Doing the Devil’s Work
The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they admonish the young women (Titus 2:3-4).
In this section of Paul’s letter to Titus, the apostle told his younger associate how to deal with particular groups of Christians in the churches on the island of Crete. It is something like this: “Keep this in mind when you deal with the older men. Keep this in mind when you deal with the older women. This with the younger women, this with the younger men.”
In the section dealing with the older women, he told Titus to pay attention to the following things, because the older women have their own set of temptations and opportunities.
That they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers: The idea behind behavior includes a suggestion of dress and how a woman carries herself. It was important for the older women to be good examples in their life and words (not slanderers).
Not given to much wine: This was a common failing of older women in Roman and Greek culture. Paul recognized that this special challenge needed special instruction. In fact, Paul’s phrase here is that they should not be “slaves of wine.” It’s easy to let what seems to be an innocent liberty to become something that enslaves us.
Teachers of good things: If the older women have special challenges, they also have special opportunities. God can use their wisdom and experience as they admonish the young women. This gives the older women something positive to live towards, instead of only the negative things of inappropriate living, talking, and alcohol abuse.
The instruction I would most like to focus on is one that applies far beyond older women in any culture. It is a potential trap for anyone. Paul warned that Christians should be “not slanderers.”
The word for slanderers is the same word used for “devils.” When the older women – or anyone else, for that matter – slander and gossip, they then do the devil’s work. When we spread lies about other people it is as if we say to the devil, “You can take a break. Let me do some of your work for you.” When we use the troubles or failings of other people as conversational entertainment, we do the devil’s work.
This is a word for all of us, not only the older women. Each one of us should determine that, God helping us, we will speak the truth about others. We will speak well of others. And when we do need to speak of some kind of sin or error in others, we will do it in truth, love, and humility. Don’t do the devil’s work for him!
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