Stuart Briscoe tells of a story he read about a brain surgery thatwent wrong. The doctor apparently removed the wrong part of this mans brain. While it did not kill him, it did take away a very important element his memory. Everything that he did was brand new, whether it was listening to a piece of music, reading a newspaper, whatever. He had no ability to recall anything at all, even the most basic things.
How fortunate that God instilled in our brains a memory! Otherwise, every morning we would have to learn the alphabet, our way to work, how to work a shower faucet all the things we take for granted. Most if not all of our life functions are done from repetition and memory. Yet, like most human beings with a memory, we tend to forget things, dont we? Guys have always been razzed for forgetting their wives birthdays or their anniversaries. My dad would always say now that hes older, The first thing to go is your memory, but I forget what the second thing is!
The Apostle Paul in each of his 13 letters always closes his letters with reminders to his readers to keep the faith and to be a witness to a watching world. Titus is no different. And here Paul realizes that it is easy to forget the commandments of God when one lives and moves in a pagan world and culture. So Paul encourages Titus to constantly remind his churches of what in the world we are to do and what to remember while doing it.
1. Remember to be submissive in your relationships. (vs. 1-2)
Paul wants Titus to recall the things that these Christians had learned when they came to Christ. The Christian life is about submission, whether it is wife to husband, slave to master, children to parents or of citizens to rulers. Verse 1 reminds the Christians of their responsibility in this world to be good citizens in whatever government they be under.
Yet, some Christians have a problem with this. Many have said or implied that, I am under the law of God, not the law of man so I dont have to do what they say. So they do things such as not paying their taxes, not voting, and just isolating themselves as much as they can from the outside world.
In Matthew 17:24-27, we read of Peter being approached by a tax collector who asked him if Jesus paid the tax. Peter replied that He did. Yet, Jesus asked him later, What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others? And when he said, From others, Jesus said to him, Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.
The first thing I noticed was that I wished I could make money appear out of nowhere! Would that be nice? Yet, I noticed the phrase not to give offense to them. Thats why we pay our taxes, folks! We know that we belong to the God of this Universe. We are His and we are truly free! We know that He is the true ruler. But yet we read in Romans 13:1 that God has placed the authorities in positions of government and we are to submit to them for the welfare and protection of our society. And we have been placed in our society to be salt and light in a dark and decaying world (Matthew 5:13-16). And I dont know about you, but as far as society is concerned, about the lowest thing that anyone can do is not pay their taxes.
I dont like paying them, but if Im going to live here, I need to help contribute to the well-being and protection of the citizens of our society. Gods Word is clear. We must submit to the authorities.
We must also submit to each other. Verse two says, ... to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Few things tear down an unbelievers perception of the church and of Christ than a y, cantankerous Christian. Everytime they open their mouth, something negative about someone or something comes out. They love to argue even about things of the Bible. I remember one pastor telling about a time when he decided to preach out of the Old Testament. After the sermon, one cantankerous old member came and took a swing at that pastor! He said, We are a New Testament people so dont be preaching out of that Old Testament.
Now, that doesnt mean that we roll over and dont say anything about a sinners sinful lifestyle in order to be courteous. We must confront them gently and be loving by being willing to point out where they are off base, but to remember that we must have that particular sin in our own hearts taken care of.
2. Remember to be conscious of your past. (V.3).
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
When we see the news or read the paper and see some of the crimes committed (like the woman who was beating up her four-year-old in that Wal-Mart parking lot or all those abductions of little s) or some of the legislation that is being passed protecting abortion providers and homosexuals, we tend to get angry and unleash our venom on them. Yet, we must realize that if it were not for the grace of God that we mentioned last week, one of those names in the paper could easily be us.
Ephesians 2:1-3 says that we were in our transgressions. . Some so-called theologians and preachers want to soften this language and say that we are merely spiritually sick. To me, thats almost the equivalent of saying that alcoholism is merely a disease. Alcoholism is an addiction and sin is not just a sickness, it is a ness. And we cannot expect people to live like they have life. They do not.
Now, not all of us commit the extreme sins found in verse 3, but the point is that we are totally depraved in our hearts without God there is no way that we could ever seek Him in our unregenerate nature (see Romans 3:9-12). We have the capacity to refuse authority (something which is growing at a rapid rate in our society) and to be so self-centered that no one could ever tell us about the truth in fact, its considered arrogant to say that you have a truth better than someone elses.
We must be conscious of our past and realize that it is only by the grace of God we are in Christ and have been given a new nature.
3. Remember to be grateful to your God.
Ezekiel 37 in the valley of the dry bones, God asks Ezekiel, Son of man, can these bones live? Ezekiel couldnt and wouldnt answer. But God blew the His ruah, His breath into them and they rose and became a vast army. So, too, God breathes His Holy Spirit into us and our souls live. Romans 8:1-2 says, There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life and set me free from the law of sin and . And it is only by Gods lovingkindness and mercy that we have life.
And that is such a relief to me. Martin Luther was a monk in the Church at Wittenburg, Germany in the early 1500s. He was a man who was surpassing all his colleagues in ability to absorb knowledge, Scripture, and the ability to teach. Yet, as he studied his Scriptures, he was growing more and more aware of the impossibility of being good enough to get to God, even with all the things he did. So he did more studied more, taught more and better, but the feeling of separation from God grew worse. It got to the point where he even said that he hated God.
Yet, like a flash of light, Romans 1:17 came alive: The just shall live by faith. He realized that it there was nothing anyone could do to get to God, but God did everything He could to get to us to the point of giving up His own Son.
We are made right by His merciful grace and love toward us. In fact, we are not only made right, but we are made new. He saved us ... according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
What in the world should we do? While remembering all that we were and all that God has done to bring our souls to life in Christ, we must remember that our motivation in our world is to glorify God. This is not just a pat phrase, but it is a desire to find our satisfaction, our pleasure, our delight in all that God is and all that He has done through Christ.
Copyright (c) 2002, Matt Perry, DPM.