Sunday, January 22, 2017

Superior Senior Saints

 As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching.  Titus 2:1(NLT)  
Largely, the world says to discard senior adults.  Our nation is particularly curious....we ask the young to come up with the solutions to life's most perplexing problems of environment, government and family, while we tell the retired to go out and play
But God's Word has a different message.  The apostle Paul had left Titus on the isle of Crete in order to watch over the new church.  As any church experiences, there were problems to overcome.  
Paul’s main reason for writing to Titus was to advise him to deal with those false teachers and the greedy charlatans who had infiltrated the church in order to fill their pockets with the offerings. 
To whom does he direct that Titus should appeal for stability, correction and leadership?  He goes right to the most dependable and proven group - the super seniors
Paul tells Titus to remind the senior group of sound doctrine(v.1).  The word means literally health-giving doctrine.  The doctrines that are healthful to build up the individual, build up the family and church.
Although Paul's letter is addressed first to seniors, and this is Senior Adult Day, all the apprentice seniors can also benefit by the message here, because Paul lays down spiritual principles which transcend age. 
The principle is:  A great work is neither young, nor old; it is relevant! 
The principles contained in the next 6 verses relate to genuine Christian living which exhibits wisdom and maturity of obedient Christians. 
Just like Paul told Timothy to ignore those who had an attitude about his leadership because he was young, this principle works in reverse....Let no one despise your seniority.  You be the example God called you to be at whatever decade of life in which you’re now walking!
Let’s look at the CHARACTERISTICS of believers who are being obedient to the high calling of Christ, who just happen to be super seniors.


Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely.  They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.  Titus 2:2(NLT)
Paul says that the senior man ought to be sober and grave.  Sounds like a fun fella.  Actually the words indicate a man who is serious about his commitment to serve Christ.  But it doesn’t mean we have to look like we just ate a pickle.  In fact a Christian who is always morose and gloomy is really a living contradiction.  The person who has Christ on the inside has plenty to be happy and joyful about on the outside. 
The word Paul uses indicates an undiluted variation between what is stated as belief, and what takes place as behavior.  In short, we practice what we preach! 
Self-controlled person is one who has learned to rule over his passions and desires.  Self-control:  the ability to say no, when saying no now means things will be better in the long run.  Diets are like that!   
Three more words appear in verse 2:  faith, love and patience.  These appear often in the writings of Paul.
Faith is two-fold:  First there is THE faith, the doctrine of God we hold as true.  We pass THE faith along.  But there is also faith as verb...the faith we live.  A senior Christian man is to be sound or healthful in faith.  It should be a living, active faith. 
Love is that agape' love.  It's the unselfish God-love that exists to strengthen others, to undergird the growth of the weak, to seek the highest good for others. 
I have known some really superior senior adult men who love like that.  And they are really beautiful.  One of them was my Sunday School teacher 55 years ago.  Uncle Sid is around 90 years old now.  When he retired it was only from the job that paid money.  Now he spends more time than ever tightening all the loose bolts and door handles at the church.  He spends time helping out at the youth camp, and witnessing with the local Gideon's chapter.  Uncle Sid is a humble man...God's superior senior! 
How does that happen?  Someone wisely put it this way:  You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen.  But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your own soul's doing.
"Patience" is that quality better described as cheerful endurance.  I have been advised never to pray for patience because it brings tribulation.  While that may be true, it is that cheerful endurance that is the mark of the mature Christian who is ready to help, knowing that helping costs!  Patience will involve sacrifice, but it is necessary for the growth of others. 
During seminary days for the Brownworth family, there were times when it was patience, that cheerful endurance, which caused the Senior Men's Sunday School class at our home church to love us through some dark times.  Several times their prayers and financial gifts made the difference between discouragement and the strength to go on.  What cheerful encouragement they were to us. 


Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God.  They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.  Instead, they should teach others what is good.  Titus 2:3(NLT)
One of the pastors of the first century wrote that the Christian must live as if all of life was a sacred assembly.  The word Paul uses which we have translated living in a way that honors God is a compound word that literally means to call to sacredness.  This is to be the characteristic of the life of a senior Christian lady.  She is not to be a false accuser, a gossip!  The word in Greek is diablos, from which we translate devil.  The corresponding Hebrew word is Shawtan from which we translate Satan.   Enough said!
Not being a ‘heavy drinker’ is the same admonition given to ministers.  Ladies, you may drink as much as the pastor.  Seriously, the implication is like that of temperance...restraint in the natural appetites, so that the spiritual life can flourish. 
To give place to fleshly- desire is to plan to sin.  The high calling of the senior Christian lady in Jesus Christ is to be well-disciplined in Christlikeness. 
In the final words of this text Paul describes the role of superior senior saints in teaching the next generation:
These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.  Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.  In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely.  And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind.  Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.  Titus 2:4-7(NLT)
In these verses there is one Greek word that is translated as 3 different English words....train, encourage, and example, all have the same root word in the original.  The meaning of that root word is to be safe in mind....sane....sound
The implication for the importance of teaching that superior senior saints must do, is that they are to build sanity and maturity in those they teach.  What a noble and necessary calling in a world filled with madness, insecurity and darkness. 
This then is the reason that Paul turned to the seniors as he detailed instructions to Titus: 

Christian role models are sorely needed. 

·       Do we not have enough role models in Hollywood to teach us selfishness and hedonistic humanism? 
·       Are there not enough prideful ambitious politicians in Washington to teach us success at any cost? 
Mankind has a nature, and that nature demands that we worship and follow after something.  It is my message to senior adult Christian men and women today that young people, and middle aged, and even your peers will latch on to something to follow.  It is time for the gray head of wisdom to lead by example, giving the younger generations something of substance and eternal value to hold on to.  They must see it, sense it, and touch its' reality. 
Senior adults are the kind of people that can have great influence for Jesus Christ.  Perhaps today, as we have centered our thoughts on the high calling of Christ to senior Christian men and women, you sense the calling of God to be more of a positive influence, a witness for Him. 
Let me encourage you to respond to that call.  God wants to make you a Superior Senior Saint!
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[i] Title image:  By Weglinde/Gordon Lawson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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