Listening and Doing
Titus 3:14-15 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.
Paul ends his letter with a similar personal touch that began the letter with. He deeply cares for his young protégée Titus, and Paul wants him to know that there is love and support from other believers for the Cretan church.
Interestingly enough, the final you in the last sentence, Grace be with you all, is plural. While Paul obviously desires that the Cretans would consciously live within God’s grace, the plural here seems to indicate that this letter was to be read to the entire Cretan congregation. Having the letter read aloud was normal for Paul’s letters that were sent to an entire church; however, Paul also expects that his personal letter to Titus would be shared with the general church audience.
Hearing the Scriptures has a different effect on us than simply reading the Scriptures. I encourage you to try this exercise – read Paul’s entire letter to Titus out loud. It will take less than 10 minutes and, based upon what we’ve learned by studying this text, think about what topics or ideas jump out at you when you hear the letter read aloud. Make a note of those observations and talk to God about them.
A second exercise to try – which may be even better than the first – would be to have someone else read Titus to you. Don’t follow along in the text. Just listen. Hearing someone else convey the Scriptures while we intently listen puts us into the sandals of the letter’s first recipients. Having the letter read to us also gives us the chance to learn something new, as the reader may emphasize the words in the text in ways that we normally wouldn’t when we simply read it in our minds.
If you try either of the exercises (and I hope you try both), you’ll certainly encounter Paul’s major theme that we’ve seen throughout the letter – namely that God’s people should purposely focus on doing good. Eight times in the forty-six verses, Paul brings up the topic of doing good. That’s a lot of emphasis within such a short letter, but that was the Cretan believers’ next step. Based upon their new relationship with God, which is due to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, the Cretan believers were to actively pursue becoming change-agents for good within the corrupt society around them.
Here is a rundown of Paul’s direct mentionings of doing good:
1:8 Church leaders should be one who loves what is good
1:16 False teachers are unfit for doing anything good
2:3 Older women are to teach what is good to the younger women
2:7 For the young men, Titus is to set an example by doing what is good
2:14 Jesus redeemed us from sin so that we would be eager to do what is good
3:1 All believers are to be ready to do whatever is good
3:8 Knowing the salvation message helps believers to devote themselves to doing what is good
3:14 Believers must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good
Now that we’ve finished our look into Paul’s letter to Titus, we have a question to consider:
Will I choose to act like the Cretan I was before I met Jesus, or will I devote myself to living the life that he rescued me for?