Summary: Cretans still live. Liars and evil brutes still walk among us. Who are they, and how can I protect myself against them?
OPEN: A 3 year old boy went with his father to see a litter of kittens. On returning home, he breathlessly informed his mother, "There were two boy kittens and two girl kittens."
"How did you know that?" his mother asked.
"Daddy picked them up and looked underneath," he replied. "I think it’s printed on the bottom."
APPLY: As far as that little boy was concerned it was obvious:
Daddy was the authority.
Daddy knew how to decide whether those kittens were male or female.
Daddy had picked them up – looked underneath… and from there his little mind reached the obvious conclusion that the information had to be printed on the bottom side of those cats.
Now, that little boy was right about the which kittens were male and female. And the reason he was right was because he started with trusting the right authority.
But he was wrong about how he could know the difference.
Hold that thought.
In the chapter we just read, Paul is writing to a young preacher named Titus and told him “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” Titus 1:5
This Greek word translated “straighten out” is actually a medical term.
The Greek word is “epidi-orthoo”, from which we get the words orthopedist and orthodontist, and I’ve been told it refers to the practice of “setting a bone that’s been broken.”
Have you ever had a broken bone and gone to the ER or to your doctor?
What do they do there?
They “set” the bone.
They take the two broken ends of the bone and they put them back together so they “fit” properly. If they don’t do that - if they allow the bone to heal without setting it – the bone can grow back together crookedly and lead to weakness in that bone later in life.
And if the bone has already begun to knit, but it isn’t properly set, the doctor may break the bone again and put it back together properly so it’ll heal right.
Thus, what Paul’s was telling Titus was this: the churches on Crete were broken.
They hadn’t “set” right.
They needed medical attention or their faith would grow crooked and warped.
Titus has to “straighten out” what was broken so they’d heal properly and be strong in Christ.
Now, there’s a couple of things that aggravated that brokenness.
1st – the people there on Crete weren’t the easiest folks to work with.
Paul noted that “Even one of their own prophets has said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’” Titus 1:12
To this day the word “Cretan” is used to describe someone who is uncouth and untrustworthy.
And it seems ALL the Cretans of Paul’s day were bent that way.
These folks needed healing and Titus needed to realize he was working with damaged goods.
Cretans were (pause) the MTV crowd of Paul’s day.
ILLUS: Not so long ago, the MTV Video Awards was hosted by a man named Russell Brand. He is crude and lewd comedian and his comments that night were filled with comments on homosexuality and promiscuous sex. He especially took aim at the youth band “The Jonas Brothers” for wearing purity rings (rings which they wore to encourage other teenagers to avoid sex until they were married), and Brand made vulgar comments about their supposed hypocrisy in doing so.
The Los Angeles Times declared: “Russell Brand is a bad, bad boy. Thank the punk saints for that!… Brand’s banter, overflowing with outré political statements … juvenile sex jokes and relentless mockery of the well-groomed pop stars surrounding him, was totally, deliriously in the spirit of transgressive rock and roll."
Entertainment Weekly said “Many commentators thought Brand was hilarious and spoke truth to power."
No, Brand didn’t speak truth to power.
He wasn’t some great man who was tweaking the hypocrisy of others.
He wasn’t a heroic comedian standing up for truth.
He was a Cretan, speaking lies to the youth of our nation.
He was an evil brute of a man who did what he did that night for the sake of the money MTV was paying him to perform. He did what he did for “dishonest gain.”
He was the kind of perverse and depraved individual that dominated the culture of Crete.
That’s why Paul laid such emphasis on the importance of Elders being men of principle. That’s why they were to be good fathers and good husbands, and examples of Christian purity and righteousness.
Christians needed to know what GOOD men looked like so they would know what to imitate in their own lives.
Youth! Look at the Elders in this church.
Make them your models of what you want to be like when you grow up.