Those of us who at one time worked for a large company will at once grasp the words standards and procedures. Chapter 1 in the book of Titus is just that, it gives Titus the standards and the procedures to follow needed to strengthen the church and to grow the faith.
We know very little about Titus to whom this letter is written until we step back a moment and allow ourselves to let scripture reveal him to us. It is rather strange that Titus who had garnered enough standing in the early Church that one of the great Apostles to the Gentiles took the time to write a letter to him with instructions and responsibilities he is to share and undertake in Crete. There is evidence in scripture that Titus was a frequent companion of Paul in his journeys, Yet Titus is not mentioned once in the book of Acts of the Apostles. It is safe to say that Titus was very dear to Paul and Paul put much trust and confidence in his “son in the faith” (Titus 1:4 ). In 1 Timothy Paul had set out in detail the qualifications of an Elder in the church. Crete was an island of many cities and there would be many more little cities and Paul had always insisted that small churches should be encouraged to stand on their own feet as soon as possible. This chapter is special to me and made my list because we get an insight into the organization of the early church. The Council of Carthage had set down the standard for Bishops, elders and deacons that all members of their families should be believers of the faith. It was the council’s opinion that Christianity begins at home. No matter the path we follow in life it should not result in neglect of family. There is also the reference that families or individuals should not be involved in licentious or disruptive behavior. There is much to be said in our world today that the best avenue for training one to be a leader and productive member of society starts at home and is reinforced by christian standards taught in the church. Back to Chapter 1, Book of Titus…. all are the servants of God…There is truth in the gospel that there is value in teaching not so much fear of God as just plain awe of His Divinity and Power. The intent of the gospel is to raise the people’s faith and hope. To remove the burdens of the everyday world and point to the Heavens and the things above the everyday, that being, the gospel, the divine promise and the privilege of salvation! Our faith is strengthen by hearing the word of God and those who are called to preach the word, must do so with vigor and discipline. The fruits of God’s grace and favor are freely given to those who believe. The fruits of this favor are many…There is mercy in the pardoning of our sins, blessed relief from our miseries now and later on. Another fruit would be peace…peace through Jesus Christ with all others and ourselves. Consider please, that this blessing is the fountain of all blessings from which mercy, peace and all good things come forth. In verse 7b we are told what elders must not be. We start right off with the admonishment that we must not live our life to please just ourselves. Not easy because within this standard lies the fact that we cannot be intolerant of others or arrogant . We are standard bearers of the church, even more important that those who hold office should put aside such behavior. Elders should not be quick tempered. It is a common trait that those of quick temper are more likely than not to nourish their anger against others.
Paul writes to Timothy that the leaders, here in referred to as bishops and elders must meet certain qualifications. They are to be overseers of the flock, set an example as how to live and to manage the affairs of the household of God. It is made clear what they are not to be and is shown that they are to be, servants of Christ, minister to the practice and letter of the Gospel. We are also shown that they are to be examples of good works. Paul addresses the issue of false teachers in the church. He stresses that the faithful oppose them, they must not be allowed to continue with their false messages and immoral actions against the word of God. They serve a worldly interest, pretending to be of Godly mind and spirit. They do so to gain the riches of worldly sin. Shame them by presenting to the people the sound doctrine of the Scriptures. Actions such as theirs is far from that you have been taught.
“falsehood and lying, envious craft and cruelty, brutal and sensual practices, and idleness and sloth, are sins condemned even by the light of nature.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible)
It is true that there are many evil doers among you and it was one of their very own who said “Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons” and for these reasons you should rebuke them sharply. Verses 13 – 16 are a good example of what Titus is having to contend with….
13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
It might be said Paul wastes no words here, he is direct and to the point. There is an underlying thought in this rebuke thing that is worth noting. You will find it in verse 13… This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith . (NRSV) As is in all things of God’s, mercy and grace are always offered. “So that they will be sound in the faith”… I will close this blog by writing what I believe to be a Gospel based truth…Our God is a God of restoration, not condemnation. There is always salvation for those who believe and repent.
Life is Good