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.
When we look at church leadership today, do we see the same integrity filled individuals in place? Not always. Paul’s list here could quickly eliminate a lot of candidates, and that is precisely why the list exists. I remember having to let somebody “go” from our children’s ministry team because of some of the life choices she had made. We did have expectations in place, and we had to be true to those. It was a hard thing for me to do because this individual was one of my favorite teachers, and the kids loved her.
Paul found it necessary to warn Titus to be careful. “For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation.” Circumcision was a big deal in those days for the Jews. It had been part of their culture, and it was understood to be “the thing” that set them apart as God’s children.
Jews holding tight to that belief and the requirement of circumcision for salvation had a hard time accepting that salvation was only through Jesus. We’ve heard these words of Jesus in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the truth. If you go back and read our passage today, replace the words “the truth” for Jesus. It opens up a whole new way of understanding this passage.
Paul also warned Titus that the people would be hard-headed and stuck in the ways. “So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith.” Titus had to be firm and not be overcome by the people’s attempts to take control and spread the wrong message. It’s not an easy job to be the one in charge.
How do you know if you have a pure heart? Those who have Christ in control of their lives are more apt to perceive goodness and see the good all around. What we choose to fill our minds with also affects how we think and perceive the world. I am reminded of Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Spend your quiet time with God today reflecting on your relationship with him. Do you see him as the truth? What sorts of things do you want to fill your mind with?
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for equipping me to be a servant leader. I pray you will draw me closer to you and show me how best to help others see the truth. Help me not to judge others but to love them as you love them. May I focus on you and being more like you. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for how you are shaping my path every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.