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. (Titus 1:9 NIV)
Paul’s letter to Titus has been referred to as a pastoral letter. What’s interesting in the opening chapter of this letter is how straight to the point, forthright, blunt and unflattering it is.
It’s great to see how Paul acknowledges his call at the start and how that conveys to his son in the faith, yet no room is given to flowery sentiments, it is straight down to business with the purpose of the letter, reminding and instructing Titus of his mission. That mission is somewhat of a troubleshooting mission.
It’s clear that he is sent to Crete to complete some unfinished business. The appointment of elders is important in completing that unfinished business. The criteria for those elders is crucial for that unfinished business, but the unfinished business itself is ensuring the church in Crete is set properly. Set by being taught true doctrine and having false doctrine and the malcontents who spread them sorted out.
Paul’s reference to an unflattering view of the Cretans as ‘liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons’ (v. 12) is hardly endearing. Yet it reinforces Paul’s point that knowing the character of the area influences the task at hand with putting in place the role models of godly living who can then teach and rebuke in line with godly teaching. In as much as every area has its positive characteristics, there are still aspects that creep in that contradicts godly living. Outside influences of this nature can have a corrupting effect on the community of grace. The response to this is not just more seminars, sermons and special conferences. It’s for models of godly living to be identified, encouraged and put in place to look out for those in the faith community – sharing and teaching the truth and rebuking and refuting falsehood.
How would these instructions apply to the vicinity where you live? The criteria for the godly model is to have something for those in thethe faith to pursue – it sets the standard for others to see how Christ is to be followed. Who would be classed as an elder in your life?
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden