Paul wrote to Titus in Crete to give him instructions on the church there. In the first chapter he gives descriptions of two different types of people, those he should appoint as elders and those he should not allow to infiltrate and divide the church.
Elders are church leaders. They have a lot of responsibility on their backs and it is vitally important that they are mature Christians. The proof of their Christian walk has to be evident in their personal lives. It is something we should all endeavor toward. Our lives should be a testimony to Jesus. Our lives should speak to our faith. Verse 6 says it this way,
“if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.”
Although polygamy took place, even among the fathers of our faith it is not the ideal marriage God envisions for His children. Marriage on earth, especially the Christian marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with us. It is meant to be one man and one woman in a committed, faithful and mutually monogamous relationship. So elders are required to have one wife.
His children must be believers and must not be rebellious and ill-behaved. If a man cannot live his Christianity in a manner that makes his children want to know Jesus, if he can’t even be the spiritual leader of the home how is if supposed to be the spiritual leader of a church? Our children, our spouses, and the way we conduct our private lives are the proof of our heart for God. If our private lives are a mess, if our children hate us and are drug addicted rebellious and lost then whatever mask we put on in our public lives is only a disguise for our real selves. We can’t be effective Christians leading others to Christ or maturity if we are living a façade. Verses 7-8 read,
“For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”
If we are in a leadership position we represent the church to the world. And whether we are leaders or not we always represent Jesus to them. People want to sling mud at us and sully our reputations. We should not ever give them ammunition to do so. Let them make up lies, but don’t let the dirt be the truth.
We can’t be arrogant. Jesus had all the right in the universe to be proud, yet he was the most humble man that ever lived. He was God and He washed the dirt, refuse, and dung off the feet of the disciples, He dined with people who no one dared be seen with, and He suffered the death of a criminal. We should follow His example and get our hands dirty, love others as Jesus loves us, and think of others more highly than ourselves.
We have to be like our LORD, slow to anger. And when we do get angry we have to make certain it is righteous and be very careful not to sin in that anger. Anger is an emotion that we all experience. It is not a sin, but It is a sin to let it control us, to let the fury overtake our minds and make us lose reason.
Regardless of our thoughts on alcohol whether we never touch it or drink regularly, we are commanded not to get drunk. Getting drunk leads to sin, it leads to loss of self-control and licentiousness follows quickly. Instead we ought to be filled with The Holy Spirit whose proof is manifested in sharp contrast to alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 reads,
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,”
Galatians 5:22-23 says,
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
In fact if we read verses 7-8 again we see Paul is saying the elder has to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus should be plainly seen in him. He is to be peaceful not violent, generous and not a servant of money, a seeker of righteousness, self-controlled. He has to be a man whose relationship with the Lord is apparent. Verse 9 describes him this way,
“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
Do we know what it is we believe as believers? We should know the Gospel, know what the Word of God says, and believe it is the truth. After we become Christians, we are not supposed to remain ignorant of God, we are supposed to grow in Him, and grow to know Him and His Word. We should be able to teach it to others. Knowing God is another sign of our maturity. Knowing what we believe is important. Otherwise any time someone comes in with a new idea, we follow it and we are tossed around like a buoy on a stormy sea. Instead of growing closer to God we move from idea to idea. One week we promote meditation, the next week we support self-punishment, and the week after we sing the glories of recognizing self-worth.
The mature Christian doesn’t allow people to come in and teach those false doctrines. The mature Christian doesn’t let his less mature brothers follow false teachings but keeps them following the truth and reprimands the one spreading the lies.
But there are many liars, many rebellious and disobedient people who come in to our fellowships. They serve money, they serve themselves, they serve the prince of this world. They cause divisions and they seek their own benefit and glory instead of the good of the church and the glory of Jesus Christ. Verses 10-11 say,
“For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.”
What they teach sounds right to the less mature and ignorant. The people in Crete were telling the church they had to follow the Law of Moses. That sounds like something God would want. But when we know the truth, when we know what the scriptures say then we know that it isn’t the case. We can admonish the one spreading the lies and protect the hearts of the unenlightened.
Rebuking the one spreading lies is not easy but it is important, not only for those who will be led astray but for the one we have to rebuke. They are sinful. Their flesh is in control of their hearts. The Cretans who came into the church to endorse legalism, sensuality, or other false paths followed their flesh rather than the Spirit. But God loved them just as deeply as anyone else and so He gave the mature Christian the duty of calling them out. Verses 12-14 read,
“One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.,”
We want them to be sound in the faith. We want them to devote themselves to Christ, not laws and myths. We want them to be able to lead people to Jesus not to Hell.
Verses 15-16 read,
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”
A Christian doesn’t have to be concerned with worrying about what meat to eat, what days he can work, or what words he may or may not say. He is saved by grace. He has the Spirit of God inside Him and He is being transformed to Christ’s image. He bears the fruit of the Spirit. But the unsaved person doesn’t believe that Jesus grace is enough. The whole world becomes sin and everything in it will corrupt him. He says he follows God but he really follows the law. His works reveal the truth about him. His life shows the futility of his endeavor.
Look at your life, the results of your work and it will show you where your heart abides. Do you do good works to try and earn God’s favor or do you do good works because God is with you and they are the outpouring of your heart? Our lives are our witness. Our lives are the proof of our beliefs.