Thursday, October 26, 2023

2023.10.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Titus 3:1–3

Read Titus 3:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: What does “remind” imply that Paul has already done (Titus 3:1)? To whom are they to be subject? What else are they to do? What sort of work should this obedience be? What does “readiness” show about not just preparation but attitude? Of whom should they speak evil (Titus 3:2)? Who, from Titus 3:1, are they likely to be most tempted to do this? How should they be in their interactions? How should they be in their demeanor? How much humility should they aim at? Before which men should this humility be evident? Who else were once foolish and disobedient (Titus 3:3)? How did we get to be that way? What did we then serve? How did we then relate to others? 

How are we to interact with wicked rulers and neighbors? Titus 3:1–3 looks forward to the second serial reading of in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Christians should adorn the gospel by being godly citizens and neighbors. 

There’s authority in the civil sphere, too. The apostle has just told Titus to speak, exhort, and rebuke with all authority, letting none despise him (cf. Titus 2:15). Of course, authorities that conduct themselves in the way that Titus was to act (cf. Titus 2:7–8) are easier to submit to (although submitting to authority is never easy for our flesh). But not all authorities are godly. In fact, many of them are in the condition that “we ourselves” (Titus 3:3) were once in. So, how must we respond to wicked rulers and authorities.

Submit and obey. These are the main things that we are to do with rulers and authorities, according to Titus 3:1. The difficulty that partially sanctified saints have with this is evident from the need to “remind” us. But that is what authority is for, first and foremost. We must always remember that the chain of command never ends at earth, but goes all the way up to God (cf. Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:13–16; John 19:11). The first thing to do if we are in authority is to submit to God as the Authority above us from Whom our authority comes. And the first thing to do if we are under authority is to submit to the lesser authorities that God has providentially set over us.

Doing good works. Titus 3:1 ends by telling us to be ready for every good work. This implies that there are times when we do not obey. “Submit” and “obey” are qualified by the type of work that we are to be ready to do at the authority’s behest. God alone is the One Who defines what a good work is. So, Christians should make authorities marvel at how ready we are to obey them in so many things that we do—we are then the most eager and compliant and zealous citizens. Then, it will also be a marvel when we are given a command that we must disobey because obedience would be sinful. That is NOT a work that we are ready to do.

Displaying humility to all men, Titus 3:2. Sometimes, the most difficult thing to give an authority (especially a wicked one), is honor. Yet, we are commanded to do it (cf. Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17). What if that authority is wicked? Both the Romans and 1 Peter passages were written within the contexts of unbelieving, and even particularly wicked, kings. And even Michael spoke gravely rather than revilingly with the devil himself (cf. Jude 1:8–9). When we find this difficult, let us remember that “speak evil of no one” has its root in that humility that we show to all. If we are first humbled under the mighty hand of God, we will speak not from the fire of our flesh but from the grace that God gives to the humble (cf. James 3:5–9, James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5–7). 

It is from this humility before God that this refusal to speak evil proceeds, and from this humility also proceeds our being peaceable (Titus 3:2, humble in our interactions with others) and gentle (Titus 3:2, humble in how we carry ourselves). Thus, not only should our authorities find us to be their best subjects, but “all men” (Titus 3:2) should also find us to be their best neighbors.

What authorities do you have the hardest time not speaking evil of? With whom do you need the most help being peaceable? What interaction must you have with God, in order to produce this interaction with others? What opportunities has God given, and are you taking, to cultivate humility before Him?

Sample prayer:  Lord, all rule and authority belong to You, but our flesh resists submitting and obeying. Forgive us for forgetting that You are at the top of the chain of command. Give us such readiness for every good work that it is remarkable when we are unable to obey because the command was evil. And forgive us for lacking humility before You. Our pride is displayed whenever we are unpeaceable or ungentle. Forgive us for the sin against You in our hearts that displays itself in our sin against others. Grant us grace to cleanse us and conform us to Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH533 “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”

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