1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; 4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. (ESV)
Grounds for Service (Titus 1-2, Part 1)
It is interesting to look at the opening statement in Paul’s letters. Many times, you will find a preview of the rest of the letter hidden in the first few verses. If you look close enough, you may just run into something as encouraging as this…
In his letter to Titus, Paul opens with a brief sentence on his service to Christ. What may appear to be a formal introduction is actually Paul telling Titus the purpose of his slavery to, and apostleship of, Christ. “I am what I am and I do what I do in order that the elect would be brought to saving faith, and to provide them with a clear and full knowledge of the truth that produces godliness”, Paul conveys Titus in verse 1. Through every obstacle or complication Paul had come across in ministry, he had one goal in mind: the salvation and sanctification of God’s people.
Now, Titus’ assignment in Crete was definitely a daunting one (as we will see in part 2 of this devotional series), and especially now that he is separated from his mentor. Titus may have been asking himself, “How am I going to work with ‘liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons’?” “How can I find qualified men to appoint as leaders in the churches throughout the island of Crete?” “What is my motivation for working with such a tough crowd?” “Why should I continue to serve the stiff-necked churches of this island?” Quite frankly, I find myself asking some of the same questions about my own ministry! Tell me Paul, what is the point and why should I keep going?!
Well, Paul, being a great mentor to Titus, lays out the best motivation for his work in Crete: because of our hope of eternal life (v. 2-3). Paul serves God and His people with a view to the sealed eternal life we will have with Christ; and he motivates Titus, if perhaps indirectly, as his “true child” to similarly serve with the same view in mind.
Now that’s a solid approach to service! Every sermon we prepare, every small group we participate in, every counseling session, every arc or bracket and every blog entry… it’s all done in expectation of an eternal life with Christ. It’s not wishful thinking, but rather a guarantee that we will one day reign with Him. We serve God and His people knowing that it is not in vain but instead one day it will culminate in an eternal abiding with Him. And it is because of that truth that we, like Titus, can serve faithfully and diligently. We know that whatever “island” God has placed us on, He has not left us without grounds for service!
(This was originally posted on the Biblearc blog by Josh Reyna on April 30, 2015).