On my reading list for October, is the book of Titus. I must have read through Titus about 3 times and gotten something new every time (same with the second book for this month; Colossians).
I like the book of Titus a lot because it felt like a curriculum for all things church leadership. And this is not surprising because of the context of the book. Paul had written this letter to one of his co-workers, Titus. He was basically setting Titus over the church in the Island of Crete because news had come to him (Paul) that things had kind of gone haywire over there.
So in the letter, Paul guides Titus on what to do to salvage the situation. The vibe you get from reading the book of Titus is that Paul is not instructing Titus as the pastor of the church, but guiding him on the kind of people he should set over the church (apparently, he needs Titus to leave and join him later in his sojourn to Nicopolis)
I learned quite a lot from the book of Titus. I’ll share!
a. The very first verse hit me! It says ‘Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative) of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s chosen ones and [to lead and encourage them to recognize and pursue] the knowledge of the truth which leads to godliness….’
Wow! In this verse, Paul basically spelled out the duty of any pastor or apostle or teacher of the word. Remember first that we have cleared what ‘chosen’ means. So he basically says ‘I am an apostle of God and this is the reason why God has put me over these people: for their spiritual growth and to both LEAD and ENCOURAGE them to RECOGNIZE and PURSUE the knowledge of the truth.’
I believe ‘Leadership’ here entails showing them by example and ‘Encourage’ here entails allowing them to also take the lead in their growth. So, the pastor himself must know when doctrines are false, he must also address these and enlighten his congregation. He must encourage them to study their bible and teach them how to go about it, and so on.
Hence, we can and ought to grow in the faith and it is the duty of our pastor to help with that. (This is also a sound argument for anyone who thinks it’s not necessary to be part of a church or to have a spiritual leader. It is expedient.)
How I wish all Men of God took this as their vision statement with regard to the sheep over which they pastor.
Another thing from that verse is that Paul pointed out that if we do these things, it’ll lead to us being ‘godly’. He was not the grace preacher that did not think that leading a godly life was archaic. If you understand grace, you will strive for godliness.
b. The second verse of the first chapter also talks about how before the beginning of time, God had already made a promise to us of eternal life! That is, before we were even around to count down to eternity, our Father already wanted to spend eternity with us! Wow! He’s always loved us. And although Paul did not need to say this, he went ahead to remind us that the God who promised us this does not lie, he is not decieitful, he is forever truthful’ So, we rest in the assurance that whether we even die now or we are alive when he comes, we will be with him forever!!
c. Verses 6-9 of the first chapter had me saying ‘Wow…wow….wow.’ The verses basically gave a list of the standards against which church leaders should be held. Here it is:
It is common nowadays for pastors and church leaders to misbehave and when they do, it almost gets unchristian to even point it out. If a pastor commits adultery now, a more popular response from his congregation would be to say ‘Nobody is perfect. He is just a man like you.’ But maybe these defenses we so quickly make, ought not to be. I understand that Christians are usually on the defensive because the world shares the untrue opinion that we are mostly money-extorting faith-faking power-lacking charlatans. But we’re not. We know that we are not. And more than this we must also know that God is concerned about the people who watch over and feed his flock (peek Jesus’ emphatic instruction to Peter before going to heaven). God takes spiritual leadership seriously and we see it in the way the Bible does not mince words about it.
d. I also learned from Verses 12-14 of the first chapter. It quotes a popular saying in the Island of Crete ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons’. And Paul says ‘This description is true. So rebuke them sharply so that they will be sound in the faith… not paying attention to Jewish myths…’
I thought this was a very interesting portion because many times we excuse the disunity in the faith with dismissive statements like ‘people are from different cultures and traditions. As long as we’re all calling upon God and Jesus, we’re good’ But we are not to mix cultural myths with Christianity. Don’t do anything Jesus did not do; or/and anything the apostle of old did not do. They have laid a foundation.
e. In chapter 2, verses 2-6 give instructions to different categories of people you may find in a church. This was interesting to me because Paul admitted that despite the fact that the church is one body, there are different classes of people and sometimes it’s appropriate that these classes be specially addressed.
Of course, these instructions cut across every class (they were instructions to basically do what every Christian is expected to do), but it’s only that some classes are more susceptible to be found wanting in the specific areas highlighted.
I also think it’s interesting to note that Apostle Paul talks about how the slave’s character or behavior towards his master has the power to make the gospel attractive or otherwise. While behavior and character is not solely sufficient to get people converted to Christianity, it is an important way to make it attractive enough to hear what you have to preach.
f. Verse 12 basically talks about the grace of God which ‘teaches us to reject ungodliness and worldly (immoral) desires, and to live sensible, upright and godly lives [lives with a purpose that reflect spiritual maturity] in this present age.’
This just reiterates the fact that the grace of God is not a license to do bad in the name of ‘not by works but by grace.’ You are actually a workmanship of God created in Jesus for good WORKS.
g. And finally, a verse that hit me really hard was in chapter 3 verse 14. It says ‘Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives’
This is like….my mantra now!
This is obviously not all that the book of Titus has to offer, but those were my highlights!
What I liked the most about it was that it was addressed to a mature reader. The instructions were in a military no-nonsense I-don’t-need-to-code-for-you tone. I loved it. Paul says once, ‘Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.’ Hehehe….
Do I recommend? Yes of course. 🙂