This morning I was reading chapter 3 of Paul’s letter to Titus. Titus was a young pastor and Paul was giving him instruction in regard to those under his care. The Pauline Epistles are chock full of wisdom and instruction for the Church. Let’s take a look at verses 1-7:
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The first reminder is about believers’ attitudes toward governmental authority. The disposition of the believer should be marked by submission and obedience to authority. It goes without saying, that in cases where a believer would be required to disobey God, this does not apply. However I believe this is a good reminder to us here in America where we are in the midst of a divisive Presidential election, and an increasingly hostile to Christianity culture. Be submissive and obedient. A practical example of that is as simple as obeying the speed limit laws and paying your taxes on time. It should also affect our heart attitude. Do your children, friends and coworkers hear you speaking respectfully about our leaders? Paul says we are to malign no one, be peaceable and gentle and considerate. This should characterize a believer in regards to authority, whether governmental or your boss at work. I’m quite certain that we all have areas where we can improve in our attitude toward authority. It doesn’t matter if the person in authority is worthy of that respect in our estimation or not. Remember, we are representing Jesus as His followers and showing our love and respect for Him by our obedience to this command.
The next section of the letter is saturated with grace. What a wonderful and tender reminder! Paul points out that ALL of us were once characterized by sin in foolishness, disobedience, hatred and lust. In other words: sinners are going to sin, just as you did. Don’t be frustrated or lack compassion toward those who are lost, as we once were! God was patient, kind and merciful toward us while we were still unrepentant sinners, so let us in kind be so toward our fellow men. Next Paul reminds us of the miracle of salvation by grace: not according to our deeds but according to His mercy. How did He do this? Through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. And why did He do this? Verse 8: This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. Paul admonishes Titus to remind his people that they were saved to do good. Now we’ve come full circle to the beginning: those good deeds include being respectful and obedient to authority, looking eagerly for ways to do good deeds.
As believers who were bought by a price (Jesus death on the cross), we should be quick to obey and respect the authority that God in His Sovereignty has placed over us. Ready to do good deeds, patient with unbelievers, remembering how we too were once lost in our sin. But thanks be to God for His miraculous gift of regeneration and renewal, which He does according to His mercy, and not our works! Works are a result of regeneration, not the means to regeneration. This great kindness should be the motivation for our obedience.
Soli Deo Gloria!