Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.Titus 3:1–7
As Paul concludes his letter to Titus, he moves from the Christian’s conduct within the Church to his conduct in the world at large.
Notice that Paul starts out reminding Christians to live under the authority of those whom God has appointed to lead in the political realm. The Christian should exude a peaceful submission which understands the hand of God in the ways of men, and strive to obey with graciousness. This level of respect for authorities then expands out to all men—we should be those who do not give into arguing, to bitter gossip, to slander. We are to be known as those who love others and show “perfect courtesy.”
The rest of the quoted passage tells us why. Just as we saw yesterday, today we see that the gospel must be the primary influence underpinning our relationship with the world. How can we treat the world with anything but love, knowing that we ourselves are only different because we were rescued from it? No one who has experienced drowning and has been rescued will mock or laugh when they see someone struggling in the water—the memory of that experience will place an indelible mark on their memory and cause an overflowing of sympathy. So must it be for the Christian. We love the world because we understand that the world is lost and in desperate need.
I predict that these verses will be essential for us to keep in mind in the coming months. As the world seeks to “re-open” itself after the coronavirus pandemic, and we deal with the fallout of decisions both good and bad, there will be (indeed, there already is!) a great temptation to badmouth those who were put in the positions of authority which God ordained them to hold. And as the lines are drawn and people pick sides, it will become a great temptation to slander and cut down those who disagree with us. Let us keep in mind where we were before Christ, and what he done in us because of the indwelling of his Spirit. Let us be marked by “perfect courtesy.” That, I believe, will draw this hurting world towards their only true Savior.
The “Isolation Introspection” series started as an opportunity for me to encoruage members of our Bible Study with daily reflections from the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan during the 2020 “Stay at Home” mandate in Los Angeles. I’ve moved them here so that they can be shared easily, and perhaps benefit others. I hope you enjoy!