Summary: It’s not the beginning of a new year that will motivate us to change our way of life. Rather it’s the awareness that God has revealed the depths of his grace to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who came to purify us and to show us how to live in God’s pr
Christmas is almost upon us. Only 4 more sleeps left. But what does Christmas mean to you? For some it just means more work. For some it involves the trauma of family reunions. For others it’s a time of joy as families get together to catch up, while for others it means loneliness.
It’s a time for giving and receiving of gifts. A time for celebrating the good things that God has given us, especially his own son, Jesus Christ.
But I wonder how many of us think of Christmas as a time to review our lives; to rethink our lifestyle, our way of life. We usually leave that sort of thing to New Year’s eve, don’t we?
Well, today I want us to do just that; to think about the lifestyle described in Titus 2, with a particular focus on the motivation behind the sorts of behaviour described here.
Now I don’t want to get into the issue of whether some of these instructions are out of date because our cultural context is different. I know some would argue that. Rather I want us to think about the type of behaviour being suggested and the reasons behind it.
The first thing that stands out as far as I can see is that the motivation for all of this behaviour is the coming of Jesus Christ to live and die for us. There it is in v11: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all." All the things he’s talked about up in the first 10 verses are premised on this one event. Jesus Christ, the grace of God personified, has appeared, bringing salvation to all. Out of that single statement flow a whole range of implications.
First is the imperative of gospel proclamation. If the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all, then all need to hear about it. It’s no good us knowing about this great salvation if we don’t spread the news around.
There was an article in the Age last week about how drug companies are funding disease awareness campaigns to raise public awareness of particular diseases and illnesses. Now of course they’re doing it to increase the demand for their products, but nevertheless there’s generally a great public benefit in what they’re doing, isn’t there? People need to know about the rise in asthma in our country and how to deal with it. We need to hear about the number of young people who are suffering from depression. Those of us who are ageing, and that’s all of us, need to understand the issues around the onset of arthritis and what we can do about it.
But how much more do people need to know about their eternal destiny and what they can do about that. How much more do they need to know about the cure for the disease of death.
The trouble is no-one is listening. The situation isn’t much different now to what it was back then. Christianity then was a newfangled upstart religion. These days it’s old-fashioned. And in both situations people need to be convinced about its validity before they’ll listen. So how do we convince them that the message of Jesus Christ is worth listening to?
You do what we’re told here. First of all you make sure you teach what’s consistent with good doctrine. Then you live that way. That is, you teach things that fit with what God has revealed about himself. Things that lead to consistency and integrity in our behaviour. Things like the sort of behaviour he describes here.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the decline in church attendance has coincided with the rise of liberal theology, with its denial of basic Christian beliefs, with its lowering of moral standards, with its questioning of the validity of the Biblical record. It’s no wonder people question the relevance of Christianity when they see its leaders doubting the validity of its very basis. And that’s why we’re warned here to make sure that what we teach is consistent with good doctrine, that is, with Biblical teaching.
What’s more, if we believe that the grace of God has appeared among us, then the way we teach people to live will reflect that gracious act of God. So, for example, we’ll be teaching people to be gracious in the way they act towards others. We’ll teach them to forgive one another. We’ll teach them to be generous and patient and kind.
What’s more we’ll live in ways that commend the gospel; ways that lead people to want to hear about the grace of God that we’ve discovered and that’s made such a difference to our lives.
That’s why he gives this long list of behaviours covering 6 different groups categorised by age, gender and occupation.