Think back over your own journey of faith. Do you remember when you first met Jesus? I’ve been a believer since I was a little girl, however, the richness of my understanding of God’s love and mercy has only bloomed in recent years. There have been many people along the way to help shepherd me and open my eyes to the truth. It takes a village.
But that village can be divided. As a pastor’s wife, I’ve seen first hand how divisions in the church can break up friendships and even families. What did you think about Paul’s counsel to Titus here? “If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them.” I recall several situations we encountered with people who seemed to thrive on being divisive. I must admit it was a lot easier when I didn’t have to associate with them regularly.
How timely is this wisdom from Paul? “Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers.” At least for people in the United States, there has been a change in power. A new president has taken his oath to lead the country. Whenever new government officials are put in place, there are some who are happy and others who are not so happy. The important thing to remember is remembering who is in charge.
Overall, we can say that God is in charge. He is the only authority to fully submit to. That is true. But we hear here to “submit” to government officials. Other translations say: be subject to, obey, be submissive to, respect, etc. You get the idea. Romans 13:1 says something similar “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” The Romans text goes into a little more detail. You can read it here.
If you ever wanted to know what God expects from us in terms of how to live, Paul reveals a bit of that to Titus in this reading. Guys and gals, old and young, even slaves have some good stuff to take away. I was just a little stunned when I realized that slaves got extra. After all, they are also going to fit into one of the gender categories as well, right? Being we don’t have “slaves” commonly today is probably what caught my attention, too.
Paul is covering all the bases to protect all people. There’s some good stuff here. Now that I’m seeing myself in the “older women” category, I’m especially touched by the notion of showing my younger counterparts how to love and honor their husbands and families. It’s basically a nice way of saying, “set a good example, one others can learn from and model.”
Have you ever been overwhelmed, unsure of what you should be doing? Maybe it was for a task as simple as changing a lightbulb. If you’ve never done it before, it might seem like a daunting task. I’m guessing Titus was a little in over his head in Crete. He and Paul had been together in Crete initially setting up churches. Despite the fact that Paul had appointed elders in some of those churches, those elders needed to be led.
If you’ve ever been involved with a new church plant, you know there is a ton of work that goes into it. Raising up faithful leaders is one of the key parts necessary to having a healthy church community. Paul reminds Titus here what qualities to look for in elders and church leaders. I wasn’t clear whether or not we were talking about two different levels of leadership or not. Either way, church leadership should be carefully chosen and live according to these standards.
Can you think of a time in your life when you had a mentor? That would be someone you seek advice from and look up to. Mentors also encourage you to do the right thing. Sometimes our parents play that role. For Titus, his mentor was Paul. Paul was very influential in the early Christian movement following his conversion. Paul knew that he had to raise up young leadership to “take the baton” so to speak if Jesus’ message was to reach the ends of the earth.
Titus was one of those bright stars that Paul worked with and nurtured. We see the welcome Paul gives to Titus in this letter. While Paul calls Titus out as his “true son in the faith,” the opening lines of this letter seem to be more of an commissioning for the work we (including Titus) are called to do. A good mentor will be clear in giving direction. The message then is to “proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.”