Title: Spending Your Life Well
Text: Titus 3:1-6
Date: September 10-11, 2016
You're going to notice a lot of similarity between the letter that he writes to Titus and the letter he wrote to Timothy. Together, we often call them the Pastoral Letters because he's writing to these men that are overseeing these churches. Timothy, in the area of Ephesus, a very major Roman city. Titus is overseeing churches on the island of Crete, very large island in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Greece.
When was Paul in Crete? We can surmise a couple of things. One, we know from Paul’s missionary journeys that he spent a lot of time in Corinth, which was in Southern Greece. Big revival. Titus was with him the entire time. Very likely that the move of the Gospel just continued down and just really made an impact on the island of Crete, that's one.
Secondly, we know from the story of Paul's life, an interesting visit to the island of Crete. This started when he was in Jerusalem and was arrested because a riot broke out and they arrested him for protective custody. No charges were ever filed against him. In fact, he sat for two years without charges ever facing him. So, he finally appealed to Caesar.
They put him in charge of the Roman centurion named Julius, who put him on board a ship. They went to Asia Minor. Then they got on board another ship that stopped in Crete and spent quite some time there. Paul felt that they spent too much time there. Winter was fast approaching and they needed to find a port to winter in. Very common in sailing ship days to just spend the winter in some protected port and the one that they were in, they felt was not strong or not protective enough so the captain wanted to go around the island to the port of Phoenix, much bigger. Paul advised against it, kind of prompted by the Spirit. "I advise you not to go forward." You have to admire Paul's bodacious tone to the captain. Don't do it. The captain's a captain and he did it anyway. And so, they decided, because the winds were strong, to stay along the coast of Crete. But a strong wind, called a Euraquilo, came out of the main land of Europe. We would call it here in America, Nor’easter. Blasting against the ship forcing it out into the open Mediterranean and they encountered a hurricane four-storm for two weeks, lost all their cargo and eventually shipwrecked on the island of Malta, although all lives were saved. Eventually, Paul says "You should have listened to me."
But now he writes to Titus there in Crete. He tells him to set things in order, to get leadership established, to teach the people, to watch over his own spiritual life. And when you get to Titus Chapter 3, he wants to make a very, very strong important point about how they must spend their lives and he makes this comparison. You know how we used to spend our lives before we came to Christ. Terribly. Badly. In the world. Broken relationships. Broken in all areas, sort of, way. And he says, "But now, the kindness of God, the love of God has been poured out upon us who deserves nothing of it, can we not, therefore, give away kindness to those who are around us?" And so, there is the application. The relationships that we have. How we treat other people is very important to God. And this is what we're going to see.
We begin in Chapter 3:1. “Remind them,” in other words, teach the people “to be subject to rulers, to authorities and to be obedient.” In other words, respect authority. It's a principle of the Lord. We see it all over. And he tells us, "Be ready for every good deed." Now, he's telling the people, of course, the spiritual transformation that comes in their life, be ready for every good deed. And he says, "To malign no one. To be uncontentious. Gentle, showing every consideration for all men for we also, once, were foolish ourselves." Don't you remember? Remember the life that you used to live? The things we did in a world of broken relationships? We, ourselves, “were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures.” Oh, we remember it quite well. “Spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another,” broken relationships. “But, when the kindness of God, our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but according to His mercy. By the washing of regeneration and the renewing by the Holy Spirit,” whom, verse 6 is so key, “whom He poured out upon us richly.”
I love that word not just because it's just my name, because it's a great word that describes the outpouring. Richly, lavishly, generously, He poured out His Holy Spirit “through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs.” Now, this is a very important principle that we see in many places of Scripture. We have been made heirs. We are inheritors according to the hope of eternal life.
I. God Expects You to Spend Your Life Well
All right. Let's go back over these verses. Important principles. One, right away we must see, God expects you to spend your life well. Oh, how we used to spend our lives. We remember the worldly things. The broken relationships. The things we did in the past. But now, God was so kind to us. The grace of God, the love of God was poured out so abundantly. Can we not give that same kindness to people around us? So, he gives instruction here, both in the positive and the negative. What we must do and what we must not do in treating people around us. Very important to God.
A. Show every consideration for others
So, one of the things he says, for example, in verse 2, show every consideration to others. What does this mean? Show every consideration. It means to consider the perspective of the other person. To consider how this may affect them. To look at it from their viewpoint. What is the old saying? If you're in conflict with somebody walk a mile in their shoes. Well, at least you're a mile away from them and you have their shoes. Okay, it's an old joke. It's just an old joke. No, no. He's telling us the perspective of seeing the impact on others.
So, for example, James 3:13, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior, his deeds and the gentleness of wisdom.” The “Golden Rule”. You've heard of the Golden Rule. It comes from this exact principle. In fact, you might not know but it's absolutely true. Jesus is the one who taught us the Golden Rule. It comes right out of Matthew 7:12. He said, "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you." This is the law and the prophets. This is the word of God given and it summarizes the heart of God.
Now, Paul actually adds to the principle. Not only should we consider how we want others to treat us, we should consider how God Himself has already treated us. If God has poured such kindness out on us, can we not give kindness to others? If God has poured such grace on us, how we used to live our lives and yet he was so kind. Can we not give that away?
One of the most compelling stories in the Scriptures of the transformation of how a person treats others before Christ and after Christ is actually the story of Zacchaeus. You might know the story of Zacchaeus, it's quite famous. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Now, Jews despised tax collectors. I mean, they thought that they were betrayers because they were working for the Roman government and taking advantage of their own people and they were just despicable. I mean, just despised. Now, we can understand because we ourselves have some pretty strong feelings about paying taxes. You bring up the idea of paying taxes, feelings arise in many people.
Which reminds me of a story of a fellow who wrote a letter to the IRS. And in the letter he said, "Please find enclosed a check for $1,500. I did not pay all my taxes and I cannot sleep. If I still can't sleep I will send in the rest." We have strong feelings about taxes.
Well, not only was Zacchaeus a tax collector, he was actually a chief tax collector. Can you just imagine the way people would have looked at him as they were going by his tax collection booth? You're despicable. Just looking at him with those eyes. You are despicable. No doubt Zacchaeus heard that Jesus had invited a tax collector to be one of His disciples. Jesus had invited a despicable tax collector to be one of the twelve apostles. Matthew or Levi.
He wanted to see this man. He wanted to see this man and he heard Jesus was coming to the city of Jericho, the city in which he lived. And so, he was short in stature, because of the crowd he couldn't see Jesus. So, he went up the road, there was a tree and he climbed up into the tree. It was a sycamore tree. And as Jesus was coming down the road He saw Zacchaeus up there. And so He called out to him by name. “Zacchaeus! Hurry, come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
Now, this is really interesting because of what happens next. He has this big crowd. Jesus is calling out to Zacchaeus. Everyone hears what He just said. “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry. I must spend time. I must be at your house today.” The crowd starts to grumble. “Did I hear what I just thought I heard? This man is going to be the guest of a sinner.” You can just start hearing the wagging of the tongues. He is going to be with that man? He is going to go to his house?
You see, this is important because what is God's attitude to sinners? How does God treat sinners? See, this is important because a lot of people have the view. They think that God is holy and righteous and sinners are despicable and so God has the perspective of I am holy. You are despicable. Get away from me. Don't even come near me. Many people think this and they think because of their messed-up lives and the sins that's in their lives they're convinced that God has just pushed them away. This is so wrong. And if we hold that perspective, if we think that in our heart we will stay away, ourselves. We need to understand. He calls them by name. Zacchaeus, come down, hurry. I must be at your house today.
Zacchaeus is so touched by this whole thing that he says to the Lord. He's in this house and he says, "Behold Lord. Half of all my possessions I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything I will give him four times as much in return."
See, what a change. He used to take advantage of people. He used to hurt people for his own greed. He enriched himself off other people. What a change. Half of everything I had I will give to the poor. If I have hurt anyone, if I have defrauded anyone I will give them four times as much. What a transformation. So, Jesus responds, Luke 19:9-10. Jesus said, "Today, salvation has come to this house." But listen, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Very purpose of God right there. The God Almighty. The Creator of all things sends His only begotten Son to seek sinners. To seek and to save that which was lost. And the transformation that comes in Zacchaeus is so important because we have to understand we're just like him.
B. Malign no one
And so, he tells us in Titus 3, he tells us that it should change our relationships, just like Zacchaeus, how he treated other people. He tells us what we should do and he tells us what we must not do. For example, notice in verse 2. Malign no one. Because of the kindness of God, you malign no one.
Now, the word in the Greek is to “blaspheme”. We don't actually use that word in referring to our relationships to others but it means, essentially, don't defame. We get the word "defamation". Don't speak evil of other people. We have an English word that's based on the same root, that's the word "malignant". Don't malign, the same root too; malignant.
If a cancer is malignant it's spreading, it's deadly reach into other parts of the body. The same idea is the words you use are powerful. Don't let them have a destructive reach. Don't malign. Don't let them be destructive. See, James 3:9-10, he teaches us this. “With our tongue we bless our Lord and Father and with that we curse men who have been made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be this way.”
Now, the word don't malign has something purposeful. In other words, when you malign someone you know that your words are hurtful. You know that the words are destructive. See, if something is done accidentally, we have a tendency to be much more lenient with someone who is not purposeful when they hurt us. Let's say, if somebody steps on your foot and it was an accident we're very lenient about that. They'll step on your foot. Oh, excuse me I'm sorry. And then we say, "Oh no. It's okay, it's okay, it's okay." We start making jokes. You walk in the tops. I'll walk in the bottoms. We're trying to be kind, gracious because we're lenient. Didn't mean to.
Which reminds me. Sometime ago, I was with my family at Wendy's. You know how it goes at Wendy's. You've been at Wendy's, right? You stand at the counter, you make your order and they assemble it while you're waiting right there at the counter. So, and I've done this for years, okay? So, I was standing there and they start putting food on the tray and I started nibbling the fries. And fine, right? Until some other guy walks up and picks up his order. The look in his eyes to me. Oh, I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it. See, it's different when we're more lenient.
If someone meant to stomp your feet that's a whole different thing. See, here's the difficulty. The difficulty comes when someone does something purposely hurtful. They meant to do it. That's a whole different thing and it's a very acute thing to want to say something or do something purposely hurtful right back to them. After all, it's perfectly right. It's only fair. We can justify it. It's only fair. It's only equitable. Isn't this about equity? I mean, they did it to me, why can't I do it to them? They were mean-spirited to me. Why can't I be mean-spirited? It's only right. It's only fair. That's the principle of the world. That's not a principle of the kingdom of God. We're in the kingdom of God now. A whole different set of principles are at work now.
I mean, he tells us in Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.” There's that purposeful nature to it. Be kind to one another. Be tender-hearted. Forgiving each other. Get this, just as God, in Christ has also forgiven you.
C. Don’t be contentious
And then He goes on in chapter 3:2. Don't malign anyone and don't be contentious with people. See, Paul instructed Timothy to find leaders that are not contentious of nature. Here, he tells Titus, you tell that the whole church not to be contentious. It's the character that God wants to transform into all of us.
Now, you have to love the Greek word here. The Greek word behind this is the word "amachos" which means "don't be macho". Actually, that's what it is. If you look it up that's the Greek word there. What does the word "macho" means? It means exaggerated manliness. That's what it means. Say, brawling or contentiousness, pugnaciousness, contentions, exaggerated manliness. Don't be contentious. “Amachos.” See, to be pugnacious or contentious is not honoring or respectful but the way that we treat people is very important to God. Very important to God because God has shown such kindness to us. Can you not show kindness to others? God has shown such forgiveness to us despicable people. Can you not give that away? See, don't make it worse. Don't be contentious. Don't add to it.
In fact, in Proverbs 26:21, “Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” You're just throwing wood on that thing. Pursue peace. The wisdom from above is, first of all, peace. See, in 2 Timothy 2:24-25, he writes, “The Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome but kind to all, able to teach, patient when wrong, with gentleness, correcting those in opposition.”
See, where there are people there are going to be difficulties. Where there are people there are going to be conflicts and contentions. But it does not mean that we have to be contentious of character or contentious people. I have found when it comes to resolving conflicts, resolving difficulties, resolving tensions, there is nothing so powerful as the grace of God. It's powerful. It's effective.
You know, we give a Leaders’ Conference to our leaders every two or three years. We want all of our leaders to be in the same page when it comes to principles of how to lead and one of the principles we speak to at that conferences, win people not arguments. People are more important than winning an argument. And so, understand the value that God places on others.
II. Spend Your Godly Inheritance
Now, back to Titus 3. He leads us to a great principle in these next verses where he's telling us to spend your Godly inheritance. See, verse 7, we used to spend our lives in malice, worldliness, conflicts with others, all kinds of terrible things but the kindness of God and He's love for mankind appeared and He poured out His Holy Spirit on us richly that we might be made heirs, verse 7. Heirs is a very important word. It means you have inherited something. We love that idea. We have in our minds the image "Oh, a wealthy uncle died and left me a fortune." You see, if you inherited something. You got something that enriched you, that increased you. Well, what was it that you have inherited? He made you heirs but what did you inherit? What is it that you have received that has enriched you so much that you can now be generous?
You got so much. Oh, you inherited a fortune, spiritually. See, Romans 2:4, “Do you think lightly of the richness of His kindness and tolerance and patience not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Ephesians 1:18-19, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be opened. May you see spiritually this very important thing that you will know that hope that is calling and the richness of the glory of His inheritance, in the sense, and the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”
A. Because you’re washed in regeneration
“Open your eyes,” he said, “See this?” Oh, the riches of your inheritance is the grace, the kindness, the favor of God, the character of God, the Holy Spirit of the living God all poured out upon you richly. And He's transforming you. He pours it out for the purpose of you becoming an inheritor of spiritual wealth and be transformed by that. Notice in verse 5, “He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we did but according to His mercy. By the washing, of regeneration, and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” You've been washed in regeneration. This is it. We can get that picture. We can see that picture. God pours His spirit out on us, lavishly brings about the washing of regeneration and renewal.
In other words, if you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior then He is beginning a new work. It didn't finish. That's not the end. That's the beginning. And He will complete this work of washing of regeneration and the renewing that comes by His Holy Spirit. Your inheritance is God Himself and He is going to pour out on you more and more and more. See the big picture? We used to spend our lives in malice, envy, worldly pain, broken relationships. We were like Zacchaeus but God, He sends His Son to seek and to save that which was lost. He poured out kindness and He poured out His love and He begins to wash with regeneration and renewal.
Baptism is a great picture. We're going to have a baptism service coming up. And baptism pictures this very thing because this is like washing the old ways. Oh, how you used to live. We remember it. Washing. See, when you are baptized you actually lay a person down in the water in the posture of laying someone in the grave. You lay them down and you make sure that you are completely under the way which was and buried to. But then, of course, we raise them up to newness of life. It pictures so many beautiful things. Everyone is hooting and roaring and shouting and clapping because this is a moment of celebration as we recognize “Ah, this is the picture of the newness of life. Regeneration. Renewing. Holy Spirit poured out. New life has begun.” This is a beautiful thing for us. We need to understand that He continues to wash us and make us new and transform us so that we understand the power of living by our inheritance.
I remember the words of the song of a person I really enjoyed when I was younger. He played the piano. Keith Green, somebody might recognize. But this song always caught me. The words go like this. “My eyes are dry. My prayers are cold. My heart is hard. My faith is old. Oh, I know how I ought to be alive to You and dead to me. What can be done for an old heart like mine? Soften it up with oil and wine. The oil is you, Your Spirit of love. Please wash me anew in the wine of Your blood.”
B. Freely you received; freely give
Wash me in the Lord. Because You have poured out upon me so freely. So generously. So lavishly. What is the principle from this Scripture? Freely, you received. Freely, yes. You know where we get that? Jesus. As He was sending out the 12 apostles to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He gave them the instruction, declare the Gospel to the people. Pour out blessing on the sick and the broken and those held in bondage by demons and set them free by the power of God moves through you. Then did He say? Freely, you received. Freely, yes.
After the resurrection, Peter and John were on their way to the temple and they saw a man, lame, sat down by the gate, beautiful, begging for alms. Peter fixed his gave upon him and said to the man, "Look at me". The man looked up and expecting to receive some money or some alms of some kind. Peter said, "Silver and gold I have none but what I have I give to you freely. I say to you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
What have you got? What have you received? What can you give away? What generosity has been happening in you because of what God has poured out on you? Has He not poured grace abundantly? Has He not made you wealthy in forgiveness? Has He not poured kindness out on you abundantly?
Reminds me of the words of that hymn, powerful, from the history of the church, “He giveth more grace.” And one of the words from the chorus powerfully captured this: “His love has no limits. His grace has no measure. His power has no boundary known unto men for out of his infinite riches in Jesus. He giveth and giveth and giveth again.”
You know there's a line from one of the verses in that song. Always catches me because it so captures the heart of all of us. The line goes like this: “When we've come to the end of our hoarded resources, He giveth and giveth and giveth again.” This is not just human nature. We hoard. When we've come to the end of our hoarded resources our Father's forgiving has only begun. Don't keep it for yourself. This is how you lay up treasures in heaven. When you spend your eternal inheritance on the earth, what have you inherited? Grace? Spend it on earth. You have inherited forgiveness. Spend it on earth. You have inherited the favor and the kindness of God, spend it and you are laying up for yourself treasures in heaven. Freely you received. Freely give.