In the first post in this series on Titus 3:1-8, I introduced the series saying that so often we Christians talk about the good news of Jesus by focusing on its implications for life after death. While it does apply to the eternal realm for sure, what we notice in a letter like Titus, is that God cares greatly about how we live. In fact in Titus 3:1-2, Paul lists six ways that God wants Christians to live in the world.
First, we saw that God is concerned that Christians be subject to rulers and authorities. You can read that post here. Now Paul continues this line of thinking about God’s desires for how his people live, with what Paul says next about how Christians should live in in relation to all people. Remember what I have been saying in this study through Titus about the reputation of the people on the Island of Crete? They are wild and out of control. Time and time again in Titus we have seen that Paul wants the Christians to be different. In this post we are going to look at the next five ways Paul describes in Titus 3:1-2 that Christians are live God’s way in the world.
Next he says that Christians are to be obedient.
Obedient to who or what? Certainly to the rulers and authorities as he already said. But there are plenty of other ways to be obedient. First and foremost, we obey God. And as long as what we are being asked to do is in line with God’s ways, we obey in other situations as well. Children obey parents. Employees obey employers. Students obey your teachers. Athletes obey your coaches. Christians are known for being obedient.
After obedience, Paul says Titus is to remind the Cretan Christians to be ready to do what is good. Are you seeing a thread here? Christians are to be subject to authorities, obedient, ready to do what is good. Christians will be very easy to spot, if they follow what Paul is teaching in the middle of a society that is unruly.
Often when I preach these messages at Faith Church, I use PowerPoint to illustrate them. As I was trying to find a picture to depict “doing good”, I learned that there is such a thing as International Good Deeds Day. People all over the world give time to clean parks, plant trees and gardens, visit the elderly, or feed the hungry. I thought that was amazing, something that we Christians should be participating in. But you know what? For Christians, every day should be Good Deeds Day.
It is very easy to be self-focused in this world. The busyness. All the hours at work. Just keeping up with dirty dishes and the laundry, keeping vehicles going, and then, those of you that have kids and all they have going on, all school, sports, and extra-curricular activities, and more! We come to the end of most days exhausted. When that happens, we can think we have no time for doing anything extra. Doing good? Many of us have house projects or yard work that we’d love to have time for, letting alone serving our community, volunteering, or reaching out to neighbors. But Paul is saying that Christians are people who are ready to do what is good. They will make a difference in society. This is why we are so concerned about the concerns of social justice in our society. Feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, housing the homeless, and finding the roots of injustice that may be causing these problems. Roots of greed, racism, and so on, and we work to bring justice to them. The work of mercy and justice is doing good.
Next Paul goes on and says that we slander no one. Speak with kindness and gentleness and truth, and do not gossip. Be committed to radical confidentiality. It seems to me that this is an area that many Christians could dwell on. Whether it is on social media, or face-to-face, it can be hard to control our tongues. Christians should be known as people who have control over our tongues, even when we are hurt and offended, or even when we disagree with something.
Very much related to that, Paul next says Christians are peaceable and considerate. Christians should be peaceful, peace-loving, peace-making, people. Our Anabaptist brothers and sisters, like the Mennonites, are really focused on this, and for good reason. We can learn from them, because generally-speaking they have done deep study into peace-making and are much farther along than others. We strive to make peace between genders, ethnicities, and generations.
Finally, Christians show true humility to all. This means not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought. Look to the humility of Jesus. His willingness to associate with people of low position, to be friends with sinners, not to be judgmental, but forgiving. So in summary, in verses 1-2, Paul is saying, Christians, you will be so different in society because you will be so good. You’ll be living like Jesus did. Not exactly like he did, of course. But you’ll stand out, in a good way. Sure some people get grumpy at people who are trying to be good. You’ll have that. Kind, peaceable, humble people expect that, don’t let it get under their skin, and love those people anyway. Not easy, I grant you, especially when the difficult people are from within your own family, friends or even church family. But still we follow the example of Jesus in practicing kindness and humility to all.