Titus 2 Women
Lesson 7 – Self-Control
Titus 2:3-5 (NET)
Older women likewise
are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy,
not slaves to excessive drinking,
but teaching what is good.
In this way they will train the younger women
to love their husbands, to love their children,
to be self-controlled
fulfilling their duties at home,
being subject to their own husbands,
so that the message of God may not be discredited.
Where do you exercise the least self-control?
- At the dessert table
- In a shoe store
- At the gym
- In an argument
We all have self-control issues: over-indulging, procrastination, taking on too much, angry outbursts we later regret, day-dreaming . . . the list goes on and on.
Paul instructs the older women to teach younger women self-control. Easy for him to write, hard for us to do.
The Greek word here is first cousin to the word of Lesson 5-Divine Sense. It is variously translated as self controlled, to live wisely, to be sensible, to be discreet, to be temperate, sober-minded.
Self-control brings to mind this familiar passage:
Galatians 5:22-23 (NET)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
You’ve likely heard this before, but it is worth remembering: The passage says fruit, not fruits. This isn’t a bin at the farmer’s market where you carefully examine all the fruits and choose the ones you want to take home. This fruit comes as a package deal. The list starts with love and ends with self-control. Think of love as the core and self-control as the rind that holds it all together.
This fruit is a gift to you from God—these wonderful attributes surrounding the delicious center of love, securely wrapped in self-control. My fruit is similar to your fruit, but each is unique.
This fruit starts with love and ends with self-control, a nice match to our Titus Lesson 6 – Love Your Family and this lesson on Self-Control.
Paul used different Greek words to the Galatians than to Titus: agape love, not phlia love; egkrateia self-control, not sóphrón self-control. Egkrateia comes from two words meaning in the sphere of and dominion. Sóphrón comes from two words meaning safe and sound and inner outlook, the “divine balance” of Lesson 5.
Both passages convey the idea that self-control is not something we impose on ourselves from the outside. It grows out of our inner spiritual relationship with God. It’s not so much self-control as Spirit-control.
Self-control is essential to divine balance. It keeps us good and grounded.
“Without self-control –- love becomes sugary sentimentality –- joy becomes a heady euphoria –-peace becomes complaisance –- patience becomes leniency –- kindness becomes blandness –- goodness becomes self-righteousness –- faithfulness becomes legalism –-and gentleness becomes weakness.”
My conversations with God often focus on self-control, and it’s not what you think.
God brings to my mind the times when I let self be in control. Self, as in “it’s all about me.” Self, as in making my life easier even when it inconveniences someone else. Self, as in watching TV instead of writing a note of encouragement. Self, as in assuming that my husband can deal with it. Self, as in letting someone else clean up my mess. Self, as in buying something I don’t really want or need just because “I deserve it.”
It’s not that these things are all bad. TV and shopping have their positive moments. This is about my attitude. This is about me focusing on me—which means I am not focused on God. This is about me seeking momentary self-satisfaction, not God’s eternal plan. This is about me letting the new self abdicate to the old self.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NET—with a tweak)
You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old self who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new self who has been created in God’s image—in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.
God digs under the desires of my old self to get to the truth.
Take a recent set of conversations about my eating habits. I’d put on a few pounds, mainly due to snacking between meals. I tried unsuccessfully to take off those pounds. My journal reveals God’s push to the truth.
God: It’s not what you ate, it is why.
I realized that I snacked for two reasons, neither of them related to hunger. The first was lack of sleep—I can’t chew and sleep at the same time. The second was stress: a spreadsheet that doesn’t balance, a growing to-do list, tension in a relationship—I go for the chips.
The first one is an easy fix. Go to bed earlier.
The second one is more challenging.
God: What makes you think chips will fix the problem?
Even my old self admits that chips aren’t the solution. They add unnecessary weight, physically and symbolically.
My new self sees the spiritual truth. When I look to food for comfort, I’m substituting worldly desire for godly desire. I know that God is my strength and shield—no potato chip offers strength and protection. When I reach for a chip to ease the stress, I’m listening to the Enemy’s lies. The Enemy doesn’t have my best interests at heart; his goal is my destruction.
Joshua 24:15 (with a tweak)
Choose for yourself today whom you will serve.
Therein is the question of my self-control. I choose whether my old self or my new self is in control. I choose to follow the Enemy or I choose to follow the Spirit. There’s no midpoint for compromise.
Unless you want to teach by bad example, you have to exercise new self-control before you can teach it to someone else.
Have your own serious conversation with God. Even if you don’t routinely keep a journal, you may find it helpful to jot down your thoughts (feel free to shred or burn them after you’re finished).
When God says to you, It’s not the what, it’s the why, make a serious search for the why of your old self-control. Does it go back to childhood, to sometime when you found comfort in the wrong place? Is it your way of distracting yourself?
Are you listening to the Enemy’s lie instead of God’s truth?
God offers the fruit of the Spirit: the core of love surrounded by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness—wrapped in new self-control. When you choose old self-control, you’re not only picking fruit from the wrong bin; you’re in the wrong marketplace.
You wouldn’t teach a younger woman to shop in a store that sold only rotten and sour fruit. And you, younger woman, you don’t want to learn from someone who hangs out in the bad fruit store.
Step out of the marketplace of old-self-control. Come into the Holy Spirit’s realm of new self-control.