Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A Matter of Discretion
Titus 2:4,5-- That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
What does it mean for a woman to be discreet? When I read that verse, I always got the picture of a woman sitting correctly with her dress pulled down over her knees, her legs together, and her feet crossed at the ankles just so. In my mind, to be discreet was to be modest and careful in one's appearance. Whatever it meant, it's obviously pretty important that we be so, since Titus included in his "a godly wife should be" list.
I recently dug in and did a little study on the subject and it was interesting to learn that although I was close, there is a lot more to being discreet than being prim and proper (thus, the importance of study).
First, a few definitions:
Good Ole' Mr. Webster-- judicious in one's conduct or speech, esp. with regard to respecting privacy or maintaining silence about something of a delicate nature; prudent; circumspect.
My Bible's Hebrew Dictionary: safe, sound in mind, self-controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion):--discreet, sober, temperate.
Then I noticed the next verse down, Titus 2:6 states, "Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded." On checking the reference to "sober minded" in the middle margin or my Bible, it said, "or, discreet". Further cross-reference studying revealed that "sober" and "discreet" are pretty much synonymous, and their roots are very close to the same roots used for "sound mind".
Hmm...let's look at "sober" (Webster): showing self-control, quiet or sedate in demeanor, as persons. My Bible dictionary said that "sober" as used in the first part of Titus 2:4 actually means "to discipline or correct, to make of sound mind, and to teach to be sober." This is a different form, which I believe means we should be continuously evaluating ourselves and training our self-control. Of course, that's just an opinion.
Here are some interesting cross-references:
2 Tim 1:7--For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
1 Tim 3:2--A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
2 Time 2:9--In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
Proverbs 5:3--That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.
OK, so about here I began to realize...I've lead a life of indiscretion. I mean, I'm from the South. I come from a family of loud, opinionated, no shame women. Sadly, in my social circle growing up, the more shocking your conversation, the more fun you were perceived to be! But, ladies, this is NOT pleasing to God. I believe it is shameful to Him, and shameful to our husbands and families. Now, don't get me wrong, I love to laugh and have a good time, but there is a point where we just have to use good sense. That's what "sober" means, actually--have the good sense to know when something should not be said or told. I am SO preaching to myself here, now. I am an impulsive person and tend to pop out of my mouth whatever comes to mind. That's why this study has been so convicting and eye-opening for me.
Where else can we apply this teaching? Let's see--you're in church, and you've told your four year old five times to turn around and stop staring at the person sitting behind you. Finally, you jerk him/her up by their arm and drag them out, with a scowl on your face. Or, you put them over your knee right then and there and give them a good spanking. NOT very discreet or sober. This would be the time to exercise that self-control. Calmly, take your child's hand and lead them outside, where you administer discipline in a calm, but effective manner. And it would probably be a good idea to take them out the first time they disobeyed instead of the fifth. Yep. That's me--the before and after :).
OK, ladies, let's admit it. We like to talk. We love a good story. We are detail-oriented and love to share. Ahem. But let's be discreet. Let's use good, common sense about what, and how much, we share with others. Now, those of you who know me personally are probably saying, "She's really got a lot of room to talk." But let me tell you, God has used this study to convict me of my indiscretion. I am ashamed and repentant of how deeply indiscreet I have been in the past. With God's help, I am working on changing myself on this matter. What's the old song say? "He's Still Working On Me".
I have seen so many women hurt because someone "shared" something about another sister in the church. A ripple effect is created: The Sharer mars her own testimony and causes the Sharee to lose confidence in her experience. The Shared (the one told on) is hurt because others are talking about her behind her back. The Sharee (the one listening) loses confidence in everyone and decides they are all just hypocrites talking about one another anyway so what the use? It's so important that we use discretion in our conversation and be sensitive when the Holy Ghost says, "Ah-ah, don't say that."
This study has shined the flashlight of the Holy Ghost on a dark corner of my heart that needed to be swept out. I'm working on spring cleaning my corner of indiscretion. Search your heart. Ask Him to show you where you have been indiscreet, and He will show you. WARNING: It might not be pretty!