Jeremiah 51:1-26; Titus 2:1-8; Psalms 98:1-9; Proverbs 21:27
NT: “But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered. In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:1-8 CSB)
One of the most influential and life-giving entities on earth is the functional family. The church is a family in macro form and a family is the church in micro form. It truly is amazing how one faith-filled fully-functional family can impact a neighborhood. In the same way, a faith-filled, fully-functional church made up of genders and generations can powerfully impact a city. A family or a church can only be fully-functional by the grace of God, and a fully-functioning family and church is a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God and the claims of the gospel. In order to see the Christian communities in Crete grow into fully-functioning churches, made up of fully-functioning families, Paul gave Titus some guidelines for how people in the church were to conduct themselves as they were sanctified and graced by the Lord.
Paul began with the older generations. It is so easy to discount the older generation, thinking that their best years are behind them – but churches and families need the experience and wisdom that comes through years of living. A church made up of only young people will be lacking in the depth and maturity needed to see the unseasoned successfully navigate the challenges of life and grow into well-rounded maturity. It is also easy for those of the older generation to become frustrated and fed up with the young – becoming more and more cantankerous and cynical with age. The longer a person lives in the Lord, the more gentle, patient, loving and respectable they should become. Paul said that the older generations needed to be examples to the younger in soberness, self-control, respect and soundness of faith. Instead of being annoyed by young people, they should pour into them and teach them how to live honorable and respectable lives. The older women should impart womanhood to the younger women and help them become loving and effective managers of their households so that the families of the church can function well.
For the young and up-and-coming in the church, they were to follow the example of their elders as their elders walked in sensibleness and self-control. Titus, as a young man himself, was to be an example to the other young men in the church. He needed to make sure that he lived a life above reproach – so much so that anyone who opposed him would end up being ashamed because of his impeccable reputation and character.
What was expected of Titus… what was expected of the young and old in the Cretan communities of believers, should be expected of us in our day as well. Our lives are just as much of a testimony to the truth of the gospel as the words that we speak… in many cases even more. We are called to preach the good news of Christ, and we are called to demonstrate the good news of Christ, both through power and the evidence of our transformed lives. If we are disciples of Christ and followers of Jesus, we are called and equipped by grace to live exemplary lives that serve as a testimony to the world of the reality of our hope and faith.
Psalms: “Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has performed wonders; his right hand and holy arm have won him victory. The Lord has made his victory known; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his love and faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen our God’s victory. Let the whole earth shout to the Lord; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing. Sing to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and melodious song. With trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn shout triumphantly in the presence of the Lord, our King. Let the sea and all that fills it, the world and those who live in it, resound. Let the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains shout together for joy before the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world righteously and the peoples fairly.” (Psalms 98:1-9 CSB)
When we place our faith and trust in the Lord… when we submit to Him fully and live according to His word, will and ways, we make our lives a living testimony of His glory. Though the Lord’s path may take us through difficult, dangerous and challenging experiences, as He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death to victory and blessing, our lives reveal His love, faithfulness and righteousness to the world. As we submit to the Lord… even in the hard times… especially in the hard times, He makes signs and wonders of our lives: signs of God’s power and faithfulness that make people stand amazed in wonder. When God is glorified through our lives, the reality of God’s goodness and greatness, along with the reality of His coming judgement is made evident to all.
Prayer: Lord, what an honor it is to be a living testimony for Your goodness, greatness, faithfulness and love. As I live fully for You and submit my life to your sanctifying process, You will make me a sign and wonder to the world – a living proof that Your word is true. Lord, make me an instrument for Your glory and grace me to live an exemplary life unto You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.