Counseling One Another

Helping you grow in God's all-sufficient truth and grace

Counseling One Another

June 12, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on WORLD Magazine Includes New LifeLine Mini-Book on their “Technology Tamers” List

WORLD Magazine Includes New LifeLine Mini-Book on their “Technology Tamers” List

In addition to WORLD magazine’s choice of Ernie Baker’s Marry Wisely, Marry Well as one of their recommended staff picks, the respected magazine included Tim Challies’ new mini-book on their Technology Tamers list.

WORLD says this about HELP! My Kids Are Viewing Pornograpy:

“This 64-page “LifeLine Mini-book” offers front-line triage for parents in the area of internet pornography. Challies begins with stories and statistics to help parents understand the extent of the problem. He then explains why porn is sinful and points readers to Christ for help. A final chapter helps families install accountability software and other parental controls to keep pornography out of kids’ reach. Challies acknowledges the role of family communication in this battle, although he gives little instruction for building that dialogue. Overall, a good first resource for families in crisis.”

For more instruction for building the family dialogue the WORLD reviewer mentions, I highly recommend Jay Younts’ new book, Everyday Talk about Sex & Marriage (also from Shepherd Press).

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June 12, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on WORLD Magazine Picks “Marry Wisely, Marry Well”

WORLD Magazine Picks “Marry Wisely, Marry Well”

This morning, it was a delight to see Ernie Baker’s new book among WORLD magazine “Staff Picks.” Marry Wisely, Marry Well is an important new contribution to the Christian book world, as it focuses on preparing young people to select their lifetime marriage partner with wisdom and discernment. Here’s what WORLD magazine says of the book:

“Marry Wisely, Marry Well offers a Bible-rich guide to help singles (including me) think wisely about finding a life partner. This Biblical-counseling professor shows how to evaluate readiness for marriage, uncover idols of the heart that influence relationships and attraction, and understand how God leads us to the right person.—Managing Editor Daniel James Devine

Does marriage matter anymore? If so, is it even possible to have a stable marriage? How do you choose the right one? Is there anything to work on now, even before being in a relationship?

Marry Wisely, Marry Well teaches you how to start building your future marriage house even before you begin a relationship. Learn to make a wise choice of a spouse, and how to start preparing yourself for a future relationship that is truly built on Christ.

Get Marry Wisely, Marry Well in print copy here. and also in Kindle from Amazon.

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June 8, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Two Right Ways to Respond to Gossip

Two Right Ways to Respond to Gossip

“You will be gossiped about. If it has not happened yet, get ready, because someday you will find yourself in the cross-hairs of gossip,” writes Matt Mitchell, pastor of Lanse Evangelical Free Church. “Sadly,” he continues, “most of the time you will not know that you are a target of someone’s harmful words. Perniciously, gossip is done behind our backs, when we are not looking, when we are not listening and when we are not present.” Responding to gossip in a godly manner is hard enough when you know who the gossips are and what they are saying. However, the difficulty is intensified exponentially when you don’t have hard facts to confront, or the people you do confront deny it, pretend they know nothing, or continue to give you the kisses of Judas. Still, you must respond. You will respond. But how?

Respond in Faith

In Psalm 140:1-2, we see David taking his situation to the Lord first. Sadly, when we are gossiped about, we (myself included!) typically “take things into our own hands. We complain about those who are complaining about us. And we run around attempting to set the record straight.” This only makes matters worse.

In contrast, we can take it to the Lord in prayer. When we take our pain to the Lord, we can tell it like it is, not minimizing the intensity of the hurt. But we also remember who we are talking to when we pray. We know that God is the ultimate judge, and nothing—in the end—will ever escape his righteous judgment. Therefore, we can ask God for justice and believe that He will eventually answer.

Respond in Love

Of all the commands given to us by Jesus, perhaps loving our enemies is the most difficult to carry out, to know how to obey. This difficulty is intensified a million times over when the person who has become your functional enemy was once a friend. “When someone gossips about you, he or she is acting as your enemy. That person may not be your enemy in any official way. He or she may, in fact, be your closest friend. But at the moment when bad news is being spread behind your back out of a bad heart, the person doing the spreading is acting as your enemy.” To love our enemy is to act like God who loved us while we were yet His enemies (Romans 5:8). But how? How do you love your enemy, especially if he or she refuses to talk to you?

  • Pray. First, pray for them. “Pray for justice. Pray that your gossiping enemy’s evil plans will backfire. But also pray for conviction and repentance and eventual blessing for your enemy.”
  • Overlook. Second, overlook sin when you can. “Overlooking is a kind of one-sided forgiving. It means we just go on relating to the person in the same way we always did.”
  • Confront. Third, true love always seeks reconciliation—always. “Love goes to the person who is acting as an enemy and shows that person his or her fault so that relationship can be restored.”
  • Repay evil with good. Fourth, bless them. “If people have gossiped about you, make sure that your basic stance is for them….Returning blessings for beatings seems crazy to the world, but that’s what we do as Christians” (1 Cor. 4:10, 12-13).

When we choose to love our enemies, and always seek reconciliation, the Bible promises us a great reward (1 Pet. 3:9). May the Lord grant us the faith and love we need in order to learn how to respond to gossip!

As our elder team continues to read through Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue, please consider reading and growing along with us.

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

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June 6, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Don’t Pray Like the Hypocrites

Don’t Pray Like the Hypocrites

Without doubt, the model prayer known as The Lord’s Prayer or Our Father is the best known of all prayers. Many of us memorized it as children, as part of our religious upbringing. While reciting it over the years, however, some of us understood its meaning while most of us were only repeating words. This is ironic, as Jesus instructs us in the immediate context to not do the very thing we were told was required—repetition of the prayer itself.

I remember the first time I read this prayer in its biblical context, shortly after my conversion. I thought to myself, “Clearly, this is not a prayer to merely be repeated, but a pattern for our prayers. In other words, Jesus is not encouraging religious ritual apart from a transformed heart. Jesus is so concerned about the heart of the person who prays that he precedes His teaching on prayer with a warning against pretending to be righteous.

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)

The key words “in order to be seen” are critical to a proper interpretation of the entire passage. Impressing men with outward displays of righteousness was a key problem among the scribes and Pharisees, the hyper-religious people of Jesus’ day whom He rebuked as hypocrites (mask-wearers). In the verses that then follow, we learn how not to pray like them.

We should not pray for the praise of men (vv. 5-6).

Clearly, it is not practicing righteousness through prayer, or any other means, that Jesus rebukes here. It is the self-centered motive underneath the acts of righteousness. A belief in self-righteousness is what Jesus attacked. See, for example, Matthew 23:1-8.

When we pray, we are not to do so in order to be recognized or praised by men. If we do, then the only reward we will receive is the one we craved in the first place—praise from others. Instead, we are to pray only with God’s glory in mind.

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

We should not pray with pointless words (vv. 7-8).

Jesus continued His instruction on how not to pray. More than once, He expressly tells us to not be like the hypocrites. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. [For more on God’s hatred of empty prayers, see Matthew 15:1-9.]

Prayer is not a means by which we impress God. It is simple communication of a child of God with his or her heavenly Father who already knows what we need and thoroughly understands our heart. Therefore, to gain an audience with Him we do not need to repeat meaningless words and phrases, or use a higher form of language than our common speech. Take off your religious masks and pour out your heart to Him. He knows what we need before we even ask Him. What a wonderful promise! This assurance of our heavenly Father’s love and care for our every need should compel us to pray from our hearts.

[This post is adapted from last Sunday’s sermon, Pray This Way, Part 1.]

If the subject of prayer is of particular interest to you, then you may want to check out two of my books:

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June 1, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Jerry Bridges on “Pray About Everything”

Jerry Bridges on “Pray About Everything”

Last year, one of my heroes and spiritual mentors, Jerry Bridges, went home to Glory. There is no doubt in my mind he received the “Well done” commendation from our Savior. For this reason, it was a great honor when he agreed to write the Foreword to one of my books on prayer. Here’s what he wrote:

“Why another book on prayer? It seems a new book on prayer appears so often to take its place alongside other books that have been on our shelves for a long time. So why another one? I can think of three reasons.

First, we need to be continually reminded of the basic truths of Scripture, especially in this day when we all experience information overload. We forget so easily unless we are constantly reminded. It was for this reason that, even in the early days of the New Testament church, the Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:12, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” And this reminder is especially needed in the area of prayer. Second, prayer is hard work. Paul calls it “striving” (Rom. 15:30) and “laboring earnestly” (Col. 4:12). Even Bible study and, for the pastor or teacher, message preparation seems easier to do than to struggle in prayer. So we need continual encouragement to pray. Third, and this reason is unique to this book, Pray About Everything is directed primarily toward congregational prayer in the context of the local church. My observation is that most books on prayer tend to focus on our individual prayer lives, and even in that area we need to be reminded, instructed, and exhorted. But the whole idea of corporate prayer seems to be gradually disappearing, even among our Bible-centered evangelical churches.

We proliferate our programs while at the same time we marginalize congregational prayer. The old-fashioned Wednesday night prayer meeting has virtually disappeared. And though there is nothing sacred about Wednesday night as a prayer-meeting time, there certainly is something sacred about the corporate prayer of believers. This emphasis makes Paul Tautges’ book a valuable contribution to our theology and practice of prayer.

Paul Tautges not only encourages us to pray corporately, but he also instructs us to pray biblically. Again, my observation is that much of the congregational prayer we do engage in is basically centered on our own health and financial needs. By contrast, Pastor Tautges directs us to the prayers of the Bible, which are basically God-centered. This is a book that will prove valuable to every member of a congregation. All of us need encouragement and instruction in the discipline of prayer, and this book will help us to that end.”

The book is due to release next week. Get a free eBook when you pre-order a paperback at discount here.

*If the subject of prayer interests you then you may also want to check out my other book on reasons for unanswered prayer.

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May 31, 2017
by Paul Tautges
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Jesus Is Not Ashamed of You

Hebrews 2:11 contains one of the most surprising statements in the New Testament. It says Jesus is not ashamed to call us His siblings. Why does the Bible make this statement, and how can it possibly be true? Before we answer those questions, we need a basic understanding of shame.

Webster’s Dictionary defines shame as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. A second definition of shame is “a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.” In her mini-book, HELP! I Feel Ashamed, Sue Nicewander provides a biblically-based definition.

…shame is “a painful [guilty] feeling due to the consciousness of having done or experienced something disgraceful … the feeling of being caught doing something bad or … of being seen while sinning.” Dr. Ed Welch describes shame-consciousness as “being exposed, vulnerable, and in desperate need of covering or protection. Under the gaze of the holy God and other people.”

Before Adam and Eve sinned in the garden there was no shame. They were “naked and not ashamed.” There were no other humans to hide from and there was no reason to hide from God. They were in perfect fellowship with Him. But then they sinned…and shame entered their world. As descendants of the first man and woman, shame is part of our world.

Shame generally takes two forms.

Nicewander says shame often occurs in two forms.

  • “I am bad because of what I have done.” In this case, personal sin produces guilt, and out of guilt may come feelings that biblical counselors typically call “sin shame.”
  • “I am bad because of what other people have done.” The sins of other people hurt you in ways that may cause feelings that biblical counselors often call “provoked-shame.”

In other words, shame may follow our own sinful actions, from accepting blame or failure, or it may be provoked by the sins of others against us. Regardless, feeling ashamed often results in feeling inferior or unworthy—beneath others, never worthy of their love.

Shame has good purposes.

Three purposes quickly come to mind.

  • Feeling ashamed over our own sin may be used by the Holy Spirit to lead us to repentance and genuine change. This was true of King David. Listen to his confession in Psalm 51.
  • Shame may also deter us from sinning in a certain way again. In Romans 6:21, the apostle asks the believer, “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.”
  • A desire to not be ashamed at the Judgment Seat of Christ may fuel our perseverance and faithfulness. See, for example, 2 Timothy 2:15 and 1 Peter 4:16.

But shame may be used against us.

Shame is a gift from God, but it may also be a tool of the devil to defeat and cripple us, and a means for ill-willed people to manipulate us. Men and women who have experienced various forms of abuse usually experience this when they assume the guilt of those who abused them. They somehow believe their abuse was their fault and, therefore, carry at least some of the guilt. Often this is untrue, but the power of shame still controls them. Another example is when you have been betrayed. Perhaps you dared to trust a friend or two with your secret thoughts or struggle, only to have them turn out to be a Judas or a gang of Pharisees who then used your transparency against you, to make you feel ashamed, to control you, to exalt themselves over you, to hurt you, or even destroy you, so that your shame would no longer be an embarrassment to them.

But all of this leads us to again ask, “Why does the Bible say that Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters?” If we are ashamed of our past actions, or sins which we are guilty of in the present, or carry the weight of shame others have imposed upon us, then why would Jesus not also be ashamed of us?

In the same Hebrews passage, we are told that Jesus had to be made like us in every respect (flesh and blood) in order to make propitiation for our sins and to become a merciful and faithful high priest, one who understands our temptations. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Heb. 2:18). Let us for a moment consider the temptation to let shame control you, or your sins and failures define you. Does Jesus understand this temptation, and how does His work remove our shame?

How does Jesus deal with our shame?

The redeeming work of Jesus deals with our shame in three ways:

  1. Jesus died for the sins that we are guilty of and, therefore, has taken our shame away. Peter wrote: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24). For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). The Son of God paid the penalty we deserved for our sins.
  2. Jesus experienced the worst possible shame. Though completely sinless, He was treated as if He were the ultimate sinner. He was put to shame in our place. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah predicted the shaming of Jesus. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isaiah 53:3). The author of Hebrews exhorts us later in his letter to keep our eyes focused on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2). Jesus despised the shame—OUR SHAME. He took our shame upon Himself, despised it, paid for it, endured it, and has taken it away!
  3. God continues to forgive us based upon the sufficiency of the death of His Son. The promise of God’s ongoing forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus is one we most likely turn to every day. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Does Jesus understand YOUR shame?

Yes, He does! Because of His mercy and grace, God accepts your heartfelt confession of sin, repentance, and faith in Jesus as your Sin-bearer and Shame-bearer, and welcomes you into His family—as an adopted son or daughter. And Jesus is not ashamed to call you His brother or sister.

Have you brought your sin and shame to Jesus? Have you been set free from its prison? If not, Jesus stands ready to welcome you with open arms if you will turn to Him today. And when you do, He will not be ashamed of you.

[This post is adapted from a recent sermon by the same title preached at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]

Recommended books on shame:

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May 26, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Yet the Finest Gold Is Yet to Come

Yet the Finest Gold Is Yet to Come

“Psalm 73 contains one of the most rhapsodic [emotionally expressive] and uplifting passages in the whole Psalter, and, indeed, there is hardly need for anything beyond letting their rhythms and sentiments sink into our souls.” So writes Alec Motyer in Psalms By the Day, which I lifted from my side table again this morning. These words, in particular, fed my soul:

“Asaph [the writer of Psalm 73] is weighing things in the balance: what can he reckon in his favour as compared with the ‘wellbeing’ of the ungodly which so troubled him. There are, indeed, things which we find in our heavenly ‘balance sheet’ — and which we should constantly prize.

  1. First and foremost is peace with God (v. 23a), that we are constantly accepted, welcomed, retained in his presence. ‘Peace with God’, and firstfruits of Calvary (John 20:19), our unchangeable inheritance in Jesus.
  2. Then there is security in his keeping — he who has gripped us by our hands (v. 23b). Recall Matthew 14:31 and John 10:28-29.
  3. Thirdly, there is the problem of ‘the future all unknown’. To us who cannot foresee what the end of this morning will bring, there is the comfort that everything that happens does so in conformity to and by direction of his ‘counsel’ (v. 24a).

What is impenetrable to us (the future) is an already drawn map lying before him (Ephesians 1:3-4; 2:10; Philippians 1:29-30). We can never over-exalt the sovereignty of God: he is truly God — the God in charge. And we need to remind ourselves that this is even especially so when things turn out either other than we expect or would wish. He is always on our side; always implementing his ‘counsel’. All this is a store of pure gold entered in our account; yet the finest gold is yet to come.”

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May 23, 2017
by Paul Tautges
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The Holiness of God and Our Happiness

The leaders of our men’s ministry selected the attributes of God as our theme for this past year, drawing somewhat from A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy and The Attributes of God. Therefore, at our last monthly breakfast of the season it was my turn to teach, and they gave me the topic of the holiness of God.

What does is mean that God is holy?

Holiness means that God is absolutely distinct and set apart from His creation. He is the opposite of profane or common. He is absolutely pure and free from any form of moral evil. A key Scripture passage illustrating this for us is Isaiah 6:1-7.

Here the soon-to-be prophet, Isaiah, caught a glimpse of God in blinding brilliance being worshipped by some of His angels who, night and day, proclaimed that God is holy, holy, holy. Regarding the repetition of this adjective, R. C. Sproul writes: “Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory.” [The Holiness of God, p. 26]

This set-apart-ness of God (holiness) became the basis of God’s call to His people to set themselves apart to God. In Leviticus 11:44, God says, “For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” As a result of being confronted with God’s set-apart-ness, Isaiah saw his own sinfulness, which resulted in repentance, confession, and surrender of his will to God’s service,  “Here am I, send me.”

4 Expressions of God’s Holiness

There are numerous ramifications to God being holy, but just consider for a moment four expressions of the holy character of God.

  • Righteousness: God’s actions are always consistent with His own holy standards (Psalm 145:17).
  • Justice: God never allows His holy standard to be violated without requiring payment for sin (Romans 3:26).
  • Wrath: God’s holy hatred for sin and His determination to punish it (Hebrews 10:31; Revelation 16:19).
  • Jealousy: God’s holy zeal to defend what is rightfully His (Exodus 34:14). It is not a sin for God to be jealous.

Implications for Followers of Christ

In 1 Peter 1:13-16, we are called to be holy because the God who called us by His grace is holy. We are to be:

  • Holy in mind- “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
  • Holy in desires – “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance…”
  • Holy in conduct – “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been called to walk in a manner that is holy—distinct, set apart unto the Lord. Not only does this glorify our Lord, but walking with God in holiness, grace, truth, and love also results in our own happiness. In fact, we could say that personal happiness is a fruit of personal holiness. A.W. Tozer writes of this connection, too, “No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he should be.”

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May 16, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on In Pursuit of Christian Womanhood

In Pursuit of Christian Womanhood

Making disciples is the work of the church. Jesus made that clear. But how do we make disciples? As we read the New Testament we see this pattern: We make disciples by coming alongside one another in the lifelong pursuit of becoming like our Savior. In other words, the work of discipleship takes place chiefly through relationships—relationships that include the two elements of instruction and example.

These relationships involve those who are spiritually mature; that is, those who are further down the road of walking with Christ and living according to His Word. These relationships also include those who are brand new to the faith, or not as further along in walking with God. In His infinite wisdom, God placed both mature and immature, both older and younger, together into the community of the faith for the purpose of spreading the gospel of His grace and glory.

This is very different than the world’s way of gathering people. Society’s strategy for the propagation of ideas and principles is peer gathering. In other words, keep the same aged people together at all times so that they will feel accepted, like they belong—based on superficial similarities. However, God’s design for discipleship is different. God’s design for Christian growth includes the necessity of an example, the essential involvement of older, mature teachers and examples. By God’s design, the local church is the ideal place for discipleship; a plan that requires the regular, intentional interaction across the generations. For our discipleship strategy to be fully biblical, it must be multi-generational.

That is what we see in Titus 2:1-8, where Paul directed Titus to teach the older men to model godliness and instruct the younger men as to what Christian manhood looks like, and where he instructed Christian women in matters of godliness and exhorted them to train up the younger women. In verses 3-5, we see the pursuit of Christian womanhood, as defined by the Bible not our culture.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

In this passage, we see 3 aspects of Christian womanhood.

HER MODELING (v. 3)

The apostle’s emphasis, first, is on what a Christian woman is to be. Her own spiritual growth and character development must be a high priority to her. This will open the door for her ministry to other women in the church. Four character qualities are mentioned:

  • Reverent Behavior – This is the only occasion this word in the New Testament. What does it mean that a godly Christian woman is “reverent” in her behavior? It means her demeanor and her state of mind are “suitable to holiness,” like those in sacred service. She acts in such a way as is fitting for God and service to God. Her godly behavior is her crown and jewel. Scripture says nothing about her career, education, or position in society, but it has much to say about the kind of woman she is. Infinitely more important than society’s measuring sticks for women, it is godly character and the confidence of her faith which God considers most important. The Christian woman’s reverent behavior is her adornment (See also 1 Timothy 2:9-11).
  • Not Slanderous – Some translations say “not a malicious gossip.” The reason for this is that the description is translated from one word, diabolos, which means “slanderer.” The King James Bible uses this word 35 times for the devil. A gossip does the work of the devil, but a mature, godly woman does not use her tongue to lift herself up by running down others. Instead, she is confident in Christ and strives to only use her words in a way that will build up others.
  • Self-controlled – Mature Christian women are not “slaves to much wine” (or any other foreign substance), but models of temperance and self-control. The word “slaves” means “enslaved,” meaning a completed state or condition. In other words, the godly woman is not enslaved to sin as a habit of life. In this case, drunkenness has no part in her life. Of course, the character trait of self-control applies to every area of life. Suffice it to say that the godly woman, by walking in the Spirit, rather than the flesh, exhibits the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:23).
  • Teacher of goodness- Mature Christian woman are “to teach what is good.” This does not refer to her formal role as an instructor or mentor, but describes the kind of advice she can give to the younger women, both privately in word and publicly by example. Now, notice where her godly example leads. Her faithful modeling leads to a disciple-making relationship with the younger women of the church. So, naturally, the apostle moves from her modeling to her ministry.

HER MINISTRY (vv. 4-5a)

The apostle is clear. The older women must be (verse 3) in order that they may do. They are to make their own spiritual growth in godliness a priority so that they may train the young women in the church. It is the noticeable godliness of the older women that earns the respect of the younger women in the church, thus paving the way for the eager reception of their verbal instruction, encouragement, and counsel. Her example is the launching pad of her ministry. That principle is true for all of us. Fruitful ministry flows out of who we are in our walk with the Lord. If we are not serious about living under the functional authority of the Word then we fail when it comes to being able to lead others. The apostle now gives 7 characteristics of the aspects of Christian character the older women are to train into the younger women.

  • Husband-loving – The primary way a wife loves her husband is by being the helper that God designed her to be (Genesis 2:18; 1 Cor. 11:8-9). The older women are to encourage the young women to love their husbands—to serve them, to help them be successful.
  • Children-loving – Today’s modern woman is consistently fed the lie that children are an inconvenience, that they are distractions that get in the way of her pursuit of a more meaningful career. However, the godly woman sees herself as uniquely created by God to bear children and to raise them up for His glory. Motherhood is a high and holy calling. Therefore, the older women of the church are to encourage the young women to invest their lives in loving their children.
  • Sensible – It means “of a sound mind,” and refers to self-mastery in thought and judgment. Older women should be balanced and discreet, mature, not women of extremes.
  • Pure – The godly woman is chaste, modest, and free from every fault. Christian women are to be holy, immaculate in character (1 Peter 3:2).
  • Committed to their domestic duties – “Working at home” is from a compound word, from “house” and “guard.” This verse does not prohibit the Christian woman from working outside the home, but it does call her to guard the priority of her home and family. They must not be neglected.
  • Kind – Commonly translated “good.” It refers to having a good constitution or nature, to be upright and honorable. There are some very mean women in the world, but a godly woman is known for her kindness. Kindness is her hallmark (Proverbs 31:26).
  • Submissive to their husbands – To be submissive means to arrange under, to subordinate. Submission is a character quality which God requires from every Christian within a variety of relationships. In the case of marriage, the godly Christian wife does not view submission as bondage, or the action of one who is inferior, but as God’s beautiful design for the orderliness of the family. For the Christian wife who is married to an unspiritual man, this becomes a chief means of the Holy Spirit’s conviction in his life (1 Peter 3:1-4).

HER MOTIVATION (v. 5b)

Why should the women of the church want to be known for having this kind of character? Verse 5 so that the word of God may not be “dishonored,” or blasphemed. If Satan can get the men and women of the church to forsake God’s design for their unique roles in exchange for the ever-changing ideals of the unsaved world, he will disrupt the redemptive power of the church in this world. The world will look at the church and conclude that we have nothing different to offer. But Christian womanhood is very different.

The heart’s motivation for the women described in this passage is the same as that of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31:30-31, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” The chief motive of the godly woman is the glory of the Lord. Her chief desire is to please the Lord…even above pleasing her husband or children. She fears the Lord more than she does them.

Ladies, the world is sending you many different messages about what it means to be a woman. The Word of God calls out to you, saying, you are uniquely created and gifted by God to bring glory to Him. Do this by pursuing His will, according to His Word, in whatever station or season of life you find yourself in. At the end of the day, in whatever you do, seek to bring Him honor and glory.

[This post is adapted from last Sunday’s sermon.]

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May 11, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Our Support Since Birth

Our Support Since Birth

In recent months, I’ve been thinking about the gracious hand of God’s providence by which He has led me the past 33 years of knowing Christ as Lord and Savior. I marvel that to bring me to where I am in life and ministry today took innumerable blessings, decisions, and experiences—both immensely joyful and heart-wrenchingly painful. Yet, through them all my sovereign Master has dealt well with me, even when at times His chastening hand was felt more acutely than His tender care. And to think that all His dealings with me began not 33 years ago, when my eyes were first opened to the gospel, but almost 53 years ago, when I was born. Indeed His love has reigned over all His gracious ways!

For this reason, I was struck by a testimony from Alec Motyer in his Psalms By the Day. This morning’s meditation was based on Psalm 71, which he entitles “The Life-long God.” Motyer writes:

“How far back in your life can you trace the hand of God? If you have never done this, I venture to think you will be surprised! In my earliest infancy I was left for a weekend with my maternal grandmother—and the weekend stretched out for my first seven years! The direct result of this is that I cannot remember a time when I did not love the Bible as the Word of God. Was this not the hand of God? I could tell you of more ‘coincidences’ (as they are called), and ‘accidents’ (as they seem), and the right person being in the right place at the right time—but I have no doubt your ‘story’ is similar. Consciously or unconscious to us, Yahweh has been our support since our birth (Psalm 71:6); it was he who caused us to be born at the time and place of his choice. Not accident but design, not coincidence but plan, not chance but divine direction—that is the story of every believer, the secret history of every conversion. It is the direct implication of the wondrous title of ‘Sovereign One’ (verses 5, 16), a God who truly is God, who holds in his hand not only the broad sweep of world history, but the tiniest details of personal stories; a God whom no circumstance or adversary—or collection of adversaries—can defeat; present in every place, master of every situation, deciding and controlling at every time. And so it will continue to be as long as earthly life shall last.”

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