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Titus (short version)

Who Am I?

Titus 1

Lesson audio

It is an interesting difference between men and women. If you ask a woman, “what do you do?”, you will get quite a variety of answers. Men, however, usually will tell you by whom they are employed. Both answers reflect the truth that “what you do” is really “who you are.”

It is good at times to ask yourself the question: “Who am I?” Such self-examination is good for the soul. We shall see some answers in this short passage in which Paul tells us who he really is.

Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

(Tit 1:1-4 NASB)

Who am I?

Let’s take Paul’s answers and see if they could apply to us:

A bond-servant of Christ
  • Just how exalted a position do you hold in the kingdom of God? Is your humility sufficient to serve, and thus to rise in the kingdom?
  • Or, to the contrary, is there something you won’t do for Christ? You may know that you’re humble enough to clean the bathrooms, but what about forgiveness? The servant of the most high God can be commanded to forgive, can he not?
  • Is it simply that we wish to be a ruler, not a servant? Our pride will not let us take the title “servant.” Sometimes our pride masquerades as spiritual dignity.
An apostle of Christ

The word means an ambassador – a messenger of the faith. Let us examine ourselves as ambassadors:

  • When others see us, do they see Christ? We are called as ambassadors, not secret agents.
  • We are to be the ambassadors of reconciliation – reconciliation between God and man. Do we pray for those who are lost? Do we ask God to bless them so that they may come near to Him?
  • Do we conduct ourselves with grace and dignity? Not the pompous attitude of some, but the natural spiritual dignity that comes with being truly humble; the flowing grace that marks us as men of peace?

Why?

Why indeed. Those outside the faith should see that as a genuine question; it certainly isn’t for the money in it.

Paul gives us his answer: for the sake of the faith – of others. It is not allegiance to some abstract system of rules, but allegiance to Christ, and therefore service to Christ’s chosen ones. Let us examine the character of this faith:

  • The faith is given, not dreamed up or imagined, nor constructed in any way. This faith comes from the heart – the heart of Christ – not the foolishness of men. How much of what we believe is our own addition?
  • The faith is entrusted to us – and is therefore a great responsibility. Do we see it solely as a blessing, or is it something to be carried with care?
  • Do we pass this faith along, or hope that no one notices?

It is also for the knowledge of the truth. But this knowledge is given with godliness, so that it might not be “head knowledge” only. Do we act upon what we know?

  • Do we show that truth in our godliness? Does the truth so permeate our lives that godliness is its natural result?
  • Do we seek to increase our knowledge of the truth? Do we study the word, both in itself and as other minds have known it? Do we meditate on it, pray through it?

Hope

What is this hope? It is the hope of eternal life – life in the body in the presence of our Lord. Is this your hope, or just something added on to a “be good and God will reward you” faith?

  • What is your attitude towards death? Does it frighten you so much that you don’t want to go to the doctor, for fear of what he might find?
  • Do you live in the expectation of our Lord’s return? Or are you hoping He delays a little longer, so that you can finally kick the habit you hope he doesn’t know about?
Promised by the one who cannot lie
  • Are you “standing on the promises?” When a question of ethics arises, do you count on Him, or your own cleverness?
  • Indeed, when the world threatens you with its disasters, do you remember the one who taught you to ask for your daily bread – from Him?
  • Do you believe the prophecies, or do you think your Lord unable to control the events of this world?
At the proper time
  • Do you believe in coincidence, or providence?
  • Do you think God is in control – even in American politics?
The Word appears

Let there be no mistake: what this teacher is about – and all others who would be true to the Word – is retailing. Or better put, retelling. The Word became flesh; that is my story. Why do I teach it? So that I may ask you, “Have you met the risen Christ?” Nothing else really matters.

Blessing

Paul now conveys his blessing to his protégé: grace and peace.

Grace

Grace: the unmerited favor of God Almighty. The very word itself[1] means a gift. Something that God has bestowed upon you out of His love, not your merit.

  • Do you see it as a true blessing, or something you are owed? Examine yourself; do you conceive that God is rather lucky to have such a nice person like you in the kingdom? Is grace just the sugar coating of your own goodness, or is it the balm of the sinful heart? Have you thanked him for it, or praised him for giving it to you?
  • Do you see it as a blessing so great that it must be kept alive and fresh? Do you daily go to him in prayer and repentance? If you do, you will find that his mercies are indeed new every morning.
Peace

The word in the original means “to be at one with.” It is not the peace of anesthesia, but the peace of reconciliation. We are to be one. There is oneness in God; the Father, the Son and the Spirit are one.

  • Are you and the Father as one? Is your walk with Jesus so close that you are always considered together? Is the Spirit living within you, or do you reject the still small voice that calls you to repentance?
  • Are you one with his people, the church? Do you see them as brothers and sisters, or just as other people who happen to arrive at the same building on Sunday morning?

We may now proceed to a more detailed description of who we ought to be.

Elders

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

(Tit 1:5-16 NASB)

It is a fact that we are always encouraged to follow the examples of the leaders of the church. We go from inner thought to outer view; here’s what a real Christian looks like. The key: “Above reproach.” Here are some good tests for us:

Test #1 – The Family

We must begin by asserting what the liberal world now denies: the family is the building block of society and civilization. It is not good for man to dwell alone, says Genesis. The accomplished Christian, therefore, needs to have a family life which passes the “don’t” tests:

  • The husband of one wife. As a qualification for eldership this has sometimes been taken too literally, as if the death of a man’s wife suddenly disqualifies him. The intent here is simply this: the family is the basic unit of the church. That basic unit is destroyed by adultery; it is hard to build on a foundation of fornication. A one-woman man.
  • Children who believe. Nothing slips by the active minds of your children. They hear your words and see your deeds. If words and deeds are in harmony with Christ, you children will be also. In this day and age you
  • Not given to dissipation or rebellion. Wild parties and telling off the cop are not signs of Christian maturity.
Test #2 – Self Control

Verse 7 gives us the key to self control: we are the stewards of what God has given us. Is your wife a gift from God? Then do you cherish her as such? Let’s look at the don’ts first:

  • Not “self-willed” – not given to pride and arrogant, me-first behavior.
  • Not easily angered. I’m pleased to note that he did not require “never gets angry” – but the slower the fuse, the better the Christian.
  • Not addicted to wine. Enough said.
  • Not “pugnacious.” Did you ever know someone who enjoyed a good fight, especially when he is in it?
  • Especially this: there should be no fondness for money obtained in shady dealing.

Equally, there are some do’s:

  • Hospitality – a word not much used these days; it means one who will open his home to those in need. Note that this is required of a man; the keeping of the home may be her concern, but its use for the Gospel should be his.
  • Loving what is good – never having too much sex and violence on your VCR.
  • Sensible – not the kind to go off chasing wild theories (excludes flying saucer maniacs.)
  • Self controlled, holding fast – one who knows who he is in Christ Jesus, standing upon that Rock, never to be moved.
Test #3 – able to exhort and refute

If ever there were a justification for Bible study, this is it. The able, mature Christian should be practiced at two things:

  • He (or she) must practice the art of exhortation – not in the pulpit sense, usually, but in the sense of one who comes along side to encourage, comfort – and guide.
  • The time will come, however, when the defense of sound doctrine is necessary. We may think this to be only the preacher’s problem; it is not. If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.

At the last, there is the parting of the ways. The word “pure” has not much figured in this lesson – but it is the background of all of it. If you purify yourself in repentance, prayer and study of the Scripture, things look different. That person in your family who seems so wrong might just appear now to be one in so much need. The eyes of the pure see the pure in all things, and rejoice.

Something is pure when it is all it is supposed to be – and nothing else. The mind of the mature Christian sees with pure eyes, and is seen with a clear conscience. So we come full circle: just who are you?


[1] Charis, from which we get “charisma” and “charismatic”.

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