Are you a safe person?
As this is the first Wednesday of a new month, I am going to move on to the next topic in Titus 2 that older women are instructed to teach younger women: to be discreet. In contemplating the one word, discreet, I honestly wondered if I could write for a whole month—4 times—on that topic. Well, this morning I did my homework, and that word is LOADED with meaning. So I'm looking forward to a month of meditation, prayer, and writing on what it means to be discreet.
The Greek word translated discreet in Titus 2:5 is sophron. It is translated as self-controlled, discreet, sober, or temperate. Sophron is derived from a couple other root words. The first root word means "safe, save, deliver, protect, heal, preserve, make whole." The second root word means "the midriff part of the body, indicating our feelings or our sensitive nature." Also, "by extension, it refers to our minds or cognitive faculties, our understanding." This word, in turn, comes from another root word meaning "to rein in or curb." A similar word stemming from that same root means "to fence or enclose, to block up, to silence, to stop." (See Strong's Concordance, #4998, 4982, 5424, and 5420.)
From these meanings we can coalesce a definition that encompasses a variety of ideas, which are reflected in our English dictionaries. Over these weeks of November, we'll look at four distinct facets in this jewel of a word, discreet. Today I want to focus on the idea of begin safe. Collins English Dictionary defines discreet in this way: being polite and careful in what you say and do because you want to avoid embarrassing or offending someone or causing distress. Cambridge Dictionary says this: careful not to cause embarrassment; and Google puts it like this: being careful in one's speech and actions, especially in order to avoid causing offense or to gain advantage. Do you see the safety in those definitions?
When we choose to be discreet, we are thinking about how our words and actions are perceived by others. We are mindful that people (especially our husbands and children, the ones we are closest to) are fragile and precious. We care about how we affect them. This requires attentive thought. Because we care too much for the people God has blessed us with relationally, we choose to not speak all that is on our minds; we resist the urge to "let someone have it." We rein in our words—for that is how we most often lose at least a measure of self-control—so that we might not hurt another.
Another aspect of being a safe person to be with involves preserving confidences. When we act with discretion, we show that we are "capable of preserving a prudent silence." (Merriam Webster Dictionary) We are "careful to keep something confidential." (Oxford Dictionary) People can trust us. Out of a desire to please God and walk in obedience to His Lordship, we forbid ourselves the pleasure of indulging in some juicy bit of gossip. We also avoid saying things that might put someone else in a bad light. We show restraint, especially with our words (again, our greatest area of temptation and offense—see James 3:2-12), but also with our facial expressions, our eyes, our gestures, and our actions.
Embarrassing someone, offending someone out of our own frustration or irritation or anger, taking advantage of someone, and revealing someone's private information . . . these are all things that kill relationships, that hurt and destroy. They are difficult things for the other person to get over. We've all done it. And when we do, we need to acknowledge it and seek the offended person's forgiveness. But it can still make the other person wary around us.
We don't want people to feel wary or on edge around us or like they have to walk on eggshells. We want them to feel safe. This is the essence of being discreet, the sweet aroma of Christ that we have the privilege of carrying with us and spreading in every place we go and in every relationship we encounter. Safety implies protection and comfort and a place of healing. Safety enables a person to be vulnerable without fear. Safety engenders trust. Are you a safe person to be with? Let's pray and grow together this month in the beautiful discipline of becoming women who are discreet.