BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching.” Titus 2:1 NLT
Three words of contrast set the stage for instructions from the Apostle Paul to one of his “sons in the faith” -Titus. We know that Paul had several traveling companions and fellow ministers. But in the New Testament Timothy and Titus stand out as those who were entrusted with responsibility to establish and oversee churches. They were to build upon and secure the work started by Paul.
This calling is very clear when Paul tells Titus, “I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you.” (Titus 1:5 NLT) But Paul realized that the task before Titus would not an easy one. He was tasked with building on the ministry “beachhead” established by Paul in a challenging moral environment.
We read Paul’s’ assessment, “For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others….Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons. This is true.” (Titus 1:10,12 NLT)
Paul goes on and tells Titus that what is in a person’s heart will be revealed by their lifestyle. “Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.” (Titus 1:16 NLT)
In this environment Titus was to be one who stood strong and spoke out against those whose lifestyle would subvert and pervert the gospel and its impact on the lives of people. But Paul wanted Titus to know that he had a high calling and responsibility.
So after describing the character of those in Crete and the hypocrisy of those who claim to “know God” Paul speaks three important words, “as for you….” Titus was not to “coddle the carnality” of individuals but to provide instructions on how to live a “victorious Christian life.” His message was to be one of “how to” live as much as “what not to do.”
Titus was to, “Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience….teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good…encourage the young men to live wisely…” (Titus 2:2,3,6 NLT)
Titus’ responsibility was not to just “tell” but to “show.” “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized….” (Titus 2:7,8 NLT)
We could summarize Paul’s instructions to Titus as “As for you…be an example by how you live and what you teach and challenge others to live in a manner that pleases the Lord and sets them apart.”
Titus was to “set himself apart.” He was to show that his gospel was true by how he lived and the lifestyle he encouraged others to live and teach. Paul realized that others were watching. So he gives the bottom line to Titus. It was not to claim some moral superiority over others that alienates people, but it was so “those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:8 NLT)
Titus was not to allow himself or other believers to be conformed to the mindset and character of those they were among, but they were to show the power of the gospel through a transformed life.
It would seem that challenge is good for us to consider in our world today.