We’re continuing our study of the third chapter of Titus. The other day we Remembered Our Duty as Christ followers so that our behavior allows His light to shine through us. Then we Recalled Our Past so we can look where we are today in comparison to how we were before we received the gift of grace from Jesus because that produces gratitude in our walk in the Spirit. Yesterday we Reflected on Our Salvation. When we stop to consider God’s loving kindness to give His gift of undeserved salvation by faith and God’s grace, we want to share it with the rest of the world.
When we recall our past, reflect on our salvation, and remember our duty, we naturally meditate upon our need to retain our commitment. The Bible teaches that the chief commitment of our lives is to God Himself. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.'” (Matt 22:37-38) Paul begins the end of his letter to Titus spelling out the importance of retaining our commitment.
- He cautions us to be careful to maintain good works because they are profitable to all men: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” (Titus 3:8) These “good works” don’t earn salvation, but are the result of salvation. A person changed by God will seek to live for Him. Paul affirmed that these things were “beneficial” or “profitable” for all people because healthy, sound doctrine is beneficial to the church. By comparison, the unhealthy teachings of the false teachers on Crete were poisonous.
- Avoid things that take energy and resources away from God’s ministry: “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.” (Titus 3:9)
- Bickering over foolish disputes or controversies is poisonous to the Christian life. “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.” (2 Tim 2:14)
- Genealogy is foolish because no matter your lineage, Christ died for you, and He created you for every good work He prepared before your birth for you to walk in (Eph 2:10).
- We aren’t to have arguments for the sake of arguing. “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient” (2 Tim 2:23-24).
- And we are to avoid arguments about the law, specifically here this was a warning against Judaizers who teach a different gospel (false teachers) trying to add works to our salvation by faith and grace. “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” (Phil 3:18-19)
- Reject those who are divisive: We all know those who insist (and seem to enjoy) stirring up division. “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11) We aren’t to associate with anyone who tries to cause division in the church so that we aren’t also carried away by false teachings. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet 5:8)
- Be hospitable, ready to bear fruit for the Lord, and be ready to meet urgent needs: Christians should be diligent in pursuing good works. “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.” (Titus 3:14) Believers are instructed to be efficient in their support, prioritizing issues of urgent need. This refers to meeting dire needs, or time-sensitive concerns. The Good Samaritan represents an example of this type of scenario. There, Jesus taught that a “neighbor” is a person in need (Luke 10:25-37). Believers are commanded to love neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt 22:37-40), which includes meeting the practical needs of those around us.
- Give grace to others: Paul ends with his usual phrase, “Grace be with you all”. If there was one word to summarize Paul’s ministry, it was the word “grace”. His salvation was the result of God’s grace in his own life. Paul likewise sought to share this grace with Jews and Gentiles, even to the point of suffering as a criminal. In his final letter, Paul declares that even though he suffered imprisonment and persecution, God’s Word could not be contained (2 Tim 2:8-9). Grace marked Paul’s life, ministry, and even his death. Grace should also mark the life of each Christ follower, so that we also give more and more grace. There’s a dark world out there that needs the grace of our Savior. Showing them grace just may be the seed planting or watering that the Holy Spirit will use to bring them to salvation.
Jesus tells us that every fiber of our being, every facet of our lives must be committed to loving and serving God. This means that we must hold nothing back from Him because God holds nothing back from us (John 3:16). Furthermore, Jesus tells us that our commitment to Him must supersede our commitment to anyone or anything else.
Jesus has made it plain the cost of discipleship: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). In essence, the true cost of commitment to Christ is one’s total self-denial, cross-bearing, and the continual following of Him.
These imperatives picture for us sacrifice, selflessness, and service. A cross epitomized ultimate punishment and humiliation (Gal 3:13). More than that, it fully demonstrated the love of God (Rom 5:8)—selfless and sacrificial in the giving of His life for the world (Matt 20:28). How can we expect Him to be happy with us giving Him anything less than fully submitting to Him?