Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. (Titus 2:3)
My first thought when reading this passage is that the older women in Crete must have been a little rough around the edges. But then, we must remember, there were all kinds of people, men and women, learning to live like Jesus.
When I hear the word “reverent” I think of a sign I saw not long ago in a church building. It was an historic church where people came to look, not worship. Yet, the sign reminded people who entered to do so in a “reverent” manner. I interpreted the sign to mean people should not be loud and boisterous. It probably didn’t have anything to do with the actual state of one’s heart.
Yet, it is the state of our hearts Paul is talking about here. A “reverent” life is one that is lived with an awareness of God’s presence. One can still be loud and reverent. In fact, sometimes, one of the most reverent things we can do is celebrate with others, as we show thanks for the Lord and His goodness. And in the same way, it is possible to be quiet and “irreverent.” If our hearts are filled with bitterness and evil, we can put ourselves in opposition to God, even as we say nothing.
Older women are not to be slanderers. They are not to say things about others that are not true. This is not to say older women are the only ones guilty of slander. I know this particular group is often labeled as “gossipy.” But to be honest, I have heard some pretty good gossip from older men too. Perhaps the older women of Crete were especially prone to fabricating damaging stories about others.
Why would anyone slander another human being? The reasons may be many, but harmful words have always been an effective means of tearing others down for the purpose of building one’s self up. The words may be framed creatively. I have even heard a few put forth as “prayer requests.” “God has laid on my heart a need to pray for our dear sister who did something the other day that wasn’t very nice…bless her heart!”
As far as being addicted to “much wine”, we know the dangers of alcoholism. The addiction only makes other struggles in one’s life worse, and opens a wider door for Satan to work.
Obviously, these characteristics will serve one well in the work of the Lord. A reverent person who watches her words and avoids addictive behaviors will be able to think and act clearly.
As a result, she will be able to teach what is good. She teaches with words and with her example. And not only does she teach, but she is a living testimony to the peace one has when one lives as though God is watching…which He is.
I can honestly say most of the older women I have met in my walk with the Lord have been wonderful reflections of Jesus. And just so you know, I think it is possible to be a little rough around the edges and still be godly. In fact, every now and then a little “in your face honesty” from an older woman is just what we need. As long as it is done reverently!
Dear God, thank You for examples of the faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.