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Titus – What you do flows from who you are

“Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.” Titus 1:15

There had been followers of Christ living on the Island of Crete since just after "the Day of Pentecost had fully come." (Acts 2:1). Jewish-Cretans would have been attending Passover in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, buried and rose again from the dead. Most of these would stay in Jerusalem the following weeks through Pentecost. These Cretan Jews would have been there to hear the Gospel in their own languages (Acts 2:11).

These newly baptized believers brought the message of Christ back to the Island and pockets of believers began to gather as more people from this primarily pagan Island heard the Good News.

Meanwhile, Titus has met Paul, been baptized, and became one of Pauls dearest companions. History tells us that Titus was a pious man from his youth, abstaining from the pleasure-oriented lifestyle of his peers. He was careful to maintain his virginity which is a meaningful sign that he was disciplined, counter-cultural, and pure of heart.

Paul and Titus visited Crete on one of the late missionary journeys and Paul had Titus stay with the purpose of appointing elders and bring some order to the churches that God was raising up on the Island. Other than a brief time when Titus went to Rome while Paul was awaiting trial, Titus stayed on Crete and became the first Bishop of the Island. True to Pauls letter, Bishop Titus established Christianity on the Island with a foundation that has survived two thousand years.

The task Titus was given was not just to teach sound doctrine, but also to observe and appoint elders in the churches. Paul writes about what Titus should look for in a person’s character to know if he or she would be a good leader. As a man with a pure heart, Titus was able to discern the motivations of the young Christians by watching and listening to them.

“An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life.” (1:6-8)

One of the things that people in our generation have always struggled with is this idea of being different inside of our home with our own family than we are in the workplace or at church. Many have stories of spouses or parents and children arguing every Sunday morning, struggling to get out the door, only to be the perfect family as soon as they cross the threshold into the Church building. Some see this as hypocrisy while others secretly weep because it is so hard to do the right thing.

Our character and conduct are a product of the condition of our heart. We can’t get by in life pretending to be something that we are not. The truth will come out. Jesus said that the things we do in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. (see Luke 12:3)

“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” (3:4-7)

Here is the good news. Because of God’s grace and mercy, not our self-righteousness or goodness, our hearts can be renewed. Our sins were washed away in baptism and we received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and our life is made new.

What we do flows from who we are, and who we are can change and be renewed by the grace of God.

If secret hypocrisy challenges your worthiness to serve, go to the altar at church or kneel by your bedside right now, and repent. Ask God to "create in you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you" (Psalm 51:10). He will – because He loves you so much!