century, many people did not get paid by working outside the home like is most common today. So, for clarity, this doesn’t mean that wives and mothers aren’t to have a job. In fact, if we look at Proverbs 31, we see very clearly there’s no reason to believe that wives and moms can’t have jobs or get paychecks. What it does mean though, is that wives and moms do have responsibilities that are more important than a job. That’s true for the husband too, but particularly so for the mom. Why? There’s just something different about being mom, especially for children. Dad is great, but mom is mom. For both parents, but moms in particular, this is the highest calling God has given you! To raise children.
So “working at home” isn’t referring to not having a job as much as making sure that the priority is your family, your home. Is this an easier command to obey for those of you who are stay-at-home moms? Maybe not easier, but there are inevitably certain difficulties for those of you who have full-time jobs that stay-at-home moms don’t have. BUT, if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you need to know something: That doesn’t mean you’re automatically living out this verse! You can stay at home and still not be living with your family as one of your highest priorities. So, this is a verse for all moms to look at and ask God to help you with.
Younger women: love your husbands and children, be self-controlled, not thrown around with mood-swings just letting our emotions dictate our actions, but be rooted in Christ, showing restraint for the glory of God. You’re to submit to your husbands, meaning you follow your husband’s servant leadership. This means that you subjugate yourselves to the leadership of your husbands. While it doesn’t get into what husbands are called to do here in this text, you might remember that Ephesians 5 makes clear that the husband is to love his wife like Christ loved the church, giving up his life for his bride! It’s a high calling for both husbands and wives.
The goal of all of this is for everyone to live above reproach. As verse 5 says, “that the Word of God may not be reviled,” that we don’t hurt the reputation of Christ by our actions. We don’t want to do anything that would reflect poorly on Christ. Verse 10 says that we’re to live in such a way that outsiders love the doctrine of God our Savior. They may not believe it, but man, do they respect it and speak highly of it, at least in the sense of the integrity of Christians. That’s the goal. So, we’ve seen older men, older women, younger women, and next, Paul addresses younger men, lest you thought he’d leave us out, younger men.
- Younger men are to be self-controlled.
Verse 6: “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” Now, you may think that the young men just got off easy. This is the only command for young men in this passage. So not only did the young men only get one, but it’s also the one that’s given to every group. All four groups—older men and women, and younger men and women all are called to self-controlled. So what’s the deal here with Paul being easy on the young men?
I just imagine when Paul was writing this and he got to young men, and he wrote, “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled and… umm. Well, that’s probably enough! I don’t even know if they can handle that. Let’s just keep it to that.” I don’t know if that was his thought process, but it kind-of makes sense. What attributes make up the stereotypical young man, not everyone, but generally? Inconsistent, unreliable, kind-of all over the place, frankly, immature. Nowadays, it’s called prolonged adolescence… In particular, it seems that young men suffer from this, at least in this day and age.
Generally speaking, young men are distracted by things that just don’t matter. Think about the church broadly, not necessarily our church, but churches broadly: who, generally, steps up to serve and especially lead? Women! Not men, especially young men. Young men are to be self-controlled, the word also carries with it the meaning of sensible, having common sense. That just seems really appropriate for men, but young men in particular. I’m not bashing young men; I am a young man, and therefore I feel like I know young men, generally. I just have to challenge us: let’s step it up! Don’t be the stereotypical fickle, unreliable guy. Work on this. Ask God to mold your heart and mind, and help you to live this out. There are men here in this church we can follow and learn from.
Now, as a reminder, verses 7-8 are more focused on church leadership, as those two verses are addressed to Titus, in particular. Then, verses 9-10 cover not just slaves and masters, but culturally what were employees and employers. But I do want us to look briefly at verses 11-15. The main point of these last five verses that Zach read earlier is this:
Discipleship-Oriented Community trains us for Godliness.
Discipleship, growing as a follower of Jesus, a community oriented around that, trains us for Godliness. So, to step back for a moment, what’s the driving force behind discipleship, growing as a disciples of Jesus, for all ages? What’s our driving force? In these verses, explicitly, the driving force is the Gospel.
The Gospel. The truth that we were dead in our sin, but God has made us alive in Christ. Jesus, according to verse 14, “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness”. We are saved not by being decent human beings, but because Jesus Christ himself bore the wrath of God that you and I deserved. We’re saved from the power of sin! We are now free from sin and can pursue Godliness.
Discipleship-Oriented Community trains us for Godliness. What we’ve seen throughout Titus 2 so far, in these specific instructions for different genders and age groups, it reveals something. It shows us that the Gospel does not just save us from the penalty of sin, as in now we get to spend eternity with God in heaven; it also saves us from the power of sin. Look at verses 11 thru 14 again, just hear this, church:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
How we live for Jesus in all these specific ways that we’ve gone through in this chapter, is not just by trying really hard, though it does take effort and diligence and work. But it’s not just us gritting our teeth and in our power trying to kill sin. Instead, it’s called grace-driven effort. The Gospel itself, Jesus Himself, freed us not just from the penalty, but also from the power of sin. We are now FREE to pursue Godliness. FREE to follow Christ as his disciples. This Discipleship-Oriented community that we’re in, that includes all ages and backgrounds and everything, it trains us for Godliness. How so? Three ways:
- We renounce sin together.
- We pursue Godliness together.
- We await Christ together.
This same grace that frees us from sin, also instructs and empowers us to live completely new lives. And who is this grace for? Verse 11: all types of people. It’s for young people, old people, white people, black people, those that live in the city, those that live in the burbs. It’s for married people, singles, parents, those on welfare, those that make millions. This gospel that saves from sin AND makes us holy is for all.
No matter the differences you may have with the person next to you, culturally, economically, generationally, you have more in common with that person than anyone else out there who does not know Christ. You have so much reason for real authentic community with people you don’t even know but who are in Christ.
“I made different decisions with my life than she did. Eek, he doesn’t know sports. Oh, he’s a teenager. Whoa, she’s gotta be 100 years old. He smells like Bengay! She’s wearing shorts to church!” Do we not realize just how much we have in common? Let’s help each other. Not just by creating programs and events and classes, but with authentic intergenerational fellowship. In these ways, as a church, we disciple one another.
Two challenges for you before you leave, today:
- If you are willing and able, sign up for one-on-one discipleship. This is really the last week we’ll have signups available before we assign everyone a partner. You can sign up on the Men’s and Women’s ministry tables in the entryway.
- Meet someone you don’t know of a completely different generation. Talk with them for at least a few minutes. It might be awkward, but you don’t have to figure out ways to relate. Why? Because you can ask them about Jesus. Ask a 60-70-80 year old what they love about Christ. Ask a teenager, or a 20-30 year old what they love about Jesus. You’ll find you have a lot more in common, and a lot more to learn from each other than you expected.