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Paul & Rufus' Mom: Family

February 19, 2012 Series: Paul & _______

Topic: New Testament Passage: Titus 2:1–2:8

Titus 2.1-8 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 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. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Before we launch into a series on the book of Judges, we are spending four weeks on our family traits. To do that, we’re examining four different relationships in the life of the apostle Paul.  Our hope is that, through these four relationships, we will get a clear picture of the kind of relational-culture we desire to foster. The first week we learned about gospel-encouragement from the relationship between Paul & Barnabas.  Last week, we sought to understand gospel-admonishment from a conflict between Paul & Peter. And today, we are learning from a little-known relationship between Paul & Rufus’ mom.

Rufus’ Mom
Rufus’ mom is found in the book of Romans, Paul’s comprehensive explanation of the gospel. At the end of the book, Paul dedicates the 16th chapter to personal greetings to friends and fellow workers.  Tucked in the middle of a list of names, in verse, 13, Paul greets a man named Rufus, and expresses appreciation for his mom.  The only other Rufus we know is the son of Simon of Cyrene—the man who was forced to carry the cross of Jesus (Mark 15.21).  So, if this is the same family, Rufus’ mom was Simon’s wife.  About her Paul writes: Romans 16.13  13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.  This is the kind of verse that we might be apt to read over without stopping to consider the weight of it.  We are spending four weeks on four different relationships and traits, together they form a complete picture of a healthy church—alone is a recipe for disaster.  The word thing we can do is commit becoming a church devoted to proclaiming Gospel truth to everyone if we fail be a church that is loving toward one another on mission. Jesus warns the church of Ephesus about this in Revelation chapter 2, a church that has all its doctrine right but forgets their first love.  And of course that begins with a love for Jesus, but that extends into a love of prayer, love of worship, a love of evangelism, a love for mission, and especially a love for one another.   We mustn’t ever forget what Jesus taught not only by his words, but by his example, what would characterize his people.  John 13.34-35 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  

Paul felt loved by Rufus’ mom.  Yes, we need a church full of people committed to preaching, but more than that, we need a need a church full people committed to pastoring.   

What does it mean to pastor?
Paul says Rufus’ mom, who was a mother to him, he felt loved. A mother is someone who endures a child’s quirks and mistakes, as she faithfully cares, comforts, and encourages--especially when others fail.  A mother loves.  But loving is not just being CARING., it is actively nurturing one in the things of Christ.  When I consider what my mother did for me, and what I see my wife doing for my children she is: 1) Representing God well to the next generation   2) Protecting those in your care from wolves and false truth 3) Feeding what will nourish the heart 4) Leading by example in the things of Christ

 Most importantly, Mom’s don’t have to try and love their children.  This is what Rufus’ mom did for Paul.  And as we consider what this means for our church, know that this is what I want so desperately for us—joy not duty.  The hardest thing about preaching is that I am going to speak, all authority today, but I cannot change your heart.  That’s not my job.  But it is my job to tell you that a refusal to love is rooted in a disbelief of the gospel—the one things that can change your heart. 2Corinthians 5.14-15 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.  Loving those in your care is about living God, not for those you love. 

Who is in your care?
But who are those in your care?  Look around. Got has brought all of you here for a purpose.  All of our passions, giftings, skills, experiences, wisdom has collectively been gathered to worship, serve, and grow in all unity and glory to God. One does not have to be an elder or a deacon in order to contribute to the “work of ministry.”  Not everyone will be called to plant a church, serve as a deacon, or lead a ministry, but all members of the church have responsibilities as family members. The life and health of the church is dependent upon individuals pastoring as a rhythm of life in our church NOT as part of a program.  We all need to understand our role as a person, regardless of title, that God has YOU here to GIVE TO and RECEIVE FROM us.  If we individual fail in our responsibility to honor God in the role he has given us, then we hinder the church’s health and effectiveness.  A culture of pastors is necessary for our mission.  Which brings us to Titus…

Titus:  Roles & Responsibilities
The letters to Timothy and Titus represent Paul’s mind as he considers the future generation of pastors and churches that will continue after he dies.  He has been entrusted with a set of truths and traditions he wants entrusted to faithful men.  And he begins this section by telling Titus that to teach what Paul has taught him, not because it is really easy, popular, or effective, but because it accords with sound doctrine.  Failure to live these things not only makes us unloving, it makes us unsound doctrinally and unbiblical.  The scary thing is that you can have a lot RIGHT in your church, but if you get LOVE wrong, you lose. 

Like Titus, as the pastor, it is my job to teach the older men and older women, and to set an example for the younger men to follow.  But I am not the only one responsible for the teaching in this church.  Bottom line…Our church has a need for godly older men to father younger men.  And our church has a need for godly older women to pastor younger women.  And our church has a need for godly younger men and women to, humble themselves and learn from their wisdom, experience, and example. 

Two things hinder us from living this out – lack of INITATIVE and a lack of INVITATION.   Consider who you are:

OLDER MEN: Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.  If you are an older man, God wants you to set an example for younger men.  I don’t know exactly what constitutes an older man.  The average age in our church is probably somewhere around 35.

The most important thing for you to do is not to teach with your mouth but to train other men with your example NOW, regardless of what your example was back THEN.  Our younger men need to see what it looks like to be a godly man, husband, father, and servant of Christ—they need a vision for 5, 10, 15 years from now.  Our younger men need to see men who are wise, measured in their decision-making, choosing harder rights over easier wrongs.  Our younger men need to see greybeards living a life that is actually governed by the Word of God.  Our younger men need to see older men with a passion for faith in Christ, a commitment to love like Christ, and a certain hope for Christ’s return. 

You may retire from the world of work, but never from gospel work.   Remember, Moses began his ministry when he was 80, Joshua led the army when he was around 60.  I look forward to being that fireball old fart yelling at the youngsters to charge the hill with my walker. Right now, I need that!  See, with every generation, there is a new young passionate group of church leaders. They lead influential churches, write books, and use technology to saturate the culture with their teaching.  And as a result, you get thousands of young men following other young men who, however popular or well-spoken they might be, are only a few steps ahead of them in life.  But older men, YOUR example,  more than any pastor, author, or blogger, will impact me.  As Paul commends, we need to see men who are   In order for that to happen, you have to be close enough for them to see you. 

OLDER WOMEN:  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.

Paul is brave to talk about older women, and wise not to put an age on it.  Whatever an older woman is, she has a responsibility to not only set an example, to but to teach and train younger women.  As for their example, they are to be reverent in the way they live. This is the only place this word occurs in the New Testament and it alludes to someone engaged in temple service.  In other words, older women set an example of respectful behavior in the church.   Though I believe we need strong MEN, a healthy culture of respect in a church is deeply connected with its WOMEN.  They are important examples for everyone, men, women, children, as an example of what service to the Lord looks like.  Additionally, they are to set an example in those things that the younger generation fails at:  honorable use of language, food, drink, and dress. 

Titus, the pastor, is to teach the older women, but  the best teachers for younger women are older women. (Young pastors should not be the ones leading the marriage ministries or parenting classes – that should be older men and women). More than a passive example, older women are commanded to actively TRAIN the younger woman to love.   I don’t know what that training looks like, but it begins with intentionality.  It begins with making an effort to come along side younger women so as to feed them, correct them, and pastor then in the things of Christ.  What are these things? They must be trained to enjoy and celebrate to love their role as a wife, to love their role as a mom, and to love their homes in a way that honors God. And the motivation for all of this training  not to get a bunch of young ladies to respect you, it is not to feel “filled” up because you’re doing your duty, it is uphold the honor of God’s Word in this world—this is the motivation for a godly older woman. 

Two of the greatest justifications for a lack of initiative in these mentoring roles, by older men and women, is the false assumption that you have nothing to offer OR the correct observation that the younger generation isn’t interested.  As to the first, please know you have much to offer.  And you can begin Fathering or Mothering some of us by simply being among us and not being silent. And for the second (where young families aren’t very inviting), as for this church, younger men and women need to SHUT UP, LISTEN, WATCH, LEARN, and IMITATE.

YOUNGER WOMEN: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  Younger women, there are many things you can do as a woman in this world.  And I am not about to have a debate about what should or should not do.  But I will preach with all authority that there are a few things you must do as a Christian young woman: You must be devoted to your purity, devoted to your husband, devoted to your children, and devoted to working hard to make your home a powerful witness to the beauty of the Word of God.  The reason you need older women is because learning these things is hard and doing them is even harder.  It is tempting to give up in despair or pridefully reject God’s Word, and the roles it describes, as culturally old-fashioned or not compatible with your personality.  Do not pit culture against the Word of God.  It is the Word of God, not the world and all that it preaches about marriage and family, that wants to see women fulfilled emotionally, physically, and spiritually by living according to God’s design. 

YOUNGER MEN :  Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.   And for you younger men, it Paul has one things to say-the thing you struggle with most—be mature. Children do childish things.  To avoid anyone looking down on your youthfulness avoid doing childish things.  By the Spirit, exercise self-control.  If you are married, be a one woman man in every way. If you are not married, treat women like sisters.  Exercise control of the self, deny your flesh. Control your use time, control how you spend your money, control your temper, control your tongue, control your ambition, and control your sexual appetite.  Discipline yourself to set your mind on Christ, like an athlete in a gym, train become established and sound in your faith, learning both from God’s Word and from the older men in the church (2Tim 2.22-26; Titus 2.6-8).

In conclusion, Paul tells Titus in verse 15 to declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.  And “these things” are not necessarily the specifics of each role.  Instead, I believe what Paul wanted him to declare is how accomplishing any of these things is possible. GOSPEL GRACE.
 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  Let us never believe that we become a church that loves one another through our own rules or efforts.  A church that functions like a family, a church that is full of moms like Rufus’, is a church that leans heavily into the gospel of grace. 

  • It is grace that saves us—we do not save ourselves.
  • It is grace that trains us to say “no” to ungodliness—not our own efforts.
  • It is grace that helps us live self-controlledand godly lives in a broken world—not our own rules.
  • It is grace that reminds us that our hope is in Christ’s return—not in perfect marriages, families, or even churches in this present age.
  • But it is grace that compels us toward good works of love –that we might honor him with the time we have here.

Benediction – Joshua 24.15-15

More in Paul & _______

February 26, 2012

Paul & Timothy: Discipleship

February 12, 2012

Paul & Peter: Admonishment

February 5, 2012

Paul & Barnabas: Encouragement