9 Avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, and fights about the Law, because they are useless and worthless. 10 After a first and second warning, have nothing more to do with a person who causes conflict, 11 because you know that someone like this is twisted and sinful—so they condemn themselves.
12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, try to come to me in Nicopolis, because I’ve decided to spend the winter there. 13 Help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with enthusiasm so that they won’t need anything. 14 But our people should also learn to devote themselves to doing good in order to meet pressing needs so they aren’t unproductive.
15 Everyone with me greets you; greet those who love us faithfully.
Grace be with all of you.
Again, we may think that verses 10 and 11 sound harsh, even unfair. But they spoke to a situation that could have destroyed the Christian communities on Crete. “The word for ‘causes conflict’ appears only here in the whole New Testament…. The term is derived from the word that means ‘division’ and therefore is used to describe the act of being divisive or causing divisions and splits within a certain group.”* Titus faced, not honest differences in the context of a broad agreement on the gospel, but a set of teachers purposely trying to set people against one another. As verse 14 said, the energy those teachers devoted to their controversies and fights could instead help Christians “learn to devote themselves to doing good in order to meet pressing needs.”
- Scholar William Barclay laid out how the issue Paul addressed to Titus can still arise today: “It has been said that there is a danger that a man may think himself religious because he discusses religious questions. It is much easier to discuss theological questions than to be considerate and kind and helpful at home, or efficient and diligent and honest at work…. Paul was certain that the real task of the Christian lay in Christian action.”** How can you help to create a tone for any discussions of which you are a part to move people toward unity and Christian action, rather than setting people against one another in a divisive way?
Lord Jesus, the prayer widely credited to St. Francis begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.” Today, and every day, I want to make that prayer my own. Amen.
At church, we meet many different people with different thoughts and opinions, yet we are all there to worship God! How does your family approach going to church? Are you excited, happy and joyful? Do you complain about the weather or the walk from the parking lot? Do you struggle to get dressed and out the door on time? Is your home filled with uplifting words, or hollered, hurried words? To help remind you that you are going to God’s house for worship, consider playing praise music as you prepare. Maybe you could pray for a receptive heart and positive spirit the afternoon or evening before you go. Read a Bible story to help center your mind on God. Nothing works perfectly in family life, but choose one idea to try this next week and enjoy a more fulfilling experience in God’s house!
* Guidelines for translating Titus 3:10 in Daniel C. Arichea and Howard A. Hatton, A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to Titus. New York: United Bible Societies, 1995.
** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, pp. 264-265.
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Brent Messick has recently retired from being Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director of Operations.