“… the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—” Titus 2:3
I’ve never actually watched an episode of “Housewives of Atlanta” (or New Jersey or any other city), but I’ve seen enough commercials to know that these housewives are not women of respectful behavior; they thrive on slandering and gossiping about each other, they seem to enjoy heavy amounts of intoxicating beverages for every occasion, and I certainly wouldn’t consider them teachers of good things by a long shot! So much drama! Yet, millions of women watch these reality shows and take their cues from these irreverent women whose lives are constantly being torn apart. As women of God, we have been called to a very different standard.
I love that we as women get to read this very personal and practical letter from the apostle Paul to one of his young spiritual sons who was assigned pastoral leadership to the church in Crete. This passage in Titus 2 is one of the rare passages of scripture written specifically about how to train women of different generations in the church. He gives the responsibility of training the younger women to the older women and tells them they must set a proper example by being “reverent” in their behavior. If I were journaling this verse in my own words, it might sound like this: “Women who are more mature in the Lord and in their faith should be models of righteous, holy and respectful behavior in every area. We should really watch over our words and not speak gossipy things about others either in private or public. We need to live our lives in moderation and self control so that we have the moral and spiritual authority to teach the younger women the good things of God and not have them second guess our authenticity or humility.”
The word “reverent” is unique and only found here in the New Testament, and the root meaning of the word is “priestlike” or “that which is appropriate to holiness.” So to act in an appropriate manner for a holy person is to have appropriate behavior or even temple-appropriate behavior. Our body is to be a holy temple that houses the presence of the Lord in a reverent and respectful way.
If our behavior is respectful and holy to God and His Word then we will be respectful to others; we will be an example of how to be holy women of God! We will watch over our behavior and attitudes knowing that it is by His Spirit that we can overcome any temptation to be irreverent toward God or others but especially to those in our own home. Respectful behavior includes not only how we treat others but how we treat our homes and our families. It’s about everything! It’s esteem and honor for God that shows up in who we are as women and how we live our lives. Everything about us says I am a reverent “priest-like” daughter of the most high God and no longer a slave to the world or its ways. I’m not trying to model my life after the “Housewives of Atlanta” but after the household of God. May we truly embrace our role as women of reverent and holy behavior so that others may see Jesus in all that we are and all that we do.
So how does this get established in our homes? There are lots of things we can put into practice to foster a respectful and reverent environment.
Before our recent move, my husband and I determined that, though our new home had enough rooms for each child to have their own bedroom, they would instead share–sister with sister and brother with brother. While this may set us up for having to diffuse more “issues,” it also provides many more opportunities for teaching love, respect and understanding. It also creates accountability which will, we hope, encourage pure hearts.
Toni referenced the “Housewives” series, which leads me to my next point. We have been without television for a while, but felt we had the grace to sign back on again. We opted to pay a bit more monthly in order to get recording options so we can skip through the muck of commercials. We have completely blocked certain channels and anything above ratings we do not approve of. Blocking these channels helps protect our children’s eyes and hearts but also ours as adults.
Another simple way to establish a reverent home and heart is to keep stationery on hand to write notes of encouragement to whomever the Holy Spirit places on your heart. It is such a simple way to teach and encourage other women just as Titus instructed.
And another would be to designate and set up a space in your home (or room, if you live with roommates) for your secret place, which could also be a great setting to have quiet conversations with a friend or mentor. Sorry if I step on some toes here, but a coffee shop, no matter how hip or comfy it may be, is not always the appropriate place for certain conversations.
Whatever age and stage you are in, there are always things you can do to help you become, and continue to be, women of respectable behavior. Guard your ears, eyes and heart from the filth in this world, and create opportunities to honor and encourage your family, friends and neighbors.
By Toni Kline & Abbie O’Neal