CONFORMED OR TRANSFORMED?
Lord, count me worthy to be an example to others.
Read TITUS 1:5–16
Appointing Elders Who Love What Is Good
5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[b] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Rebuking Those Who Fail to Do Good
10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”[c] 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
a Titus 1:5 Or ordain
b Titus 1:6 Or children are trustworthy
c Titus 1:12 From the Cretan philosopher Epimenides
New International Version (NIV)
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Imagine walking “out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9). What does it feel like to stand in God’s light? Pray accordingly.
The criticism of Cretans noted in verse 12 is from Epimenides, a Cretan poet of the sixth-century B.C., but in quoting it Paul seems guilty of ethnic stereotyping. Tom Wright softens the impact by suggesting that Paul is writing “tongue in cheek”; John Stott suggests “with a twinkle in his eye”; and Gordon Fee points out that this is “not a blanket indictment of all Cretans” but an accurate portrait of the false teachers considered in verses 10–16.
A poisoned culture need not have the last word in determining all of its citizenry. Paul believed in the power of the Gospel to change people. He writes to Titus to “put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town” (5). It is noteworthy that the requirements for an elder in verses 6–9 do require an orthodox belief system and the ability to convey it to others (9), but more space is given to character (6–8) than ability: character before charisma. This emphasis is borne out by the sad histories of Christian leaders who have crashed spectacularly, abandoned their ministry, or simply brought it into disrepute. The cause of such failure is almost always to be found not in the person’s gifting but in character flaws: “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” (16). Are there any such cracks in your integrity?
Pray for integrity for yourself and for Christian leaders whom you know. What action can you take to repair any cracks in your integrity?
Lord, keep me under the protection of godly shepherds who take their assignment from You with the utmost sobriety.
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