Thompson submachine gun is a favorite of gun collectors. It seems strange to
some that one would desire to collect firearms; it seems strange to others that
one would like to collect teapots. But it does not seem strange at all that
our government requires a license to own a Tommy Gun. We would want assurance
that the owner had no plans to use such a powerful weapon on others. Some
years ago I worked with a man who collected such weapons – until the government
decided to raise the license fee to $55,000 a year (and this was some years
ago). The hobby was too expensive.
enough, there seems to be no license fee involved with collecting teapots.
This too we consider to be a reasonable thing; it is difficult to see how
collecting teapots could harm others – save for the possibility your wife might
start throwing them at you. So while the teapots may cost more than the
Thompsons, the owner may collect them as extravagantly as the budget affords.
Tommy Guns shoot people; the worst most teapots do is brew.
do I bring this to your mind? We, the Christians, must deal with things which
are far beyond either teapots or Tommy Guns. We are entrusted with the
reconciliation of the world to God; ours are the mysteries of the Lord’s
Supper; it is ours to baptize and bring others to eternal life. The Scriptures
teach us that we are to do so while being as harmless as doves. We shall
examine such a passage of Scripture; in so doing we will discover the center of
service. First, then, the Scripture:
them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for
every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every
consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves,
disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our
life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of
God our Savior and His love for mankind
appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in
righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and
renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus
Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs
according to the hope of eternal life.
This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to
speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to
engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But avoid
foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law,
for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first
and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being
self-condemned. When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to
come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.
Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is
lacking for them. Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet
pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. All who are with me greet
you. Greet those who love us in the
faith. Grace be with you all.
(Tit 3:1-15 NASB)
Outer Layer: our relationship with the world
is often noted that the Christian is supposed to be different from those of the
world. It is well, therefore, that we examine this passage and ask, “Different
regard to those in authority
sometimes comes as a surprise to Christians raised in America that Paul would proclaim it necessary to be in submission to authority. But here it is
are to be subject to them – showing them our outward allegiance.
When they play the national anthem, you stand.
are to be obedient to the authorities. Pay your taxes, observe the
traffic laws – the ordinary diligence of a good citizen.
of all, we are to be ready to do good. In this context, we might
say civic minded; one who is always willing to help in doing something
for the good of his community.
regard to those who are not Christians
conservative Christians are willing to submit to lawful authority. But
sometimes our conduct in society does not match our Savior’s call. See these
four characteristics and ask, am I missing that one?
most commonly missed is this: malice to no one. You may not think
this a problem, but it is. We become accuser and judge of those who do
not know Christ. In so doing, we usurp the judgment and vengeance due the
Lord. “Who am I to judge those outside the church?” says Paul.
If we are wrong in accusing them, we sin. If we are right in accusing
them, we judge. Do neither.
are to be peaceable. The word refers to brawling; no matter the
temptations, we are not to be the ones swinging the fist. Interestingly,
the Greek word here can be transliterated: a (not) makhos
are to be gentle – the word is often translated “humble” as well.
The Christian triumphs through suffering to bring a gentle answer.
are to be considerate. Good manners make good company.
at first seems strange, but consider the reasoning behind it:
those who came to Christ as adults, we were just like the people around us
first. We certainly have no right to judge them. Even those raised in
the church should know that we are sinners, which removes the right of
judgment from us.
– we were saved by grace. We didn’t work our way into it; it is God’s
free gift. Again, we have nothing to brag about and no basis for judging
what he has given us – the hope of eternal life – sets this world in
perspective. If this life is it, then the world is right: drink all the
gusto you can. But if we are designed to be eternal, then the quarrels of
this world should seem small indeed.
Core of the Faith
us review, then, the core of the faith as it applies to our interaction with
for the grace of God, here’s who we would be:
be foolish, fooled by the world. Standing for nothing, we fall for
would be enslaved to various lusts – some of us consumed with envy,
spitting out malice. Others would become hateful, despised – and in their
turn hating others.
think not? Consider the Democratic Party: based on envy. Consider the
Republicans: based on greed.
are saved by grace
the love and kindness of God. We are saved because the God who is love
himself loves us.
his method is not to have us work hard at good deeds to earn enough
brownie points to arrive at heaven’s gate. Rather, God himself provided
the sacrifice needed.
this is implemented in two ways: First, by baptism, the entrance ceremony
of the kingdom, which displays cleansing. Second, by the renewing of the
Holy Spirit day by day.
salvation should make a very noticeable difference in our lives. One very
important difference for us is that we are “heirs to the hope” – of eternal
life. We know that we are designed to live forever. Knowing this makes a
difference in the way we behave. If there is only this life, then the world is
right: go for the gusto, grab all you can along the way. But if we are
eternal, the hope within us should make us live like our Hope. We should be
like our Master: always ready to do good.
the outside world we are to be seen as the gentle and kind, the humble of the
earth. But to the inside? The same is to be seen, for we are not to be
hypocrites in reverse either. But it does happen sometimes. See if you can
recognize anyone in here:
of us – if we’re honest – know that we enjoy a good argument. But we are told
here to avoid such things. Paul calls them “foolish controversies.” How do I
know the foolish ones? Simply this: do they divide the church? You should be
able to recognize some of the foolish ones from Paul’s list:
you ever seen it where controversy itself was the end of such an
argument? Either (or both) of the combatants really did not desire a
solution; neither could risk going for victory and losing; so one or both
are content to be the leader of a faction.
tells us of those who fight over genealogies; we could extend that to
those who require the small items before the large ones.
are those who are legalists and fight over every little point of the
Scripture, piously telling us that they are intent only on preserving the
integrity of the church.
translation probably does not have the word “heretic.” In our modern times it
seems impossible that anyone could be a heretic – just someone with a different
opinion. But the original word means one who makes a division in the church,
and that is what a heretic does. What are we to do about it?
strikes, you’re out. Warn him, with all solemnity, that he is dividing
the body of Christ.
he fails to repent, kick him out of the church. He may think the church
cannot live without him; it’s just possible he can’t live without the
their fruits you will know them; they are self-condemned. Look where the
anger and divisiveness are, and trace them to their root.
deeds, pressing needs
know little of Apollos; he was a good speaker, we are told. Zenas the Lawyer
is completely unknown but for his name. But Paul asked that they be given all the
support they needed. God does not do things by halves. Nor should his
people. It is a matter of style; God blesses abundantly, and so should we.
desires us to be fruitful. The quiet life, the orderly life yields up the
fruit of the kingdom of God. Good deeds for pressing needs – nothing flashy,
just the way of the church in a sinful world.