By Valuing Those who Are Older

Steve Viars September 16, 2018 Titus 2:1-3
Outline

As workers age, they have greater difficulty in securing and retaining employment. They are more likely to drop out of the labor force and more likely to be unemployed...Women follow the same pattern.

Americans over 45 are disproportionately more likely than their younger counterparts to be among the long-term unemployed (those unemployed for 27 weeks or more). Americans older than 45 make up about 14% of the labor force but 37% of the long-term unemployed.  Older workers—even those as young as their late 40s and early 50s—are disproportionately more likely to fall into the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

One possible explanation for lower employment rates for older Americans is age discrimination in hiring practices. Compared to other charges of discrimination collected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination tends to display the strongest counter-cyclical trend.  That is, charges of age discrimination fall during good economic times and rise during recessions; more so than discrimination based on race or sex. Companies trying to cut costs in bad economic times will benefit more from laying off older workers, who get paid more than younger, lower paid entry-level workers…

Perhaps the most baffling aspect of this discussion is that this group represents the keystone segment of a workforce that has particular company knowledge and skill sets to manage effectively. When they walk, companies suffer.  Laying off older workers is very costly - in terms of settlement and the loss of human talent.  Economic Snapshots, Newsletter of the Economic Policy Institute.

the most baffling aspect of this discussion is that this group represents the keystone segment of a workforce that has particular company knowledge and skill sets to manage effectively.

verses 1-4 - Having a biblical view of self

 verses 5-9 - Having a high standard for leaders

verses 10-16 - With a strong commitment to truth

Proverbs 23:23 - Buy truth, and sell it not, get wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

3 components of a church family who positively impact one another

I. A Commitment to a Strong Mentoring Environment

A. Note the contrast

“But as for you”...

 Titus 1:16 - They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

Matthew 7:23 - And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me...

2 Peter 1:10 - ...give diligence to make your calling and election sure...

B. The necessity of practical holiness

”speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine”

Titus 1:9-10 - …holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.  For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision…

C. The power of positive mentoring

II. Older Men Who are Growing in Godliness

A. Definition of older

B. Desired characteristics and behavior

1. Temperate

a person who avoids extravagance and overindulgence in all areas of life

2. Dignified

semnos – honorable, dignified

3. Sensible

“They control their physical passions and they reject worldly standards and resist worldly attractions.”

4. Sound in faith

5. Sound in love

6. Sound in perseverance

C. What does that look like?

1. informally

2. in your home

3. at church

III. Older Women Who are Growing in Godliness

A. Desired characteristics and behavior

1. reverent in their behavior

“priest like, that which is appropriate to holiness”

2. not a malicious gossip

diabolos – slanderer, false accuser

3. not enslaved to much wine

4. teaches what is good

B. What does that look like?

Psalm 34:8 - O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Psalm 92:12-15 - The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Several years ago the Economic Policy Institute published a discussion about how older workers tend to be undervalued in the marketplace...I’ll summarize it for sake of time but the overall gist is very important...

As workers age, they have greater difficulty in securing and retaining employment. They are more likely to drop out of the labor force and more likely to be unemployed...Women follow the same pattern.

Americans over 45 are disproportionately more likely than their younger counterparts to be among the long-term unemployed (those unemployed for 27 weeks or more). Americans older than 45 make up about 14% of the labor force but 37% of the long-term unemployed.  Older workers—even those as young as their late 40s and early 50s—are disproportionately more likely to fall into the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

One possible explanation for lower employment rates for older Americans is age discrimination in hiring practices. Compared to other charges of discrimination collected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination tends to display the strongest counter-cyclical trend.  That is, charges of age discrimination fall during good economic times and rise during recessions; more so than discrimination based on race or sex. Companies trying to cut costs in bad economic times will benefit more from laying off older workers, who get paid more than younger, lower paid entry-level workers…

Perhaps the most baffling aspect of this discussion is that this group represents the keystone segment of a workforce that has particular company knowledge and skill sets to manage effectively. When they walk, companies suffer.  Laying off older workers is very costly - in terms of settlement and the loss of human talent.  Economic Snapshots, Newsletter of the Economic Policy Institute.

- the overall point is that we live in a culture that often undervalues the important contribution that can be made by people who are older...

- my dad worked for US Steel for 35 years...and he would often tell me of times when the money was tight, which it often was in the steel business, and so a whole group of older workers would be encouraged to retire early...which in some cases was pretty close to being forced to retire early...

- then when some problem would come up, the remaining younger workers didn’t have the knowledge or experience to deal with the issue...so guess who they’d be calling back?...

- the older workers...who had been given generous buyout packages, and now were hired by the company again...which cost a whole lot more money than if they’d been kept on the payroll to begin with...

- the phrase that I think should really stand out to us is the most baffling aspect of this discussion is that this group represents the keystone segment of a workforce that has particular company knowledge and skill sets to manage effectively.

- now, we’re not here to critique the employment policies of corporate America, but I would like to now ask you this...are things any different in the church of Jesus Christ?

- would the Word of God teach us that we have to find ways to value and harness the “company knowledge and skill sets” possessed by those who have a long track record of walking with the Lord?

- and how might that be related to our church family’s ability to properly impact our culture?

- and what are the implications of that to persons who are older?...what are the implications of that to persons who are younger?...

- with those questions in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Titus chapter 2...

[page 167 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you...]

- This fall we’re talking about Building on the Foundation of Grace.

- This is a verse-by-verse study of the book of Titus...

- I realize that some of you are just starting to attend church, or just starting to study the Bible...and we’re very glad you’re here...

- but the fact that we would study the Bible this way communicates something that is very important about us...that is, that our sole authority is the Scripture...

- we honestly believe it is the Word of God [please think about the significance of that phrase]...

- and around here it’s not the Bible plus what some human beings say, it’s not the Bible plus what some denominational leaders dictate...

- we stand in part for sola scriptura...the Scriptures alone...

- this book is so important because it was written by the apostle Paul to his son in the Faith named Titus...

- and Titus had been left by Paul on the island of Crete to set things in order in the church...

- and that was a very challenging ministry assignment...because the people there had a clear reputation for their godless behavior and beliefs...

- and what we like about this book is that we think it gives us clear and practical guidelines for how we should live and minister in a culture that is very similar to one described here...

- the core question has been...what is required to minister effectively in a challenging culture?

- and so far, from chapter 1, we’ve identified three main answers...

- from verses 1-4, ministering in a challenging culture requires Having a biblical view of self...don’t be a victim of identity theft...choose to view yourself and your situation through the grid of Scripture...

- from verses 5-9, this also requires Having a high standard for leaders...

- God values substance much more than style...and there are certain characteristics we must insist upon for our leaders, and strive toward for all of us because of the various leadership positions we’re all called upon to fill...

- and then from verses 10-16, it With a strong commitment to truth...

- we have to be people of integrity, people of the truth...

- the Cretans were known as liars....their own prophets admitted that was the case...

- and God’s people are to be radically different on that point...that’s another way we shine as bright lights in an ever darkening world...by preserving truth, and practicing truth, and promoting truth...as Solomon said in the book of Proverbs...Buy truth, and sell it not, get wisdom, and instruction, and understanding (Proverbs 23:23).

- now, the picture is starting to come together...to the degree that we meet these requirements individually and as a church family, we can ask and even expect God to bless us as we seek to serve Him in the day and age in which we live...

- this gives us a lot of direction, and a lot of challenging and introspective questions to ask...and a clear indication of the kinds of things that really matter to the Lord...

- now, you can’t help but wonder what Paul is going to emphasize next...and the bottom line is, the next part of this discussion will take us two weeks to study and apply...but it is really one of the most exciting, and challenging, and potentially powerful aspects of what the people of God in and through the local church can and should achieve together...

- especially in the situation in which we find ourselves as a church right now...there is a place and a need for every person in our congregation to be doing and benefitting from what this passage is describing...let’s listen in...READ Titus 2:1-7

- the fourth answer to our question of how to be effective in a challenging culture is this...

- It Requires Older Persons who Are Qualified and Willing to Mentor Others.

- in this passage, we can find 3 Components of a church family who positively impact one another.

I.  A Commitment to a Strong Mentoring Environment.

- when reading this passage, it is very important to...

A.  Note the contrast.

- remember that when the Bible was written, it didn’t come with chapter and verse divisions...

- they can be helpful, of course...but they can also interrupt the flow of thought in a passage of Scripture...

- “But as for you”...obviously takes us back to the end of chapter 1...

- and that is where Paul is talking about people who had come into the church but they hadn’t been changing...

- so regrettably...they professed to know God...but what does verse 16 of chapter 1 say?... Titus 1:16 - They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

- in other words, their lack of demonstrable fruit proved that they didn’t really know Christ...

- and those are haunting words...

- in fact Jesus Himself said that on the day of judgment...Matthew 7:23 - And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me...

- that’s why the apostle Peter encouraged people to... 2 Peter 1:10 - ...give diligence to make your calling and election sure...

- so what verse 16 points out is very important...they professed to know God but by their deeds they denied Him...

- Paul goes on to say...they were detestable...and disobedient...and worthless for any good deed...

- no wonder Paul said that Titus needed to straighten certain things out in the church...as long as these conditions remained, this body of people wasn’t going to have any impact for God...

- but thank the Lord for words like “but as for you...”

- in other words, it doesn’t have to be that way in the church...

- people can change...people can become dramatically different...

- the church can become a body of men and women who can really make a difference....

- now please go back to verse one of chapter 2 again—because the wording of this verse points us to...

B.  The necessity of practical holiness.

- ”speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine”

- not, speak about sound doctrine...that was addressed back in chapter 1 verses 9-10...

- Titus 1:9-10 - holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.  For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,

- now you might say...you’re just splitting hairs...

- not really...here’s the point...the Bible gives us both sound doctrine...truths about the character and works of God, and the nature of man, etc...

- but it also gives us practical implications of those truths...

- so, God is all-powerful...that’s theology....therefore I shouldn’t worry today...that’s application...

- believers in Christ sometimes fall into one of two ditches...

- either they try to live the Christian life without learning biblical truth so they have no theological moorings or anchor...

- or those who are satisfied with knowing theological facts without applying to the practical areas of everyday life...

- Paul is saying to Titus...you’ve got to have both...that’s why so often in the Bible you have a section of sound theology, followed by a section of practical application...

- and the point here is...Titus...people in the church have to be speaking about this all the time...”speak these things”...

- it’s a present tense command which suggests continuity and persistence...constantly be speaking about these things which are fitting for sound doctrine – that’s the way you should be impacting one another…

- now, if that is occurring, then you’re set up to experience...

C. The power of positive mentoring.

- that’s what this whole section of Scripture is about...

- older men living in such a way that they can teach younger men...

- older women living in such a way that they can teach younger women...

- and those relationships and that interaction can be a great blessing to everybody involved...

- one of the questions we have to ask here is, do we have a commitment to creating a strong mentoring environment...both now and in the days ahead?

- and you also might want to ask that individually---what evidence is there in your life that you have a commitment to a strong mentoring environment?

- now, you might say...what do you mean by that?...I need more data before I could even make that determination...that’s more than fair...let’s press on in the text...

- a second component is...

II. Older Men Who are Growing in Godliness.

- obviously mentoring only works if the persons in the lead positions [in this case, those who are older…] are out ahead spiritually...otherwise it just becomes a matter of spreading the spiritual measles

- now, you might wonder...what is the...

A. Definition of older?

- the Greek word is used to describe people as young as 50...

- the secular literature we surveyed used the cutoff of 45...

- most of us think it’s at least one year older than we ever intend to be...[I used to chuckle when my grandmother, even when she was in her 80’s, would talk about “those old people”...]

- now, if you’re younger here today, you might ask...how does any of this apply to me?

- here’s a couple of answers...this passage would suggest that it would be wise for you not to spend all your time around people who are exactly your age...

- and you might want to ask...do you have any spiritual mentors...do those people meet the qualifications outlines in this passage?

- you can also ask yourself...am I on a trajectory so that when I am older, I can be this kind of mentor to other people in the church and community?

- [because believe me, it will occur faster than you’ll ever believe...]

- so what are the...

B.  Desired characteristics and behavior.

- the list is very interesting, isn’t it?...especially in light of what was said about the Cretans in the previous chapter...

1. Temperate

- not just free from intoxication but a person who avoids extravagance and overindulgence in all areas of life.

2. Dignified

- it’s the Greek word semnos – honorable, dignified

- we’re not talking about being stodgy, but by now this person has seen and experienced enough of the challenges of life to have an appropriate level of seriousness...

3. Sensible.

- a very similar concept...

- “They control their physical passions and they reject worldly standards and resist worldly attractions.”

4. Sound in faith.

- that word was used in verse 1 as well...sound, healthy, vibrant...

- this is an older man who still believes in trusting God...

- his years haven’t made him cynical or bitter...

- he’s weathered the storms of life well...he’s “sound in the faith…”

5. Sound in love.

- sure other people have hurt him, and disappointed him...

- but he chooses to be loving to others anyway...

- his love is healthy, and vibrant, and strong...

6. Sound in perseverance.

- he keeps going, and serving, and striving even though he has seen his share of heartache and pain...

- and here’s the point...when a church has men like that...who are working at developing that kind of consistent character...they are in a position to impact and model and lead others in the church...and those the Lord wants to bring into the church in the days ahead...

- now, you might say...

C. What does that look like?

1. informally

- it can look like just about anything...

- a man’s faithful attendance and participation in church makes a statement...

- the way he carries himself...

- what he does and doesn’t do...what he says and doesn’t say...all of that, consciously or not, makes a statement...your life is always teaching others something…

2.  in your home.

- the way you treat your wife is communicating a message to your children...

- what you value and prize...how you spend your time and your resources...

- talking about strong families and homes where the dad recognizes his critical mentoring responsibilities with his children and grandchildren...

- obviously in this context, the emphasis is especially on what is happening…

3. at church

- when you participate in a discussion in your ABF, you’re mentoring...

- when you get involved in a point man group and discuss principles of Scripture around a table...you’re mentoring...

- when you’re going fishing but you call up the son of one of our single moms, you’re mentoring...

- when you volunteer to be around our kids by serving in our of our SS classes, or WNKoF, or one of our youth programs, down at the HH...maybe even just by listening to Bible verses, or helping out with some aspect of the program...you’re mentoring...

- and that kind of lifestyle can be a great blessing...

- the church is strengthened because your character is being multiplied...

- you are being blessed because of the joy of serving...

- and the condition of the community is enhanced because the church is one of the most logical places there is for powerful and practical mentoring to occur...

- now, that leads to some questions...

- if you consider yourself in the older category...

1.  are you developing the kind of character that meets the qualifications laid out in this text...

2.  are you consciously looking for opportunities and relationships to do what this passage is clearly emphasizing...are you mentoring someone?...

- and if not, on either count, what are you going to do about it?

- if you consider yourself in the younger category...who is mentoring you?...what kind of relationships are you establishing to benefit from the wisdom that many men in our church possess?

- and are you trying to develop the kind of character where you can mentor somebody else...[it can start pretty young—cf. high school kids working in clubs...]

- now, what comes next logically in the passage?...the third component is of course...

III. Older Women Who are Growing in Godliness.

A.  Desired characteristics and behavior.

 1. reverent in their behavior.

- that is a fascinating word---this is the only place in the NT where it is found...

- “priest like, that which is appropriate to holiness.”

- just like we said with the men---we’re not talking about some kind of stodginess...but this person has been a good steward of the opportunities to grow and is now in a position to make a significant contribution to the cause of Christ...

2. not a malicious gossip.

- this is a person who has learned to bridle her tongue...

- the Greek word here is diabolos – slanderer, false accuser – used 34 times in the NT to speak of Satan

- some women will never be able to mentor others effectively because they won’t get over this hurdle of only speaking in the appropriate way at the appropriate time to the appropriate people...

3.  not enslaved to much wine.

- this is a person who finds her joy in God and His Word not the bottom of a bottle...

4.  teaches what is good.

- next week we’ll study the content of that teaching...but this is a woman who truly has a concern to teach younger women what God has taught her...

B.  What does that look like?

- I won’t tick down through the same list I did for the men...but the answer is practically identical...

- much of this occurs informally, it also needs to be a strong concern for one’s children and grandchildren...and there are all sorts of mentoring opportunities in the church...

- so the application questions become the same as those for the men...

- if you consider yourself in the older category...

1.  are you developing the kind of character that meets the qualifications laid out in this text...

2.  are you consciously looking for opportunities and relationships to do what this passage is clearly emphasizing...

- and if not, on either count, what are you going to do about it?

- if you consider yourself in the younger category...who is mentoring you?...what kind of relationships are you establishing to benefit from the wisdom that many men in our church possess?

- and are you trying to develop the kind of character where you can mentor somebody else...

- now, let’s step back and think about this more globally for a moment...

- can’t you see the wisdom of the Lord in all of this...

- how do you impact a Cretan-like culture?

- the answer is...build the kind of church that is described in this text...

- and a body of people growing in this fashion could not but help being a bright light in their community which in turn draws others to Christ who in turn need to be mentored but as they grow they then can mentor someone else and the process starts all over again...

- [thank the many who are already serving this way]...

a. all our children’s ministries…[especially as we attract more children who were formally unchurched…]

b. People working in our Christian school

c. Ladies Bible studies and programs like Mom 2 Mom…

d. Men’s Point Man Groups

e. Those serving in our counseling center

f. Volunteers at VOH

g. Volunteers at Men’s Restoration

- by God’s grace we are continuing to become a local church mentoring machine…

- in fact – we’re a lot like a chocolate factory – producing a product that is sweet and therefore attractive to others…

- we’re essentially saying to others – choose your god carefully…your source of joy, and strength, and satisfaction…

- Psalm 34:8 - O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

- faithful mentoring offers others a taste of the sweetness of our Savior…

- how does this fit into our overall philosophy of accomplishing the mission God has given us?...

- [point – the tip of the spear in the transition between phase 3 and phase 4 is often a personal relationship…faithful mentoring…]

- Q – are the opportunities to do this about to increase in the days ahead?...absolutely, and incredibly so…

- you could talk to your service pastor about mentoring opportunities…sharing with other what God has already taught you…

- and please don’t under-estimate the power of that, even while you grow…

- [if time – develop the increased concern in our community – and practically every community – about the uptick in addictions and the lack of resources or effective treatment models – what a marvelous opportunity for the church to provide wrap around services…

- starting of course with the gospel…

- but then personal relationships to walk with a person seeking to come out of a life-dominating sin…

- a great opportunity for the beauty and wisdom of Jesus Christ and His Word to be put on full display in a dark and darkening culture…]

- and if that’s happening, what about the blessing back to people who are older…

Psalm 92:12-15 - The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video