For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14, NIV)
Every time I sit down to share my thoughts on scripture I find myself wondering how I could possibly add any wisdom to the volumes upon volumes of commentaries on the bible let alone what the scripture says to begin with. After all, and I plead ignorance to some of the higher level theological discussions about the authorship of the Bible, if God spoke and men wrote it down, who am I to add anything to it? Nonetheless, I feel compelled to at least meditate and write about scripture if for no other reason than to strengthen my own relationship with the Creator. And if anything I write acts as a witness to God’s eternal glory, then I can consider myself used by God.
Just prior to verse eleven Paul writes, “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” Because God offers salvation to all men, it is imperative for believers to act appropriately in all ways in order to make the teaching about Jesus “attractive”. More appropriately, we might say that in order to avoid being a barrier between men and God, it is critical for believers to behave as God instructs. A lot has been said about whether or not we can behave our way to salvation, and I don’t intend to say too much about it (because those who have done much of the speaking are much wiser than me). However, I do believe that our good behavior is a response to God’s grace not a requirement to earn it.
Is it possible that Paul is asking us to be holy? Acting holy may not be possible for us as sinful men and women, but it is possible for Jesus who is holy and who will dwell in us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus was a perfect man in addition to being God, hence the purpose of the reminders and encouragement to behave in a manner worthy of holiness. If we focus on the way Christ lived, then our behavior ought to emulate His perfect life. Here is how Paul breaks it down for those of us who need it spelled out for us:
Just Say “NO”!
Sound familiar? I know that we shouldn’t reduce our faith to nice little slogans, but there are times when it seems appropriate to keep things simple and just say “NO”.
Not only is Jesus our Lord and Savior, but His humanness is also the model on which to base the way we live our lives. It won’t always be comfortable and we won’t always be successful, but do we really have a choice to live any other way? Even though Jesus was fully human, He was also fully God. Everything about Him is “godly”. Everything apart from Him is “ungodly”. Paul warns us to avoid ungodliness and reminds us, indirectly, to focus on the attributes of God and what makes Him holy.
…to worldly passions
Likewise, our involvement with worldly passions separates us from God in the same way that ungodliness separates us from God. What I wonder about here is discerning what constitutes a worldly passion. Is being passionate the problem? Or is it the object of our passion that is the problem? Or is it the zeal with which we pursue our passion? Being passionate about politics in our country may not in itself be a barrier to godliness, but it is easy to see how a passion of politics could become a stumbling block to worshipping God and making His word “attractive” to non-believers.
Live Self-Controlled, Upright, and Godly Lives
Again, self-control makes an appearance in Paul’s letter to Titus. How important is it to practice a self-controlled life? It must be paramount to living a godly life or why would it appear so often in scripture. Our nature is literally hell bent on separating ourselves from God. Only Jesus can bridge that gulf of separation, but our response to His grace ought to be imbued with a desire to control our nature and live an upright and godly lives.
Wait for Jesus, our blessed hope
How challenging it seems at times to wait for Jesus. Even the youngest believer understands the beautiful promises of Jesus’ return: A perfect world where God reigns perfectly through His son, Jesus Christ. At times I am so eager for the return of Jesus and the establishment of His perfect kingdom that I am distracted from living out a life devoted to Him. The trials of life pile higher and higher and it seems that my only recourse is to call out for Jesus to return and take away all of the impurities of this present world. Living a self-controlled life for Christ can become a burden when I am bogged down with my own worldly passions and I lose sight of the awesome work that Christ did for me on the cross. And that is exactly why Paul reminds us here that our souls, our lives, have been purified by Christ. All of our self-controlled living is not an effort to earn the grace of God but rather a response of devotion to Him who purified us. When I return to living a godly life as a response to Jesus’ love and not a requirement of His love, it is then that I find the peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians
Christians, eager to do what is good
As important as being self-controlled is in our response to believing in the amazing love of Christ, it is not the only act of devotion that we can demonstrate. As men and women who believe in Christ is our joy to do what is good. Believers in Christ are eager to do what is good. What is good? I’ll argue that good is only good if it first begins with God. If God commands it, then it is good. If God praises it, then it is good. If God blesses it, then it is good. Anything that the Bible tells us is affirmed by God, or His nature, is good and anything less falls short. Does that make anything not affirmed by God evil? Evil may not be the result of a lack of “goodness” but it is real and we need to be on guard against anything that would lead us toward it. Search for God and discover all of the good things He has in store for you to pursue.