For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.Titus 3:3(NASB)
This condensed book of Titus is simply a short, sharp, brisk message on salvation - but it is an important one, because it instructs us on how to deal with life. It touches on our conduct towards governmental authority and local leadership, our attitude towards society and the many unbelievers that cross our paths.
It instructs us on our behaviour towards our brothers and sisters in Christ and our responsibility towards God. It is not only a message that is pertinent for leaders in the church but for all believers - whether babes in Christ or the spiritually mature - all believers have a duty to live godly lives in Christ Jesus - in our countries, our communities and our churches.
Knowing how easy it is to isolate ourselves from what we know to be godly and how quickly we forget sound biblical instruction... Paul starts to reminds us that our behaviour towards authority should be respectful - (for governments and leaders are ordained of God) and our duty towards society at large should be gracious and gentle - humble and courteous. For we are the body of Christ and have been called to represent our heavenly Lord... whilst we live on this earth.
Paul hammers home the reason why we should act in a Christ-like manner in our everyday lives and perhaps the grounds that we least like to consider are stated in this very verse.. It is a reminder of what we were before we were born of the Spirit - for we too were once very foolish ourselves. We too were disobedient, deceived and enslaved to the various lusts and pleasures that are common to all unregenerate man. We too were dead in our trespasses and sins, at enmity with God and without hope in the world.
Indeed Paul reminds us that before we were saved by grace through faith in Christ we spent our life in malice, envy, bitterness and hatred towards one another... and also towards God - for unsaved man is self-centred, self-deluded, self-important and lacking spiritual discernment.. and we should remember the depth of depravity in which we were once trapped, before God in His grace rescued us from the darkness of our deep despair and brought us into the light of the glorious gospel of grace.
Throughout His writings we discover Paul using similar stark - and sometimes uncomfortable comparisons, between what we were before salvation and what we should be, now that we have been born from above. He uses this method to keep us humble before the Lord, for it is only by grace that we have been saved from the same, ungodly pre-salvation disposition.
But he also draws these uncomfortable comparisons so that we do not develop a scornful disrespect of others who are still dead in their sins.. but view them with godly compassion and a desire that they too may come to know Christ as Saviour. It is only as we live as instructed by Paul in his many letters to the churches that we grow in grace and become more like Christ.. so that our lives may be a light to the lost - so that men may see our good deeds and glorify our Father Who is in heaven.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the truths that are contained in Your word and for the stark reminders of what I was before my salvation. Thank You that I have been saved by grace through faith and I pray that I may take to heart the warning and instructions that are given in this little letter to Titus. I pray that I may give due respect to those in authority and demonstrate the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God to a lost and dying world - so that I may see who I am in Christ and come to know Him as their Redeemer and Lord to Your honour and glory - this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN