Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Paul, the prolific apostle who spread the Gospel so far, established so many churches, and taught so many people the principles of The Way, called himself not only an apostle of Jesus Christ, which was a title only Jesus could bestow, but he also referred to himself as a servant of God. He used douloj; it means slave who gives himself up for another’s will, devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests. It is what we mean when we refer to ourselves as servants of God, or at least what we hope to mean, having completely devoted ourselves to God’s interests rather than ours, and His will instead of ours. Why was Paul a douloj and apostle? Why was he so devoted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to God’s will? It was for the church, for us, so that our faith would grow as our knowledge grew. And so that as we kept understanding the truth we would live lives of godliness. We don’t live that worthy godly life for no reason, we live it because hope makes it possible and encourages us, and because the godly lives we live here are a reflection, a foreshadow of the godly perfection we will enjoy in New Jerusalem (what many think of as Heaven).
When you live a godly life, not out of a works mentality but because God has made you born again, a new creation, it inspires your fellow Christians to live up to who Christ says they are as well. We cannot earn eternal life, God promised it before Satan brought sin and death into the world. God never lies, He promised it and He is faithful to His Word. We taste eternal life now and it will be fully manifested on The Day God has appointed for it. For now, Paul says that he and now you and I have been entrusted with that word by Jesus Christ. You see Paul and the other apostles were not the only ones entrusted with the Gospel and principles we have learned. Everyone who has heard, believed, and confessed Jesus as his or her Lord has accepted the commission and commandments Jesus gave us. Matthew 28:18-20 records Jesus great charge to all believers,
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
John 13:34-35 is just one place that notes Jesus command to us,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
This command was so important to Jesus He repeated in John 15:12-17.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
He did not leave us wondering how it is that He loved us, He gave His life for us and He fully expects that we are willing to lay down our lives, sacrifice our will, and give all we have to love one another. That is what a friend willingly does for another friend. Servants give up their will because of a contract, friends because of choice. The douloj servant voluntarily gives his will to another, just like a friend who will never again take up his own life again because he has freely given it to his friend.
The directive to love another is the imperative of godliness, the basis of conformity to the image of Christ, and the character of Christ we aspire towards.
The letter is addressed to Titus. Paul calls him, “my true child in a common faith.” Paul taught Titus personally, mentored him, and felt as responsible for Titus as he would for any child he had fathered. Titus is mentioned several times by Paul in 2 Corinthians. Paul considered him a brother, enjoyed his comfort, and trusted him to speak for him to the churches. Titus accompanied Paul on at least one mission trip and then went on to others as Paul had taught him. He didn’t just hear the word, learn the Truth, and sit with it, he took Paul’s heart for missions and went doing what Jesus had commanded.
Are all of us supposed to go on mission trips to dangerous and far off places? No, of course not, but all of us are supposed to use the gifts given to us by the Spirit to love, edify, and make disciples. Different gifts do not mean different faith, our faith is common to all of us, our Lord is Jesus Christ. He has given us the same Spirit who sanctifies each of us toward the same hope and the same call. We are to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us.
How that looks in your life might be different from how it looks it my life, but it looks like something! You are not the sole believer who was not charged with stewarding the awesome word you were taught, ministering the Gospel, or tangibly loving others.
Let me ask you to answer to yourself, how you use your gifts, how you love others, and how you make disciples? When did you last tell someone the awesome truth of Jesus? When did you last use your gifts to edify, galvanize, or equip? When did you last sacrifice your own will for Jesus, for a brother or sister, or for a stranger? I’m not asking to cause you guilt, there is no condemnation in Christ. I ask perhaps to convict, to incite you to forward motion, to encourage you that you have the same Lord, Spirit, baptism, faith and hope that Paul had, that Titus had, that I have, and that Billy Graham had.
Oh! the breadth and length and height and depth of His love for you! To know that love, to grasp it in a way that is more than mere knowledge can and will affect you, spur you on, and change you. To love others as Jesus loved you, you need to appreciate the way He loves you. Ephesians 3:14-21 reads,
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
You have been named for the Father, you are a member of His family, you are strengthened with the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ dwells, that is remains, in your heart through faith not works. For you to understand His love for you, is to grasp and be filled with the fullness of God! And He is able to do more than you could ever fathom! Don’t ever think you can’t, believer, because God can!
What has He put in your heart to accomplish with His great love? You can do it, because nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). How does He love you? How does He love others? He made you specifically and calls you wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). His thoughts of you are precious and more than the grains of sand (Psalm 139:17-18). He sacrificed His only born Son to save you and call you His child (John 3:16). He stepped out of Heaven and came to earth for you, lived, died, and resurrected to show you the way, forgive you, and give you eternal life.
Does it seem impossible to love others that way? For man it is impossible, but with God, nothing is impossible (Mark 10:27).
Ephesians 4:8-13 in The Living Bible reads,
The psalmist tells about this, for he says that when Christ returned triumphantly to heaven after his resurrection and victory over Satan, he gave generous gifts to men. 9 Notice that it says he returned to heaven. This means that he had first come down from the heights of heaven, far down to the lowest parts of the earth. 10 The same one who came down is the one who went back up, that he might fill all things everywhere with himself, from the very lowest to the very highest.
11 Some of us have been given special ability as apostles; to others he has given the gift of being able to preach well; some have special ability in winning people to Christ, helping them to trust him as their Savior; still others have a gift for caring for God’s people as a shepherd does his sheep, leading and teaching them in the ways of God.
12 Why is it that he gives us these special abilities to do certain things best? It is that God’s people will be equipped to do better work for him, building up the Church, the body of Christ, to a position of strength and maturity; 13 until finally we all believe alike about our salvation and about our Savior, God’s Son, and all become full-grown in the Lord—yes, to the point of being filled full with Christ.
Believers, you are my brothers and sisters in a common faith. I love you so much! I love you even if I have never met you, because I know the Spirit who strengthens you, the God who created you and called you, and the Christ who indwells your heart. I know who you are because we have the same God, Lord, Spirit, faith, and hope. I live the life I do, using God’s gifts to edify, equip, and encourage because I want you to live life in the fullness of Christ.
Grace and peace to you, my beloved friends, my family in Christ. I am a douloj of Christ, His friend, and your servant and friend as well. Be blessed.