Devotional Commentary for February 4-10
7in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,
8sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
Paul's exhortations to Titus were not confined to what he must do as the Overseer of the churches in Crete. Following his directives to set things in order, appoint leaders, and teach sound doctrine to the churches, Paul admonished Titus to set the example for everything he would be teaching. That is, his life and conduct must reflect his good, sound, and Truthful teachings.
As the Overseer and the teacher of Truth, Titus must be morally pure, dignified, and a good example in everything he would be saying and doing. His words must be true and reliable. His life and conduct should be a direct reflection of the Truth he would be proclaiming. This way, his detractors are silenced. They would not be able to badmouth the Gospel or his work in Crete.
The message of the Gospel is unchangeable. There is only one Truth, and that Truth is Jesus Christ. In telling Titus to teach sound doctrine and to be a good example, Paul was exhorting him to be the true witness of Jesus Christ in a world that was inundated by distortion and unsound teaching. Paul cautioned Titus that his life and conduct would not deviate from the Truth he was teaching, so that any inconsistency in him would not give the Judaizers and the corrupt Cretans the occasion to adulterate the Truth. Paul earnestly wanted Titus to defeat the forces of falsehood with his faithfulness, soundness, and exemplary life.
9Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative,
10not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.
Titus's exemplary teaching exceeds a mere transfer of knowledge. It impacts attitudes and relationships within the community of the faithful. Paul particularly impelled Titus to address the attitude of slaves toward their masters or employees toward their employers. He understood the chronic uneasiness persisting between these two classes of people.
Slaves and/or employees often view their masters with a negative attitude especially when they feel unappreciated or oppressed. To be a slave is to be the property of another. Usually, such social positions are neither desirable nor acceptable.
Nevertheless, Paul urged Titus to teach slaves about the incoherence of their natural inclinations with their Christian attitude. Their natural inclinations often seek to influence their attitudes negatively, contrary to the newness in them as Christians. As Christians, they are new in Christ. The New Man in them should not be undermined by the fallen attitude of the natural man. Therefore, they should be obedient, pleasing, and commendable. They should not be rebellious, argumentative, and dishonest. They should not steal. They should be trustworthy. Their life of obedience and loyalty should serve as the witness of their faith in God and their commitment to the sound doctrine of the Truth.
11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
14who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
15These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority Let no one disregard you.
Paul was firm and uncompromising in his instructions to Titus. He knew that the world in which Titus was commissioned to serve was hostile to the Gospel and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. His concerns for the slaves and all Christians were based on a simple yet profound Truth. After all, God's saving Grace was revealed for the benefit of all people including slaves; the people of a lowly social and economic class. God's saving Grace was given not only to bring salvation to men, but also to charge the redeemed to reject ungodliness, to resist corrupt inclinations, to cultivate a responsible common-sense, and to live in godly ways in the righteousness of Christ, especially in light of the prevailing evil of the times.
God's saving Grace which was revealed in Jesus Christ also gives the assurance of the true hope of God's blessings to the redeemed. It was revealed in Jesus Christ Who became flesh and manifested the glory of God in Truth and in His goodness. Titus was instructed to teach the slaves in Crete that, because of Jesus Christ Who is our blessed hope, they must no longer rebel against their masters. They must conduct themselves in the newness of Christ which they have received through God's redemption. They must reject all forms of ungodly living, corrupt desires, and immoral urges so that they might exercise self-control and live a godly life in spite of the contrary world around them. In other words, slaves or otherwise, the redeemed of Christ must understand that the appearing of Jesus Christ was not just to rescue them from damnation, but also to reveal God's Grace which transforms believers from being the children of disobedience and darkness to being the children of love and light.
Jesus Christ gave Himself even to death on the Cross in order to set His children free from a life of sin and corruption. That is, His appearing was to cause the redeemed to consciously reject the ways of sin and live in the righteousness of Christ Himself: in real life, in real time, in the midst of real people. Having reminded Titus of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and return, Paul now tells Titus of that momentous historic event of one's conversion that launched the journey of faith. It began and ended in Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life in perfect obedience to His Father's Will.
Redeemed sinners are set free from having to continue in sin. Redeemed sinners are remarkably transformed to live a new life in Christ beyond the shackles of sin. They are cleansed and empowered. The Power of Christ and His living Word are alive in them. Sin must be consciously rejected and Christ must be honored. Paul earnestly urged Titus to speak the Truth courageously and continues to tell us through this inspired Word to do the same without fear. The power of sin and darkness is destroyed because Christ has appeared once to declare salvation and to set the captive free.
An unwise and uninspired survey of the letter to Titus may give the impression to some, that it is a document of legalistic precepts reflecting a list of do's-and-don'ts for Christian leadership. But these inspired words confront the Christian's heart in matters of life and faith. Paul was well aware that his instructions to Titus were not easy to follow. Yet, he urged him to teach sound doctrine courageously on the authority of God's Truth.
Titus was commissioned to be the voice of Truth confronting the persistence of sin and disobedience in the life of the Christians in Crete. He had to preach the Gospel in the face of a concerted opposition. He had to lead by example through a persevering faith and surpassing obedience. A human being himself, he faced the same challenges as his audience.
Titus was encouraged to draw his strength from the Truth that has been revealed. That Truth was not an abstraction of facts or a collection of ideas. That Truth is Jesus Christ the Son of God Who has appeared in Person to manifest God and to bring His Peace and Grace toward men.
The appearing of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God's Promise to save sinners from His just judgment by condemning His holy and righteous Son to suffer the death of the guilty under His Law. So Paul tells Titus and all believers that the Grace of God has been dispensed toward sinners, crediting the righteousness of Christ to the account of undeserving sinners like us. Consequently, we are constrained by the outworkings of divine love flourishing in our hearts, to forsake everything and everyone else and surrender ourselves to the One Who laid down His Life for our sake.
In forsaking everything and everyone else for His sake, we disavow our fondness to the ways of our godless convictions. We deny ungodliness, worldly desires, and all forms of lawless deeds not just because they are bad and immoral, but more significantly for the sake of the One Who knew no sin but became sin for us. We should be no longer controlled by our carnal appetite. We should no longer grieve the Holy Spirit by Whom we are sealed unto the Day of our ultimate consecration.
Christ is our only reason for faith, obedience, and life. In Him, we believe the Truth, we speak the Truth, and we practice the Truth. He died for our sake so we might live in Him. So we die to ourselves for His sake and by His strength that we might live in His righteousness; for the Grace of God has been revealed in Jesus Christ: our salvation, our glory, and our blessed hope.