Thursday, April 14, 2011

Titus - Part 2

Main Emphasis1
The life of godliness is practical in nature and is demonstrated in several ways with various motives.  Paul in the first epistle to Timothy noted some who sought gain through maintaining godliness or its perception (1 Tim. 6:5).  While this has certainly been accomplished throughout Christian history, it is invalid before Christ.  Rather should there be Paul’s attitude who “suffered the loss of all things” in order to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8) coupled with contentment in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) which is the true path of gain (1 Tim. 6:6).  The remainder of this chapter looks at how the life of godliness is developed by Paul and communicated to Titus.

Exhibited by good works.  As mentioned at the outset, the idea of good works is expected of the believer.  Indeed, it is his very purpose as the Scripture states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).  Paul indicates to Titus attitudes proper for accomplishing this.

1. Thoroughness (2:7) – In all things be an example of good works.  There are no shortcuts in the Christian life. Every action, every word is a lesson to others of what God desires in His children.  Moses was not allowed to cross into the land of promise because he acted rashly one time and in so doing defamed the name of the Lord (Num. 20:12).  What lessons are we teaching?  Do we know the proper example to emulate it?  Are we ever on our guard to teach the examples appropriately?

2. Zealousness (2:14) – Believers are not to be lackluster disciples.  The desire for the things of God should be as Phinehas who willingly thrust a spear through his fellow Israelite to stop sin in the camp (Num. 25:6-8).  Affection for the Lord Jesus and his purposes must transcend those of family and friend (Luke 14:26).  Not that we despise another, for we are clearly taught to love one another (1 John 4:7-12).  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught clearly that we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44).  However, what is the greatest commandment but to love God with all the heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37)?  In addition, what is the second but to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39)?  The sequence of these defines our priority.

3. Readiness (3:1) – Preparedness is a requirement in the military.  All things must be in order so that the call to arms may be answered with a minimum of preparation.  Gideon was instructed by God to cull his army by observing how the men drank water (Judg. 7:4-5).  Those who dropped their weapons and put their heads down to drink were dismissed.  Those that brought the water to their mouths were kept.  What was the difference?  The latter were ready for action.  Likewise, Nehemiah instructed those building the wall to work with a weapon in their hands for fear of imminent attack (Neh. 4:13-18).  Disciples, as good soldiers of Christ (2 Tim. 2:3), should likewise be prepared for whatever good deed is needed, for preaching the word (2 Tim. 4:2), for defending the hope within us (1 Pet. 3:15), for Christ’s soon return (Matt. 24:44).

4. Steadfastness (3:8) – Care for good works is a constant affair.  No other person can successfully monitor them.  The responsibility is engaging in those things that the Lord has given us to do.  The race of life is long and takes much endurance (Heb. 12:1). Two of David’s mighty men can serve as illustrations—Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite (1 Sam. 23:9-10) who “struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword” and Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite (1 Sam. 23:11-12) who “stationed himself in the middle of the field [of lentils], defended it, and killed the Philistines.”  When the battle is long and weariness besets us, do we cling to the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17)?  Do we set ourselves in the midst and say to the enemy, “This far and no further?”   These are what the Lord uses to gain a mighty victory.  Our aim is on Christ (Heb. 12:2) and our prize is the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).

5. Fruitfulness (3:14) – A tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 7:20).  Paul would have plainly understood these words of Jesus for he bore the bad fruit in his agreement of stoning Stephen and imprisoning of believers (Acts 8:1, 3).  As a Pharisee, he understood the hypocrisy that was rampant among them.  James points out the error of attempting to claim life when there is no fruit of faith (James 2:14-26).  Rather that one is dead.  The believer’s life is to bear the fruit of life given by Christ Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit living in and through him.

1 Continuing the series from Part 1.

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