We are in This Together!
“How do you maintain your trust in God when life has thrown you so many challenges?” This was a question a younger man asked me after learning that my adult daughter is brain damaged and my wife had gone through breast cancer. It was a deep question that required a strong conversation. I began by telling this younger believer that I did not handle these situations well at first. Anger, denial, doubt and fear flooded my soul when I learned about each of these situations.
Although you may not have gone through experiences like mine, the experiences you have gone through are used by God to form you into the image of Jesus. God uses difficult experiences to season our lives with the flavor of grace. Embracing our hardships with eyes focused and surrendered on Christ cause us mature. Running from the difficult situations in our life causes weakness. It is with this understanding that I believe Paul encouraged Titus to remind older men to acquire the following six qualities as they work through hard times, so they can influence the generations to follow.
1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Titus 2:1-2 (ESV)
This carries the idea of being free from negative influences, of being clear-minded, circumspect and free from life-dominating influences. This type of freedom from such influences can only be acquired through discipline and by embracing struggles rather than numbing them or running from them. It seems clear that men who have been disciplined and fought well against the evil one will emerge as seasoned fathers.
An older man in Christ is meant to be someone who is looked up to. Dignified carries the idea of being venerable, honorable, serious, weighty, deeply respected or having gravitas. To be dignified takes years of living out one’s faith consistently and publicly. This is a lofty quality that must be wrapped in humility and yet full of confidence in who God has shaped them to be. When older men are dignified, they become like a magnet, drawing others to themselves for their depth of character. This points others to Jesus so He is elevated.
Being able to carry one’s strength and wisdom with a sense of indebtedness to Christ is powerful. Older men should be more about elevating others rather than looking for the spot light for themselves. Older men should be holding out the baton of life, faith and leadership to younger men. Younger men should be encouraged to carry the baton forward in Christ’s strength for the expansion of Christ’s Kingdom. Sensible older men will yearn for opportunities to do this! They will then be able to finish well the race that Christ has set before them.
Sound in Faith
To be ‘sound’ is to be healthy. A healthy faith is a quality that older men are encouraged to possess. To be healthy in faith is to have a deep trust in Jesus and confidence that He is in control no matter what life throws at us. A healthy faith is one that is anchored in the Scriptures and makes choices to faithfully line up with Scriptures teachings. This type of faith will be a great example for others to follow. A sound, healthy faith will influence others to stay pointed towards Jesus. A strong healthy faith will help them offer wisdom to others on how to remain pointed in this healthy direction.
Sound in Love
A healthy love should flow from the heart of older men. A healthy love is a response by one who knows how much he is loved by God. A healthy love is focused on pouring out sacrificial care upon those they are around. Self-sacrificing love will raise the hope in others as they move through life. It will seek what is best for others. It strives to hear from God and speaks out those truths in words and actions, encouraging others to love in a like manner.
Sound in Perseverance
Older men will continue to move through the distresses of life patiently in order see things from God’s perspective. They endeavor to pass on this perspective to others. Endurance is developed as the older man’s eyes remained fixed on the goal of the upward call of Christ. Because of this healthy ability to remain steadfast in adversity, others will be influenced to live similarly. The flesh, the world and the devil continuously tug and pull on our hearts toward affections other than Christ.
In my next post I’ll have an epilogue on this topic from 2 Timothy 2:2. I would enjoy your interaction on these thoughts. Leave a comment below and I’ll look forward to chatting with you!