Summary: Talk 5 in series. A further exploration of church relationships in the light of the gospel.
What is the thing you most want in life? Perhaps its that new car or long overdue holiday. Lower interest rates on your home loan. Maybe a short break from the children or the prospect of a stress free Christmas. One researcher, Max-Neef, classifies fundamental our human needs as follows: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity and freedom.
The thing you need most in life is Christ-like Christianity. And Christ-like Christianity is about Jesus. Christ-like Christianity is all about blameless leadership—in our families, in our fellowships, in our churches and in our community. Christ-like Christianity rejects corruption and does not comprise on the content of the gospel. Christ-like Christianity is about the Father, the Son and the Spirit redeeming our world from the power of sin and the evil one. It’s about the creation of a new heavens and a new earth. This is the gospel message and Titus is to appoint leaders ‘who hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught’ (Tit 1:9).
As Paul teases out the implications of the trustworthy message in chapter 2, it is apparent that the central activity that is to take place in Christian community is that of teaching. Paul says to Titus in Tit 2:1, ‘You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine’. Then in verse 11, we see that it is the grace of God that teaches us, and as we believe what is taught, we are redeemed from wickedness and transformed into a people eager to do what is good.
We have already seen that that Titus must the teach older men and women the grace of God because worldly passions are never far away. Younger women struggle and are vulnerable. One way God provides for you is through mentoring by older women. Young men need strong role models and Titus is to model the godly life. And we must ask ourselves whether or not in this church these relationships are in place.
It comes as no surprise to me that self-control is first on the list for young men. Verse 6, ‘Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled’. This quality has appeared a few times in Titus, but here it comes first on the list. In fact, it’s the only quality on the list! And all the young men know why!
Perhaps the Teacher in Ecclesiastes offers the best advice, ‘Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment’ (Ecc 11:9).
Young men—enjoy your passion and creativity and strength and zeal for life. But remember that one day, the chickens will come home to roost! You are accountable to God. God will bring you to judgment. So exercise self-control—remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Enjoy life under the lordship of Christ. Be enthusiastic and energetic before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’ (Ecc 12:1).
Young men—be self-controlled. For the grace of God has something to say to you. Young men, say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and learn to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. You will stand out from others your age. Even the Cretan prophets saw the decadence of their own people. The Cretan young men had a reputation as always liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons (Tit 1:12). This cannot be so with you.
Titus himself is to model the Christian life for the Christian blokes around him. Verse 7, ‘In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us’. Not only is Titus to model qualities befitting any Christian leader, but in so doing he is setting himself up as a great model for young men. And young men like to imitate other young men whom they respect.
So Titus is to be a person of integrity, he is to take the Christian life seriously, he is to watch his speech for the sake of showing Christ-like Christianity to the young men. And remember, Titus, the young men aren’t the only ones watching you. The world is watching you as it is watching us even now. Verse 8 says that as we live in a manner consistent with the grace of God, our opponents will be brought to shame. Certainly other criticisms will come, but not the charge of a living a lie.
Every young man needs a Titus-like figure in his life. Mark Twain famously once said, ‘When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years’. It can be hard work engaging young men. Often strong-headed blokes will not recognise the wisdom of the old.