Monday, June 13, 2016

CLOSING THOUGHTS

FINAL THOUGHTS BEFORE THE END

We come now to Paul’s final thoughts as to how Titus should live and what he should say.


These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (Tit 2:15)
He began in verse 1 of this chapter telling Titus what to say, and he ends the chapter with the same thought. It is apparently very important that Titus know what he should be preaching and teaching, and we'll get to that shortly.

What about that last thought? “Let no man despise thee.” How can a leader stop that from happening?

This is the only place in the NT the word is used. But the English word ‘despise’ is used 13 times, translating five different Greek words

It is in the nature of people who are born as human beings to despise authority. (2 Pet. 2:10; Jude 1:8)

I do not believe it is possible to stop people from thinking whatever they want to think.

However, looking closely at the epistle, we can see that Paul is setting things up in such a way that whatever negative thing someone thinks, everyone knows there is no basis for it.

In other words, “Be blameless, Titus, in all that you say and do, so that there is no basis from which to condemn you among the people.” (cf Tit. 2:7-8)

Therefore, it is not that we should get angry or forceful with people who think wrongly of us; but that we should know without a doubt that whatever they say is not true, because we have maintained a blameless life.

Besides, all the lies people tell about me aren’t true anyway. So, why should I worry?

Paul continues in chapter 3 telling Titus what he is to teach.

But, in verse 3, he reminds the young man to remember that all of us were at one time just like those with whom we get upset for not following the truth.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. (Tit 3:3)
It seems to be easy to forget what we were like before the Lord saved us, but the apostle reminds Titus and us of God’s mercy toward us. We were just like the people with whom we get upset. We did the same things. We believed the same lies.

But, we have experienced the kindness of God, and they will, too.

Then, he reminds us yet again in his words to Titus of what we are to teach and preach:
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Tit 3:8)
Then, as if out of nowhere and for no apparent reason, Paul writes
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. (Tit 3:9)

This has long been a problem within the church and is still a problem for us today. Paul was aware of the temptation of young men to get involved in this kind of “word war” and wrote to his two young pastors in various ways to watch out for it:
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. (Tit 1:14)
As I besought you to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that you should charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. (1Ti 1:3-4)
But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself rather unto godliness. (1Ti 4:7)
But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (2Ti 2:23)
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (2Ti 2:14)
It is not only a problem for young men, however, as I see it happening more and more today among seasoned ministry, often resulting in “the subverting of the hearers.” (The temptation here is for me to list some of the various things with which I am familiar, but then I realize that if the reader is not aware of these, it could do the exact same thing I am opposing—cause destruction. So, I refrain.)

As preachers and teachers, we should be aware of the tendency within our own selves and within others to get into these kinds of discussions.

I do not find it to be a problem if you wait until there is no one else around, and you want to discuss “far out” things with another preacher/teacher. Just be careful that someone who is not as well-versed as you not be standing by.

Therefore, what is the end of the matter?

Teach people how to live as Christians (Tit. 3:8) and avoid theological prattle (Tit. 3:9)

May the Holy Spirit give you understanding and discernment.

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