Titus had a huge commission placed in front of him. Paul had left him behind on the island of Crete to teach and to strengthen the new churches there. How thankful he must have been to receive Paul's letter, laying out a blueprint of instructions for his daunting task. Among many things, Titus was to instruct the older ones in the churches. Starting with the aged men...
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate,
sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
As I meditated on just what these older men were to be, I looked up the words to get a better understanding.
Sober: vigilant, discreet, wise in living
Grave: honourable, worthy of respect
Sound in faith: uncorrupted and constant in true doctrine
Sound in charity: filled with love for others
Sound in patience: filled with patience
Notice that all of these instructions have to do with the inward character (not outward, material attributes), which are then displayed in outward actions. And notice something else with me. These qualities do not happen overnight.
Wisdom is not usually attached to the young because wisdom is gained from experience. Respect is attained through years of proving oneself to be honourable. Self-control is not a natural quality but must be developed. To be firm in faith requires attentive, on-going study of the Word of God. Love for others, especially love for the difficult ones, again does not come naturally to us. And finally, perhaps the hardest of all: patience. Not one of us is born a patient person. Patience is only gained through life's trials and experiences, and conscientious practice.
But Titus was also to instruct the aged women...
Teach the aged women likewise that they be in behaviour
as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine,
teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women
to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste (modest), keepers at home, good,
obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:3-5
In all, it's quite a list of qualities if you dare to write them down, painting a beautiful picture of God's desire for His child. Although the first instructions were specifically directed for the aged men, other Scriptures indicate that God desires these qualities to be found in women as well. The aged among us are definitely to be an example to the young. But where does that leave the rest of us "young" ones? None of us like the thought of growing older but that is in fact what each of us is doing. Which brings me to a quote I came upon a some weeks ago.
You will never become what you are not in the process of becoming.
If you and I want to be a man or woman with the qualities that God desires, we had better be in the process of becoming right now. We don't need a reminder that time flies. We are already one month into 2014. Before we know it, we will be the aged man or woman and if we want any of these qualities to be characterizing us we've got to begin working on them now.
While studying 2 Peter last summer, I was convicted by the three times in which Peter urged the Christians to be diligent (2 Peter 1:5,10, 3:14). Webster's 1828 dictionary describes diligence as: steady in application, constant in effort or exertion to accomplish what is undertaken; assiduous; attentive; industrious; not idle or negligent.
Diligence may mean hard work, but only diligence will produce positive results. The opposite, negligence, will not.
May I encourage each of us to take a good look at God's character qualities both here in Titus and elsewhere in Scripture. Then, take a good look inward. We do not have a choice about growing old, but we do have a choice as to the aged person we become.
I just leave Peter's last "be diligent" as an encouragement and challenge for our year ahead, Lord willing...
Wherefore, beloved... be diligent
that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.