Summary: Lessons are caught more than they are taught.
Good morning! Take your Bibles and turn to Titus 2:1-3. If you’re here with us for the first time or back with us after missing a Sunday or two, we’re in a series of messages called Grow, Church, Grow! We’re looking at Paul’s letter to Titus that addresses issues in a growing church. In Titus 1:5, Paul says: The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished.
The first thing Paul tells Timothy to do is to stand on and stand for the truth. Crete could be a difficult place to serve. In fact, Paul quotes a philosopher from Crete in Titus 1:12 as saying, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” There is a true gospel and there are false gospels. A as followers of Christ, we believe that there is truth; that there are absolutes; there is right and wrong. We need to stand firm for the truth.
Next Paul advised Titus Paul Titus to be careful in choosing leaders for the church. Carefully choosing leaders is an important lesson to remember in any congregation. The leaders need to be men who have character and can defend the faith.
Last week we saw that Paul warned Titus about legalism creeping into the church. There was a group Paul referred to as “the circumcision” – also referred to as Judaizers by Bible commentators – who were insisting that people had to follow the Jewish law in order to be saved. Paul’s instruction was that Titus should rebuke anyone who did this because it was one of those false gospels. He wrote that we should not pay any attention to these myths or extra commands.
Today we move into chapter 2 of Titus. This is getting into my favorite parts of the book. Paul is now going to emphasize the importance of setting a good example for the believers. The churches Titus was working with had a lot of new believers and they would need instruction on how to live Godly lives, especially in the midst of a culture like Crete. So Paul says there are some folks who need to “Set the Example.”
An important principle in instructing anyone in correct doctrine and the practice of the Christian life is this: Lessons are caught more than they are taught. It's not enough to simply proclaim the truth. Anyone can run their mouth about this and that. We need to model the truth. People learn much better by example than they do by instruction.
One soldier told about a time following D-Day when the Allied troops were marching across Europe . General Patton was leading. There had been recent rains and the river was deep and there was a strong current. The soldiers began to complain there was no way they could cross the river with their backpacks and gear. Patton said nothing, but he waded into the river and swam to the other side with his backpack on. Then he swam back, stood on the bank and said, “Follow me.” Without protest every soldier followed him across the river.
We need positive role models in the church today. As we look around at society, we sadly find that there are few people who can serve as good role models. Athletes are into gambling and drugs. Entertainers are so egotistical. Politicians are, well, politicians. Some religious leaders have been found out to be hypocritical.
If the church is going to make a difference in our culture, it needs some mature Christians who will inspire others by their walk with God. In the first part of Titus chapter 2, Paul gives instructions to 3 groups of people in the church.
Titus 2:1-3 – You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
The first group is teachers. Paul says in Titus 2:1 – You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. In context, this instruction was written for Titus. Titus had to understand his responsibility was to deliver the message of Christ in its purest form.
This is also a great reminder for anyone who teaches in the church. If you are a Sunday School teacher, a youth sponsor, small group leader, or anyone involved in teaching others how to live, this verse applies to you. We are all to teach what lines up with sound doctrine.
James 3:1 – Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. I realize that may not be the best verse to share when we're trying to recruit new teachers and children's workers, but that is what the Bible says. There is a stricter judgment for those who teach.