A church is composed of a diversity of people. Paul tried to show this by describing the human body and all of its parts. Every part is different, but each carries out important functions in the body and is therefore needed. All parts together make up one body, the Church. We understand what Paul wanted to say with this comparison: we should not wish to be like others but fulfill the place that God has assigned us. This idea can be read in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. It would be useful to read these verses.
The above example could be applied to the local church. We are not just different because of our talents but also because of differing age groups — children and youth on one end and seniors on the other. The passing of time has brought us here, and here we belong and have our place to fill. Truly! Even seniors have a place to fill and a role to play in the overall church picture. Let us take some time to contemplate our mission, and take ownership of our responsibilities.
In Titus 2, the apostle Paul describes a healthy local church. There he mentions “older men” in verse 2 and “older women” in verse 3, thereby securing them a place within the church. But it is not just about belonging but about the work they are to do. The idea of being superfluous or not being useful should be ignored. These types of thoughts may hinder us and let us sink into negativity.
Most of the older brothers and sisters look back on a blessed life. They have traveled with the Lord for many decades. Many experiences and answered prayers happened during this time. Unfortunately, not every occurrence was recorded. You can most certainly testify that “God was good to me.” God’s mercy, faithfulness, and compassion were active throughout this time. Our walk with God taught us much. From the outset as a spiritual child to the mature man, it was a blessed time in God’s school. Just remember your developing ability to trust God throughout the years. Before this, one would often panic and think that God needed our help. Today, we can patiently watch as God safely and slowly leads to His goal. We know that we are safe in His hands. Also, our ability to discern has grown. Through constant reading in the Scriptures, walking with God, and from experiences, we can discern good from bad (Hebrews 5:14), but also decide what is the best (Philippians 1:9-11). Recognizing and avoiding dangers depends on our personal maturity. Certainly, there are other reasons that could be mentioned. By summarizing everything as Paul did, we could say “I have learned” (Philippians 4:11).
Does all this have anything to do with the life in a church? Yes. God gives us the opportunity, through our experiences and knowledge of God, to become a “foundation” in the church. We can become a guiding influence on the future generations. Opportunities are not in short supply. One just needs to recognize and take advantage of them.
Titus, encouraged by Paul, was to say the following to the older men: that they were to “be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, and in patience.” These are significant words, and each word needs to be studied carefully. Future generations are to be influenced and led by a healthy faith. These characteristics are of utmost importance during times of crises. Is my behavior honorable? Do I evaluate occurrences temperately and from a neutral perspective? Is my faith visible in my behavior? Am I motivated by love, and do people around me perceive this love? Have I been patient in my dealings with others throughout my life? Those are serious thoughts that put a big responsibility on each of us.
In the verses that follow, Paul describes the characteristics of older women. God’s holiness should be visible in their behavior. Then a list follows that defines this life. Firstly he mentions slandering or gossiping about others. Strange that he should mention this attribute first. Do I talk too much, and is what I say true? Maybe they are only suspicions that I have been telling others. There is probably nothing as damaging to a church as spreading gossip or slandering others. Older women are also not to be given to much wine but be “teachers of good things.” This teaching refers to the next generation, the young women, and includes a number of points. Teaching is only possible if a relationship exists. Teaching without this relationship is often viewed as criticism and does not work. How much damage has often resulted from this “teaching.” First, establish a relationship. You ask: How that is done? For example, a younger sister may find your perogies or cheesecake tasty. This provides an ideal opportunity to say: “I could show you how to make them.” After showing her how to make them, while having a cup of coffee or tea, you may tell her about your experiences in your life. You “teach,” but she does not notice that you are now her “teacher.” You, however, have influenced her, which has a lasting value.
The more we think and pray about these ideas, the more we realize how extensive our responsibilities are as seniors. We may almost come to the conclusion that “there is so much to do and so little time.” A composer once wrote: “Let us do what we are able since few days remain.” Timely words.
Now we consider the children and youth. Young fathers and mothers are also watching us. The bible describes the world in which we live as lying “in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 ESV). Values which we grew up with are no longer valued. Questions and worries about the future are reality. And here, most certainly, we as older brothers and sisters are obligated to live out our faith and to magnify God. The next time you meet a young person, remember that you have a job. Step into the world of that young person, reach out your hand, speak words of joyful encouragement, and put in a word for the Lord.
Do not respond by saying that “this all fine, but it is not for me.” Then you will miss opportunities that you should have made use of. Let me encourage you to go about with a joyful heart to recognize and fulfill your purpose. These ideas I’ve given could also become prayer prompts. We can pray for wisdom. The Holy Spirit can teach us in this aspect; He can open doors and give open hearts, and can bless these words.
Start by reading Titus 2:1-5 with a prayerful heart, meditate on this, maybe even write down the important points, and then study them further. I am pleased to see that you are willing to try this. I wish you a blessed time participating in the work of the church.