Titus 2:7-8 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Teaching marked by integrity, dignity, and now, “sound speech.” Literally, “whole, healthy, sound” in word, speech. In this particular instance, the term Paul uses is u`gih/ , which of course is related to his more common term, u`giai,nw , “sound, correct, well-grounded. Consider for a moment how often Paul uses this concept in exhorting the next generation of church leaders:
1 Timothy 1:10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,
2 Timothy 1:13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
Titus 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 1:13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
Titus 2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
Titus 2:2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.
Sound doctrine, sound words, sound in the faith—all refer to that which is in proper order, functioning aright, healthy.
I can’t help but think of an example from my own life right now. I am looking forward to riding in my first cycling race in seven years. The last race I rode in was El Tour de Tucson in 1998, riding the 75 mile portion. In a matter of days I’ll be riding in El Tour again. Things have changed a bit over the seven years I’ve been gone, and now the 75 mile portion is an 80 mile run. In any case, you climb a lot in El Tour. If I recall correctly, the full 109 mile course had 3,300 feet of climbing in it. Though I’ve dropped nearly forty pounds since June, I’ve kept lifting, so I’m still much heavier and more muscular than I was the last time I rode El Tour, so climbing hills is slow going in comparison to the lightweight hammerheads around me. So I’ve been working hard on my climbing of late (did 3,300 feet last Wednesday over 36 miles, and 3,500 over 41 miles just a few days ago, all on South Mountain here in Phoenix). Now, a bit over a month ago I “tweaked” my left knee kneeling down to do something in the back yard. Now I have to ice my knee after every ride. In fact, the faster I get the ice on it, the better chance I have of avoiding pain. My knee is no longer truly “sound.” It’s not working the way it is supposed to. Thankfully, it hasn’t started bothering me when I ride, only afterward—but as anyone knows, it is on my mind even when I’m climbing. I probably unconsciously favor it as well. It’s still functional, of course, but it is not fully sound, not perfectly healthy (as all my 40+ readers can probably understand). Something isn’t quite right, and it reminds me of that fact with regularity.
Apologies for my sports-related example, but in the same fashion, teaching that is not “sound” may “work” by many standards. It may “get the job done.” But if it is not really sound, it will have results, down the road. It is like feeding the sheep an imbalanced diet: they may live fine on it for a while, but eventually, it will have an impact. Sickness will develop. Disease will enter the flock.
Sound doctrine is not something that would be “nice” if we could just “afford” it. You will never become truly healthy by cutting corners on diet and exercise and nutrition—though you can, in the short haul, get away with things. But short-sightedness is the hallmark of American evangelicalism, is it not? The shallow pap we call “teaching” in so many churches today cannot long nourish the famished sheep. It builds no solid foundation, and it results in an anemic, birth-defect filled next generation. Sound doctrine is simply letting God say what God says in His Word: unsound doctrine means we are ashamed of the truth and think we are wise enough to come up with something else.