You know, doing good looks different for different people, doesn’t it? I mean, for some people it’s rescuing someone from a life of prostitution. Or for someone else it’s providing shelter for someone that doesn’t have a place to crash. And for others it’s remodeling a whole high school and using your gifts and talents and design and painting, and for a whole different group it’s, you know what? Remodeling a high school is great and we did that but you want to love the kids and be at after school programs and teach them the Bible and get to know their parents. And it just looks different for different people.
This week I had the chance with one family and they invited another family and they invited their neighbors and they had been planning it for six or seven months and were very fearful and very prayerful and God just filled the house with all their neighbors, most of which have really never met or understood anything about the Bible or God or Christ. They just wanted to love them and they opened their home.
And for some of you, you’re at a stage in your life where your ministry really is right in the marketplace and you lead a team or you go to work every day and maybe it’s a division or maybe you’re the CEO or maybe the owner and you have just absolutely said, “I’m going to do good, and how people get treated and what our policies are and what our values are, we just work in such a way where people get to see the love and the grace and the holiness of God.”
But regardless of how we express it, here’s some things that are true about all of us: Doing good is not a suggestion, it’s a command. When you know Christ personally, it’s a command, “Do good unto others.”
We know it’s powerful. I mean, there’s something powerful about when you see hurting people and the love of Christ connect and it’s even more powerful than in a video when you see it in real life all around you.
Third, it can be risky. I mean, we’re afraid to do good, we’re afraid to get out there but I’ve never met anyone that when you’ve taken a risk and done good that you said, “Oh, I wish I wouldn’t have done that.”
And last week we learned that doing good begins with character and not our conduct. Doing good starts with who I am, not just what I do. And I would like to suggest that the price of doing good can be costly.
It might be social rejection, it might be time, it might be energy, it might be money, it might be going to a meeting or and preparing for things when you’re just overwhelmed and dead tired but you know it’s what God wants you to do.
And then finally, here’s what I’d like to talk about. Sometimes not doing good can be even more costly. You know, we always think of the price tag of something and, boy, I mean, “If I just had more time or just more energy or just more money or, sure, I would like to do something, someday, someway,” but I want to tell you there is a high cost of not doing good.
Three things I put in your notes. The first is a Barna study on Christian families. Right now, about seventy percent of the high schoolers in Evangelical churches, five years after high school, are not in church and are not walking with God.
The research says that the reason is they do not see the reality of Christ in their home, and they never come to own their own faith.
Another Barna study, in terms of spiritual engagement in America, there is a category now, used to be very, very small, when they survey all around the country, people who say they have no spiritual affiliation. I mean, just none. They’re just out there. And in the sixteen to twenty-nine year olds, it’s astronomically high and growing.
And finally, there is a perception of Christians in America, David Kinnaman in his book, unChristian, says, “True or not, Christians in America today are viewed as harsh, judgmental, intolerant, anti-intellectual, and hypocritical.” And I don’t know about you, but that’s a big PR problem.
In fact, it’s worse than a PR problem because what you know and I know is that there are a lot of corners in which that’s true. In fact, there are times where it’s true of me and there are times where it’s true of you.
So here’s the deal: How do we move the needle? How do we push the dial? How do we, in our homes, and in this church, and in this city be shining different exceptions where we do good in such a way that people would say, “Well, they’re not intolerant, they’re not judgmental.”
Now, they may say that but when they would see the facts and see your life and experience you, they would say, “I guess I was wrong.”
We need to ask and answer the question, “So what does it look like, very specifically, for Christians to live like Christians when there are problems in the home, there are problems at work?” This is exactly the situation as Paul writes to this young pastor, Titus.
The new Christians weren’t walking with God, they weren’t moral, they were in a culture and a society that was pulling them away from God. And just like today, there were a lot of false teachers that were telling people a lot of crazy things and families were being ruined.
And so at the very end of chapter 1, he tells them, “You’ve gotta silence those false teachers, you’ve gotta rebuke them. You’re young but you need to stand up and tell them, ‘This is what’s true.’”
And then in chapter 2 he says, “Now, here’s what you must teach,” in fact, open your Bibles if you would, Titus chapter 2, and it’s an emphatic position. He goes, “Look, those false teachers are ruining families, they are discrediting the gospel, they are making the Church to look crazy, so you, Titus, here’s what I want you to do.”
“Teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 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.
“Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, and to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands,” purpose clause, why should older men, older women, and younger women live in a way that reflects Christ? “so that no one will malign the Word of God.
“Similarly, encourage,” literally it’s “exhort or admonish,” “the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set an example for them by doing what is good. In your teaching, show integrity and seriousness and soundness of speech that can’t be condemned,” second purpose clause, why? “so that those who oppose you may be ashamed that they have nothing bad to say about us.”
Finally, he goes from the home and those relationships to about sixty million slaves were in the Roman Empire. The Church was made up of at least eighty percent slaves. And their masters usually were not very kind. And he gives them this charge that when you read it, if you read it in the first century, you would shake your head and say, “How could anyone do this apart from the power of Christ?”
“Similarly,” he goes on to say, “teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please their masters, not to talk back, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” Last purpose clause.
Live in such a way, in the marketplace, that, literally, your life, your work ethic, your integrity, your competence would make the Christian life and the person of Christ attractive.
And so what I want to do is I want to dig in with you and let’s look at what this really is at home. Christians living like Christians at home. He says older men are to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled.
Philo quotes Hippocrates, and he says, “There were six stages within a man’s life,” and this word is used in the ancient Greek at this time for a man who is between fifty and sixty-five years of age. It’s the sixth stage of a man’s life.
When he says, “the older men,” this is different from the elders. Chapter 1 it was the shepherds of the Church, the episcopos, the people that were in charge of the Church, the leadership.
He is now saying, “the older men, the guys that have been around, that people look to,” he says, “here is what needs to characterize their life.” Temperate. Literally it means a life of moderation and stability. It’s a person that has their passions under control. They don’t drink too much, they don’t work too much.
A person that’s worthy of respect, literally, is a serious-minded person with regard to their purpose. It has the idea of not being a clown. Not someone that people look at and they’re just kind of an embarrassment, their life is a joke.
Instead, they are worthy of respect. They are wise, they are above reproach, they have a track record, you look at their life, you look at their work, you look at their family, you respect them.
Self-control here is a matter of, one, self-discipline. It has the idea of having your appetites under control and whether that is for sex or buying or food or money or work, it’s just discipline. It’s living in a way that makes sense. You’ve come to your senses, you know what’s important and your life reflects that.
And then he goes on from these character qualities and say, “Sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.” And the word “sound” literally means “to be healthy.” You have a healthy faith. In other words, you walk with God. You take risks, you’re in His word, you have a healthy love, you care about people, you walk in a room and you’re around an older person like this and you think, “You know, I’d like to love my wife the way that guy loves his wife when I get to be that age,” and, you know, people this age, they have their kids that are grown and you say, “I’d like to have a relationship with my adult kids the way he has a relationship with his adult kids.”
When you meet him at work, it’s a person that isn’t easily threatened or overly insecure. It’s just, it’s they have healthy relationships. They love people, they care about people, they’ve kind of grown beyond trying to prove they’re a somebody.
And then finally, they have endurance. Hupomeno, an interesting word. It has the idea of holding up under pressure and adversity. Paul uses this phrase a lot. Faith and love and then often he says, “Hope.” And to this particular group, I think maybe because it’s Crete, there’s hope but when you really hope, biblical hope is the certainty of Christ’s return, the certainty of His promises. What that does, that gives you endurance.
And it’s the kind of person that you say, like, I have a couple of friends, they’ve been bankrupt a couple times. Or they lost their wife eight or nine years ago to cancer and they keep pressing ahead. Or, they got a really raw deal and you know what? They’re not bitter, they’re not resentful.
In fact, to summarize, older men, you fifty to sixty-five and above, basically he says, “What’s it look like for an older man to be a Christian who lives like a Christian?” It means you are a wise, godly example of a vibrant walk with God, you have authentic relationships, and you finish well. Most men don’t finish well. Most people don’t finish well.
Two names came to my mind as I was thinking about this in my journey, actually three, one was Prof. Hendricks. He’s just been a mentor and by the time I met him, he was in this category and I got to spend about twenty-five years with him. Up into his eighties, he just kept living this way.
Or today, I’ve got a friend on our elder board, a guy named Mike. And he has, I think, seven grown kids. And when I’m around Mike, we get in the Bible. And when I’m around Mike, I’m challenged to memorize the Scripture. And when I get around Mike, he wants me to pray. He’s just worthy of respect. And he’s like the other elders, when I’m around the elders of this church, they are men of God.
Older men, that’s what it looks like for a Christian to live like a Christian. And when you live that way, people don’t malign, that’s a weird word, but it means they don’t discredit the Word of God. They don’t think that what you believe is crazy. What they say is, “I don’t know where you got that but I’d like to explore what you believe and why.”
The next group is older women. This is women that are sixty and above. The phrase is “reverent in all their ways.” The word literally means “they live a holy life.” Or it was used of a priestess in a temple. They would live like a priestess in the temple, a life of reverence.
Negatively, they’re not slanderous. We all have struggles with our tongues but when your kids get grown, apparently, and you have a little bit more time on your hands, Paul thought, you be careful, ladies. It’s easy to talk about other people when they’re not around and he says, “This is the kind of woman that doesn’t do that.”
And she’s not addicted to much wine. It’s that same word for “self-controlled,” just a little bit different view of it. But it’s someone that, as she gets older, her priorities don’t slide and she doesn’t spend her time thinking about her and, “Have I lost my youth?” and what’s really important?
And I need to find my role again because the kids are out of the house, or I can talk bad about other people, because it makes me feel better or, sedate my pain in some ways. Paul says, “No, no, no.” The Spirit of God says through him, this is a woman that is holy and godly.
In fact, that’s her heart and her character, but then her focus is, she teaches what is good. It’s a beautiful word. She teaches what is beautiful, she teaches what is winsome, she teaches what encourages. And then the focus of her teaching is younger women and we’re going to find out, literally, the word “younger” here, it’s not just an age word. It means, literally means, “new or fresh,” and probably refers to, not exclusively, but probably refers to a lot of women that just got married. And, it’s new and it’s fresh and they don’t know what they’re doing.
What she sees is, you know us men don’t know much about you women. I mean, we’ve taken courses, I’ve read so many books with Theresa I can’t hardly stand it. I’ve listened to tapes; I’ve watched DVDs; I’ve gone to seminars; I’ve been to counseling; I’ve got thirty-five years under my belt and I still…right?
I mean, there are some things I just accept. They are a mystery. I mean, they really are. And only another woman can teach another younger woman about what it means to be a woman of God. What it means to respond and live in the culture that we live in and what do you do when you’re pregnant with that first baby and what do you do with the first boyfriend and what do you do when you’re bombarded by all those magazines that say you need to be super skinny and super this and super that and you struggle with your self-image. It’s an older woman that comes along with focus and she helps younger women understand what matters and who matters and who she really is.
I’ve watched my wife do this ever since Annie was a little girl. They’d read books together and then as she was flourishing and beginning to grow and becoming a woman, I noticed they had all those talks and they would go out and have coffee and share and it seems like about every six months they were reading a book together and then before she got married I noticed they were spending a lot more time together.
And then when she got pregnant they were spending a lot more time together. And then when she had a baby it was, like, you know what? I just stepped back and said, “This is an amazing thing.”
And left to myself, there have been seasons where I’ve kind of felt left out. If you’re a young father and your wife has a baby, you kind of feel like, after about two weeks, do I not even count anymore? Right? And then, two months, and then three months and you’re thinking, “Hey, everything is okay. Why don’t we just go out? We get a babysitter?” “A babysitter?! What?” You know? But as you get a little older, I have watched this amazing thing happen between my wife and my daughter.
And I have just thought, “It’s a picture of beauty.” But God wants that for every young woman. My wife and one of her friends, Janet, have done a particular Bible study and, literally, scores and scores of women in our church over the last few years have done it. It’s called Five Aspects of a Woman. And it’s really a study about how to be a woman of God and what are those aspects?
And so last year, we had about, oh, I don’t know, about twenty-five of those young women in our house, in that Bible study, and then they went to another house, and they’re happening all over the place.
It’s just exciting to see women, about sixty and above, investing in young women around here. Because when that happens, you know what? It validates, it gives credibility, it’s tough to be a young man, it’s tough to be a young woman. But when that kind of relationship happens, it authenticates God’s Word and His truth.