We all like to think of ourselves as “good” people, whether we belong to Jesus or not. But as Jesus says, only God is truly good (Luke 18:19). All of humanity - if we’re really honest with ourselves - are on some level: foolish, disobedient, deceived and driven by our passions and pleasures. Even if you manage to keep this evil in check most of the time, it’s still there, waiting to emerge when you’re at your weakest.
Like most of us, the Cretans who Paul is writing about, have been used to grabbing for what they want - after all, “God helps those who help themselves”, right? Yet, the real story of Jesus is about what God has done for you, rather than what you need to do for yourself. Thanks to Jesus, we are justified by grace and not by our righteousness.
Trying to earn our way by being more religious will likely result in the foolish controversies, arguments about the law, and divisiveness which Paul mentions - these things are unprofitable and useless he says. In contrast, what is excellent and profitable to everyone is to practice living according to that future for which we hope and trust in God with certainty, that future state of being when we are made perfect and truly good at Christ’s return.
Read this week’s Bible passage: Titus 3:3-11 [NIV]
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Last week we learned that Cretans were characterised by one of their own poet’s as being “liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons”. It’s into this context that Paul instructs Titus to teach God’s people what it looks like to have homes that look different to the sinful, messy, debauched homes of their fellow Cretans. Easier said than done when their former way of living was culturally acceptable and indeed normal to them. How do you teach someone to think and to do things so completely opposite to what they have always done. Words might be helpful in conveying the idea of a different way of life, but learning to live it requires demonstration. The ultimate vehicle for this teaching is discipleship.
We might not be liars, brutes, and gluttons, but the truth is, we probably have some habits and norms of our own that are culturally acceptable, but at odds with the gospel in ways that we aren’t aware of… and wouldn’t know how to begin to do differently even if someone were to point it out to us. How can we change? How can we become more Christlike, as God’s Word calls us to? Only by learning from others who have gone before us and learnt those same lessons that we need to learn - that’s the kind of everyday discipleship that Paul describes in this passage to Titus.
Read this week’s Bible passage: Titus 2 [NIV]