But When God…

Today’s Reading: Titus 3

If Paul’s letter to Titus had an overall theme, it would probably be a message of telling the Church to do what is good. The culture on the island of Crete was known for being lazy, gluttonous, dishonest and downright evil. Sometimes the culture of our society makes its way into the Church and flavors the relationships and attitudes of the believers. We have natural sinful tendencies from our sinful nature as well as from the environment we have grown up in. BUT WHEN GOD comes in and washes away our sins, he wants to make us into a new person who lives a new kind of life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to DO WHAT IS GOOD. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.

BUT – “WHEN GOD our Savior revealed His kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial to everyone. Titus 3:1-8

Aren’t you thankful for the work of the Trinity in our lives? We see all three at work in these verses and present in the redemptive process in our lives.

Because He is kind and He is loving, God saved us. He washed away our sins, giving us new birth into a new life, not because we deserved salvation but because of His mercy. And because of God’s grace, He declared us righteous so that we can have eternal life.

Redemption was made possible when Jesus Christ, God’s Son, willingly gave His life on the cross for us – for the sinful, undeserving, unrighteous world.

He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. – Titus 2:14

Holy Spirit
God generously poured His Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of this presence in our lives, we are continually renewed and strengthened to live a godly live – to do what is good.

So we were not saved only for our own benefit, for our own eternal prize. We were saved for the sake of spreading God’s message of grace and mercy to others. We were saved to serve God by serving the needs of others – within the church and within the community and around the world.

Last week at youth group, our teens did two service projects. They served the Church by clearing out the youth room and setting up tables for the big Thanksgiving dinner Sunday night. They also filled 200 bags with food to be passed out on Saturday morning to needy families in our community. Then several of them showed up on Saturday in the cold, wet snow to help deliver the meals. Also, our 9th and 10th graders are filling baby bottles with change in order to help raise money for the Pregnancy Resource Center. Serving God by serving within the church and serving out in the community.

Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others, then they will not be unproductive. – Titus 3:14

We used to live selfish, unproductive lives. BUT WHEN GOD in His mercy chose to forgive us of our sins, we were reborn and called to a productive life. We were created for a purpose and it is time to live up to that purpose – to do what is good. But we cannot fall into the false thinking that our good works save us or cause God’s love for us to grow. This kind of thinking was present in the Church in Crete and present in our churches today.

Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. – Titus 3:9

Does this sound familiar? Paul gave the same warning to the Church in Ephesus in his letter to Timothy and also in his letter to the Philippians. When we get caught up in who is more spiritual than whom, or who God is more pleased with, we are not helping anyone. These kinds of meaningless conversations do not help anyone live a life of faith in God (1 Timothy 1:4). It is not about building a spiritual resume to try and impress others or God.

What helps us is to remember that we were lost sinners in need of a Savior, BUT WHEN GOD gave His Son to die for our sins out of His great mercy and love, we were given the chance at a new life – a life filled with the Holy Spirit so that good deeds can become a natural outflow of our existence. Saved BY grace, saved FROM sin, and saved FOR good deeds – all for the glory of God and for the purpose of attracting others to their Savior, Jesus Christ!

What will flow from our lives today?