So Paul summarizes his point: “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you” (v. 15). Jesus wants people who are eager to do good, so Titus, as a messenger of Christ, should encourage good behavior and speak out against bad behavior. He should not do anything that would cause people to despise him, because they would then despise the Savior he represented.
As Titus reads this letter to his congregation, Paul is also speaking to them: “Titus is going to have to correct you on some of your behavior. But he is simply doing what I would have done, and doing what grace tells you, if you are willing to hear what it says.” In the same way today, we should not despise those who exhort us to resist sin and do good.
Doing good is good — but not good enough
Paul left Titus on the island of Crete to organize the newly planted churches there. But Titus was not a permanent pastor — he would soon have to move on. What was he supposed to teach on this temporary assignment? Paul gives some final advice in chapter 3.
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good” (3:1). As Paul explained in chapter 2, good behavior puts the gospel in a good light. Although the gospel says that our Lord is Jesus Christ (not Caesar), we do not want officials to think that the gospel tells people to disrupt society.
Christians should “slander no one,” Paul says. “Be peaceable and considerate, and…show true humility toward all” (verse 2). For many believers, Paul was asking for a big change in their behavior. He explains in verse 3: “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”
In some ways this list is a mirror image of the good qualities Paul wants Titus to teach. Be obedient, even though you used to be disobedient. Be peaceable, even though you used to hate one another. We were once foolish and ill-tempered, Paul says — implying that we are not that way anymore.
What caused the change in our lives? It was Jesus.
Something to think about
- We should be law-abiding citizens who do good (v. 1). Is there ever a time when we should disobey the law?
Author: Michael Morrison