“The saying is trustworthy and I want you to insist on these things so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the Law for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Titus 3:8-9
A very reasonable pair of statements. But I think I can see where I could run off the rails from the rest of the Scriptures if all I did was to adhere to these instructions.
There is a theological term somewhere that declares the Bible is the Word of God as a whole-Scripture doesn’t argue with itself or will present contrary directives or principles. For example, the Doctrine of Election: Scripture says “Man: Choose” in some places and “God chooses” in others. Because both are stated or implied in Scripture, both are true-neither are exclusive of each other and neither can be explained away to only one principle through mental and verbal gymnastics.
Here is another sort of place. Devote yourself to good works; don’t argue about the Bible and theology. Doesn’t quite say that but I have found some over the years that embrace this fiercely. “What I believe is mine alone-the Bible says “devote myself to good works” and that is what I am going to do. What I believe isn’t up for me to discuss.”
What it has devolved to is just “doing good works” for some folks. But is that all the Holy Spirit wants us to do?
The answer I think is “no” but there is a “yes” in there as well. I can succumb to trusting in good works and deceiving myself. I can also succumb to not doing good works and end up just as deceived.
Scripture is adamant about learning and fortifying ourselves about and with the Scriptures. The Scriptures imply reading and learning all of our lives, simply because there is so much of God to learn about. We should let the scriptures be “more desired than gold” even a lot of fine gold (Ps 19:10). The Word of God and its study makes us wise, knowledgeable, and discerning-able to see things to avoid from a distance and to provide wisdom to men.
But…if we let it stop at the desk we are not well rounded men of God…neither if we stop at the broom, hammer, or chain fence puller. Our hands (and other parts of our body) are meant to do the works that He has appointed us to do-parallel with the above paragraph about studying. While it may be singularly focused for a season, work and study/study and work are two halves of the Whole. So sweat and effort is also a part of being a Christian. I am an older and fatter guy now and the body isn’t what it used to be. But works are a broad area to play in. Service to my wife is works. Denying myself in favor of another are works. Making an effort to call, encourage, write notes, and discern a need, etc. are good works.
Lastly: Avoid discussing (arguing) those things that Paul mentions in Verse 9. But do yourself a favor and figure out why you should avoid them from a trusted, mature, wise man of God in your midst.
God: You know that I have enjoyed a good argument now and then. And then, You illuminated my heart and mind to see the folly of my ways. Flowery, huh? Facts are that You showed that I was just banging my head against the wall, feeding my own ego, arguing just to get the thrill of the kill-and not accomplishing a darn thing towards Your Kingdom. Thank you for letting me see that and placing that Biblical reasoning firmly in the frame of the Gospel. AMEN.