Sometimes a morning reading will “pop” and I’m not exactly sure why. No obvious, apparent reason why those particular words should grab me. And so, I default to being pretty sure the Holy Spirit is wanting me to pick up something that’s being laid down. Other times, not that it’s any less a Holy Spirit thing, a passage pops and the reason is pretty obvious — it’s speaking into something very present and active in my world. This morning such is the case.
Paul’s been exhorting Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1). And while we might be quick to think that what accords with sound doctrine is more sound doctrine, it becomes pretty obvious, pretty quickly, that what accords with sound doctrine is actually sanctified behavior.
Paul instructs Titus as to what to teach older men and older women, younger men and younger women, concerning their behavior so that they might show themselves “in all respects to be a model of good works” (2:7a).
He even goes on to lay out how bondservants, redeemed by Christ, are to relate to their masters. And for what purpose? “So that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Tit. 2:10b).
Adorn. I love that word! To make the teaching of God our Savior “more attractive” (NIV). To embellish it with honor. Dress it up with meritorious action in the things of everyday life. The greatest magnifying glass for right teaching is right living — according to the Word, empowered by the Spirit, for the sake of the gospel.
And in that context, comes this exhortation.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
(Titus 3:1-3 ESV)
When I’m reading I’m on the lookout for commands to obey. There’s seven of them. And, not gonna lie, I think our overall adornment of sound doctrine these days would come across much better in the public square if we were more mindful of them.
We don’t need to agree with our rulers and authorities, but we can display a humility, seeded by our obedience to God, as we purpose to be submissive to our rulers.
What’s more, rather than be ready for a good fight over some controversial topic, we could, instead, focus intently on being ready for every good work.
What if we determined to speak evil of no one? Like actually, no one! Nobody. Not a single person. Determined to show dignity and respect to all people as image-bearers of God, we purpose in our hearts not to slander them. Tell me that’s not gonna be a game changer in our discourse and debate.
Avoid quarreling? Give our thumbs a rest? Pause the post? Resist the re-tweet? Could remove some distracting haze around the light we’re called to proclaim.
And when we do engage, to do so with gentleness, showing perfect courtesy toward all people? (There’s that all people again.) Tell me it wouldn’t make a difference in how the cause of Christ is viewed by a world mired in disobedience, incivility, and fist-shaking, angry yelling at one another.
Not judging, for we ourselves were all once foolish, but suggesting that such a filter might make more of difference than we’d suppose when it comes to adorning sound doctrine and making more beautiful the gospel.
Just sayin’ . . . Just thinkin’ . . .
By His grace. For His glory.