Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: men

Getting specific

Sometimes when I am presented with an important teaching, I need a little help to flesh out exactly how this new concept applies to where I’m at.  As such, I love it when a speaker moves from the theoretical to the practical. 

Paul has just given Timothy instruction on the importance of the believers in Ephesus to lead a tranquil and quiet life, a life that is characterized by both godliness and dignity.  This kind of life will stand out to those outside God’s family and will serve a launching pad for telling others about Jesus.  (see 1 Timothy 2:1-7).

Thankfully, Paul moves quickly to give Timothy instruction for how the believers in Ephesus can display these characteristics.

1 Timothy 2:8
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.

The first task for the men is to lead in prayer.  The importance of this task in each family and within God’s family cannot be understated.  Since the men are to act as the leader and High Priest for their family, as well as provide leadership within the church, their individual connection to God must be a top priority.

Paul’s practical instruction also comes with specifics about their posture and attitude in prayer – both of which reveal the focus of their heart toward God and others.  While lifting up…hands in prayer was a common “prayer position” in ancient days, it was more of a symbolic gesture meant to convey the person’s inner openness to God.  Throughout Scripture, a person’s hands are also symbolic of their activities, and Paul description of lifting up holy hands suggests that as the men pray, the offering of their daily actions are undefiled by sin and free from wickedness.

When a man focuses on devotion to prayer and godly conduct, and does them without anger or argument, the world will plainly see the difference God can make in a man’s life.

Paul also has specific instruction for the women in the Ephesian church so that they, too, know how to best represent God to the culture around them.

1 Timothy 2:9-10
Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense; not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel, but with good works, as is proper for women who affirm that they worship God.

Keep in mind that these instructions were written to believers.  These women, especially the wealthy ones, would set an example within the church family.  If an unbeliever comes in with little means, they could begin to wonder if you have to be rich in order to be saved.  Another potential issue could arise if another believer has little means, they could conclude that they aren’t favored by God because others have so much more to display.  Additionally, there is a risk of division among even the affluent believers.  The exorbitant displays of wealth among them will cause problems as egos rise as they try to outdo one another in dress, hairstyle, and jewelry.

Paul’s contrast here is really between works and wardrobe.  How is a woman displaying her understanding of value within God’s family?  The ancient upper class women would spend an excessive amount of time on their elaborate hairstyles and expensive apparel; these things would draw attention to themselves rather than to the God they claim to serve.  Paul says that a woman’s value isn’t in the perfection of her outward appearance, rather her beauty comes from her decency and good sense.  Both of these lead to a reputation of good works and point others toward God.

Paul’s directions to both groups cut against our natural, self-promoting tendencies…which is precisely why the world will notice the difference God makes in a person’s life.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Healthy teachings for the younger men

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Paul has listed teachings for the older men, the older women, and for the older women to teach the younger women.  The specific lessons tailored for each group would have presented a special challenge for the original Cretan audience…and now we come to Paul’s prescribed teaching for the young men in the Cretan church:

Titus 2:6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

Paul has given the older men six things to learn, the older women get three things and a direction to be mentors, and the younger women get six things…while the Cretan younger men are only given one topic that is in accord with the healthy teaching of the gospel.

Is this an indication that the young men have it easy or does this imply that there is a male bias in the text?  To solve a question like that, we must first look at the context of the surrounding verses.

Paul’s direction in this verse begins with the word similarly, so we need to ask “similarly to what?”  Since the immediate previous context is Paul explaining how a younger woman’s walk is to be one so that no one will malign the word of God, that same expectation is placed on the younger men as well. 

Also, to encourage means to urge strongly, as well as to invite and exhort…which implies some sort of relationship between Titus and the younger Cretan men.  Paul develops this idea as he continues:

Titus 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Although these directions are for Titus, they are also what Titus needs to be modeling to the younger men.  Whether they are actively looking or sub-consciously scanning, young men are constantly watching for another man to be an example for them.  Oftentimes, an older man becomes a role model without even being informed by the younger man.  Perhaps that is why Paul emphasizes several ways that Titus can model self-control.

Self-control is the underlying current that flows through a young man’s life.  To maintain a right frame of mind while the world rages around you and to have sober judgment of the people and situations you daily encounter are life-preserving skills for a young man.  Many younger men have had their lives and their faith shipwrecked due to a lack of self-control.  Notice that Paul says that opposition will come; however, he expects that Titus will be ready for it because his self-control in previous situations have kept him from having a reputation that can be attacked.

Nowadays, a common political trap is to bait your opponent by saying something completely ridiculous, even false against him…and then sitting back and waiting for his response.  This kind of trap is based upon the assumption that the opponent will respond forcefully and quickly…but also recklessly.  A reckless response will typically dig a bigger hole, one that the man will not be able to politically escape from.  His fate is sealed by his own lack of self-control.

Paul doesn’t list one trait for the younger men to learn because he is taking it easy on them.  In fact, the opposite it true!  By narrowing it down to one item, Paul is emphasizing the importance of a young man’s self-control not only in his own life, but also in how he lives out the gospel message.  After coming into a saving relationship with Jesus, in order to represent that relationship so that no one will malign the word of God, the most important lesson a younger man needs is self-control!

If you fit the category of a younger man, ask God to show you the importance of living with self-control.  He will give you the strength needed to bring your passions and emotions under proper control, so they can be put to good use.

If you don’t fit the category of a younger man, please pray for those you know.  Ask God to give them a mentor that consistently displays this characteristic of a Godly man.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Healthy teachings for the older men

After giving instructions on how to recognize those who teach what is contrary to the gospel and how deal with their corrupted teachings, Paul then turns his attention back to Titus:

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

In direct contrast to the false teachers, Paul exhorts Titus to present teachings that line up with the gospel message that Christ alone has paid the price for our sins.  No matter how high we pile up good works, we cannot pay back our wrongs.  However, after we place our faith in Christ, when we trust him and his payment…we are no longer held guilty in the eyes of God.  This “not guilty” verdict isn’t an isolated chapter in our lives; instead it bleeds over into every part of who we are and how we live. 

After accepting Christ as Savior and becoming “not guilty”, the Cretan believers needed help in figuring out “What’s next?”.  We often have similar questions.  Thankfully, Paul gave Titus some topics to go over with the new Cretan believers.  No doubt they found them challenging, and I bet we will too.

Christian Living literature sells quite well.  It seems that everyone is asking “What’s next?” and that many people believe they have the answer for men, or young women, or wives, or retirees, or young parents, etc, etc, etc…every division of people groups you can imagine.  Paul divided his Cretan audience into four groups: older men, older women, young women, and young men.  He gave direct, tailored advice to each group.  Even though each of us only fit into one of these categories, it will be beneficial to look at each one and consider why God is asking for these specific traits at this specific point in our lives. 

Titus 2:2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith in love and in endurance.

Each of these characteristics look toward the highest level of maturity.  Older men will not reach this level of maturity by accident, either.  By default, men will grow increasingly self-centered as we grow older, so these traits are to be reinforced and taught to the older men.

So how does an older man keep from becoming increasingly selfish?

The second half of the verse is key – to be sound in the faith, in love, and in endurance.  The Greek word for sound is the same one used in Paul’s direction to Titus for sound doctrine.  A healthy faith, a healthy love, and a healthy endurance will guide an older man into clearheaded, dignified, and sensible living.

Faith, love, and endurance are kept healthy as they are related back to the sound doctrine of the gospel.  In God’s salvation plan, we find a place for our faith, our greatest example of selfless love, and the ultimate model of endurance.

If you fit the category of an older man, look to Christ to keep your faith, love and endurance healthy.  These should be your aim as you live out your relationship with Jesus.

If you don’t fit the category, I’m certain you know someone who does.  Will you pray for them today?  Ask God to give them the desire to be sound in the faith, in love, and in endurance.

Keep Pressing,
Ken