My husband’s cell phone alarm is set to the song Where I Belong written by Jason Ingram and Jason Roy with the Christian band Building 429. I woke up to this song today feeling that I was watching Paul and Titus’ relationship “from the outside.”
“To Titus, my true child in a common faith.” Titus 1:4
Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside
Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive
I will keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find
All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong.
I recently read the book of Titus where these two men, Titus and Paul, were portrayed as being so different. I felt like I was peering down upon two different lives, from two different backgrounds, and from two different perspectives. And, I was. However, even with their vast differences, they were both solidly united in a common ministry by their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Titus was a Gentile who did not follow Jewish tradition. Paul was a Jewish Christian at the time of this writing. Little is known about the early life of Titus. Much is known about the early life of Paul. Titus was a trusted aide who delivered Paul’s letters to various congregations. He was there to help Paul out when church problems arose and Paul was unable to be there to help. Some say Titus was converted by Paul and Barnabas on Paul’s first missionary journey and was mentored by Paul leading to his maturity in the Lord. Paul’s high opinion of Titus is seen in 2 Corinthians 2:13 where we see the overwhelming concern and care Paul bestowed upon Titus. Titus became his commissioned servant. His calling was to build up the church. This is where the book of Titus begins.
At this point, Titus is on the island of Crete pastoring a church. Paul was writing to instruct Titus on how to run the church. It is said that Paul made a very politically incorrect statement in Titus 1:12 when he says, “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’” This is the background where Paul gives Titus instructions about how to be an administrator at the church; how to handle the responsibilities of his church; and how to deal with heresy and personal matters. Paul was mentoring his trusted aide.
Titus had a track record of being a faithful and trustworthy servant. Paul knew he was an organized person who could lead others, but he still wanted to share with his friend and mentee in this pastoral letter. Paul knew Titus was a man who would follow his instructions for the good of Christ. Isn’t it nice to know we are not in ministry alone? It is a blessing to have friends who encourage us to live a higher standard and serve as a role model to us.
I encourage you to read the entire book of Titus, but for now, let’s take a quick peek at some of the instructions Paul gives Titus in the three short chapters of the book. Paul is encouraging Titus to lead the Cretan church to become a healthy church through sound doctrine. While it sounds like Paul is just giving a checklist for the congregation to follow, his overwhelming desire is to lead others to eternal life and a solid commitment to the Lord.
Titus : A commissioned servant of God called to build up the Church of Crete
Qualifications for Elders
“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:5-9 ESV
Teaching Sound Doctrine
“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Titus 2:1-10. ESV
How to live a Christian life
Remind them to be submissive 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 perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:1-11 ESV
I was a high school librarian for 15 years. During those 15 years, I had a trusted library aide. While many aides at other schools came and went leaving the librarians to continually have the responsibility to retrain new people, I was privileged I did not have to do that. My aide was with me for the entire fifteen years working side by side with me. She was an enormous asset to me in my job. I believe that Titus was an enormous asset and aide to Paul and to the early church. Both Paul and Titus’ faithfulness and work ethic was building up the church. And as the song goes, I am sure both Paul and Titus were living their lives knowing they were “not home yet.” They were “not where they belonged.” They took this world and Jesus seriously and lived their lives for God.
And, so should we!
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. Proverbs 1:5
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7
Dear Heavenly Father. Let me be a vessel You can use today and always. Give me mentors along the way to encourage and teach me your ways. As I grow in You, give me opportunities to help and lead others to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to You. And Lord, I pray for the Island of Crete today so the people will learn to have a living faith in You and not just a cultural tradition for You as Titus and Paul so strongly desired. I love you Lord. Amen.
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