Monday, April 18, 2011

Titus - Part 6 (Final)

Evidenced in behavior.1 God has called every believer to diligence in the daily walk.  The second letter of Peter lays out the need to be ever-increasing in godly qualities with a view to usefulness and fruitfulness (2 Pet. 1:5-8).  As growth occurs, changes become evident so that others begin to recognize us as “having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).  Spiritual growth manifests Christ in whatever sphere of life.

1. Leadership (Titus 1) – The qualifications given for elders would not come as a surprise to a Jewish community.  From the time of Egyptian slavery, men would be recognized as leaders with inherent civic and spiritual responsibilities “because they possess qualities deemed necessary for the effective fulfillment of those responsibilities…The men become elders simply because it is natural for them to do so.”2  These men would oversee transactions, judge cases, and exact penalties for offenses.  An excellent example is Job, not because he is formally recognized but demonstrated through his righteous lifestyle (Job 29:12-17; 31:1ff) and the respect given him (Job 29:7-11).3  In the same way, local assemblies are to have older men, firmly established in the Lord, who know the Bible, judge rightly, and lead by example.  Accepting less leads to error akin to Israel during the time of the judges in failing to do according to God’s standard (Judg. 17:6).  This places the onus on men to be desirous of being built up “on your most holy faith” (Jude 20) and on the assembly “to recognize those who labor among you” (1 Thess. 5:12, NKJV) as an encouragement of the work being done.

2. Assemblies (Titus 2) – From creation the Lord designed men and women for different roles with varying levels of maturity with associated decorum within those roles.  Men are seen to have leadership and overseership roles in Scripture.  Younger men have vigor that must be checked as in taming a wild horse.  Strength and passion are channeled in a proper and thereby useful direction.  Older men are characterized by wisdom—sure judgment based on length of years and knowledge of Scripture (Job 12:12).  A good example of this difference is Elihu whose anger burned within but who understood his place with older men and waited before those who were supposed to be wiser and more learned had finished (Job 32:2-7).  Women, conversely, are seen in supportive roles passing to the next generation the skills needful to maintain a home and family.

3. Personal lives (Titus 3) – As stated previously in this chapter, God has stated those things that are necessary for proper living.  Micah 6:8 gives a good summation of three primary areas of concern for relations with all people which God requires of every individual.
  a.  “Do justice” – This is the minimum due to all.  No cause (save for penal action) allows a person to withhold the most basic of rights from another.  God gave clear warning to Judah of their need to turn from the sin of neglect and to act justly toward the people lest they be destroyed (Isa. 1:16-20).  No individual or group can ignore this, as demonstrated by the Corinthian assembly (1 Cor. 11:20-21, 30).
  b.  “Love kindness” (“mercy”, NKJV) – Benevolence goes beyond justice and promotes the peace God’s people are called to pursue (Psa. 34:14; Rom. 12:18).  Each of us will be wronged in some fashion.  By leaving revenge for a wrong suffered in the Lord’s hands, we promote good and leave the vengeance with God (Rom. 12:17-21).
  c.  “Walk humbly with your God” – The requirements placed on the child of God in relationships with others are exacting, yet the most difficult and demanding is a daily walk in humility before the Master.  Pride comes forth easily, for we are prone to err as result of the conflict between the law of God and the law in our members (Rom. 7:22-23).  A constant sacrifice of self is needful for God to have His perfect way (Rom. 12:1-2).

1 Continuing and completing the series from Part 5.
2 Timothy Mark Willis.  “Elders in Pre-Exilic Israelite Society” [Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1990], p. 162.
3 For further analysis of Old Testament elders, see David A Mappes. “The ‘Elder’ in the Old and New Testaments,” Bibliotheca Sacra Vol. 154, No. 613 (January–March 1997): pp. 81-93.

No comments: