Friday, March 24, 2017

Titus 2 Friends and Mentors

This is a devotion I gave for the women's ministry: Soul Café.

Like every time I have to give a devotion, I have a great idea.  I say something like, I know exactly what I want to talk about.  The problem with this statement is that, every time God says, this is not about what you want, it is about what I want.  So I intended to talk about fixing things.  How as women we want to fix everything, and we think we can, but we really should just be fixing our eyes on Jesus and trusting him to take care of things.  God in His wisdom, has laid this on my heart instead for you’ll tonight.  

As I look around at the faces of the women gathered here, I am sure we could hold a contest. That contest would be who is the most tired?  Who has run around the most?  Who has the most to do?   When I listen to women talk, time is always an issue.  Where are we putting it? Or it never feels like there is enough. Or just a general feeling of disconnect because we are partially plugged into so many things, but we are connected to none.

It used to be that women did things together.  They would get together without an agenda.  Better yet the only agenda was to help each other, to share real friendship and to mentor one another.

I don’t know about you but I have 407 friends on facebook.  I can get text messages all day long.  I check on people and share minor moments, but many times even with all the technology around I still feel disconnected.  Who can I really tell the truth about me to?  Who can I share my fears with?  Who can I share my broken heart with?  Who is going to pray with me or for me when I am just not able to pray for myself?  Who will be my friend when I am simply unloveable?  There are very few people I am truly connected to, people whom I am willing to share the ugly side of me. 

As women we often struggle alone, trying to balance the act of mom, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, employee, and friend, because when it is all said and done, our friendships are polite acquaintances.  It takes time to let anyone know the real things that are happening in our lives, and most of those moments take place between carpool or dinner, or whatever other obligation we have committed too.  Sometimes we don’t even stop to ask each other, how are you? And take the time to really listen because we are always on the go.

What does the Bible says about being a Godly woman, Proverbs 31:10-30

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

So we spend our days quite like this, trying to accomplish this laundry list of things that a Godly woman should do.  I don’t know about you but I fall short.   The passage is overwhelming to me, and I don’t even know where to begin.  I’ve always wondered how can one woman do all of this?  So we try and we run from place to place missing something very important.  A older wiser woman finally shared with me the secret to this passage, she told me, it is not written as a day or a week in the life, but as different seasons in the life of a woman. 

The thing about today is that we live in a world that wants us to do everything in a day, and it wants us to do it alone, to have no mentors and no real friendships.  The world wants us to feel comforted by facebook status, and a number of friends, even though it is hollow and lonely.  The world is pleased that our time is swept away and that no one is reminding us of real friendship, fellowship, or mentorship.

Titus: 2: 3-5

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

You see we live in a time where we do not make time for mentorship, or friendship the exceeds a surface level.  We don’t call each other anymore, we text.  We don’t visit each other because our time is spent working, carting kids around, and making up all the home responsibilities we put off to be at work or somewhere else.   We often look at older people from afar, and don’t make time to value their experience.  With Google at our finger tips we can search for any answer we might need, instead of seeking out the advice and experience from the women around us.  We don’t want to be exposed for not knowing, or needing help.  We don’t want to recognize that God uses His people to help in audible ways, so like the famous story goes, we drown on the roof waiting for God to show up and missing the boats or opportunities He sent.

Now a lot of people ask me about my relationship with my mother in law.  They wonder how we have the relationship we do.  She would say, she just decided she was going to like me no matter what.  I would say, I decided I was going to include her, because she never had a daughter.  She is one of my best friends.  She has been the friend and mentor that I needed at almost every step of my married and adult life.  She has been brave enough to tell me the hard things, and I have been wise enough to listen and not be condemned.  We have shared a Titus 2 relationship.  She has taught the things I missed growing up.  She and I are balanced, she is the good cop and I am the bad cop.  She encourages me to stand up for myself and say things I would never without her pushing.  She brings the best out in me, even when it hurts.  She adds a dynamic to my daughter her granddaughter that cannot come from me or someone of my generation.  In response, I share, I love, I forgive, I listen, I pray, and I respect her, even when I don’t agree or am offended.  You see we have learned that our friendship makes us both better.  We learn from each other, and as a result we grow in our faith through the gifts God has shown us in each other.

Friendship is hard.  It takes work and it takes time, and these days’ time and friendship are two things that are hard to come by.  God in His wisdom knows how important fellowship with likeminded believers is.  We are instructed to encourage each other daily.  1 Thessalonians 5 talks about because we are in the light and not the darkness we should encourage each other and build each other up.  Hebrews 3:13 says:  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We must tell each other truth.  We must create a language of truth, and  encourage each other with God’s word.

You see, as I look around at the faces tonight.  I see young women, I see older women, I see women who are new Christians, I see women with grown children, babies, and everywhere in between.  We are all struggling with time and connection.  We are all trying to figure out something.  We need to be brave enough to let someone in.  We need to be brave enough to listen to truth, and not feel condemned.  We need to speak truth, and love.  We need to lean on each other as a fellowship of Christian women. 

I always like to leave a challenge on the table.   Tonight I ask each of you to look around, find someone you can mentor in Christ.  I challenge you to be brave enough to speak truth in love to each other.  I challenge you to be brave enough to accept friendship that goes deeper than, “I am fine.” I challenge you to make time for Christian fellowship without agenda, but a fellowship of friendship and encouragement that will grow you in Christ.

Philemon 1:6, has this prayer that I want to make our prayer for tonight:

“…and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.

Thank you for coming tonight. 

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