1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. 12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. 15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. (ESV)
Take a Breath and Get to Work (Titus 3, Part 5)
Do you feel overwhelmed and like you are juggling so many balls on your to-do list that half of them might hit the floor at any minute? You cannot handle what is already on your plate, let alone add something. But then your pastor tells you that he wants you to make more time in your schedule to serve the church. Titus knows how you feel.
We’ve come to the end of this little letter from Paul to his young apprentice in Crete. Paul has given Titus a detailed description of the qualifications for a leader in the church, and for the leader’s family; and he has a painted a picture of what holy living should look like. Now in chapter 3, it feels almost as though Paul is rushing to squeeze a few more taxing items onto Titus’ to-do list, as if the last two chapters weren’t challenging enough! “By the way Titus, remind them and teach them to do all these other additional things too. Avoid all the unprofitable and worthless talk about the law. And if anyone is not cooperating but stirring up divisions instead, remove yourself from them. Oh and don’t forget to send Apollos and Zenas my way too. Get all this done then pack your bags to meet me in Nicopolis by winter. Say hi to everyone for me!”
Whew! In the middle of all that something caught my attention; something that I think would calm Titus from the nervous breakdown he might have been heading for. Do you see the magnificent gospel presentation in verses 3-7? You might think it is being presented as the reason for churchgoers to be submissive, obedient, gentle, ready for every good work and perfectly courteous… but it is not. It is actually Paul’s reason for why Titus should remind them of all those items listed above. As though Paul were telling Titus, “Look bud, I know I am asking a lot of you. You definitely have your work cut out for you, but remember where we came from? We were a mess just like some of these Cretans (if not worse)! But God saved us. Not only did he clean us up but He’s given us an inheritance as well! If he did it for us, he can do it for them too so don’t throw in the towel!”
In chapter 1, Paul made a theological appeal to Titus to continue working in Crete. Now he makes an emotional appeal. I am sure Titus was brought to tears in reading v. 4-7. It was the motivation he could use to finish strong.
If you ever needed a reason to serve, here it is: you’re alive! You were dead in sin but God made you alive and has decided to keep you here for little while. That is all the reason you need to get going on whatever your “Island of Crete” may be. Just like Paul strategically placed Titus on Crete, God has sovereignly placed you where you are now. If God wanted you home, He would have called you home. Maybe you will not be picking the new leadership team for your church like Titus, but you are still called to spread the gospel and make disciples so long as you are here. Now take a breath and get to work.
(This was originally posted on the Biblearc blog by Josh Reyna on May 28, 2015.)