Last week we asked the question: “Do you have a mentor?” We wrote of the need for intentional, biblical mentoring. In Titus chapter 2 we see a model for how these mentoring relationships should work. As believers in Jesus we should all be pursuing relationships with other followers of Jesus to help us grow in our faith.
As we discussed last week, Paul is coming to the close of his time in ministry. He is writing to Titus with a deep burden that Titus would correct false teachers on Crete. Paul knows that the church on Crete would benefit from godly, wise elders. Paul’s hope is that Titus and the elders would live such different lives that “those who oppose[d] [them would] be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about [them]” (2:8). All this supposes that Titus, the elders, and those under their care would move with purpose toward growing in Christ-like character.
More than Behavior Modification
Paul’s pleas for Titus to instruct the men and women of Crete are not just about changing their godless behavior. They are more than mere suggestions that Titus better organize the church around godly men who can serve as elders or that he arrange healthy mentoring relationships for all the believers in Crete under his care. It is more than an admonishment to change their behavior. Paul is reminding Titus (and us) that “the grace of God…[brings] salvation,” (v.11). Jesus did not purchase for us a behavior change, but a full-on heart change. Further, it is the grace of God in our lives that allows us to, “live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God” (v.12). And then he goes even further and reminds us that “we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed,” (v.13).
Paul is not instructing Titus to change his routines, to reframe his thoughts, or to seek the best and brightest members of his church for social change. Paul is pleading with Titus to remember the gift of salvation that Jesus purchased (v.14). It is out of their new hearts that Titus and the believers on Crete were to live lives together so differently that the false teachers would be put to shame. It was to be out of their relationship with the God of the Universe that those not yet in the family of God would see a difference in their lives.
In Our Words
In short, Paul is primarily urging Titus and the believers on Crete to rest in the Gospel. Out of that resting in the finished work of Jesus, Paul wants Titus to invest in quality, intentional relationships with the purpose of making priests who make priests. Paul spends a great deal of chapter two laying the groundwork for what healthy followers of Jesus should look like (2:1-7; 9-10).
The character sketches that Paul lays out for godliness should be of great encouragement to us as we seek to grow in our faith. They give us a starting point for godly living and, combined with the qualifications for becoming an elder (ch. 1), give us traits that we should intentionally work toward. None of this is meant to be done alone though. The assumption that Paul displays in this letter is that all the growth and development of godliness is done in deep community with others.
If we are to be successful priests who make priests, Paul’s letter to Titus should bring us great encouragement. Take some time in these last few weeks of summer to contemplate the community that you are in. Are you intentionally involved in relationships with others? Those relationships might be for your growth and benefit. Perhaps, though, you are on the other side of the table. Like Paul, you could intentionally help develop someone who is newer to following Jesus (or who may not be following Jesus at all right now). We have lots of opportunities this fall to be in intentional community: fall sports are getting started, school PTA opportunities are coming up, our Community Group semester fires up in mid-September, and even chances to host Saturdays of watching football with great purpose are not too far away. Let’s move toward community with great intentionality and purpose!
You can read all of Titus here.
Here are some helpful resources for continuing your study of Titus:
Exegetical Commentary on Titus (available on Amazon)
“What are Elders?” (courtesy of The Village Church; audio available)