Editor’s Note: This post is the final part of a series. Previous posts include: “Men and Women in Household of God,” “A Word to the Older Men,” “A Word to the Older Women,” and “A Word to the Younger Women.”
Finally, Paul turns his attention to the younger men of the congregation:
“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” Titus 2:6
“Self-controlled” is the one term that he uses to apply to all the previous groups—older men, older women, and younger women. It describes someone who is prudent, reasonable, sensible, and serious. It is someone who keep’s his head when others are losing theirs (BDAG). The person with “self-control” is someone who embodies all the virtues that have already been named for the other people in this list.
Young men, “self-control” has practical implications for you. It means that if you are going to follow Christ, you are going to be different from other young men you know. You are a part of a generation of young men that have given themselves to pornography. Self-control means that you aren’t going to have anything to do with that. You are a part of a generation of unserious young men that delays marriage and goes in and out of unserious relationships throughout young adulthood. Self-control means that you don’t have anything to do with that. You are a part of a generation that strategizes to maximize leisure and amusement for itself. Self-control means that you must have nothing to do with that either.
Self-control means your “yes” means “yes” and your “no” means “no.” It means people can count on you to do a job and to do it right. It means a wife and kids can count on you to be there for them. It means that they can trust that you are not spinning your wheels chasing your own vanity. Self-control means that you are so possessed by the Holy Spirit that you do not run after the passions of youth. Rather, you run after Christ, his word, and his glory. That’s what it means to be self-controlled.
Paul tells Titus to command the young men to be this way. But then Paul immediately turns his attention directly to Titus, who presumably is numbered among the younger men:
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned” Titus 2:7
Paul turns directly to Titus and says, “You are supposed to be a model of all these virtues that you preaching to the others in the congregation.” In other words, it’s not enough for Titus to teach faithfully. He also has to live faithfully. If he can’t live faithfully as a Christian, then he is not qualified to teach others to do what he himself can’t do. As a leader of the congregation, he has to show the way. That means that he is supposed to be able to say to his congregation, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
Paul specifies three ways in which Titus is supposed to “show” himself to be a model:
(1) “integrity… in your teaching” – The word translated “integrity” literally means “incorruption” (BDAG). The false teachers had all kinds of self-serving poison in their teaching and doctrine. In contrast, Titus was to have none in his. He was to be a model of “incorruption” in his teaching.
(2) “Dignity” – This word indicates “seriousness, probity, holiness” (BDAG). The Latin word for this is gravitas (BDAG).
(3) “Sound speech that cannot be condemned” – Although this “speech” (logos) is possibly a reference to Titus’s “speech” in general (cf. 1 Tim. 4:12), it is most likely a reference to his teaching in particular (cf. 1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13). This teaching is supposed to have two characteristics: First, it’s healthy in the sense of being uncorrupted, sound, or correct. Second, it must be “uncondemned.” That doesn’t mean that it is never criticized or condemned. It means that there must not ever be any proper basis for whatever condemnations come.
In short, this is what a church leader’s teaching ministry is supposed to look like. It is in accord with the apostolic norm and it is delivered with gravitas and weight. It doesn’t mean that all humor is wrong. It simply means that it is backed up by the weight of holiness and earnestness for the truth. Preaching is not a laugh-a-thon or a joke-fest. It is not airy anecdotes and lightness. It is blood-earnest exposition of God’s truth.
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:7-8
This is the purpose of the preacher’s exemplary conduct and teaching—so that there will be no just grounds for condemnation. Make no mistake. People will condemn a pastor for preaching the word of God. Count on it. Nevertheless, Paul is simply saying that Titus must conduct himself in such a way that their condemnations will prove baseless. Why? So that the accusers can be put to shame and not the preacher. The preacher’s character and life should offer no occasion for anyone to say anything against him that will stick.
A church leader must not make himself immune from criticism. Nevertheless, he is supposed to teach and preach in such a way that everyone can see that there is no basis for condemnation.
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