Paul gives Titus instructions for daily living of the believer. Not for working for salvation but because of the new life birthed by Jesus’ work on the cross; His grace.
Paul calls for a changed life for the believers. He makes certain to include that this change is NOT what saves but a result of the saving work of Jesus. I know, I just said that but it bears repeating. NOTHING we do can earn our salvation. It is only through the substitution act of Jesus on the cross.
So what does a believer’s life look like? Is it an instant all-encompassing change? Do I lose my salvation when I mess up? Notice I said “when” and not “if.” We WILL mess up, on MORE than one occasion.
Paul gives Titus a list of behaviors and attitudes to promote with the believers. “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy towards all people” (verses 1-2).
I think the all-encompassing one for me is the “show perfect courtesy towards all people.” By doing this one the others are pretty much covered. I can guarantee that I don’t live up to this standard on a continual basis. I know of those who I have, on more than one occasion, spoken evil of. The truth of their evil behavior wasn’t the “speaking evil” part, but my attitude and words of condemnation were.
I’m also still working on the “being submissive to rulers and authorities” issue with the speed limit. I’m down five miles an hour and feel better about it. I have even lost my rushing feeling when driving. Five more to go before I hit the “golden number.” (This only applies to freeway speed. I am compliant on most surface roads.)
On to the second question; “is it an instant all-encompassing change?” I think the answer is yes and no. Yes, we immediately become a new creation. We experience a spiritual birth the moment we surrender to Jesus and ask Him to be Lord of our life and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. But the outward changes take a little longer. Some people experience immediate deliverance from some of their addictive sins but the rest of us make day to day strides towards the goals set out. I’ve already identified my current struggle with authority. I also struggle with always being “gentle.” When interrupted, especially when it is repeated interruptions, I tend to get frustrated and snappy. I HATE this in me! I have to remind myself MANY times that “this is my job” and that the interruptions are part of it. Sometimes the interruptions seem deliberate and I REALLY have to work hard at being gentle and communicating appropriately in those instances.
We all grow in our relationship with Jesus by spending time with Him. Just like any relationship, as it develops, we are more open to hear what the other has to say about us; both good and bad. The closer we get to Jesus the more impact He has on our behaviors and attitudes. There is NO WAY my teenage self would be willing to listen to the correction He gives me now! But because I have learned to trust Him over the years, I am open to His direction in my life.
So what happens when we mess up? Here is the difference between the true believer and the one who isn’t. With the believer, when we mess up, we come back to Him and repent. This means TRYING to do it differently next time too. Repentance isn’t just, “I’m sorry I got caught”, but “My heart breaks because I know I’ve broken His.” Jesus loves us even when we mess up. Just in case you missed that; JESUS LOVES US EVEN WHEN WE MESS UP. He wants us to come to Him so He can help us fix what needs fixing. Our mistakes don’t sever our relationship with Him, but they do put a block in it.
An example of this is when a husband and wife argue about something. They don’t stop being husband and wife just because they argued. There is a strain there though that has to be mended. If they continue on without addressing this issue it becomes compounded and will eventually move the relationship to the breaking point.
In our relationship with Jesus, He doesn’t break it, we do. If we refuse to return to Him and hold resentment for His standards, we put up blocks that He won’t move. We sever our ties. Notice I said “won’t” and not “can’t.” God can do anything. He is ALL powerful. But He WON’T force His will on us. He gave us free will during creation and He won’t undo
that, no matter how it hurts Him not to.
Those who are not really believers but simply play acting have no motivation to change. Being nice to others is beneficial but not necessary to them. “You can get more flies with honey than with vinegar” and “That’s the cost of doing business” are two very familiar phrases that popped into my head on this point. The behavior changes of the non-believer are self-serving. They are not motivated by a relationship with Jesus. Change only lasts as long as it is in THEIR best interest.
Paul even washes his hands of this kind of person. “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (verses 10-11).
Father God, thank You for our relationship, even when it hurts! Those hurts spur me to make necessary changes. Thank You for proving Yourself faithful throughout my life so I have learned to trust You more every day.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your work on the cross. Thank You that we can grow closer every day! Thank You that my heart hurts when I hurt Yours. Thank You for the desire in me to repair that relationship whenever I put a block in it. Thank You that You ALWAYS welcome me when I come to You, even after a “fight.” Sometimes it is a struggle to say “I’m sorry”, especially when I think I’m justified in my actions/attitudes. Thank You Holy Spirit for illuminating my attitudes and showing me the truth behind them. Thank You for calling to my heart continually and encouraging me to step even closer. Without You in my heart I would be totally and completely lost!