It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare…
It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.1
Good works do not declare us righteous, but those declared righteous must do good works. Paul concludes with good works applied to relationships. Every relationship is not as critical as the other, but every relationship carries gospel significance.
Read Titus 3:9-15
People to Shun (9-11)
Paul doesn’t want Titus getting sidetracked by foolish discussion. Titus needed to avoid minor debates because they’d do nothing for himself or anyone else. The result is a lot of wasted energy – casting pearls before swine.
Divisive people need warnings followed by rejection, before their warped (perfect tense) views effect others.
However, there are exceptions to these warnings. Not everything is foolish. And not everyone who is passionate is divisive.
Controversies about central doctrine (justification, v.7) wouldn’t be foolish. They’re the exceptions that require all the energy Titus could muster.
Let us debate our core beliefs with passion and care a bit less about the rest!
We all have things we care too much about, issues with little eternal significance. Back then, genealogies and minute man-made laws were treated with gospel importance. Today, it’s pointless debates on social media.
You don’t have to pursue every relationship. Some “friends” will only hinder your spiritual growth.
Paul shifts from negative to positive people…
People to Seek (12-13)
Paul greatly desired to see Titus. Artemas or Tychicus will replace Titus on Crete, so he can join Paul in Nicopolis that winter. Titus should “do his best” to come quickly.
He should eagerly send on Zenas and Apollos, who likely delivered the letter, to accomplish their next task – well supplied.
Partnerships are an important reality in successful ministry. Paul depended upon his friends physically and emotionally. Partnerships are just as important corporately as they are individually.
They take time and effort to develop, but they occur while ministry is taking place. The best relationships are forged on the frontlines as we serve alongside one another.
God has given each of us the catholic/universal Church as a resource in carrying out the Great Commission.
We should seek partnerships with people who have received the same mission. We shouldn’t partner with everyone, but the tent is much larger than the PCA.
Those not mentioned have an important role to play as well…
People to Support (14)
Paul’s fourth reference to “good works” in this chapter (3:1, 4, 8) reveals the lack of fruit being produced by the Christians on Crete. In order to become fruitful they would need to notice those with urgent needs and devote themselves to providing whatever care was necessary, especially after Titus leaves.
Referring to Christian vocation Luther wrote,
God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.
We shouldn’t overcomplicate our support, nor should we minimize it’s importance.
Rosaria Butterfield Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God.2
You’ll know you have true friends when you face a crisis. Those who check in on you and offer to help reveal their concern for you. Sometimes, the most painful experience of all is the lack of support from those you most expect to provide it.
Paul shifts from those in need to everyone else…
People to Greet (15)
Greetings shouldn’t be quickly glossed over. Paul wanted to acknowledge those on Crete who were connected to him by virtue of their common faith (1:4).
Their union in Christ, carried a brotherly affection that heightened his desire to interact with them. It’s more than a high five from the Voice contestant.
It’s a longing to gather for worship and fellowship. Puritans called Sunday – “the market day of the soul”.
Thomas Watson When the falling dust of the world has clogged the wheels of our affections, that they can scarce move towards God, the Sabbath comes, and oils the wheels of our affections and they move swiftly on.
If that’s true, we should not be filled with reluctance to come. Nor should we make a speedy exit. Don’t be so quick to find your seat when you arrive (which means you have to arrive early). Nor should you be so quick to depart after the service (which means you have to interact).
Paul concludes in the way he opened, namely with reference to the “grace” that accompanies believers. In fact, Paul speaks of grace in the first and last chapter of every New Testament letter he wrote.
Grace comes through Jesus Christ who teaches us these very principles:
- People to Shun (9-11) Pharisees
- People to Seek (12-13) Humble/Repentant
- People to Support (14) Leave the 99 in search of the 1.
- People to Greet (15) His sheep hear his voice.
Every relationship is not as critical as the other, but every relationship carries gospel significance.
Let’s ask God’s help to remember that!