Engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men
Titus 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 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. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 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, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 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. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. 14 Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith.
Grace be with you all.
Today’s text begins saying: 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. This letter, as all the letters in scripture was written for believers. It should not surprise us then that the culture of the world does not follow or adhere to what is said. Certainly in our culture and society the idea of being obedient and being subject to rulers and authorities is a vanishing concept. Many would blame it on the rulers and authorities, saying they are not worthy of respect or obedience. Whether they are worthy or not is not the point, at least not for those who are believers, followers of Christ. In Romans 13:1-2 it says: Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. Daniel 2:20-21 says: “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. When we would argue that the rulers and authorities today are not worthy of our respect or obedience, we should consider that Daniel was in captivity to a harsh enemy of his people. Paul wrote to the churches while in custody of the oppressive Roman government. Jesus Himself, was subject to the rule of the Roman authority. It was through the sentence of death, carried out by the Roman soldiers, that we received redemption from sin and reconciliation to God. It is because of Jesus subjection that we should: 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. Rather than criticizing and rebelling against leaders, we should recognize that we were as lost and vile as they are. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says: I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. Prayer has the ability to change things. Indeed if we pray for those in authority, they may repent and change. At the very least though, by praying for them, we will change. We will begin to see them as God sees them. We will see them as God saw us before we were changed by the cross. Our heart for them will become as God’s heart, that they too would come to know Him.
The text continues saying: But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. This exhortation is applicable regarding both those who are in the church and also those who are in the world. While we should not compromise our values or God’s laws, it is unprofitable and worthless to dispute or debate them with others. In Matthew 5:19 Jesus says: Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Remember what it said in the first part of the exhortation today: be ready for every good deed. Our good deeds will be more convincing than any dispute or debate. Just before Jesus said we should not relax His commandments of teach others to relax them, in Matthew 5:14-16 He says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Our good works, shining the light of Christ in the darkness of the world, will do more to reveal and glorify God than our words and controversies.
The exhortation to: Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned, applies in the church and among believers. A factious person is one who cause division or factions. There are many people within the church or who call themselves Christians, who think it is their job or responsibility to critique and correct other believers. There is a difference between what Paul encourages in 2 Timothy 4:2: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction, and being one who argues to create division and factions in the church. We need to recognize and understand that when we criticize a believer, we criticize God who is working in their life. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus knew very well that His disciples were imperfect. Just after His exhortation to love one another, He told Peter that he would soon deny Him. In Luke 22:31-34, in his account, it says: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” May we, like Jesus, pray that the faith of others would not fail. May we pray that even in the areas where we may disagree, we would show love. If we will love one another, seeking unity in Christ, rather than disputing doctrine, the world will know that we are Christ’s disciples.
Grace be with you all. Amen.