It’s been a good week working through Titus as part of my morning readings. And in a letter that is so concerned with teaching, and defending, sound doctrine, what has been clear is that, in a sense, sound doctrine is not the ends but the means. The goal is not just to cross our theological i’s and dot our systematic t’s, but that high and holy teaching would manifest itself in boots-on-the-ground, godly–and goodly–living.
And so, Paul wraps up this letter, which began by emphasizing the need to present and protect the faith, with an equal, or perhaps greater, emphasis on the need for all believers to practically live out the faith.
And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.
(Titus 3:14 ESV)
Devoted to good works–it’s something that is learned. Focused on helping others–it’s a practice to be practiced, a habit to be formed.
But what grabs my attention, in particular, is that learning to help others in need is a remedy for unfruitfulness. Thus, Paul says it’s fruit.
So, could you go so far as to say that being devoted to good works might also be considered the tenth fruit of the Spirit? That when the Spirit illuminates truth to us (Jn. 16:13); when He reveals the deep things of God (1Cor. 2:9-10); when He conveys the mind of Christ to our minds (1Cor. 2:16b)–transforming us through our mind’s renewal (Rom. 12:2)–that in addition to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22), that He also works in us a devotion, a desire, a heightened attention towards good works?
I’m thinkin’ . . .
I can’t help but hear James say, “Amen!” to Paul’s exhortation to Titus and to our people.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
(James 2:15-18 (ESV)
Eager to maintain good works. It’s evidence of faith, James says. It’s a remedy for a barren Christian life, Paul says. It might be thought of as the tenth fruit of the Spirit, I says.
To be sure, we have learned that we cannot rely on our good works FOR our salvation. But we also need to learn to devote ourselves to good works that come FROM our salvation.
We are saved by faith. But we are also saved for fruit. And being devoted to good works is fruit.
And, with such Spirit led, Spirit enabled, Spirit produced fruit, we will adorn, and trim with honor, the sound doctrine of God our Savior (Tit. 3:10b).
By His grace. For His glory.
Yeah, it’s been a good week.