This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus has two major points: one is theoretical (concerning sound doctrine) and the other practical (having to do with what a Christian should do in his practical life).
In Chapters 1-2 Paul talks about the importance of teaching sound doctrine. Now, in this chapter, he touches upon a practical issue of life, the need for one to do what is good.
First, remind people to do what is good (1-2)
The idea of “doing what is good” is one of the most popular teachings found in virtually every religion or philosophy. But what the Apostle Paul exhorts us to be and to do in the passage for today distinguishes itself from all of the non-Christian teachings in that Paul exhorts us to copy the example of Jesus Christ, the founder of the Christianity. Look at verses 1-2. Here, Paul exhorts Titus to remind people to: 1) be subject to rulers and authorities; 2) be obedient; 3) be ready to do whatever is good; 4) slander no one; 5) be peaceable; 6) be considerate; and 7) show true humility toward all men.
Whose image is resembled in the above description? The description resembles Jesus Christ. When Jesus stood on trial before the Sanhedrin and also before Pilate the Roman Governor, although they handed down verdicts on Jesus that were unjust, Jesus did not fight against these verdicts. He did not seek to destroy the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious court, or overturn the Roman government by military force. He could have asked God to send thousands of angels and destroy these unjust rulers instantly, but he did not do that. Rather, knowing that God is the ultimate judge, Jesus humbly subjected himself to the rulers and authorities.
Jesus also learned to be obedient even to the point of death. From the day 1 of his public ministry until the last moment of his life on the cross, the devil kept tempting Jesus to doubt God's love and disobey God's will to suffer and die on the cross. But to the last moment of his life, he resisted the devil’s temptations. By faith in God’s total goodness, Jesus remained obedient to the will of God fully.
Jesus' life as a public person was never an easy one, for he was beset by all kinds of needy people. Yet, Jesus was ready to do what is good all the time. In order to be ready, Jesus used to wake up early in the morning and go out to a solitary place and have quiet moments. He had fellowship with God. He offered prayers to God. Then he started his day. And he served God's purpose each day by doing what is good, using every flying moment of his life. (cf. John 9:4)
The Apostle Paul's call to be ready to do what is good also reminds me of Mother Barry. She is 75 years young. By that age many women retire themselves to a convalescent home and struggle to barely take care of themselves. But instead of living in a convalescent home, she stays in an apartment located right next to the Chicago Bible Center. There all different kinds of people continue to visit her. People all over the world also continue to contact her via e-mail, letter writing, and phone calls. Of course, Chicago time is different from time else where. Yet, she is always ready to serve those contacting her twenty-four hours a day.
Remind people to slander no one. Slander has many different meanings. Slander is a defamatory statement expressed in a transitory medium such as verbal speech. Basically, to slander is to find faults with men for the sake of pulling them down. When you think about men, one thing is very clear: imperfection. No one is perfect. Everyone suffers from one weakness or another. All men or women are subject to weaknesses or character flaws at least to a certain degree. So if you want to find fault with anyone you can always point out something bad about that person. Then using various means of communication, such as words of mouth, phone calls, the internet, bad information can be spread about that other person’s reputation. But Paul says, "Remind people to slander no one." What does "no one” mean? “No one” means no one.
Remind people to slander no one. This exhortation is termed negatively. Yet there is a positive reason why Paul says people should slander no one. It is because Christ died for the sins of the world. This means that if you believe in Jesus who died for your sins, then, despite all of your weaknesses, sin problems, or character flaws, you are still viewed by God as a righteous man. In God's eyes, you are clean. Didn't God say to Simon Peter, not just once but twice, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean" (Acts 11:9)? When we remember [i.e., anyone, particularly the Gentiles] that Jesus died for the sins of the world, we can see each person with Jesus' eyes. Then instead of finding faults with others and spreading slanderous remarks on him over the internet, we can start praying that God would help that person know Jesus better, and grow as a Jesus-like person.
Remind people to be peaceable. Again this exhortation is not based on a common-sensical idea of "how to get along with your neighbor,” but the Biblical fact that Jesus came to make peace among all creations. The truth is that you are a sinner and I am also a sinner. So both you and I belong to a same category: The Sinners’ Club. This means that you and I have every reason not to get along. You and I have every reason to hate each other. But, Jesus died for your sins and for my sins. So we can consider calling a cease-fire. We can start thinking about forgiving one another, and actually come to terms with one another. Instead of wanting my enemy to say first, "I am sorry. I wronged you. Please forgive me," I can say first, "I am sorry. I wronged you. Please forgive me." Thereafter in the name of Jesus, we can even proceed to love one another as dearly and sacrificially as Jesus loved us.
Remind people to be considerate. One of the meanings of the word "considerate" is to be thoroughly thoughtful in considering one's neighbor’s situation with the intention to truly understand him or her. Having said this let us stop for a moment and dig up the meaning of the word “considerate” a little more. The word “considerate” is associated with the word "consider". The word "consider" indicates that each person's situation is multi-factorial. For example, you look at me standing in front of you. If you are to be truly considerate about me, you must remember that until I became what I am now, millions of different factors have worked together to shape me to be the way I am – my accent, my voice, my look, my demeanor, my everything. This indicates that in order to be mindful of others’ rights and feelings, it is necessary for us to try to understand what they might have gone through all the days of their lives. And one of the ways to understand others better is to put oneself in the shoes of others as one Indian saying goes, "Do not judge anyone until you have walked in his moccasins at least for ten years." In John's gospel, chapter four, we see Jesus’ perfect example in being considerate about the needs, feelings and sentiments of one Samaritan woman. She was rude to Jesus. But Jesus was kind and gentle. Why? Jesus knew her inside out. Jesus knew her even from her mother's womb: in fact it was Jesus who had shaped her in her mother's womb! Displaying his perfect knowledge, Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true” (John 4:18). Of course, we are not Jesus. Our knowledge of others is all together limited. But at least we can try to strike up conversation with our neighbors and try to understand them better. Then we can be sensitive to the rights and feelings of others, and pray for their wellbeing.
Remind people to show true humility toward all men. Here Paul puts the word “true” before the word “humility.” By “true humility” Paul means the humility which the Bible teaches. What is then the biblical definition of humility? How is it defined? Let us start out with what Numbers 12:3 says: "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." In reading this passage one question comes to mind: “How was Moses able to become so humble?” We can find an answer to this question when we remember that the Lord God trained Moses for forty years in the desert. What was the point of this training? The point of this training was for Moses to realize his position as a servant of God, a humble shepherd serving sheep that belonged to someone else, that is, his father-in-law; God trained him to renounce a proud attitude as a prince of Egypt, and adopt a humble attitude as a servant of God. Consistent with this truth, in Hebraic thought, humility is to know one's position before God. Again, in the case of Moses, after the forty years of desert training, he remained humble for the remaining forty years of service, because during his public service as a shepherd for the slave nation Israel, he always remembered his position as a servant of God. It was the same with Jesus. As we know Jesus is the true example of true humility. How could Jesus be so humble? He remained humble because he knew his place as God's servant. We too can be humble when we know our position as God's servants. Before one is a director of a ministry or a leader of a fellowship, he is first a servant of God. The title “God” is glorious. But “servant” is not. A servant is the same as a slave. Remind people to show true humility toward "all" men. Here "all" means "all," particularly the ones who are spiritually young and immature.
It is interesting that Paul directed Titus to remind people of these things. What does "remind" mean? Its meanings include: cue, prompt, inform, notify, tell, etc. every once in a while.
Why is it necessary to remind people of these things? We all know the answer. Man is forgetful. In addition, man's mind works just like a tire in that unless it gets stimulated continually, it very quickly goes flat. Furthermore, as it processes zillions of bits of information, unless it is guided properly, it ends up getting extremely clustered, disorganized, filthy, and ultimately rendered undesirable to do anything good.
Second, He saved us to do what is good (3-7)
Paul's exhortations described above sound impossible to fulfill. But God never asks anyone to do anything without first providing him with all the means and resources necessary to do what he is asked to do. So we should not consider Paul's exhortations in verses 1-2 as something unattainable. Paul explains this concept in verses 3-7 in two ways.
(1) Paul explains how at one time we were totally incapable of doing what we are supposed to be doing.
Look at verse 3. "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another." Not all passions and pleasures are bad. In fact, God gave us certain passions and pleasures to further our lives. But, to be enslaved by them has never been in the will of God. As the word "enslaved" suggests, once one is captive to any kind of passion or pleasure, one automatically loses the capacity to do anything good, for it is passion and pleasure that controls man, not man controlling the former. God's purpose for man is to remain free; his will for his children is for them to become dominant, never to be dominated by creation. The devil always works to arrest man with all kinds of passions and pleasures. Then the devil causes man to do what is evil, so that his victim would live in malice and envy, being hated and hating others. In the past I used to be one of them. I could not overcome all the dirty desires, especially lust. I am now 55. But for the first 25 years of my life, although I looked like naïve, for the most part, I remained as a small devil, a slave to all kinds of petty desires.
(2) Paul then tells us how the Lord God set us free from worldly passions and pleasure-seeking lifestyles, and thereby equipped us to do what is good.
How then did the Lord save us from slavery to all kinds of passions and pleasures? Look at verses 4-7. "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."
God is kind and loving. He loves us not because we are lovable, but because we are not lovable. If he loves us because we are lovable, that already indicates that God's motive in loving us is selfish, for by loving what or who is lovable, God is deriving some pleasure out of his act of loving. But by loving what is unlovable, he is being totally altruistic.
Specifically then how did he equip us to do what is good? In verses 5-7, Paul says that he did it through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. In my opinion, washing of rebirth is a one time transaction, but the renewal by the Holy Spirit is an ongoing transaction. Once a man is born again, as he continues to remain in Jesus, and as he continues to ask God to renew him by the Holy Spirit, the Lord God blesses him and renews him.
Once upon a time King David committed adultery with the wife of his loyal officer. His one night's tryst resulted in pregnancy. It also led to the murder of the woman’s husband, Uriah. These sins left deep scars in David’s soul. Then God sent a servant named Nathan. Upon Nathan's rebuke, David confessed his sins. The Lord forgave him. But the wounds and scars in him still remained. King David then approached the throne of God's grace and shed many tears, earnestly praying to God, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-13). Other psalms such as Psalm 32 indicate that the Lord God answered his prayer and renewed his spirit. Who then did the job of renewing? It was the same Holy Spirit who renewed David’s broken spirit. It was the Holy Spirit who fixed David’s broken soul, and made him to do what is good again.
To remember that the Lord God enables us to do what is good is a very comforting thought. If you choose to remain long enough in this ministry or in any other ministry that means business in obeying the Bible you will hear a lot of the sermons or messages on the Lord's commands, such as the World Mission Command, the command to feed sheep, the command to do this, the command to do that. Then you might be tempted to say, "Oh, I am a lay person." Or if you are a student, you might be tempted to say, "Oh, I am a full time student. Plus, I have to work full time. How can I feed sheep?" Thinking this way, even listening to a message with the title, "Doing What is Good," might make you feel guilty and burdensome.
But we must remember one important truth: God never asks anyone to do anything without first providing him with the means and resources to do what is being asked to do. After the five day scout journey to Equador, I came back to Downey at around the midnight last Friday. Then even before I put down my luggage, the Lord God started giving me one assignment after another. And these assignments came from women, including my wife Rebekah. As soon as I got into the living room and put down my luggage, Rebekah said, "Tomorrow you have three Bible studies: one at 6 a.m., another at 8:00 a.m., another at 10:00 a.m. Don’t be late.” Thank God. She reminded me to do what is good. In addition, the burden to finish the Sunday message was still there. Because of this burden I could not go to bed. And so I slept on the couch. Then, around 4 o’clock Sunday morning, I slipped into bed. Rebekah was awake, and asked me, "What did you do?" She was referring to whether or not I had finished the message. So instead of answering her question I complained saying, "I am not sure why my life is so difficult." Then she said, "It is such a great privilege to write a message. Don't ever say that." I kept my mouth shut. Then as I thought about it further, I admitted the truth of her statement and even gave thanks to God because through the indwelt Spirit, he keeps renewing my life, so that I would do whatever he wants me to do all according to his blessed power, not by my own strength. Then I came back to my study room and finished the message.
Third, the hope of eternal life (8-15)
Again, it is never a burden for a child of God to be asked to do what is good. Rather the exact opposite is true: it is a great blessing. It is a privilege upon privilege.
In what respect then is it a great privilege? In verses 7-8 Paul answers this question. "So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."
Three expressions draw our attention: (1) we might become heirs; (2) having the hope of eternal life; and (3) these things are excellent and profitable for everyone. The word “heirs” has the meaning of "recipients." “Hope of eternal life” refers to the contents of the gifts to his children. The expression “excellent and profitable for everyone,” describes the beautiful outcome of the life of a man who follows through with these things. When we consider these expressions as a whole, we can conclude that God gave us the opportunity to do what is good in the Lord, not to burden us, but to bless us more than we can possibly imagine.
In fact, in the course of doing what is good, God’s children come to know him better, and work as God’s partners in fulfilling God’s work of redemption. In John 14:23 Jesus expressed this concept by saying, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." In Romans 8:17 the Apostle Paul also shared with us the same thing when he said, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
Verses 9-15 are footnotes. Paul shares with Titus things to avoid, wisdom to deal with a divisive person, and some practical remarks. In verse 14 he reemphasizes the importance of doing good. Let us read it together. "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives."
One word: Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus has two major points: one is theoretical (sound doctrine) and the other practical (what a Christian should do in his practical life).
In Chapters 1-2 Paul talked about the importance of teachingsound doctrine. Now, in Chapter, he touches upon a practical issue of life, that is, the need for one to do what is good.
1. In verses 1-2 Paul instructs Titus to remind people to:
1) be subject to rulers and authorities;
2) be obedient;
3) be ready to do whatever is good;
4) slander no one;
5) be peaceable;
6) be considerate; and
7) show true humility toward all men.
Who do the people described above resemble? What does “remind” mean?Why is it necessary?
** The image of Jesus Christ. Note: to be subject to rulers and authorities does not mean to do whatever they ask you to do. For example, the Roman Emperor promoted the worship of the Roman Emperor as [human] god. Christians are not to worship the Roman Emperor. They are rather to worship God the Father, for he alone is the true God. Yet the Christians were not to use force to overturn the Roman rule. Rather, they were to obey their authority, still keeping their integrity asChristians. In this way, many Christians suffered martyrdom.
** Remind = cue, prompt, inform, notify, tell...
** Man is forgetful. In addition, man's mind works just like a tire, for unless it gets worked out continually, very quickly it goes flat like a flat tire.
Furthermore, as it processes zillion bits of different information through it, unless it is guided properly, it ends up getting extremely cluttered, and becomes filthy andis thereby rendered undesirable.
Man's mind came from God. It is part of God's image. It works best when it is made pure, filled with the Spirit of God.
2. Read verse 3. What does this passage tell us about the life of an unsaved man?
** It talks about the cause and effect of a man becoming the way he becomes.
1) The cause: the word "foolish" or "deceived" indicates that upon being deceived by the devil, man ends up losing faith in the Lord, becomes stupid enough to think sinning against God (i.e., becoming disobedient to God) as something beneficial, when in fact it only results in losing what is the most valuable, that is, the relationship with God the Father the source of true happiness.
2) The effect: disobedient, enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures; becomes a man of malice, envy, wounding machine, object of hatred, etc. and so forth.
3. Think about verses 4-7. What do they tell us about: 1) God; 2) His motive in doing the work of salvation; 3) the way He saves man; and 4) the purpose of salvation?
** God is kind and loving.
** His mercy. He loves us not because we are lovable, but because we are not lovable. If he loves us because we are lovable, that already indicates that God's motive is self-seeking, for by loving what or who is lovable, God is deriving some pleasure out of his act of loving. But by loving what is unlovable, he is being totally altruistic.
** Washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured on us generously through Jesus Christ, our Savior.
** To adopt us as heirs (of himself and the world he is going to renew), fulfilling the hope of eternal life for us.
4. Read verses 8-9 and describe: 1) things to stress (8); and 2) things to avoid (9). What do these instructions have in common?
** Things to stress: v. 8
** Things to avoid: v. 9 (four things to avoid)
** Excellent, profitable, and useful. The common point is to produce a man who is capable of bearing good fruit.
5. Think about what Paul says in verses 10-11. Why is it important not to ignore a divisive person? Why is it also important not to grapple with him too much?
** They tend to destroy the fellowship, breaking the vessel (unity) of love.
** Maybe two reasons: first, they already made up their minds not to repent, so that it would be of no use to try to continue to help them out; and second, if one continues to grapple with them, they will eventually wear us out, draining our energy to do what is good.
6. In verse 14 Paul repeats his emphasis on doing what is good. (1:16; 2:7,14; 3:1,8) Why? (1:12; Genesis 1:28; 12:2-3)
** Paul emphasizes this for God sent Jesus to help us to bear good fruit while on earth. Doing what is good = bearing good fruit that lasts forever.
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
Special emphasis was made especially knowing the problem of the Cretans as Titus 1:12 says: Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons."