After taking most of December off to get other writing done, I am returning again to Titus 2 and the study of the word chaste. My first blog on what it means to be chaste looked at the Greek root word meaning holy. To be chaste is to be set apart for God and set apart from this world and all its defilements. We are to be holy as God is holy. That is a very high calling with depth of meaning.
I first studied the word chaste about 10-15 years ago in preparation for teaching a group of high school girls at a Christian camp where my husband was the director. Through that study, the Lord gave me a word picture that had a powerful impact on me and has stuck with me. Expanding on the idea of holiness, chaste can also be defined as pure, clear, clean. Like pure, clear water that can refresh and cleanse, our hearts are to be unmuddied with angst, irritability, unkindness, inner turmoil, self-centered thinking, or the wrong ungodly attitudes of this world.
Both Paul and Peter say that our love for one another—especially for our husbands and children—should flow out of a pure heart (I Timothy 1:5, I Peter 1:22). That means our love for them should not be mixed with manipulative motives, showing "love" for them in an effort to get them to do what we want. For our love to be unmixed is hard! In fact, it's impossible for us. We are so given to manipulation. And often we don't even realize it.
For something to be pure, it cannot be mixed with anything. Pure is exclusive in this sense: If a glass of water has one drop of a contaminate in it, it is no longer pure. But pure is also inclusive: it must envelop the totality of who we are, including all facets of life. Therefore, chastity must exclude all that is impure and it must include every part of us.
It should be quite obvious that we cannot achieve this on our own. Things come up every day, all day long that pull us away from clear, clean heart attitudes. Oh, how we need Christ and His continual cleansing power! For this reason Jesus said to ask Him for living water that would spring up within us as an ever-flowing fountain (John 4:10-14). The cleansing He gives is perpetual like a clear, flowing mountain stream, ever replenishing its supply and continuously carrying off any filth. This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us! (John 7:37-39)
But there is another water picture that is equally as powerful. My study led me to I Peter 3:1-4 because the word chaste also appears there in verse 2. Peter tells women in difficult marriages or in a marriage with an unbelieving husband that their chaste and respectful behavior will be winsome to their husband. Peter goes on to tell wives what that chaste, respectful behavior will look like, exhorting us to develop a quiet and gentle spirit.
There's a lot to unpack from those verses in I Peter 3, but I want to just look briefly at the word quiet. It provides an excellent example of a woman who is chaste. With this word, picture a mountain lake on a calm, clear day. The water is absolute still and smooth with the surrounding mountains mirrored perfectly in the surface of the lake. Tranquil. Peaceful. Calm. It is unruffled by whatever activity or turmoil may be on its banks.
But the quiet of this lake is not only a surface calm; it is also calm all the way down to the very bottom. We can often appear calm and sweet to others on the outside when we are actually all churned up on the inside, filled with all manner of turmoil—anger, fear, uncertainty, frustration, insecurity, feeling overwhelmed . . . and the list can go on and on.
Only the Lord and we ourselves know what's at the core of our being. This is where He wants to manifest His peace, His clarity, His purity. The quietness that God calls us to is "a divinely-inspired inner calmness." [Strong's definition of quiet] With that word picture, God birthed in my heart a prayer: that I would be tranquil and clear all the way to the very bottom of my being, that every innermost part of me would manifest trust in His sovereign rule of peace. Only in this way can we truly become women who are chaste: "without hypocrisy to the core" is how one definition of chaste is worded.
Considering all the circumstances that can whip up choppy waves in our lives, this kind of chastity does not come naturally. My inner being can easily give way to turmoil, but I am learning—even if ever so slowly—to choose the inner peace of Christ within my spirit. The purity of Christ's peace then begins to permeate everything about us. Will you join me in that prayer to become a chaste woman?
Lord, make us women who are clear, pure, clean, without hypocrisy to the core.