As I was reading through Titus Chapter 3, I was bulldozed with the words of wisdom Paul shared. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with these charges that we are encouraged to uphold:
- Be subject to rulers and authorities
- Be obedient
- Be ready to do whatever is good
- Slander no one
- Be peaceable and considerate
- Always be gentle toward everyone
Honestly, I can’t say that I adhere to these precious reminders that Paul writes to Titus. He goes on to say that “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” (Titus 3:3, NIV). Can I really say that I don’t live by this foolishness to this day? This led to a time of confession, and thankfully, I follow a God who is quick to forgive and remove my sins from me…as far as the east is from the west.
Which brings me to the next point that Paul so beautifully highlights in this letter – we are saved because of God’s mercy, not because of the righteous things we have done. We have the Holy Spirit poured out on us through the generous sacrifice Jesus Christ our Savior made on the cross, so that we are justified through grace (and grace alone), and so that we have a hope of eternal life. I don’t know about you, but this truth means everything. I don’t have to live out of shame from my foolishness, but instead, I can turn from those ways with the help of the Holy Spirit so that I can devote myself to doing what is good. It’s not my good deeds that save me, it’s my saving faith that leads to good deeds.
This is my prayer – that I wouldn’t be selfish, foolish, and easily deceived by all kinds of passions and pleasures, but that I would use the power given to me by the Holy Spirit to live a life of kindness and love with Jesus serving as my representation. If you know me, then you know this is a great feat. I have the tendency to be mean, hold grudges, resent others, and refuse forgiveness (as if refusing to forgive punishes those who have wronged me instead of myself). Like I said, reading this chapter was like a punch to the gut.
Paul’s final remarks include this: “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives” (Titus 3:14). Maybe this is a challenge to you as well, but I know for me, I have some serious re-prioritizing to do.