I have learned so much from this little letter from the Apostle Paul. He wrote it to a man named Titus, a young pastor and church planter whom Paul had left on Crete, a large Greek island with a population of extremely immoral people. Titus’s mission was to organize churches that would make a difference in that wicked culture. That would only be possible if the churches were made up of believers who had been transformed by the gospel. As my father-in-law is fond of saying, “If you want to make a difference, you have to be different.”
We can never make a difference for Jesus if our lives are not being transformed daily by Him. This chapter begins with a reminder of that transformation. Verse 3 lists seven vices that remind us of what we once were. All Christians can look back and say that this is how they once lived: slaves to the overriding power of sin, to the point that we were defiant against God; so in love with ourselves that we had no love left for anyone else, only envy and hatred. You may think, “I was saved as a child. I never did all those things!” But it was in you to do them, and given enough time and opportunity, you probably would have.
Verses 1-2 offer a contrasting list of seven virtues that Christ makes us capable of exhibiting. This is a description of what a believer must be: so confident in our citizenship in the Kingdom of God that we are models of citizenship in our communities; so confident in our standing before God that we have no problem being humble before men.
What a difference! What a transformation — from being enslaved to sin to being free in Jesus, from living for ourselves to living for our Savior, from being hopelessly lost to being eternally saved! Exactly what is it that makes the difference? Three little words in verse 5: “He saved us”!
The only evidence that the unsaved world has that we belong to Jesus is our godly lives and our good works (v.8, 14). If people don’t see Jesus in us, they will probably never see Him at all. Good works cannot achieve salvation, but they can demonstrate salvation and direct people to Jesus.
This must be our focus. We can’t allow ourselves to be distracted by “unprofitable and worthless” things anymore (v.9). May we never get so busy disputing about this-or-that in the Bible that we become distracted from reading it and doing what it says. May we never get so busy talking about what we think of God that we come distracted from talking to God. May we never be found sulking and complaining about how someone hurt our feelings at church when there are hurting people all around us without Jesus. May we never be found arguing about our taste in worship music or who gets the credit (or the blame) — and be distracted from the people who are headed for the fires of hell without Christ.
Instead, let’s keep it simple. Let’s learn to devote ourselves to the kind of good works that open doors for us to share the gospel. That will be enough.