1 Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities. They should be obedient and ready to do every good thing. 2 They shouldn’t speak disrespectfully about anyone, but they should be peaceful, kind, and show complete courtesy toward everyone. 3 We were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, and slaves to our desires and various pleasures too. We were spending our lives in evil behavior and jealousy. We were disgusting, and we hated other people. 4 But “when God our savior’s kindness and love appeared, 5 he saved us because of his mercy, not because of righteous things we had done. He did it through the washing of new birth and the renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 which God poured out upon us generously through Jesus Christ our savior. 7 So, since we have been made righteous by his grace, we can inherit the hope for eternal life.” 8 This saying is reliable. And I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God might give careful attention to doing good. These things are good and useful for everyone.
As his letter to Titus neared its end, Paul summed up both the outward sources and inner springs of the way of life that would make the Christians “good and useful for everyone.” In verses 4-7, he quoted what in verse 8 he called a “reliable” saying. The same wording appears four times in the two letters to Timothy. It seems to refer to language drawn from some of the earliest Christian’ statements used to express their common faith.
- Paul didn’t aimlessly choose the character qualities he listed. “It’s not just that God has decided to set up some new rules, for the sake of it, and that one of them happens to be that Christians should be nice to people…. The reason we are summoned to avoid speaking evil of people, not to be quarrelsome, and so on, is that we are ourselves the creatures of God’s generous love, and if we aren’t showing that same generous, kindly, forgiving love we have obviously forgotten the path by which we’ve come.”* In what ways does how you treat others reflect and grow from God’s gracious treatment of you?
- Paul wasn’t just being showy or dramatic in verse 3. He never forgot or tried to hide his history of hating and persecuting Christians (cf. Acts 26:10, 1 Timothy 1:12-16) before Jesus met him on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:1-6). Whether your growth in faith and loyalty to God had a sudden turning or has been a lifelong, gradual journey, what are some parts of your “before” story? How has Jesus changed you for the better?
Lord God, you saved me because of your mercy, not because of righteous things I had done. Thank you for the ways your mercy and grace are reshaping my life. Amen.
* Wright, N. T. Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters: 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus (The New Testament for Everyone). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
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Ginger is a graduate of Saint Paul School of Theology. She is the creator of CompassionFix.com and co-hosts the What Matters? podcast. She serves as a Care Minister at Resurrection Downtown. She loves writing, teaching spiritual classes, conversations over coffee, and traveling with her husband and two children.