Today’s Reading: Titus 1 – Philemon 1
Today’s Reflection: Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
What is this text saying?
This text explains the relationship between the salvation purchased for us by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and our conduct as His followers. When we receive salvation it begins a transformative process within us, called sanctification, resulting in the development and expression of a selfless, disciplined, Christ-like character.
Why is it important?
This text is drawn from a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the young pastor Titus. In it Paul gives instruction on how to properly shepherd the churches under his authority, how to guide their conduct, how to teach and train their members, and how to select appropriate elders to oversee them.
In verses 1 to 10 of chapter two, Paul goes into some detail on acceptable behaviour within the church, highlighting the importance of the witness the church publicly presents to the world (verse 8). This leads into verses 11 and 12, showing that the church’s conduct collectively as the body of Christ flows out of the salvation received and the sanctification experienced by each member individually. It is because of the appearance of God’s grace that people can be transformed into disciples of Christ and become a community of believers capable of presenting a positive witness to non-believers.
How can I apply this?
1) Examine your status
Are you saved? It may seem like an odd question, or perhaps one that no one can definitively answer. However this is not what scripture tells us. If you can’t know if you are saved, why would scripture tell you to be diligent in making your call and election sure (2 Peter 1:10)? Why would it instruct you to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)? Salvation is a free gift that can only come from God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), but your receipt of salvation is up to you (Romans 5:17). The grace of God has appeared to you. Have you accepted His gift? And are you making use of it?
2) Examine your progress
Are you being sanctified? Is your character being transformed and becoming more and more like Christ day by day? Are you more self-controlled? Upright? Godly? The answer will tell you if sanctification is a reality in your daily life or not. But how do you answer this question honestly and objectively? In addition to your relationship with God, you have been blessed with relationships with other people to help you see if you are truly becoming more like Christ. For it is through relationships with others that one can more clearly and accurately see their own character and its changes over time. These relationships also help to hold us accountable and keep us honest about ourselves. If you’re truly becoming more self-controlled, upright and godly, it will be impossible not to see it in your relationships with others. If you are not, don’t despair. God has begun a work in you and He will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6), if you will submit to His authority and allow Him to do what only He can (Romans 12:1-2).
3) Examine your church body
Is your church a good witness of Christ-like character? Titus chapter 2:2-7 outlines several traits people within a church ought to exemplify, among them: sober-mindedness, dignity, self-control, faithfulness, love, steadfastness, reverence, no slanderous speech, teaching that which is good, modeling good works, demonstrating integrity. It may be a tough question, it may be uncomfortable, but you have to ask, does your church exemplify these characteristics?
You have to ask this question because the grace of God has not appeared just for your sake, or the sake of the members of your church, but for all people. And if your church is to fulfill its purpose and function as a vehicle for showing this grace to the world, it must reflect a truly Christ-like character. This is one reason Paul is so concerned that the opponents of the church have nothing evil to say about them (Titus 2:8).
If your church isn’t striving to meet this ideal, don’t think to condemn them or to automatically leave that congregation. If there was a perfect church, it probably wouldn’t accept you as a member (I know I couldn’t get in). So first look at yourself honestly and see if you have been contributing to your church body’s dysfunction (perhaps by merely refusing to recognize and confront the issues present there). Next see what you can do to help repair it’s condition. Get your own spiritual life in order (see points 1 and 2), and commit to do all you can to aid your church in being the witness God needs it to be to effectively lift up Christ, so all men may be drawn to Him (John 12:32).