Summary: Thank God everyday that the President and Congress cannot tell any American how they are to worship, and what they are to believe. This is one of the greatest freedoms of life, and most people in history have never enjoyed it.
An insurance adjuster tells of a life policy taken out in the name
of Abraham Brown in a small southern town. For five years the
insurance company received the premiums when they were due.
Then all of a sudden they stopped without warning. The company
sent several notices and then finally there came this reply: "Dear
Sirs: Hope you will excuse us. We can't pay no more insurance on
Abe because he died last Sept. Yours truly, Mrs. A. L. Brown."
Here was a wife more ignorant than most about insurance, but
the fact is we live in a world when all of us are ignorant about so
many things and the result is their are con people everywhere
seeking to profit from our ignorance. Like the salesman who was
bragging about selling a widow a new suit for her husband to be
buried in. He was bragging because he sold her a suit with an extra
pair of pants.
The desire to profit from others ignorance and gullibility was a
problem in Paul's day even in the church where he says in v.11 that
eloquent con artists were teaching false doctrine for the sake of
dishonest gain. It is a universal trait of human nature, and so even
on this island of lazy people some were working hard to deceive and
rip off the people.
A father have his little boy a dollar for his birthday and the boy
spent all afternoon going from store to store asking the clerk to
change the dollar into silver, and then he would go and get it
changed back to a dollar bill. When his father heard of it he asked
the reason. Little Sanday replied, "Sooner or later somebody is goin
to make a mistake and it ain't going to be me." Here was a small lad
illustrating the universal desire to make a profit off of other people's
mistakes. Unfortunately, such crime does pay, and that is why Paul
is so strong in his determination to silence the con artists in the
church. . They were making a profit and their victims were suffering
Paul is giving witness to the great power of words to both defend
the faith and to destroy it. Words can ruin lives or redeem them.
When Paul says they are mere talkers he does not mean they are no
threat because of their empty words. He says they are a great threat,
for words are weapons that can do what bullets and bombs cannot
do. Words have awesome power for good or evil, and it is a never
ending battle to keep them from being destructive. James says in his
letter in 3:5-6, "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small
spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of
the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his
life on fire, and it itself set on fire by hell."
The tragic truth is, both Paul and James are writing about
Christians when they describe the destructive power of the tongue.
Christians destroy the lives of other Christians by gossip and
slander, as well as by false teaching. This has not change since the
days of Paul. Good people still start fires that do great damage. I
read about the greatest prairie fire to ever take place in Kansas. It
was set by an officer of the U. S. government. He and a party of
officers from Fort Hayes were returning from a wild turkey hunt.
This officer just wanted to shock and surprise the others. It was a
practical joke he had in mind when he touched a match to the dry
grass. He had no idea of the power he was dealing with. The fire
took off like a frightened deer and swept across the prairie. Nothing
could stop it. It swept all the way across Kansas into Oklahoma and
burned out thousands of settlers. They not only lost their homes but
their horses and cattle as well.
The deep remorse of the officer could not take back the damage
his careless act had caused. He did not intend it to get out of hand,
but he had no control once it was set loose. So it is with words. Once
you let the fire of words get started you no longer have control over
them. They can go about doing damage you never intended. That is
why Paul says to Titus that the only way to go is to prevent the
words from being uttered. Silence the false teachers and don't let
their flame throwers be turned on. This is easier said than done, and
in our culture it is nearly impossible.
Paul says that Christian leaders have a two fold responsibility.