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.
Paul introduces us in this passage to Titus and has many nice
things to say about him. Titus will have some companions, too, but they remain
unnamed here. It seems like Paul is going out of his way to show his support
and acceptance, presumably to give the Corinthians the same level of trust.
After all, Titus and his travel mates will be the ones carrying the donations
back to Jerusalem.
Having been a church leader for many years, I know the scrutiny we
endure. There is a lot of pressure to be above reproach. Why is that? For some,
it is to make sure nobody can accuse you of doing something shady. We’ve all
seen the scandals of church leaders who have been caught in their sin, exposed,
ridiculed, and thrown out of their roles. Being we’re all sinful, it can be
hard to live up to the expectations put on a church leader to somehow be less
sinful. How can it be less daunting?
There is so much in this passage, probably enough for many
days of reflection. However, looking at the whole picture of Paul’s hardships
will help us in our own walk of faith. In fact, you probably found yourself wondering
(like I did) if this was Paul’s story or your own story. As Christ followers,
we are very likely to encounter these same trials, yet we should also be ready
to call on God’s strength, like Paul, to make it through.
Are you or have you been a church leader? You know firsthand
how people are looking to you for not only leadership but for an example to
follow. Paul’s statement in verse 3 speaks VOLUMES, “We live in such a
way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our
ministry.” That’s a lot of pressure to know that your life is on
display. I, for one, never want anything that I say or do to move people away
from God. And, as a church leader, I have often taken heat from others about
the way God is using me to do ministry. It’s painful. I always seek to please
God first, and hope and pray the people will accept me and be blessed.
Before Jesus’ teaching on being a servant, he spoke of his own death again. This time, he spoke about the Son of Man (himself) in third person. Why does he share again? I’m guessing it’s to prepare his friends. He is telling them exactly what is going to happen. This time he connects it with being in Jerusalem, their destination. Jesus is headed right into his destiny. How was he feeling about that? How would you have felt?
It doesn’t say what the disciples’ response was. I’m guessing they are still finding it hard to believe. Jesus is so popular. How is it possible that he will be killed so ruthlessly? Our reading quickly shifts to the scene with the mother of James and John. She is asking for favor for her sons. Jesus isn’t about to grant her request, it is not his place to do so.