Journal Titus 3 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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 gentile, and to show perfect courtesy to all people.” Titus 3:1-2
Observation: I am good with the first part of this selection and am aligned. The second part? Arghh!!! Stabbed in the heart…
Analysis: First thing that came to mind was our current political climate. Second thing that came to mind was how easy it is to speak evil, to be quarrelsome, to not be gentile, and how hard it is to show perfect courtesy.
It is easy to be everything these 2 verses say if the surrounding circumstances are conducive to peace the way I want peace. What about what Jesus said:
Matthew 10:34 – “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Jesus is very clear here, no hidden meaning or agenda. The Gospel is radical and is antithetical to worldly relations, practice, and…religion. The accurate presentation of the Gospel separates the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff, self-serving religious moralists from the surrendered sinner.
What Paul is instructing Titus to do is to encourage the local church to evaluate themselves, to be preaching to the face in the mirror. Peace on the outside of the Church is to be prayed for diligently, it is not the peace of Jesus in the church:
John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Acts 9:31 – So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
I like peace—let me redefine that: I like absence of conflict and/or disagreement. I like it when everyone is happy and kind and well-mannered. I like it when everyone is on the same page of music and singing in harmony. However, that doesn’t always happen…even in the church. That is why the directive from Paul was given to Titus: teach these things.
All of these instructions (references above) seem to be simple and no-brainers. Yet, take a poll, a survey about your own actions. I did, and I didn’t like what I saw. “Speaking evil of no one?” Even murmuring and complaining about them? I did those things and still do in my heart. How about just simple courtesy, certainly not “perfect courtesy.” I must work at this every day.
Here’s a suggestion to implement these practices: Take them one at a time and focus training on them for 30 days. Take another thing…and another…hammer on them and make these reflexes your own.
Transparency: A week ago, writing this, I fell—and it was the goodness of God for me to fall. I responded to my wife in a manner that was NOT courteous, was NOT seeking peace (as long as it depended upon me), did not honor God in good works. I served myself and my outburst of anger. Like a light switch, I flipped from gentleness to very much the absence of in a second.
The Holy Spirit used what I was writing about in my Journal to reveal sin dancing in my heart. I was ashamed and used this to apologize (both to God and to my wife), confess to the local church, repent, and start to create “spiritual circuit breakers” to put to death the sin in my heart.
Humbly, I submit to the readers that this is the way of radical Christianity, step by step, biblical conviction grown and practiced.
Prayer: Father, drive actual humility in my life. Make these words that I write true in You.