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Summary: What we see in this letter of Titus is that Paul was committed to excellence. The goal of God is not just to get His Son a bride, but to get Him a bride who is without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. In other words, the goal of God is always perfection.

For some unknown reason a sculptor hacked an 18 foot high

piece of marble into an awkward shape, and then left it unfinished to

lay in a Cathedral courtyard in Florence, Italy. For about a

hundred years it laid there until Sept. of 1501. The damaged block

had been offered to other sculptors, but none of them felt capable of

doing anything with it. Then Michelangelo was asked if he could

make a statue out of it. He felt he could, and so a contract was

drawn up for him to complete the work in 2 years.

He built wooden walls around the block so he could not be seen

or interrupted. Others hired assistants, but he did not. From first

to last it was his mallet and chisels that did the work. He would not

leave his shed for days on end. He often slept there so that he could

get busy on it without delay. The 2 year deadline came and he was

still not finished. It was not until 1504 that he completed the project.

Everyone agreed when they seen it that he had created a

masterpiece. Out of that rejected piece of marble he created his

famous statue of David-the slayer of giants. Contemporaries

declared that nothing equaled to it had been produced since the

ancient days of Greece and Rome. The 18 thousand pound statue

was moved to a conspicuous place where all could enjoy it. For 3

and a half centuries it stood outside as the pride of Florence, but the

in 1873 it was moved inside to protect it from the weather. Copies

of the statue can be found all over the world, including a downtown

park in my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Michelangelo is famous because he was devoted to excellence. He

was so devoted because he knew that excellence was on of the ways

men are drawn to God. He said, "If it be true that any beauteous

thing raises the pure and just desire of man from earth to God, the

eternal fount of all, such I believe my love." And such was the love

of Paul as well, and that is why he chose Titus to stay in Crete to

straighten out what was unfinished. Like the marble block of

Michelangelo, these Christians were far from finished. They were

Christians; they were saved for eternity, but they were messed up in

many ways and they needed a spiritual sculptor to shape them up.

What we see in this letter of Titus is that Paul was committed to

excellence. The goal of God is not just to get His Son a bride, but to

get Him a bride who is without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.

In other words, the goal of God is always perfection. We can never

achieve this in time, but we can and ought to be devoted to

excellence as we move toward the perfection that only God can

achieve. That is the essence of what Paul is telling Titus to aim for

in completing the unfinished work in Crete. Appoint leaders who

are devoted to excellence. They are to show excellence in character,

in their family life, in their social life, in their economic life, and in

their spiritual life.

This was Paul's goal in every church, and that is why he writes

to the Corinthians who were having so many problems because of

their focus on some of the lesser gifts. He writes in I Cor. 12:31,

"But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the

most excellent way." Then he goes on in his great exposition of love

in I Cor. 13. Paul is saying that all the defects of the church are due

to low aim. If we aim for excellence and focus on the best, the

highest, and the noblest, we will not be part of the problem, but part

of the answer. The bottom line is this: The servant of Christ is

called to excellence. In Col. 3:23 Paul writes, "Whatever you do,

work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for

men." This is not a call to manageable mediocrity, but a call to excel

in excellence.

Titus is told to chose leaders in the church who are heeding this

call to excellence. Not all Christians listen to this call. Just as there

are all different levels of faith, knowledge, and hope, so there are all

different levels of commitment to excellence. The first graders work

of art on your refrigerator may not be an excellent work of art, but

if it is the best a child can do at that stage, it deserves praise, for

excellence it not so much a destination as it is a direction. The

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