Titus 1 - Stepping Up to Leadership - September 25, 2011
Tturn with me this morning to the book of Titus, chapter 1. Titus is in the NT, towards the back, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews. (slide of books - Titus highlighted). Titus is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to one of his young protegés, a young Greek man named Titus. We’re going to be looking at this book over the next several weeks, and learning the lessons God has set down for us in this book. I’m going to read the first 5 verses this morning. Follow along with me - I’ll be reading out of the NIV -
Read 1:1-5 - Pray.
We start this book with the author signing his name at the front end. When we write letters, we always start out saying “Dear so-and-so” and we end it signing our name. In the first century, letter writers started the letter signing their name - so I guess you could figure out quickly if you wanted to read it or not. In our culture today, when we get our mail, we look at the return address, pitch all the junk mail without looking at it, and open up the ones that look important or personal. Whenever we get the mail at our house, we ask “any real mail today?” - because we get so much junk mail.
Well, the author starts out giving his name: Paul. Who is Paul? We know from our experiences in church and reading the NT that Paul was NOT one of the 12 disciples, but became a Christian after Jesus died, rose, and ascended back into heaven. Paul was a devout Jew formerly named Saul who was so concerned about this break-off from Judaism called Christianity that he traveled around rounding up Christians and killing them. He was converted during one of these trips, and Christ spoke to him from heaven. Paul then spent time being personally taught by Christ and then began traveling all over Asia preaching the gospel and planting churches. Paul gives his qualifications in Philippians 3: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. We read that impressive record and we quickly say, “Boy, I could never be a Paul” - sort of like trying in our day today to be a Billy Graham.
But notice what Paul says next in Philippians 3 - But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ . . . and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ. Now, a crude question, but do you know what dung is? I’ll give you a hint - it comes out of the back end of the cow.
We look at someone like Paul and we say, there was one gifted man! but Paul says, all those credentials are meaningless - what is really important is the relationship with Christ. Tony Campolo has a great message called A title or a testimony - and he goes through the Bible and says Pharaoh had the title, but Moses had the testimony! What is really important is not our ABILITY but our AVAILABILITY! You know, it’s true, most of us NEVER could be a Paul - but we can be just as available as Paul. And really we need to understand that God DOESN’T want us to be a Paul - He wants us to be just who we are. Be the best YOU that you can be!
Availability is so much more important than ability - because there are a lot of ABLE people who end up accomplishing NOTHING of value in their life! Some are sidelined by sin - they refuse to turn from things that disqualify them from greatness. Some are sidelined by apathy or laziness - they never give the extra effort that would bring about great results. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success. Some people are like dull axes, either they need to sharpen their edges or work harder, but if they stick with it, they can see great success.
If we will make ourselves AVAILABLE to God, HE is the one who will bring the ability. We understand that every great work of God was accomplished NOT by the effort of man, but by the empowering of the Holy Spirit of God. If you are trusting on your own ability, you will surely fail. But when you turn to the power of God, God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us - Ephesians 3:20 tells us.