These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority Let no one disregard you.Titus 2:15(NASB)
Paul gave some important teaching concerning the organisation and orderliness of the Church, in Titus chapter 2, so that the Body of Christ would come to a knowledge of the truth, which leads to godliness. He explained that the Church should be a living testimony to the world... a living proof of the gospel of Christ and the goodness of God.
The godly lives and righteous behaviour of believers should set an example to the ungodly, who speak against the truth. Their conduct and character should convict evil-doers of their wrongdoing. Living godly lives should act as a testimony to the truth of the gospel of grace. The way Christians behave and the words they speak should serve to promote the Word of truth and honour the Lord. We are not to imitate the ways of the world but to talk about things that are true and to speak of things that are honourable and doctrinally sound.
In the previous chapter, Paul gave Titus some instruction on the character, conduct, duties, and competence of Church elders, while here in chapter 2 he refers to qualities that should be found in different groups within the Church. He also lists the way believers should act towards fellow brothers and sisters, who may be older or younger than they. Each group to which Paul refers, is being guided towards godly living and encouraged to set an example to one another and to the ungodly.
Paul called for older men to be temperate, dignified, and sensible. They should be sound in the faith and display love and perseverance. Similarly, he encouraged older women to be reverent and respectful in their behaviour. They should set a good example to the younger generation and not be involved in malicious gossips or enslaved to wine. They should be ready to pass on their wisdom to younger women and act as an example to emulate... encouraging them to be good wives and wise mothers - to be sensible, pure, industrious, kind, and faithful.
Paul was encouraging Titus to boldly share these Biblical truths with the Body of Christ and to encourage those in his care towards righteous living and reverent behaviour. But he also wanted Titus to be ready to speak the truth, exhort the saints, and admonish those in his charge, whenever necessary.
Paul gave Titus three specific commands when communicating the Word of truth to others. First, he was to speak the truth... and to do so required Titus to know the truth, to be secure in the faith, and sound in doctrine. And so Paul reminded him of the truth of the glorious gospel of God - that the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. That the Lord Jesus was sent into the world to deliver Adam's fallen race from sin and death, and to offer ALL who would believe on Christ, God's free gift of salvation. Jesus came instructing us to deny ungodliness and to abstain from worldly desires. He called us to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age.
Paul's second command to Titus was to exhort the Body of Christ. To exhort someone can range from comforting a hurt soul, to providing enthusiastic encouragement in a believer's walk. But it can also refer to being honest to a fellow brother or sister in Christ and speaking the truth in love. Exhortation can sometimes be closer to a rebuke or admonishment, which leads to Paul's third instruction which is to reprove... and Paul calls for this last command to be carried out "with all authority."
It is not always pleasant to have to chasten a fellow believer who has stepped outside the boundaries of truth or who has strayed from the path of righteousness. Sometimes inexperienced leaders, timid elders, overbearing brethren, or misguided Christians, can cause great damage when attempting to reprove a fellow believer, due to legalistic leanings, incorrect doctrine, dogmatism, or lack of spiritual understanding.
Paul's instruction to Titus was to reprove "with all authority." Titus had authority from God and the approval of Paul, and was not to be intimidated by overpowering members of Christ's body. Certainly, when reproof and chastening of a believer is necessary in a Church fellowship, it is very important that the clear guidelines, given by Paul, are followed, to avoid the pitfall of misguided reproof or unwarranted correction.
Paul's final instruction to Titus was, "Let no one disregard you." It seems apparent that certain people had challenged the authority of Titus, just as Paul's calling and apostleship was also disputed by certain people. However, Titus was clearly called into his leadership position in Crete, and Paul wanted to be sure that he was not intimidated by those in his care, and that his presentation of the gospel was not disregarded or dismissed.
There are many lessons to learn for older men and women, younger pastors, appointed elders, and the whole Body of Christ, in this letter to Titus, and we would all do well to study its organisation and orderliness, and to ensure that our character and conduct reflects the godly behaviour presented to us in Scripture. May we hold fast to the gospel of truth and live lives that encourage others, support our leaders, and honour our God and Saviour.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the timely words of instruction Paul gave to Titus and the encouragement he gave to speak, exhort, and reprove with all authority, when appropriate. I pray that I would be a living testimony to the truth of Your Word and an encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that Church elders, pastors, and those in authority, would act responsibly in their important tasks concerning the organisation, orderliness, and spiritual well-being of the Body of Christ. I pray that they would speak the truth in love and be guided by Your Spirit to exhort and reprove with Biblical authority, if necessary, for the benefit of the Church and for Your greater praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.