How many times have you heard the phrase, "Cherish the time you have with… (insert the name of a relative or an influential person in your life)"? As a young child and a teenager, I never understood the depth of this principle. Maybe this lack of understanding came because of the ignorance of my age; I did not understand the necessity of learning all I could from the people who were standing and waiting to pass along a lifetime of wisdom they gathered from the experiences they had in life. However, this lack of understanding came to a halt on a November morning in 2008. When I awoke I was gearing up for a "normal day" until I received a phone call which informed me of the passing of my great grandfather. As I went to be at the side of my great grandmother during this time of grief, I learned about a man whom I failed to get to know when he was alive. Yes, my great grandfather was in his 70's when I was born but when I was able to drive and had the opportunity to go see him, I did not take the time. So, I was left to learn about a man from members of the family who had an intimate knowledge of him. Moreover, I had taken for granted the idea that my great grandfather would be alive to see me graduate from college, get married, and hold my children. I learned from the passing of my great grandfather the need to cherish the time I had with every influential individual God placed in my life. However this cherishing of information from those who have walked the paths of life and lived to tell the stories is not strictly an idea from our society. The passing of generational knowledge from those who are older to those who are younger is a principle drawn straight out of the pages of Scripture.
Paul is a wonderful example of a man of God who seized the opportunity to take all the knowledge he learned from the Lord and pass it on to those who were coming behind him in the faith of Jesus Christ. Moreover, the book of Titus is an example of Paul not only passing his intimate knowledge of God on, but also teaching Titus to do the same. In Titus 1 the reader learns that Titus was left on the island of Crete to perform ministry to the people living throughout the island. One of those ministerial responsibilities was to appoint elders in the towns of Crete. In order to complete this task, Titus was given a list of characteristics to use as a measuring stick. Another item Paul addressed was Titus' responsibility to teach those within his care. In Titus 2, Paul directed Titus to teach older men, older women (and by extension the younger women), and younger men. In short, Titus was to teach these four groups how to live in a Godly fashion in a godless world. Moreover, wrapped up in the instruction to teach these four groups was a charge for the older women to train the younger women and for Titus to be an example for the younger men to follow. Thus, we can boil Titus 2:1-7a to two overarching points: those within Titus' influence were to be teachable/trainable and were to be examples to those coming behind them in the faith of Jesus Christ.
In order to be teachable or trainable there is a need for humility and a need for a willingness to learn. If an individual comes to a situation of learning without humility, then there exists the inability to learn. To approach a situation of learning without humility is to make the assumption that you know everything, to display the thought that you are above learning and being taught. Along with humility, one must possess a willingness to learn in order to be taught. Training requires the individual to have a desire to learn information and wisdom. In 2 Peter 2, Peter explained that believers should crave spiritual milk in much the same manner that a newborn baby craves milk. For anyone who has raised a child, or been around a hungry child, he or she can relate to Peter's example. When a baby is hungry, it is hungry now; believers in Jesus Christ should crave, with the veracity of a hungry baby, learning from or being taught from the Word of God. Learning from God can only take place when the individual is humble and willing to learn.
The second element within Titus 2:1-7a is the principle of being an example to those who are younger. The older women were to train the younger women while Titus was instructed to be an example to the younger men in every area of life. Paul instructed the believers of Crete to be an example to those who were learning the things of God. Not only were those who are older by age to be an example, but also those who were older in the faith of Jesus Christ. This instruction was for those who had gained a firsthand knowledge in life and through a relationship with Jesus to pass their knowledge along to those who were younger or inexperienced. Without instruction regarding how to handle differing situations of life, younger generations are destined to repeat the mistakes and failures of those who have gone before. Just as I am lacking from my failure to learn wisdom from my great grandfather before he passed away, younger generations fail to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from those who have experienced all manner of life situations and lived through both successes and failures.
Unfortunately, I am certain that the reason the world is in its current state of disarray is due in part to older generations failing to pass along their knowledge and wisdom and in part to younger generations refusing to learn from those who have learned great lessons from experiencing life. My challenge is for all generations to humbly submit themselves to learning. Specifically, I challenge all generations to submit themselves to the Lord for instruction and to the instruction offered through Godly leadership. My second challenge is to older generations; teach younger generations how to conduct themselves in a manner that is honoring to God Almighty in all situations. Teach young men and women how to be acceptable members of society. Teach young men how to respect women. Teach young women how to treat their husbands and children. Teach young married couples how to have Godly marriages, how to honor God with their finances, and how to raise children according to a Godly standard. Moreover, I challenge younger generations to submit themselves to the teaching of those who have walked the paths of life with great successes and great failures. Younger generations, stop acting as though you have all the answers while you continue to make a mess of your situation. Stop acting as though you do not want or need help in your life. Young people, I beg you to honor God by honoring those who are older, wiser, and more knowledgeable about life and the application of God's Word.
James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years.
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.