I love starting to read a new book. Especially in the Old Testament, it’s helpful for me to put what I’m reading into context so I can understand God’s story even better. Judges picks up right where Joshua leaves off in the lives of the Israelites. Joshua’s strong leadership will be remembered, but memories will soon fade. We’ll see how the Israelites have a hard time staying true to their God in the absence of strong spiritual leadership. Unfortunately, there was no obvious successor, like Joshua had been following the days of Moses.
We’ll see a definite pattern emerge that will play over and over during the years of the Judges. You might even say this type of behavior continues in some fashion even today. We’ll meet new Bible heroes up close, seeing how God chooses some with questionable qualifications! God sees the heart and always knows what he is doing.
Growing up in the United States, particularly in the Midwest, I didn’t see any persecution for being a believer. It wasn’t until adulthood that I even understood any territorial history other than what was presented in the Bible. We didn’t study that kind of thing in Social Studies back in my day.
It’s been quite eye opening for me to witness some of that persecution. Recently David showed me a report of the areas of the world that were under the most attack. I wasn’t surprised that many of the nations surrounding Israel (but surprisingly NOT Israel) were at the top of that list. What did surprise me was that our own country of residence, Mexico, was on that list.
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.”
Do you see yourself included in the opening words of today’s passage? In other words, are you seeking the Lord? “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the Lord!” Maybe you missed that when you read this through the first time. Let me ask you this, too. Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, perhaps going through your own walk in the valley?
We know that life as a follower of Christ won’t consist entirely of those mountain top, Spirit-filled, dance around the room type experiences. The one truth there is that we are Spirit-filled no matter where we are. We are never alone; it just may feel that way.
Paul continues to give profound wisdom to Timothy and us as well. Despite being uncomfortable and in prison, Paul keeps his focus on the prize. He is also clear on the mission God called him to. “And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.” I’d say Paul did a great job with that assignment. I strive to do well with what God has planned for me.
Paul words of encouragement can really speak to us today amidst our own chaos. “Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.” No matter what happens in the world around us, nobody can take away the Biblical truths and promises that have shaped our lives.