Lives Lived in Contrast

This morning I returned to conduct the chapel at Mackenzie Place Retirement home.  This is is always an enjoyable group with some of the sharpest, seniors I have met. They are gracious and grateful. We are experiencing some hot weather, so it was good to get the neighborhood pool for a short swim and some exercise.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.”              Titus 3:1 HCSB

As Paul writes to Titus his focus is clear. He outlines responsibilities for leaders and provides instructions to guide the conduct of believers. He addresses the duties of older men, young men and slaves. Paul challenges Titus to be bold,  Say these things, and encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (Titus 2:15 HCSB)

Those traits are important to be kept in balance by a leader. If a leader only encourages and is not willing to correct, there will be a lack of focus and discipline. If as leader is only “rebuking” behavior, there will be discouragement and a lack of confidence in God’s work.

Paul’s desire was for the church to be strong, but to stand in contrast to the behaviors of the “world.” So submission to leaders, ready for every good work, refusing to slander, avoiding fighting, kindness and gentleness, were not to be the norm of behaviors.

We see this because Paul follows these traits with saying, For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.” (Titus 3:3 HCSB)

The implication is that Paul was calling God’s people to a “norm” that was not normal for their day. The words, “for we too were once foolish, deceived….” is a description of a characterization of a  life that once was, but now is not to be.

The progression of Paul’s instructions is, “this is how you are to behave, this is how you used to behave, which is reflective of the culture around, and this is why a change has come.”

The change came when Christ brought salvation to the hearts of people. It was not because of their good behavior, because their behavior was not good. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy…” (Titus 3:4,5 HCSB)

The bottom line is our lives are to reflect the character of the one who has redeemed us and given us hope for the future.  Paul goes in and says, He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:6,7 HCSB)

Christ has saved us according to His mercy and has justified us by His grace. As a result we have life, hope and purpose. That change should be reflected in how we treat others and live in this world as people whose hope is in the eternal life that Christ gives to all.

Prayer for today… “Lord, it is apparent that the attitudes of our world come from those whose only hope is in this world. Thank You, that You have redeemed us from an empty, hopeless existence. Allow the character of the eternal be reflected through the lives of those who know your love and grace and have the hope of eternity in their hearts.”