Remember to behave correctly. Remember how you once lived. Remember the goodness of God.
These are the themes of Paul’s words to the church in Crete.
Remember to behave correctly.
Christians were suspect in the first century. The fact that they worshiped a crucified Messiah was inconceivable to the majority of people.
Roman law demanded the worship of the Emperor, who claimed to be a god.
When bad things took place in a city, the inhabitants blamed people who offended the gods. Since Christians did not worship the Emperor or other gods, they were the first to blame when things went wrong.
In the light of an environment that was hostile to Christians, Paul reminded them to behave well.
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone (Titus 3.1-2).
What do “be subject” and “be obedient” actually mean? A Christian will be the best citizen possible without compromising their commitment to Christ.
The behavior of Jesus’ followers has a persuasive effect. It is a non-verbal way of appealing to society and leaders.
We do well to meditate on the keywords of these verses and evaluate our behavior in their light.
Remember how you once lived.
One of my professors in seminary knew an extremely legalistic and accusing woman. It seems that no one could live up to her standards.
He discovered that this very negative and condemning woman once was a prostitute. We praise God for her conversion, but we grieve over the fact that she forgot her past life.
When we meet the Lord, we need to remember the life from which Jesus rescued us.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another (Titus 3.3).
Remember the goodness of God.
One man said, “I know I’m not what I should be and I’m not what I’m going to be someday. Praise God, I’m not what I was!”
As we remember our past rebellious lives, we can also remember and rejoice in God’s saving act through Jesus and the Spirit.
We offer nothing attractive to God, but he doesn’t care. God defeats his enemies by making us his friends.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3.4-7).
Here are some bullet points that outline God’s gracious actions toward us.
— Salvation is the work of God that stems from his character: goodness, loving-kindness, and mercy.
— The crucifixion, resurrection, and gift of the Spirit make possible our rebirth and renewal.
— The completed work of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit allow the Spirit to be poured out into our lives.
— Because we are justified by God’s grace, our future includes the inheritance of eternal life.
We remember these facts because remembering will inspire love, gratitude, and correct behavior.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
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