6th Sunday 0f Easter
Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2020
Submitted to the church website and presented verbally at PCCC
Scripture: Titus 2:3-5
Titus 2:3-5 NKJV the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things – (4) that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, (5) to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Summary: As parents, we are always looking for a future time in our lives when things are supposed to get easier, but the job of parenting is a lifetime commitment.
I don’t know what it is about people, but we’re always looking for the time in our lives when things are going to get easier. The same is true with mothers. First, you say to yourself, “If I ever get through with this pregnancy, things will be a lot easier.” Then come night feedings and colic and croup. Then you say, “Well, when the baby can walk and gets potty trained, things will be easier.” Yeah, right. A few years later, “It’ll be easier when they can start fending for themselves a little bit and learn to do some things on their own.” When they become teenagers, “Maybe it’ll be easier when they get their license and can haul themselves around. Maybe when they go off to college things will be easier. The job never gets easier, “What about when they’re married with kids of their own. Surely then it will be easier. Any of us who have gone through those cycles know that it never gets any easier. The fact is that a mother’s work is never really done.
I. The Need for Mature Women
The passage that we just read is taken from a letter [epistle] that Paul wrote to a young church planter who lived on the island of Crete named Titus. The letter, classified as one of the “pastoral epistles,” is full of instructions about how Titus should go about planting churches throughout that island. Paul didn’t go into a whole lot of specific detail about church life and Christian living like he did in some of his other letters. So, what he did was to focus on two things.
First, he focused Titus' thoughts on the importance of right doctrine. In other words, he made sure that Titus didn’t get sidetracked from the centrality and sufficiency of Scripture in the church. That’s the foundation. Churches may fall into error or begin to focus on some peripheral doctrine. But the Scriptures are always true, always right, always faithful.
But how does the truth of Scripture get taught? That’s the second main focus of this letter. Paul spoke about the importance of Titus selecting the right kind of pastors and elders and how they are to stand firm on the Word of God. That makes sense. Even today, when we plant churches, we tend to concentrate on the pastor and church leadership.
But what we don’t tend to focus on is the next point of emphasis in this letter. Paul moved straight from talking about pastors and elders (older men) to talking about women in the church. And in the passage that we just read he told Titus that women have a very important role in the church. As a matter of fact, you can look at it like this: the most important thing Paul told Titus to focus on in the church was the faithful teaching of Scripture. And then he told him that three groups of people are responsible for doing that faithful teaching: pastors, elders, and the older women.
The inclusion of “older women” might surprise some people, but it shouldn’t. You’ve heard the old saying that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, right? Even though husbands/fathers are called to be the spiritual head of their home, we know that nothing will ever surpass a mother’s teaching to her children. There is something about a mother that makes her unique and special to her children. From the time she first sings to her children in the womb, a mother is teaching her child. But then the children grow up. They get to the age when they won’t listen to anyone. Does the teaching stop then? What about when they move out and get married and have kids of their own? Does the teaching stop then? No, the fact is that a mother’s work of teaching her children is never done. The approach is certainly different (you wouldn’t teach a teenager the same way you would teach a toddler). The relationship is certainly different. But the teaching is the same.
How is the teaching done? The answer is: in your behavior. The phrase translated “reverent in behavior” [vs. 3] is an interesting one. Paul was saying that a woman’s behavior was supposed to be the kind of behavior expected of priests in the temple – clean, upright, godly, pure. And out of that behavior, mature women would, in turn, teach younger women. Now, I’m smart enough not to ask for a show of hands who would consider themselves to be the “older women” here. But the fact is, that every adult woman here is more mature than somebody else. And every woman has another more mature lady that they can look to as an example. Ladies, can you teach younger women what the Bible says about having self-control? Can you teach the younger women about being faithful to their husbands and building them up and encouraging them? Can you teach them what the Bible says about how to deal with their children? Can you teach them? Although older women are to teach partly by example, I’m not saying that women have to be perfect at all times. That’s impossible. But you can teach them by what the Bible says. That can include your successes with the biblical standard (behavior to emulate). And it can include your failures with living out the biblical standard (behavior to avoid).
But even when your children are grown and gone, as a mother, your work is never done. Your experience and wisdom can still be used to teach others. I can think of few positions in life (training children and younger adults) that have worse consequences if they aren’t done well. When you hear stories of what happens to children who are abandoned by their mothers, it affects them for a lifetime. It can even have an effect for generations. The same thing happens if mothers abandon their teaching role in the church. The words that Paul uses in verse 5 are shocking.
Titus 2:4-5 NKJV that they [older women] admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, (5) to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
He says that older women are to teach the younger women. Because if they don’t, the word of God can be blasphemed. The consequences are very serious. As a matter of fact, the consequences are eternally serious. But the problem is not always with the ones who are supposed to be doing the teaching, is it? Many times, older ladies are setting a good example. Many times, they are willing to teach and mentor. But a teacher has to have a willing student. Younger women should seek out someone who is older and wiser than them. Do you humble yourself under the teaching of another godly woman? Paul tells you what kind of older lady to look for. If she doesn’t have self-control, it becomes difficult to take her advice. If she can’t control her tongue, you may question whether to take her instruction. Mothers should seek out the right woman. Seek out a woman whose behavior is “reverent.” Seek her out and grow in Christ with her.
II. Augustine's Mother's School for Mothers
This morning, I’m going to look at an older woman and mother who demonstrated “reverent behavior.” The rest of this sermon is going to be an illustration of that kind of woman – an example of the kind of mother whose important work of motherhood was always her first priority. As we look at her example this morning, she will still be doing what Paul commanded Titus. Through the pages of Scripture, she will still be teaching younger women “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” I’m safe in saying that she will be teaching younger women here today, because she was born in the year 331 AD (1,689 years ago).
You may have never heard of Augustine of Hippo, one of the fathers of the early church, before today. Some people call him St. Augustine. I’ll just call him Augustine. Augustine is widely regarded as one of the most influential Christians of all time. Outside of the Apostles, he has probably had a greater impact on the Christian Church than most others. From the age of 32 until he died at the age of 75, he wrote over 5 million words. That measures up to roughly a 350 word essay every day of his life for 43 years. And it was all done by hand. He was undoubtedly one of the most gifted, godly men in all of history. But it wasn’t always that way. He was naturally brilliant. But he was a terrible person growing up.
Augustine was born in 354 to a man named Patricius and a woman named Monica. It’s a shame that most people remember Monica for the city in California named in her honor [Santa Monica, CA]. Monica had been raised in a Christian home. Apparently, she took her faith more seriously than her parents did because they arranged for her to marry Patricius who was a pagan. Not only was he a pagan, he was a dirtbag as well. Patricius didn’t physically abuse Monica, but he was known for flying into fits of rage. He also cheated on her every opportunity he got. A few years after they were married, she gave birth to Augustine. Like many women who find themselves in that kind of awful situation, she invested all her hopes and dreams in her baby boy. But as little Augustine grew into adolescence, he broke her heart. He broke her heart by stealing. He broke her heart by lying. But he broke her heart most of all by his insatiable lust. He was a skirt chaser. And not only was he a skirt chaser, he caught a lot of them too. His behavior broke Monica’s heart. She wanted nothing more for her son than that he would come to faith in Jesus Christ. But instead, he was growing up to be just like his pagan father. She could have pitched a fit. She could have become violent with her husband and son. She could have yelled at them and cursed them and nagged them. But she didn’t. She consistently demonstrated “reverent behavior.” She was sober. She loved her husband, even though he didn’t deserve it. She loved her son, even though he rejected her and broke her heart. This is how Augustine remembered his early years in one of his books:
“Woe is me! Do I dare affirm that thou didst hold thy peace, O my God, while I wandered farther away from thee? Didst thou really then hold thy peace? Then whose words were they but thine which by my mother, thy faithful handmaid, thou didst pour into my ears? None of them, however, sank into my heart to make me do anything. She deplored and, as I remember, warned me privately with great solicitude, ‘not to commit fornication; but above all things never to defile another man’s wife.’ These appeared to me but womanish counsels, which I would have blushed to obey. Yet they were from thee, and I knew it not. I thought that thou wast silent and that it was only she who spoke. Yet it was through her that thou didst not keep silence toward me; and in rejecting her counsel I was rejecting thee.”
Augustine later recognized that God was speaking to him through the teaching of his mother, Monica. But even as God spoke to him through her, he continued to turn away and break her heart. Nothing breaks a mother’s heart like a rebellious child. Learn from the example of Monica. Keep on teaching. Keep on loving. Don’t give up. Fight through the broken heart and keep on in behavior that demonstrates holiness.
But Monica didn’t enter the battle for her son alone. Think about her situation. It had only been a few years before Monica was born [331 AD] that Christianity was even legal to be practiced under the Edict of Milan – a letter signed by the Roman emperors Constantine and Licinius in 313 AD, that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire. Paganism was practiced widely throughout the Roman Empire. Women didn’t have much of a voice in the home, much less in society. Her husband was an evil man. He had a violent temper. Her son ignored her. The whole deck was stacked against her. Everything around her told her that the things that her son was doing were “only natural.” “Boys will be boys.” “He’s only sowing his wild oats.” “Everybody’s doing it.” But she didn’t care if everybody else was doing it or not. She knew that Augustine was lost. And she wasn’t going to let him go to hell without a fight. But what weapons could she fight with? She fought with the most effective weapon she had, which is also the most effective weapon any of us have. She prayed for her son. Here’s what Augustine wrote about his mother’s prayers:
And now thou didst “stretch forth thy hand from above” (Ps. 144:7) and didst draw up my soul out of that profound darkness because my mother, thy faithful one, wept to thee on my behalf more than mothers are accustomed to weep for the bodily deaths of their children. For by the light of the faith and spirit which she received from thee, she saw that I was dead. And thou didst hear her, O Lord, thou didst hear her and despised not her tears when, pouring down, they watered the earth under her eyes in every place where she prayed. Thou didst truly hear her.
Wives and mothers, learn from an older woman. Keep on praying. Keep on fighting for your children and your husbands and your families on your knees. Don’t give up. Keep on demonstrating a holy behavior.
It didn’t happen overnight. As a matter of fact, it took 32 years for the Lord to answer her prayer before Augustine came to faith in Jesus Christ. 32 years of heartbreak. 32 years of worry and doubt. 32 years of faithfulness and longsuffering. She chased him all over the country. She sent him off to live with a preacher. The preacher gave up and sent him home. One time she tried to force the situation by running off one of Augustine’s long-time live-in lovers. Monica ran her off and even arranged a marriage to a respectable Christian woman. All Augustine did was go out and get himself another live-in, plus some girls on the side. All that did was give him an excuse to not be responsible for the child he fathered with the first woman. But through all that, Monica faithfully prayed. She faithfully prayed and she patiently waited. Faithfulness. Longsuffering. And after 32 years her prayers were answered. Listen to how Augustine remembered her words:
Then my mother said: “Son, for myself I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. Now that my hopes in this world are satisfied, I do not know what more I want here or why I am here. There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Christian before I died. My God hath answered this more than abundantly, so that I see you now made his servant and spurning all earthly happiness. What more am I to do here?”
Moms, how long have you been praying for your children? How long have you been waiting for the Lord to answer? Don’t give up. Learn from the aged woman. Learn from her faithfulness. Learn from her longsuffering. The Lord heard her prayers and He answered her prayers. He’ll hear yours too. And He will answer.
All of those years, Monica prayed for Augustine. The Lord answered her prayer. And because of her patient, peaceful, loving testimony, He gave her so much more. Just a few years before he died, the Lord used Monica’s faithful and obedient, quiet witness to change the heart of her husband. Jesus changed him from an abusive, hateful man to a child of God. On top of that, her legacy lives on as she continues to teach younger women through the pages of Scripture. Augustine prayed about that legacy. After she died, he wrote:
Therefore, let her rest in peace with her husband, before and after whom she was married to no other man; whom she obeyed with patience, bringing fruit to thee that she might also win him for thee. And inspire, O my Lord my God, inspire thy servants, my brothers; thy sons, my masters, who with voice and heart and writings I serve, that as many of them as shall read these confessions may also at thy altar remember Monica, thy handmaid, together with Patricius, once her husband; by whose flesh thou didst bring me into this life, in a manner I know not.
You see, a mother’s work is truly a life-long endeavor. It continues through a mother’s heartache, to a mother’s prayer, to a mother’s joy. And it ends with a mother’s memory. Where are you this morning? Are you teaching others with your godly example? Are you seeking others who will teach you how to live biblically that pleases God? Do you have children that you need to pray for? Do you have a husband that you need to pray for? Maybe you’re the one who needs Christ in your life? Because without Christ in your own life, you have no way to deal with the heartaches when they come. If you do, then today can be your day of salvation.
A motivated mother can truly accomplish miracles. I recently read the following story:
The pilots of Northwest Flight 255, departing Detroit Metropolitan Airport, were in a hurry to take off that Sunday evening. If they didn’t clear the runway quickly, they wouldn’t beat the noise curfew at their destination in Phoenix. So, the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 rumbled down the runway despite the fact that the pilots hadn’t gone through their taxi checklist. Had they done so, they might have discovered that they hadn’t deployed the flaps and slats on the wings of the aircraft, which, when extended, provide extra lift needed for takeoff.
As Flight 255 lifted off the Detroit runway, the jet began to rock back and forth laterally due to lack of sufficient lift. It struck a light pole, severing eighteen feet off its left wing, and ignited onboard fuel. The right wing was sheared off as it ripped through a car rental building. Rolling out of control, the jet careened through traffic and slammed into an overpass on Interstate 94. It then exploded in a fireball, scattering its charred remains across several miles
It was one of the worst tragedies in airline history. One hundred forty-eight passengers and six crew were killed as well as two people on the ground. Only a handful of airline crashes have killed more children and wiped out more entire families than Flight 255.
The Detroit medical examiner was one of the first people on the scene. He shook his head and declared that it was impossible that anyone could have survived. As rescuers combed through the burned corpses in the eerie darkness, it seemed that his initial assessment was correct.
Then someone heard a child’s faint whimper. Miraculously, four-year-old Cecelia Cichan, passenger one hundred forty-nine, was huddled under the charred body of her mother, next to the remains of her father and brother. The little girl was critically injured and bearing scars that she will carry for the rest of her life, but she was alive!
As the rescuers pulled the child from the wreckage, the medical examiner closely studied the position of the bodies. He concluded that in the terrifying seconds prior to impact, somehow Cecelia’s mother managed to wrap herself around her little girl, shielding her with her own body. Her body not only cushioned the impact, but also took the full fury of the fireball that roared through the disintegrating cabin.
Thirty years later, Cecelia is a wife and mother herself. Every day she thanks God for a mother was willing to wrap herself around her daughter.
Are you willing to wrap yourselves around your children to keep them from fatal injuries? Are you willing to shield your children from the dangers of life, from evil people who would use them up then throw them to the gutter? Are you willing to wrap your children in heart-felt prayer? Are you willing to wrap yourself around your children with love, understanding, and temperance so that they, in turn, can use your example as a template to wrap themselves around their own children? Lysa TerKeurst summed this up by saying, “Motherhood is a million little moments that God weaves together with grace, redemption, laughter, tears, and most of all, love.”