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.
This may be a passage you want to return to over and over again. It is always great counsel to remember where our power comes from. I love how Paul starts this section. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” He uses the powerful word “So,” which we know to be like “Therefore.” It tells us to remember everything that comes before it as if it were restated in its entirety before he gives us new counsel. What are we supposed to do now? Let the Holy Spirit guide us. That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
We are exchanging the reality of being chained to the law, and the expectations that come with that affliction, for the freedom of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Paul says, “But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.” Cool. The Spirit is not going to lead us down a path that will be contrary to the law anyway. Since we are sinful creatures, the tendency to sin is inside us. When we let the Holy Spirit guide us, imagine the battle going on inside us between good and evil. The Holy Spirit is definitely stronger. When we rely on our own wisdom, that’s when we make foolish decisions.
How would you answer Paul’s question? “Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses?” I’m guessing, that is probably not a question you have been asked before. Acknowledging the Holy Spirit in our lives is key to testing our level of faith, whether we are hot or cold in terms of our spirituality. My question “are you feeling the burn?” refers then to the spark of the Holy Spirit igniting your heart and soul.
Paul is concerned here for his Christian friends in Galatia (and us). He knows that it’s easy for people to fall back into old patterns of living (following the law and believing they are saved by their works). In part, it’s because of the comfort zone effect. It’s what we know. Especially when we start to lose the fire or “burn” we felt when we first believed. We start to think something is wrong or that we should be acting in a certain way to get the spark back.