Titus 1.12-16 – Talking the Talk

Paul has established the need for Godly character in the leaders and we said that we all ought to be working towards this, and now he gives his younger charge the reason why such character is needed.

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Titus 1.12-16

The problem all boils down to the truth of v.16; that the people Titus has been tasked with leading (with the help of his newly-appointed eldersprofess to know God, but they deny him by their works. Their character is severely lacking when compared to the elders appointed (vv.5-9, cf. vv.12-16), they are prone to myths and legalism (v.14), and have seriously misunderstood the liberty to live life to the full that comes with Christ (v.15). All the more need, then, for consistent Christian character to be displayed by Titus and his elders.

The crux of the problem is professing to know God, but denying Him with works. This comes up again and again in Scripture, doesn’t it? James 2.14-26, for example, makes a strong case that if you truly believe in what you claim and profess, there will be evidence, examples, and fruit borne from the root. 

Friends, it is one thing to talk like a Christian, but more important than all the terms, the lingo, the big theological words, the Christian-ese, is actually living the life. Talking the talk is one thing, but can we walk the walk?

Paul writes of those who simply talk a good game, they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

These are strong words, but Paul means it. These difficult people probably pretended to have a higher spirituality than Titus or other godly leaders.

David Guzik

So, today, stop and think: am I talking the talk but not walking the walk?

Were I to keep silent for a day, would anybody be able to tell I am a Christian by my conduct and character?

Titus 1.10-11 – Character in Action

Having laid out for Titus the character of those whom he should appoint as elders to help him lead, Paul now details one of their tasks; to silence false teaching.

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

Titus 1.10-11

Sadly as true today as it was when Paul penned this, there are those who move in Christian circles who are insubordinate, not wishing to submit to the authority of the Word or to those whom the Word installs as leaders. This is usually followed by empty talking, deceptive speech, upsetting speech, and often comes with a personal agenda (…for shameful gain…).

The character of an elder, there to help put what remains into order must be ready and willing to speak out against such divisive, deceptive, and destructive talk. If, as we said, this character is what we are all progressing towards, by extension we should all be ready and willing to speak out against such talk. 

That’s not to say today that you must seek out and silence those who err from an orthodox teaching of the Word, but, when presented with a false teaching, when presented with empty talk, with deceptive talk that doesn’t line up with Scripture, with upsetting speech, or with personal agendas, our Christian character in action must be ready and willing to take a stand, knowing that those who take a stand for the truth of the Word will be rightly rewarded (1 Peter 3.13-16Matthew 5.12). 

Is your Christian character ready for this?

Is your Christian character willing to do this?

Titus 1.5-9 – Christian Character

After a few introductions, Paul gave Titus the task to put what remained into order, and appoint elders…He now lays out the exemplary character that needs to be displayed by these men who are to be appointed by Titus to spiritually oversee the churches.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 1.5-9

Even though this list of character qualifications is specifically listed as being needed by those who are appointed elders in the church (v.5), we would all do well to see that really, this is the benchmark for Christian character in general, elder or not, male or female, Jew or Greek, this is how Christians should conduct themselves.

Don’t we all want to have such a solid character reputation that people trust us,

don’t we all want to be loyal, have a great family life, be humble, peaceable, consistent, content, welcoming, Spirit-filled,

and a good witness of Christ to those around us?

Don’t we all want to be known as someone who stands on Scripture for our equipping, edification, and examples (Timothy 3.16)?

Yes, elders are appointed to model this character to us all in church, but they should never be the only people who live like this. Simply, this is how we are all to live having professed faith in Jesus and submitted and committed to living under His Lordship.

It might seem like a tough task but, as we said previously, we need only say ‘Here I am, send me!‘, and allow the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to work in us as we are being transformed, day by day, towards the image of the ultimate example of Christian character, Jesus.

Titus 1.5 – Up To The Task

Having laid the foundations for his letter, Paul now gives Titus a task,

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you…

Titus 1.5

Rather than look at the church leadership structure implications here, let us instead look at the character Titus needed for the job. His task was pretty big,

After a successful evangelistic campaign on the island of Crete, there were a lot of young Christians to take care of…When a job is hard, there are basically two kinds of people. With one you say, “The job is really hard, so we can’t send him.” With the other you say, “The job is really hard, so we must send him.” Titus seemed to be of the second kind.

David Guzik

Titus had the big job of putting what remained into order, and he also had the job of appointing elders. It stands to reason that Paul thought Titus was up to the task. 

Taking this from there to here, them to us;

if God were to give you such an important task,

if you were given a job of the importance of Titus’ from Paul,

are you up to the task?

Are you willing, ready, and able to say ‘Here I am, send me!’ (Isaiah 6.8)?

Do you feel up to the task, no matter what the task may be?

Do you know, really know deep-down, that where God guides, He provides, and that no matter how weak, small, or feeble you feel that this will actually improve your ability to be up to the task (2 Corinthians 12.9)?

Taking aside our ability to actually do the task God gives to us, perhaps this is a better thought to carry into today – am I ready and willing, am I willing to say ‘Here I am, send me?’.

Titus 1.4 – A Common Faith

Having introduced himself and the foundation for the letter Paul now addresses the recipient,

To Titus, my true child in a common faith…

Titus 1.4

We read of Titus a few times in the New Testament. He pops up in 2 Corinthians a couple of times (2.13, 8.23, 12.18) and in Galatians 2. He is suggested by tradition to be the brother of Luke, author of Luke and Acts

Paul addresses him as my true child in a common faith. The same faith that Paul had, the same things that Paul believed in (1 Corinthians 15.1-11) was the same faith that Titus had. Paul describes their faith as common, and he means that this belongs ‘equally to several people‘. Often we think of common to mean cheap, regular, kind of boring, but the word Paul uses here is very similar to the word often translated as fellowship, or partnership

Simply, Paul is reminding Titus of the truth that faith in Jesus is common in that it belongs equally to all who profess it. It is common too in that it brings a common salvation (Jude 1.3), and that was just as true for Paul, as it was for Titus, and as it is for you. 

The same faith that Paul had was held by Titus, and this same faith is available for you too. Same object, same outworking, same conclusion. The common faith that believes in the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming of Jesus, the common faith that believes that He died for us whilst we were sinners to offer us reconciliation to God, this common faith in Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and will be the same tomorrow (Hebrews 13.8).

How encouraging this is for us, that we are joining those who went before us in professing faith in something so ancient, so established, something that belongs equally to us as much as it did to them, and will do to those who come after us. 

Today, take a moment to think on this; have I truly accepted that my faith allows me to be part of something so much bigger, longer standing, and eternally reaching that myself?

Defeated

By Jaime Solis (@jaimexsolis)
••••••
Is it really worth it?

Before any type of telecommunication existed, runners were assigned to various groups of the military during a war. Runners were not soldiers armed with heavy artillery; they packed light. Their primary objective was to carry very important messages from platoon to platoon. This meant them leaving the safety of shelters and risk having bullets flying overhead. This also meant enemy snipers aiming and shooting at them, in order to make sure the enemy runner never successfully delivered a message.

All this for a message that was not their own, but of a Commander, giving orders to carry it across the battlefield. They put their lives on the line… for a message.

Paul, also spent the latter days of his life carrying a message that was not his own. The message belonged to God, his Commander, with the message being that Jesus died for the sins of the world so that all may go to heaven! Because he carried this message and spread it out, he lived in a constant life of turmoil. He was afflicted, he was perplexed, he was persecuted, and he was struck down – was it really worth it? It seems defeating.

I ask you, in your perplexities, in your persecution, in you being struck down – is saying, “I am a follower of Jesus”, worth it? I think one of our greatest fears is that we lived our lives being faithful to living a life for Jesus, only for it to feel wasted, since feelings of defeat come around more than those of victory.

Paul though, reveals to us the other side of the hardship, that although he’s experienced affliction, he was not crushed, though he was perplexed, he was not driven to despair, though he was persecuted, he was not forsaken, and though he was struck down, he was not destroyed.

So, defeated heart, as a runner for the Gospel of Jesus yourself, trust Paul as he revealed the other side of the discouraging days, a truth that he found by being faithful. It IS worth it despite the feelings of defeat, because we’ll find that God has been present to hold us up all along.

Who Will Save Me?

Eliphaz continues his counsel and asks Job another question, something that we have all asked at some point,

Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?

Job 5.1

Having laid out his first batch of counsel for Job (4.2-21), Eliphaz asks this rather poignant question, is there anyone who will answer you? Job must have asked himself this whilst enduring the worst that earthly life can throw at him, who will save me?

If you have ever been through any of Job’s trials and tribulations you will no-doubt have asked yourself this question too, who is going to save me, who is going to make this better

It’s important to say here that God always saves. Period. Full stop. He promises to save you (John 3.16-18). It’s also really important to say that God promises to always deliver us through circumstances, but never promises to save us from our circumstances. A fine difference in language but a perspective-altering difference too.

The Lord never guarantees to rescue and deliver us from every situation that trials us. We are seeing here that Job is living through this trial, he is experiencing profound loss and grief. The Lord does, however, promise to rescue us in spite of them, to rescue us despite what is going on around us unto eternal life with Him.

Paul had the proper perspective here (2 Timothy 3.10-11), and believed in a God that can work miracles to deliver His people, but never guarantees it. Paul knew that even though he was in prison, even though he was awaiting execution, that the Lord would never leave nor forsake him, would always be an ever present help in times of need, and even if earthly circumstances seem to have defeated him, that his Lord and Saviour had overcome the world and had something far greater waiting on the other side. 

Is that something you know?

The prophet Joel knew this, didn’t he, when he wrote that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (2.32). This is where Job would be calling, this is where Job’s answer will come from, this is the Holy One to whom we all turn. Turn to Him today!