Titus 3:12-15

Key Verse(s):

Titus 3:13 (HCSB)

13 Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey, so that they will lack nothing.

Reflection/Application:

Paul’s letter to Titus closes in these final verses. Even in these closing verses, we can find valuable truth.

  • In Titus 3:14, Paul reiterates the need for believers to “devote themselves to good works”. And he adds the reason for this as “cases of urgent need”. So we see that believers are to prepare to help those in need, and this is considered being “fruitful”. Again we see that being a Christ follower is not a self-centered path, but one focused outwardly, spreading the mirroring the grace and love of God.
  • It is interesting that Paul began the closing verses with two requests. Considering what is conveyed in v14, it would seem this is not an accident. The first request of Paul is that Titus would come to visit him. We should not avoid coming together, but take advantage of those opportunities. It seems logical that at least part of Paul’s request is related to training, or teaching, Titus. We might even expect the visit to be an opportunity for Paul to learn as well, and be apprised of the progress of Titus’ work. Again, we should take this as an example: we should take advantage of opportunities to learn, to grow, to be enriched, emboldened and rejuvenated.
  • And Paul’s second request is equally telling: in the same vein as focusing outward, Titus is called to help others on their mission. Sometimes it is our mission being supported by the body, sometimes we are part of the body serving and supporting the mission. We should not lose sight of the fact that we enjoy and are gifted the chance to fulfill both roles.

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for Your design, for Your church. I pray that we would each embrace and step up into the roles You have for us, in each time and place. Help us to be bold and embolden other believers in glorifying You and expanding Your kingdom. Amen.

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Titus 3:1-11

Key Verse(s):

Titus 3:3 (HCSB)

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.

Reflection/Application:

What wonderful guidance for the believer on how to act and interact with the world, with those who do not believe. The first two verses tell us how we should interact: submit, do good work, do not slander, avoid fighting, be kind, and be gentle. This is the Christian, or at least should be. And how awesome is it how Paul follows up in Titus 3:3 by not only providing the contrast to what the believer should look like, but by reminding us that we were that person before the grace of Christ redeemed and renewed us! The follower of Christ should look like the person outlined in Titus 3:1-2, and he does so only by the grace of God, as Paul goes on to outline and refresh us on in Titus 3:4-7.

This passage ends with another contrast of sorts: that of the action of the believer, versus what he should refrain from engaging in. The believer should strongly affirm the truth of scripture, the saving gospel message, and should be “devoted to good works”. And look who that benefits: everyone! The believer should not be self-centered, only doing for his own gain. Instead, the focus should be on God, and His kingdom and glory, which in turn impacts others in a positive way. And in contrast, we should avoid “foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law.” All those activities are a waste, they do not further God’s kingdom, nor do they help either party. Nobody has ever been argued into a relationship with Jesus! I don’t think Paul is including apologetics, I think he is targeting argumentative interactions outside of what would be an actual debate. In other words, if two individuals come together to compare, contrast, and discuss differing worldviews for the purpose of furthering an understanding, then it would seem that debate would, in fact, be profitable. But simply coming together to argue about an obscure point of Mosaic law, with no actual desire to be edified, is not profitable. In fact, those dialogs often cause division, which Paul says we should “reject”, after two warnings, in Titus 3:10! We should not engage that type of attitude or behavior, for it is “self-condemning”.

The form of the pericope overall is cool as well. On the two ends are these compare and contrast sections, defining what we should look like and how we should behave, and at the core is this succinct account of Christ’s regeneration of us. That should be the way we operate: Jesus and His grace at the core, regenerating us, so that our outward appearance reflects Him to the world, as we practice and engage in the ways He purposed us to, in light, truth, and love.

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for saving and remaking us! I was a sinner, lost in myself, but You have forgiven, cleansed, and regenerated me. Help us to interact with the world in a way that exposes them to You, brings You glory, and ever expands Your kingdom. Amen.

Titus 2:1-15

Key Verse(s):

Titus 2:8 (HCSB)

Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be ashamed, having nothing bad to say about us.

Reflection/Application:

Paul moves on after giving a review of the duty of Titus, to outline what the teaching and example of Titus and the church should look like. There is much that we, as believers, should take away from this passage.

  • Our teaching should be “sound”, and “above reproach”. It should be God’s truth that is put forward. And this is not just a command for pastors or elders, but for all men and women. Paul, in Titus 2:2-7, clearly outlines that seasoned men and women should be examples, encouraging the next generations to follow in the same path. Seems this should be common sense to us. We should lead by example, not just saying. We all know as children we learn to emulate those who hold sway in our lives, good behaviors and bad. Shouldn’t the church be the same way, and therefore much more mindful about it? This glorifies God, and unarms the enemy (Titus 2:8). And do not think that we are not teachers: parents teach children, friends teach friends, co-workers teach co-workers.
  • Our way of life, how we behave and handle ourselves in everyday situations, is often just as important as purposeful teaching. Self-control, dignity, respectful… these are the traits we should exude. Why might it be that Paul addresses “slaves” directly in Titus 2:9? Perhaps because the enslaved might have the most worldly reason to engage in sinful behavior such as rebellion, theft, and disrespect? No matter, we know that all people, slaves and masters, should act with respect to each other from Ephesians 6:5-9.
  • In the end, we should behave like the people that Jesus has redeemed. We should behave like the people thankful for the gift of salvation. We should act like the people who have been redeemed “from all lawlessness”, “cleansed for Himself”, and a people “eager to do good works”. And not only should we live these things, this life, but we should proclaim it with authority! (Titus 2:15)

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for placing those in our lives to follow their example. I pray that we do so, that we chase after the Godly, and we are an example for those coming behind us. Help us to be brave and bold, speaking and teaching Your truth, and following Your guidance, in a world increasingly separated from You. Amen.

Titus 1:5-16

Key Verse(s):

Titus 1:15–16 (HCSB)

15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.

Reflection/Application:

In this passage, following Paul’s greeting, is the statement of Titus’ ministry in Crete. And Paul expands on this duty of Titus as well.

  • Paul starts with stating what Titus task was when Paul left him in Crete: “to appoint elders in every town”. We need elders. We need men to help guide us. We need examples, men of God to lead and lift us. And then Paul describes what these elders should look like. Although the description provided in Titus 1:7-9 sounds like someone we all should be, the text feels as though this is an even higher standard and expectation of one who looks over God’s people. We should absolutely hold our elders to these standards as well! It can be easy to justify short-comings under the guise of, “we are all sinners,” but scripture here seems to be clear in that those leaders should be held to a higher standard. After all, don’t we tend to emulate those we lead and teach us? Shouldn’t we expect those that influence spiritual decisions and growth to hold to the standards God has set for them?
  • Paul then goes on to, apparently, describe why this need for elders exists, or at least part of it. These Godly elders are to be able to “refute” the claims of those that come against Jesus, which apparently is a real concern and issue (Titus 1:10). This is clearly a call to oppose false teachings, and to actively rebuke those that adhere or pursue it. But notice that the “rebuke” is not just a negative thing, it is apparently meant to be regenerative as well. In Titus 1:13, Paul says to “rebuke them […] that they may be sound in the faith.” Certainly just denouncing or proving someone wrong does not lead to them adopting a true view of the faith. So it would seem that the rebuke Paul speaks of must have not just a tearing down of false doctrine and beliefs, but an education of the true doctrine and beliefs. And certainly this makes sense, and aligns with the Biblical theme of God constantly working to draw people to Him.
  • The final two verses are tough. Titus 1:15-16 are not politically correct in our current culture. It is interesting how Paul makes the contrast between saved and lost. Everything is pure to the pure (i.e. the saved), yet nothing is pure to the unbelieving: it would seem that “everything” is impacted by the state of the person in the sense that it takes on the state of their relationship with God. Paul’s example of the “mind and conscience” are wonderful: neither is necessarily good or bad, but instead they naturally assume the state of the person, either pure or defiled. And as believers we should not be hesitant to recognize the lost through their works, even if their words claim faith. This is hard! It is uncomfortable, and it requires us to be holy lest our own sight be skewed, but it is not something we should shy away from, despite the cultural pressure to accept all behavior, even that which is detestable.

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for lifting up and providing men like Paul and Titus, and the countless in the world today, to act as elders: blameless men You have crafted to lead Your people. I pray that we all would resist temptation, walk holy, and especially those that are in the role of elder. We pray that You would continue to strengthen and embolden Your church, Your people, to rebuke sin, and lead people to You. Amen.

Titus 1:1-4

Key Verse(s):

Titus 1:1–2 (HCSB)

1 Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.

Reflection/Application:

These four verses comprise the introduction to the letter to Titus. The author’s identity, Paul, is immediately revealed. The introduction then touches on a couple big topics, before finally addressing the intended audience of the letter.

The first thing that we are hit with is the purpose of the writing from Paul. First Paul identifies himself, he stages his position, as a “slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ”. Paul provides some credentials, some background of who he is, and what he is about. We should be seeking the input and voice of men who are slaves to God and apostles of Christ. Shouldn’t these be the people we chose to influence us rather than someone who identifies as a “follower of self”, or a “denier of God”?

And look at his purpose: “to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth”. Paul is writing for us, not for himself. This is one of the signs of Paul’s apostleship: he is working to bring others closer to Christ, to bring them to know Him. Shouldn’t we, also as slaves to God, be striving to do the same? Just as we are in need of the nurturing words from God, via Paul, are there not others, a step behind us in their walk, that need the same? I think we should enter into this letter from Paul not just for the growth it provides, but also for the guidance it provides to help us help others.

And what a wonderful goal, the hope of eternal life with God! This is what Paul is working to draw people to through a relationship with Jesus. This is what our goal should be as well, as it is perfectly in line with God’s desire.

Secondly, we are given a grand and wonderful truth about God: His timely revelation, and His control over its transmission. It is worth noting that Paul recognizes his letter, his “proclamation”, as being God’s message. Again, we are reminded that we are followers of Christ, of God, not of man, not of Paul.

And God reveals this message “in His own time”. God is not working on our time table, by our schedule. In fact, I think it is fair to say that God has little concern for our schedule unless it aligns with His! We ought to be very careful and cautious when we start moving out ahead of God, or falling behind Him, those are unsafe areas.

Finally, we might notice that Paul was recruited by God with authority. God commanded Paul’s involvement with spreading the Good News. This was not an initiative of Paul’s, this was an initiative of God. Certainly we should seek God, we should take steps to draw near to Him, but those steps should be the ones He has commanded.

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for working out a plan for eternal life with You, for us, since before there was a beginning! I pray You would keep working in and on us, mold us like You did Paul, to walk in that sweet spot next to You, not out in front, and not far behind, and be constantly attuned to Your command. Amen.