Make Healthful Teaching Your Way of Life
“Godly devotion is beneficial for all things.”—1 TIMOTHY 4:8.
1, 2. To what extent do people show concern for their health, and with what result?
MOST people will readily agree that good health is one of the most precious possessions in life. They devote a great deal of time and money to keeping themselves physically fit and making sure that they receive proper medical attention when they need it. In the United States, for example, the annual health-care cost for a recent year was more than $900 billion. That amounts to well over $3,000 a year for every man, woman, and child in that country, and the per capita cost in other developed nations is not far behind.
2 What has all the expenditure of time, energy, and money brought? Certainly no one will deny that, on the whole, we have far more advanced medical facilities and provisions today than at any other time in history. Yet, this does not automatically translate into healthful living. In fact, in a speech outlining a proposed health-care program for the United States, the president pointed out that in addition to “the outrageous costs of violence in this country,” residents of the United States “have higher rates of AIDS, of smoking and excessive drinking, of teen pregnancy, of low-birth-weight babies” than any other developed nation. His conclusion? “We have to change our ways if we ever really want to be healthy as a people.”—Galatians 6:7, 8.
A Healthful Way of Life
3. In view of ancient Greek culture, what counsel did Paul offer?
3 In the first century, the Greeks were known for their devotion to physical culture, bodybuilding, and athletic contests. Against this background, the apostle Paul was inspired to write to the young man Timothy: “Bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) Thus, Paul was pointing out what people today are coming to acknowledge, namely, that medical or physical provisions do not guarantee a truly healthful way of life. Paul assures us, though, that what is indispensable is the cultivating of spiritual well-being and godly devotion.
4. What are the benefits of godly devotion?
4 Such a course is beneficial for “the life now” because it provides a protection against all the harmful things that ungodly people, or those who have only “a form [or, appearance] of godly devotion,” inflict upon themselves. (2 Timothy 3:5; Proverbs 23:29, 30; Luke 15:11-16; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Those who allow godly devotion to shape their lives have a healthy respect for God’s laws and requirements, and that motivates them to make God’s healthful teaching their way of life. Such a course brings them spiritual and physical health, satisfaction, and happiness. And they are “safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Timothy 6:19.
5. What instructions did Paul provide in the second chapter of his letter to Titus?
5 Since a life guided by the healthful teaching of God brings such blessings now and in the future, we need to know, in practical terms, how we can make God’s healthful teaching our way of life. The apostle Paul provided the answer in his letter to Titus. We will take special note of the second chapter of that book, where he instructed Titus to “keep on speaking what things are fitting for healthful teaching.” Surely all of us, young and old, male and female, can benefit from such “healthful teaching” today.—Titus 1:4, 5; 2:1.
Counsel for Older Men
6. What counsel did Paul offer for “the aged men,” and why was it a kindness on his part to do so?
6 First, Paul had some counsel for the older men in the congregation. Please read Titus 2:2. “The aged men,” as a group, are honored and looked up to as examples of faith and loyalty. (Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 16:31) Because of this, others may be reluctant to offer counsel or suggestions to older men on matters that are less than extremely serious. (Job 32:6, 7; 1 Timothy 5:1) Therefore, it is a kindness on Paul’s part to address the older men first, and it would be well for them to take to heart Paul’s words and to be sure that they, like Paul, are worthy of imitation.—1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17.
7, 8. (a) What does being “moderate in habits” involve? (b) Why must being “serious” be balanced with being “sound in mind”?
7 The older Christian men are, first of all, to be “moderate in habits.” Though the original word can refer to the drinking habit (“sober,” Kingdom Interlinear), it also has the meaning of being watchful, clearheaded, or keeping the senses. (2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Peter 1:13) Thus, whether in drinking or in other things, the older men must be moderate, not given to excesses or extremes.
8 Then, they are also to be “serious” and “sound in mind.” Being serious, or august, venerable, and worthy of respect, normally comes with age. Some, though, may tend to be overly serious, becoming intolerant of the energetic ways of youth. (Proverbs 20:29) That is why “serious” is balanced with “sound in mind.” The older men need to maintain the seriousness commensurate with age, yet at the same time be balanced, having full control of their feelings and impulses.
9. Why must the older men be healthy in faith and love and especially in endurance?
9 Finally, older men are to be “healthy in faith, in love, in endurance.” Many times in his writings, Paul listed faith and love along with hope. (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8) Here he replaced “hope” with “endurance.” Perhaps it is because the feeling of resignation can easily slip in with advancing age. (Ecclesiastes 12:1) However, as Jesus pointed out, “he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) In addition, older ones are worthy examples to the rest not simply because of their age or experience but because of their robust spiritual qualities—faith, love, and endurance.
For the Older Women
10. What counsel does Paul provide for “the aged women” in the congregation?
10 Paul next turned his attention to the older women in the congregation. Please read Titus 2:3. “The aged women” are the senior members among the women in the congregation, including wives of “the aged men” and mothers and grandmothers of other members. As such, they can have considerable influence, for good or for bad. That is why Paul introduced his words with “likewise,” meaning that “the aged women” also have certain responsibilities to live up to so as to fulfill their role in the congregation.
11. What is reverent behavior?
11 First, “let the aged women be reverent in behavior,” said Paul. “Behavior” is the outward expression of one’s inner attitude and personality, as reflected in both conduct and appearance. (Matthew 12:34, 35) What, then, should be the attitude or personality of an aged Christian woman? In one word, “reverent.” This is translated from a Greek word that means “that which is befitting in persons, actions or things consecrated to God.” This is certainly appropriate counsel in view of the influence they have on others, especially on the younger women in the congregation.—1 Timothy 2:9, 10.
12. What misuse of the tongue should all avoid?
12 Next come two negatives: “not slanderous, neither enslaved to a lot of wine.” It is interesting that these two are grouped together. “In ancient times, when wine was the only beverage,” observes Professor E. F. Scott, “it was at their little wine-parties that old women would tear their neighbours’ characters to pieces.” Women are generally more concerned about people than are men, which is commendable. Yet, concern can deteriorate into gossip and even slander, especially when the tongue is loosened by drink. (Proverbs 23:33) Surely, all who are pursuing a healthful way of life, men and women, do well to watch out for this pitfall.
13. In what ways can older women be teachers?
13 For a constructive way to use the available time, older women are encouraged to be “teachers of what is good.” Elsewhere, Paul gave clear instructions that women are not to be teachers in the congregation. (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12) This, however, does not prevent them from imparting precious knowledge of God in their household and to the public. (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15) They can also accomplish much good by being Christian examples to the younger women in the congregation, as the following verses show.
For the Young Women
14. How can younger Christian women show balance in caring for their duties?
14 In encouraging the older women to be “teachers of what is good,” Paul particularly mentioned the younger women. Please read Titus 2:4, 5. While much of the instruction centers on domestic affairs, younger Christian women are not to go overboard, allowing material concerns to dominate their lives. Rather, they are to be “sound in mind, chaste, . . . good,” and above all, ready to support the Christian headship arrangement, “so that the word of God may not be spoken of abusively.”
15. Why are many of the younger women in the congregations to be commended?
15 Today, the family scene has changed considerably from what it was in Paul’s day. Many families are divided as to faith, and others have only one parent. Even in so-called traditional families, it is increasingly uncommon that the wife or mother is a full-time homemaker. All of this puts tremendous pressure and responsibility on young Christian women, but this does not exempt them from their Scriptural obligations. It is a great pleasure, therefore, to see many faithful young women working hard to balance their many duties and still managing to put Kingdom interests first, some even being in the full-time ministry as auxiliary or regular pioneers. (Matthew 6:33) They are truly to be commended!
For the Young Men
16. What counsel did Paul have for the younger men, and why is this timely?
16 Paul then came to the younger men, including Titus. Please read Titus 2:6-8. In view of the irresponsible and destructive ways of many of today’s youths—smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, illicit sex, and other worldly pursuits, such as wild sports and debased music and entertainment—this is indeed timely advice for Christian youths who want to follow a healthful and satisfying way of life.
17. How can a younger man become “sound in mind” and an “example of fine works”?
17 In contrast with the youths of the world, a young Christian man should be “sound in mind” and “an example of fine works.” Paul explained that a sound and mature mind is gained, not by those who simply study, but by those who “through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:14) How wonderful it is to see young people volunteering their time and energy to have a full share in the many duties in the Christian congregation, instead of wasting their youthful strength in selfish pursuits! Doing so, they, like Titus, can become examples of “fine works” in the Christian congregation.—1 Timothy 4:12.
18. What does it mean to be uncorrupt in teaching, serious in action, and wholesome in speech?
18 The younger men are reminded that they should be “showing uncorruptness in [their] teaching, seriousness, wholesome speech which cannot be condemned.” Teaching that is ‘uncorrupt’ must be solidly based on God’s Word; hence, the younger men must be diligent students of the Bible. Like the older men, the younger men also are to be serious. They need to recognize that being a minister of God’s Word is a serious responsibility, and therefore they must “behave in a manner worthy of the good news.” (Philippians 1:27) Likewise their speech must be “wholesome” and such that it “cannot be condemned” so that they may give no cause for complaint by opposers.—2 Corinthians 6:3; 1 Peter 2:12, 15.
For Slaves and Servants
19, 20. How may those in other people’s employ “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God”?
19 Finally, Paul turned to those who are in other people’s employ. Please read Titus 2:9, 10. Not many of us today are slaves or servants, but many are employees and workers rendering service to others. Thus, the principles enumerated by Paul apply just as well today.
20 To “be in subjection to their owners in all things” means that Christian employees must show their employers and supervisors genuine respect. (Colossians 3:22) They must also have the reputation of being honest workers, giving a full day’s work as their employer’s due. And they must maintain the high standard of Christian conduct at their places of work regardless of the behavior of others there. All of this is “so that they may adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.” How often we hear about the happy results when sincere observers respond to the truth because of the fine conduct of their Witness workmates or employees! This is a reward that Jehovah bestows upon those who follow his healthful teaching even at their places of employment.—Ephesians 6:7, 8.
A Cleansed People
21. Why has Jehovah provided the healthful teaching, and how should we respond?
21 The healthful teaching that Paul expounded is not just some code of ethical principles or moral ideas that we might consult as we wish. Paul went on to explain the purpose of it. Please read Titus 2:11, 12. Out of his love and undeserved kindness for us, Jehovah God has provided the healthful teaching so that we may learn to live a purposeful and satisfying life in these critical and dangerous times. Are you willing to accept and make the healthful teaching your way of life? Doing so will mean your salvation.
22, 23. What blessings do we reap by making healthful teaching our way of life?
22 More than that, making the healthful teaching our way of life brings us a unique privilege now and a happy hope for the future. Please read Titus 2:13, 14. Indeed, making the healthful teaching our way of life sets us apart from the corrupt and dying world as a cleansed people. Paul’s words parallel Moses’ reminders to the sons of Israel at Sinai: “As for Jehovah, . . . he will put you high above all the other nations that he has made, resulting in praise and reputation and beauty, while you prove yourself a people holy to Jehovah your God, just as he has promised.”—Deuteronomy 26:18, 19.
23 May we ever treasure the privilege of being Jehovah’s cleansed people by making healthful teaching our way of life! Always be alert to repudiate any form of ungodliness and worldly desires, thus remaining cleansed and fit to be used by Jehovah in the grand work that he is having done today.—Colossians 1:10.
Do You Remember?
◻ Why is godly devotion beneficial for all things?
◻ How can older Christian men and women pursue healthful teaching as a way of life?
◻ What healthful teaching did Paul have for younger men and women in the congregation?
◻ What privilege and blessing can be ours if we make healthful teaching our way of life?
[Pictures on page 18]
Many today are applying the counsel at Titus 2:2-4