Sunday, March 18, 2012

Scripture Sunday: The Book of Titus

In this book, the apostle Paul is writing to Titus, a pastor at Crete. Paul is fond of Titus and calls him his "own son after the common faith". Titus has been left in Crete to bring order to the church and to appoint church leaders in the area. Paul gives him a lot of instructions about what a pastor/elder in the church ought to look like:  "If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre..." (1:6-7) And the instructions continue for a few more verses. The main point of all these instructions seems to be that a person must have their own life under God's control before they can possibly lead the church.

One problem Titus faces is the fact that the people of Crete, as a society, have a reputation for laziness and general worthlessness. As Paul quotes, "One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies." (1:12) So if even they themselves think they have major moral and ethical issues, it's clear that Titus has a big job ahead of him if he wants to build up this group of believers.

Paul says that Titus is to encourage the older men and women of the church to live righteously and teach the younger ones: "That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things" (2:2-3). And Titus himself is also supposed to lead by example and show others the pattern of godly behavior.

And all these attempts at righteous living have a purpose. They are not just things that believers do because it's important to be nice. We live like this because we are, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (2:13-14). We belong to Jesus Christ and we change our behavior to please him because he has changed our hearts and saved us. Paul's advice to Titus is still very relevant today, and though this is a personal letter, the instructions found within it can be applied to anyone's life.

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