What King of People Ought we to Be?
Well this is a whirlwind trip through the book of Titus. Only three weeks for these three chapters but we want to get the big picture.
The most clear picture that we get from this book is one of accountability and expectations. In a culture driven by rights and individualism we don’t really like to be told how to live. Then from a position of grace, often in the church we don’t like these expectations because we feel that they infringe on our “freedom in Christ” and his Grace. But folks we learned something in our study two years ago in Galatians and that is that while we have been freed from the bondage of the law, Grace is ALWAYS one that does MORE than what the law requires, NOT less. God’s grace doesn’t nullify the law it completes it.
So this has been a top down look. We started the study by looking at the expectations for the Pastor. Then last week we looked at the expectations for older and younger believers. I was very pleased that many of you responded with a desire to help lead out in regards to intergenerational relationship building. Men, I do have room for a couple of more men to help in leadership if you’d like to do that. Ladies thank you for your great response, I will make plans in the next few weeks for a meeting to get things kicked off and then I’ll put it back in your hands.
So, we have talked about our accountability to God and to one another for the way we should live, what kind of Christians we should be. Now for our last chapter, we ask the question
What King of PEOPLE ought we to be?
Now again we could spend several weeks here but let’s get a big picture look and then I hope you will go back and reread the chapter and allow God to work for transformation in your life
Wait, TRANSFORMATION? YES that is what God wants. If you are the same as you were last year or even last month you aren’t what God wants you to be. Let me take you back to Romans 11:33-36
Romans 11:33–36 (NIV84)
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
And then Paul follows that understanding up with the instruction
Romans 12:1–3 (NIV84)
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Did you see the way to approach our scripture today? Don’t think to “highly of yourself” … sometimes we think, “I’m fine, I’ve got it together” CAREFUL …
And don’t forget that the REASON we were foreknown by God, called by God, justified by God, was to be CONFORMED to the Image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29-30)
So, that is why I say we MUST be moving toward transformation to be IN the will of God.
So, hopefully last week challenged you to evaluate where you are and make a commitment to transformation and today takes it into a different realm.
So, again, what KIND of people ought we to be?
1. Citizens of a Nation
We are Americans and so we must be godly citizens of this nations. We have to first be
A. Submissive to Authority
In Paul’s day, the Christians were watched and looked at suspiciously by the Roman Government. So, it was important for them to display that they were faithful citizens though committed to Christ. Paul wanted them to do this in order to be an example to those watching.
Paul says “Remind them” – it is not that we don’t know or haven’t been told. But sometimes we need to be reminded to be good citizens.
Paul taught the Romans that all rulers gain their position over us at the knowledge and at least permission of God (Rom 13:1-2)
American Heritage Dictionary defines a citizen as “a person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation … a resident of a city or town, especially one entitled to vote.”
We need to be reminded because often Christians are at odds with a government run by pagan principles and we think we are not subject to them. But if we are citizens, then we must respond in submission to authority.
The word hypostasso – to be subordinate, bring under control …
TO RULERS – arche = the beginning, rulers – i.e. those at the top in rule. They are at the top for a reason; so we must be under control submissive.
TO AUTHORITIES – exousia = “freedom of choice” ¬– is the literal translation but when used in this context it means those rulers who have been chosen or given authority. We selected them and we must now submit to their lead until we choose others.
Ultimately God is still in control. In Daniel 4:32 the pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar learned this truth he said “The Most High is Sovereign over the Kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
Yet we are not just submissive to the people
B. Obedient to the Laws
The word peitharcheo (pi-tharkh-eh-o) obey, listen, follow the advice … “be obedient” is a good translation because the idea here is more than just doing what you tell me or are watching me do but to adjust my life around the laws given. Speeding? Taxes? Codes? Expectations? Yes, yes, yes, yes
But then from just following he takes it up a notch and says
C. Ready to Do Good
I will say again that we are recipients of Grace and so we should be BETTER citizens, not worse. The instruction here is not that we will follow the letter of the law, but we will look for ways to do MORE; that is to DO GOOD.
“Do” – ergon = work, business, employment – we should take it as our job to DO
“whatever” – pas = all or every
“Good”- agathos = good, useful, beneficial, joyful
Notice though it is not accidental but it says we should be
“Ready”- hetoimos (het-oy-mos) = preparation - to be the kind of citizens we ought, we have to be involved in what is good. There is more to it than just keep our noses clean and obeying the laws. I think the church, for the most part, today is only heard from where we have something to complain about. We are more famous for what we are against than what we are FOR.
If we are citizens of a nation we need to get involved. That might even include joining forces with people who we might disagree with on some other issues but as citizens we can come together for certain good things.
Now, you certainly can and should take action on your own, but I believe we also need to move together as a church and citizens on issues of justice and poverty, helping the less fortunate, providing alternatives for those we are turning from negative actions like pregnancy services, adoption referrals, alcohol and drug assistance, prisoner reentry assistance among other actions, or tutoring and parenting coaching.
Now, lest you sit there and say “yea, that’s a great idea Pastor, get to work on that and let us know how it goes”. I can’t plan those activities. My primary job according to Acts 6 is to give my attention to “prayer and the ministry of the Word”. However, I CAN advise, empower, encourage, and direct some in the body who the Lord calls to lead out in these types of citizen ministries. So, if you sense the Lord is leading, I want to help you hone the ideas, focus around our vision, advertize, and gather others who will assist you in organizing opportunities for this body to become visible and active citizens of a nation that don’t just obey and submit but are eager and ready to make it our business to do good!
Who will step up?
If we want to change the world we can’t just be citizens of a nation but also
2. Part of the Equation
You know that as Christian citizens we often tend to separate ourselves from others in many ways. We may tear them down or exalt ourselves or remove ourselves from otherwise relating to them.
Yes, scripture tells us to “come out from them” but that is about our actions not as much about our address. Jesus didn’t saw we had to LEAVE the world. As a matter of fact, we he was often reprimanded for hanging out with sinners too much.
What did Jesus pray for us? That we may hide out from the world? No. Have you heard the phrase, “in the world but not OF the world”? That is the Biblical expectation starting with Christ.
John 17:11 says that HE is not in the world but WE ARE and he asks the Father to “keep them in your name” … then his prayer continues in vv15-17 “I do not ask you to take them OUT of the world, but that you KEEP them from the evil one 16 they are not OF this world, just as I am not OF the world 17 says Sanctify them IN the truth …”
You see, you are to be HERE on Sundays and Wednesdays, and daily studies growing in the Truth to be able to be OUT THERE.
1 John 2:15-17 says “do not love the world … the world passes away”
1 Cor. 9:19-23 says “I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them … 22 … I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
We have to be PART of the equation. We have to be engaged in the community, culture, the neighborhood, because we are busy with mathematics: we are trying to ADD to the Kingdom of Heaven and SUBTRACT from the kingdom of darkness. And if you are adding and I am adding, then together we are MULTIPLYING. The only part of basic math we should avoid at all costs then is DIVISION. Did you see the instructions?
A. Do Not Speak Evil
The phrase in v2 is “slander no one” – blasphemeo - in other words don’t try to destroy someone’s name with accusations. Let me just say something before I move on. Christians should be very careful about the WAY we speak of others. I know we live in a democracy and we have freedom of speech and yes we should be involved and even speak about issues. We can even discuss the positive and negatives of politicians and candidates. However, we are NOT to Blaspheme them and speak derogatively toward them. You can Respect people even if you disagree with them. You can and should speak with honor. The same goes for your neighbor, co-worker, or family member. You may disagree but do not slander or blaspheme them. The scripture says that when the Angel Michael disputed with satan himself, he just said “the Lord rebuke you” he didn’t speak evil himself toward satan.
So, be honorable in your speech and
B. Avoid Quarreling
Believers shouldn’t be looking for a fight but doing our best to avoid them.
The ESV and NLT say “avoid quarreling” the NIV and NAS say “be peaceable” they are opposite sides of the same action
Eimi (ay-mi) amachos = exist peacefully, be amicable.
Romans 12:18 “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
As it depends on you –Proverbs 26:20 “without wood a fire goes out, without gossip a fire dies down.”
Can’t we be peacemakers if at all possible, for the advancement of the gospel? Is the salvation of one person, more important than winning an argument?
Yes there IS a time to speak and stand, but don’t Enjoy it don’t make it a slanderous attack … instead
C. Be Gentle
“Considerate” - epieikes (ep-ee-i-kace) = suitable, equitable, fair, gentle” … come on folks this isn’t new stuff, this is what your mom taught you, or your pretty first grade teacher J; Do to others AS you would have them do to you. Not DO BEFORE they do to you. Gentle is the opposite of quarreling which literally was an instruction to not be a brawler, but be gentle and
D. Show Courtesy
Literally it is “demonstrate gentleness or humility”
So, do I have an attitude that says “I AM humble, just ask me”? NO J. We are to DEMONSTRATE it.
How do you demonstrate humility?
We do it by thinking of others 1st and acting in THEIR best interest and showing proper courtesy. Courtesy is displaying concern for the personhood of others. It is loving those who hate you and blessing the one who curses you.
If you are feuding with a neighbor or co-worker, how about you try SERVING them instead?
A lot of attention was paid the other night during the State of the Union Address to Vice President Biden and Speak Boehner who were talking and laughing. When asked about it, Biden said he asked Boehner, “what do you think they will say when they find out we are friends?”
What, friends who disagree over major issues? WELL HELLO, if Jesus could be friends with drunks, sinners, and prostitutes, can we get along with a co-worker? If Jesus can pray for his executioners, can we get along with our boss?
Let’s be Citizens of this nation, Part of the Equation and then
3. Live Lives of Transformation
If you haven’t caught on folks, Christians are supposed to be SUPER NATURAL People.
We are supposed to go beyond the normal. We are not to give into what comes naturally but instead what comes from the Spirit of God.
How do we rise above what comes naturally? Let’s be honest if this kind of living DID come naturally, Paul wouldn’t have to write about it. So, How then?
A. Remember What You WERE
I wonder, do we have USED TO BE’s here? I certainly hope so. 2 Cor. 5:17 says “If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
If you are in Christ, you should be in the process of sanctification, that is becoming the image of Christ.
Oh Folks, the Kingdom of God is full of “used to be’s”
Used to be Sinners, Liars, Cheats, Adulterers, Disobedient, Loose, False Worshippers, Thieves, Deviants, Self-righteous, Drunks, Druggies and on and on. Are there any used to be’s here? If so, don’t forget where you came from then you can love those who are still there and
B. Remember HOW you were Changed
It wasn’t YOUR doing or YOUR idea. You didn’t reform yourself or pull yourself up by your boot straps. Verse 4 says God’s kindness and His love was revealed to us. Verse 5 explains it is NOT because of something GOOD that we did. He didn’t look down at me and say “good job Jim, I’m going to save you.” No it was ALL HIM and his MERCY. But he ahd to provide the MEANS verse 6 explains it was provided through Christ as our Savior, that was by his death for our sins and then was acted upon us by the Holy Spirit who gives us New Birth and New Life. And the result is that I am justified, which means I am put into a position of righteousness as if I had never sinned and that resulted in the inheritance and hope of eternal life.
If you are IN Christ that is what he did for you and HOW he did it. Do not forget that. When you remember what you were and how you were changed, then you realize that Jesus is the answer for all change.
Jesus is the answer for governmental change.
Jesus is the answer for Societal change
Jesus is the answer for Community transformation
Jesus is the ANSWER
For the World today
Above him there’s no other
Jesus is the way
So then, HOW do we live Transformationally?
C. Commit to Things that Count
We waste a lot of time on causes that really don’t amount to a hill of beans. I’m not going to list ones that I think are a waste of time because I don’t want to offend your pet project. But if you ask God he will tell you. But Paul says “avoid foolish controversies … genealogies … arguments and quarrels that are … unprofitable and useless”
Can I give you a literal expanded translating of this instruction in verse 9. It means Turn yourself away from nonsense investigations into family connections, legalism, and the like because they are empty and without advantage for anyone.
The point being, we have too much to do to waste time so commit to do what counts: Souls for Christ Count, Service Counts, LOVE counts, Humility Counts …
D. Separate from Dividers
Now this word for “divisive” is the same word where we get our word for “Heretic”. We equate a heretic with false teachers but here it shows that the false teaching is for the purpose of dividing. They waste time trying to separate people over pedigree or religious expression and spiritual elitism; but ultimately they are dividing for the purpose of destruction.
So in regards to dividers, we are to warn them two times then separate from them because unity in the body, for the cause of the Kingdom, is more important than division.
Remember Psalm 133? “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Remember that short Psalm teaches us that Unity anoints the Preacher, which feeds the people and blesses Heaven resulting in God pouring out further blessing and the saving of people and bestowing eternal life.
Bottom line: we don’t have time for division folks.
“But Pastor, if we aren’t fighting and setting people straight, what are we going to do with ourselves?” J
Hmmm I wonder what Paul wants
I wish he would tell us …
Well, Titus 1:16 – some are unfit for “doing what is good”
2:7 says “set an example by doing what is good”
2:14 – “be eager to do what is good”
3:1 – “do whatever is good”
3:8 – “be careful to devote yourself to doing what is good”
3:14 – we have to “learn to devote to doing what is good”
E. Be Devoted to what is Good
V14 says Our People – or Our Folks – the idea is those who are OF US … OUR TRIBE … OUR FAMILY need to
“LEARN” – manthano = be taught, understand, realize
Hopefully you realize it now. So, how do we learn it? Well I can tell you can find someone who is getting it right and watch them. But I can tell you where to start …
Phil. 2:3-7 – do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves … 5 your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus who … made himself nothing taking the nature of servant …
did you see the how?
Check your motives
Check your ego at the door
Think of Others First and Best
Make your life about SERVING the Eternal Purposes of others looking for nothing for yourself
“Doing good” is about humble service for the good of others
It is not just if you have nothing better to do … NO … it says DEVOTE = proistemi (pro-is-tay-mee) = to set or place before …
“Doing Good” should be SET, Fixed, Placed Before our mind as our purpose and duty in this world.
Oh it’s not natural and it’s not easy but it IS who we are called to be
This is LOVE LIVED OUT LOUD and that IS Natural for the Spirit of God that lives in Us!
I’ve often told the real story behind the Mutiny on the Bounty. Those mutineers ended up on the South Pacific Island of Pitcairn in 1790. Nine godless men with local native women. Well they found a way to distill alcohol from local produce and it all went downhill from there. Ten years later they literally had killed one another in a culture of debauchery and avarice. All that was left was one of the mutineers Alex Smith also known as John Adams women, and children of the mutineers. In a left over chest from the Bounty they found a Bible. Adams began to read it, teach it, and be transformed by it. He taught it to everyone on the island. In 1808 the USS Topas discovered them on the island and they didn’t find a murderous, devious, self-gratifying island. No, they found a community that was clean and prosperous, no jail, no alcohol, no crime, no laziness, transformed by one man devoted to the Word of God.
Those on the topaz took notice that these natives, “in conducting the most trivial affairs they are guided by the scriptures, which they read diligently, and from which they quote with a freedom and frequency.”
Folks, the answer is not in politics or politicians, in media, in choice of education venues, or economic policies, the answer is STILL the People of God, LIVING according to the WORD of God, in the Example of Christ.
Henry Varley say “The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man woman who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him”/
John Wesley said “Give me 100 men who love God with all their hearts and fear nothing except sin – and I will move the world.”
what about you? What about me? What about us?
That’s the answer … that’s the answer …