Tuesday, June 1, 2010

woman to woman (4a) a Titus 2 curriculum: the gospel of grace

Oops! Somehow, I lost track of my series on woman to woman ministry! Let's pick up where we left off. If older women are to teach younger women (Titus 2:3-5), what's on the curriculum?

It's all very well to say that older women should be teaching and training young women, but what are they to teach? Let's look at Titus 2:3-5 in the broader context of the chapter and see what's on the curriculum. There are four main topics older women will discuss with younger women. The first two are also taught by men to men, but the second two are uniquely relevant to women.

1. The gospel of grace
Books and talks on biblical womanhood tend to be strong on practice and weak on principle. Women's teaching often degenerates into a list of dos and don'ts—for example, kiss your husband when he walks in the door, have regular dates with your children and keep your cupboards organized. This is particularly damaging for women because many of us long for self-transformation and we excel at comparing ourselves with others. We listen to a talk on womanhood and go away with 20 ways we need to change—right now!

But Paul doesn't let us get away with rule-based teaching. Even when he addresses the specifics of godly living, he makes it clear that our behaviour flows from the gospel. It's “sound doctrine” that gives godliness its shape (Titus 2:1). It's “the grace of God” that “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness” (Titus 2:11-12 NIV). It's our desire to “adorn” the gospel that motivates good deeds (Titus 2:10; cf. vv. 5, 8).

Only a woman who knows the gospel will live her life in the loving freedom that comes from grace, rather than attempting to meet her Christian culture's version of perfect womanhood. As we teach women, we need to constantly remind them (and ourselves!) that most of the practical advice we give isn't God-ordained, that God is patient with our slowness to change, and that we're forgiven and transformed through God's grace.

What do you think? Do women often lose sight of the gospel as we teach and encourage one another? How can we encourage each other to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus?

You can read the rest of the article at The Briefing.

image is from enggul at flickr


Valori said...

Jean -- totally agree! I think we DAILY lose sight of the gospel, and I believe that I probably do so many times a day! We recently had a women's conference with Elyse Fitzpatrick where all she did was share the gospel of grace and share examples of how to apply it in our daily lives as women. So many women were refreshed! And this in a church where we regularly hear the gospel preached. Our "list" was basically to believe in and rest in the truths of the gospel and if we had a hard time believing to ask for faith.

Contrast this with a meeting I had the other night where we are going through an excellent book on womanhood. One of the women, a pastor's wife, told me her husband had told her not to read anymore of the book because she found herself crying about the ways she fell short. That can easily be me unless I saturate my reading with my knowledge and understanding of justification and the free gift of grace.

Anyway, I like the way you pointed to the three different places that Paul reminds Titus of the gospel motivation and the passage on older women teaching younger women is set right in the midst of those!

Sarah said...

Thanks so much for this post. It's rare sometimes to find people who will teach the gospel of grace and works flowing out of this, rather than 10 steps to being the perfect Christian wife or mother. I find myself having to steer away from some Christian blogs because, although they offer some great ideas, I come away feeling guilt-ridden. Ironically, we often teach others the things that we burden ourselves with.