Titus had been entrusted by Paul with a difficult task in a difficult place. His assignment was to reorganize the churches on the island of Crete and to train and appoint pastors to lead them. The culture of Crete had a well-deserved bad reputation. It was a culture in which moral standards were not valued. Wait…that’s putting it too mildly. These were horrible people. There was an old saying in Paul’s day that Cretans were “evil beasts”; Paul said, “This testimony is true” (see 1:12-13). But Paul and Titus ministered there because they believed in the power of the gospel to save souls and to transform lives, homes, churches, and the very culture of Crete.
Paul encouraged Titus to be intentional about teaching “sound doctrine” in the churches. Notice the bookends of this chapter. Verse 1 says to teach the truth and verse 15 says to apply the truth to encourage godly behavior (“exhort”) and correct ungodly behavior (“rebuke”). The content of Titus’s teaching was simply the gospel, centered around the grace of God revealed in Christ. The grace that redeems us and gives us hope for the future (v.13-14) also “purifies” us from ungodliness and “trains” us to live godly lives (v.12, 14).
Think about how that works. If we truly understand the gospel:
How can we continue to do the things that nailed Jesus to the cross?
How can we tolerate in our lives the sins for which Jesus died?
Having received such abundant grace, how can we not give grace to others who fall and fail?
As the recipients of such love, how can we not act in love toward others — even those who offend us?
How can we, who have been forgiven so much, withhold forgiveness from others?
How can we, who have tried the things of the world and found them empty and unsatisfying, continue to chase after “worldly passions” (v.12)?
How can we, who are the objects of God’s great plan of redemption, ever doubt His plan for us after redemption?
Knowing that Jesus “gave Himself for us”, how can we not give ourselves to Him in “zealous” service (v.14)?
So Titus was to teach the doctrines of the gospel, and that is what would make the difference in the churches of Crete, and then in the culture of Crete. The multi-generational makeup of the churches presented both a challenge and a strength. The challenge was to connect simultaneously with several generations, each with their own unique characteristics and styles (that has not changed in 2,000 years, has it?!). The strength of the multi-generational churches was that each generation had something to offer the others. The older generation of believers who had walked with Jesus for many years could offer wisdom, experience, dignity, and stability (v.2-5). The younger generations could offer their energy, their zeal for “doing”, and their boldness for Christ (v.6-8).
Whatever your age, live out the gospel with passion today. Let’s work together to make a difference for Christ!