Summary: Teaching does not have to be in a formal setting; in fact, the best kind of learning takes place in every day life, when we simply speak spiritual truth.
As we turn today to Titus 2, the focus, as John MacArthur states, “changes from the pastors to the people, from the elders to everybody, and from the leadership to the laity.” Specifically, Paul’s passion is for people to live out the transforming power of the gospel and not to look like the “same old bunch of believers.” In this chapter, Paul addresses five different groups:
Older men (2:2)
Older women (2:3)
Younger women (2:4-5)
Younger men (2:6-8)
Servants and citizens (2:9-10)
We’ll look at ministry to men today, ministry to women next week, and address the topic of servants and citizens in two weeks.
Let’s begin with verse 1: “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.” In contrast to what the false teachers were promulgating, Titus was to teach truth. The Greek literally reads, “But you…” to show the contrast between what they did and what Titus was to do. Interestingly, Paul does not use the word “preach” or the traditional word for “teach” in this verse. Instead, he tells Titus to “talk” about truth in natural conversations. And it’s in the present tense, which means he is to keep on talking about things that really matter. This same word was used in Matthew 9:33 to describe what happened after a man who couldn’t talk was healed by Jesus: “…the man who had been mute spoke.”
This is a good reminder for each of us. Teaching does not have to be in a formal setting; in fact, the best kind of learning takes place in every day life, when we simply speak spiritual truth. This is the way God actually intends for instruction to be passed from one generation to another: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
This is actually the Hebrew way of teaching, when God’s principles are allowed to permeate all of life, and are shared in the context of relationship. This is the mentoring model of the Master Teacher, as Jesus talked truth when He walked through the day. The Greek method is more of a lecture-format, kind of like what I’m doing here today. Here are the main differences between the two approaches:
Classroom Model Coach Model
Theoretical On-the-job training
Here’s the good news. Mentoring is not reserved just for ministers; we’re all called to communicate “what is in accord with sound doctrine” in the course of everyday conversation. Notice that we’re not just to go over rote doctrine but are to share what is in “accord,” or that which is “fitting for” sound doctrine. Some of us spend too much time on theological theories and not enough time on living for the Lord. Specifically, this refers to character qualities that are built upon the bedrock of belief. The phrase “sound” is used five times in this brief book, and forms the basis of the word “hygiene” and was used to describe making sick people well. If we want to be spiritually healthy, and desire others to be as well, we must talk truth and dialog about doctrine in practical ways that can be fleshed out in daily life. Someone put it this way: “Sound doctrine is the basis for sound character and sound character is proof of sound doctrine.”
I’ve heard it said that character is who you are in the dark, that it is revealed in how you treat someone who can’t return the favor, or can’t fight back. An article in Good Housekeeping gives us six clues for discerning a man’s character (April, 1985):
Watch him drive in heavy traffic
Play tennis or golf with him
Listen to him talk to his family when he doesn’t know you’re listening
See how he treats waiters and cashiers
Notice what he’s willing to spend money on
Look at his friends
The article concludes by saying that if you still can’t make up your mind, then study his shoes. A man who keeps his shoes in good repair generally tends to the rest of his life too.
Let’s look at the first phrase of verse 2:“Teach the older men...” The phrase “older man” is used by Paul in Philemon 9: “I then, as Paul-an old man.” We know that when he wrote this letter he was around 60-years-old. This word is also used by Paul in 1 Timothy 5:1: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.” We can safely say that Paul would have qualified to be a member of AARP (I will be asked to join in 6 years!) but his intention in using this term is more relative – he is referring to those who are older than others. I heard recently that there are really just four ages of a man: