Summary: How do we prepare ourselves to do good works?
Prepared for Good Works
Text: Titus 3:3-8
Proposition: The Christian must be ready at all times to do good works.
While serving in the Persian Gulf, our entire battalion discovered that we were unprepared because of deficient gas masks. I believe that many believers are like that, unprepared for the calling at hand. Rather than being ready at any moment to do good, we are absorbed with our own agendas and miss out on divine opportunities. The Christian must prepare himself to be ready to live a life of good works.
How do we prepare ourselves to do good works? If I were the Apostle Paul I would have immediately listed a number of practical things to do, like free up your time, set aside money , volunteer for a ministry. But instead of doing this Paul goes a level deeper and reflects on the inner components that must combine to make a person prepared for good works. These three attitudes, if you will, are the soil out of which a prepared life grows.
1. The Christian never forgets the life from which he/she has been rescued.
Explanation: Paul reflects on life before Christ, and says that in that condition we were “objects of God’s wrath” (see Ephesians 2:1-3). Not only were we unprepared to do genuine good works but we were predisposed to do evil works. In our fallen state, our entire life is oriented around self so that we generate not good works but selfish works. This is not to say that as unbelievers we were as evil as we could be, but it does mean that self was the center of life and not the things of God. As Tim Keller has said “Not many of us are Attila the Hun or Adolph Hitler, but it’s not for lack of potential.”
It is from this life that we have been rescued. Therefore, we must always look back on our previous life with gratitude and humility that we have been saved from it, knowing that but by the grace of God we would still be living in our own selfish worlds bound for hell. We have been rescued from disaster. And so it is that this knowledge of our past makes us painfully aware of those still left behind and needing rescued. We make ourselves prepared by always remembering where we came from.
Illustration: Some of the most poignant pictures of the World Trade Center tragedy were those that showed people covered with soot that had escaped just in time. Many of them looked back upon the others that were left behind and actually felt guilty that they had been spared and not the others. And many of them that were able were the first to wander back and look for survivors. Those that escaped the collapsing buildings could never look upon those left behind with any sense of superiority or condescension. But by the grace of God they too would have been crushed. Instead they wanted to go back and help save them. Their own rescue or escape made them utterly willing and desirous to help others.
Application: We must always live with a humble acknowledgment that we too have been rescued. And therefore, with dust still on our souls so to speak we look back for any that we can help. We are prepared because we have been rescued and are keenly aware of those that have not escaped yet. And obviously we have no ground for pride, arrogance, prejudice or aloofness, rudeness or unsociableness. Instead, we remember our original state and identify with sinners as those that have been rescued from corruption and death. This will give us great sympathy with those that are still in jeopardy. It will prepare us to help reach out.
*Illustration: John 13 When Jesus was wanting to tell his disciples to be prepared to serve others, what did he do? He first washed his the disciples’ feet. He wanted them to see the dirt that he was removing so that they would be prepared to help remove the dirt of others. The best motivator to serve others is to remember how you have first been served by God. Remember what God has done for you and will naturally be moved to serve others in a similar way.
So, the first ingredient in being prepared to doing good is to never forget the life from which you have been rescued.
2. The Christian marvels that God’s grace has freely forgiven and transformed him/her.
Explanation: The Christian is prepared for a life of good works not only by remembering the fallen state from which he has come, but by marveling over the new position he has been granted. It’s one thing to be released from prison, it’s another thing to be elevated to a throne. Paul now dwells some on the salvation we have been granted. This truth is so great that it needs to be viewed from multiple angles.