Summary: The challenge for us, as it was for young Titus, is to stand for the truth so we won’t fall for something else.
This past Wednesday Beth and I joined with a handful of other adults across the street from the high school in order to pray for the students who had gathered for See You At The Pole. More than 40 teenagers congregated in front of PTHS in order to pray for their campus, their community and churches. It was cool to see them “high-fiving” each other as more students would arrive. A number of students also prayed at the Junior High and the entire student body at Pontiac Christian united their hearts around the throne. Students from all over the county on different school campuses met to pray, many of whom attend PBC.
I got teary as I watched these students standing up for Jesus because I realized that if a group of my peers had done that when I was in high school, I would have made fun of them. It’s not easy to stand for Jesus, is it? I was struck by the prayer of one of the adults that morning, “Lord, help them to stand for you so that they don’t fall for something else.” That’s a good request for all of us.
We’re beginning a brand new series today from the New Testament book of Titus. This short book is often forgotten in the shadows of Scripture because of its size and because many of its themes are duplicated in First and Second Timothy. But this section of Scripture is very relevant to our lives today. 2 Timothy 3:16 reminds us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” We are going to go through this book verse-by-verse over the next nine weeks so that we can as verse 17 says, be “Thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Let’s get acquainted with the original recipient of this letter. Titus was…
A convert of Paul. We see this in Titus 1:4: “…my true son.” Paul also discipled and mentored this man in the faith. We’ll be talking more about mentoring when we get to chapter two. Women, be sure to take advantage of the Apples of Gold informational meeting on Tuesday, September 28th and fill out the insert in the bulletin if you’re interested in being a mentor.
A companion of Paul. Titus Hewent with Paul to the Jerusalem council to argue that Gentile converts did not have to keep the Law (Acts 15). In 2 Corinthians 8:23, Paul refers to him as “…my partner and fellow worker among you.”
A man of conviction. Galatians 2:3-5 gives us some detail: “Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek…We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”
A comfort to Paul in 2 Corinthians 7:6: “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.”
A confidant of Paul. He was entrusted with collecting an offering from the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8:6: “So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.”
A caring heart. We see this in 2 Corinthians 8:16: “I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you.”
As Paul looked at Titus he saw in him the ability to be a trusted troubleshooter. When they traveled together, they stopped to minister on the island of Crete, and when it was time for Paul to go, he left Titus behind to “straighten out what was left unfinished” (Titus 1:5).
Thirteen years ago, when I was on staff at a church in Chicago, I led a group of 10 people to visit four of our missionary families. We called ourselves the “Titus Touch Team.” We studied the life of Titus and tried our best to emulate what he did so that we could be of comfort and help to others. We flew to London and spent time with a couple who were ministering to Muslims. Then we crossed the English Channel and took a train to Barcelona to help a hurting family. From there we headed to Switzerland to visit our oldest missionary, who at the age of 93 was still hard at work. We finished by traveling to Frankfurt, Germany to provide encouragement to a new missionary couple in their early 20s. At every stop, we took the missionaries out for dinner at the best restaurant they could find; we asked about their ministry and family needs; we led devotions and we prayed for them. I would love to do something similar for our PBC missionaries in the near future.
Titus had a task much harder than ours was. We spent a couple days at each location and then moved on. Titus was positioned on Crete, located southeast of Greece in the Mediterranean Sea. This Roman province had a hundred cities, many of which were heavily populated and very independent. To be known as a Cretan was not a good thing. The poet Epimenades, whom Paul quotes in Titus 1:12, referred to these people as “always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” The Philistines, who were the arch enemies of Israel throughout the Old Testament, hailed from this island. Cretans were also steeped in pagan superstition and false religion, believing that Zeus was born on one of their mountains.