Preach the Word: Convince!

August 20, 2017 in Bible - NT - 1 Timothy, Bible - NT - 2 Timothy, Bible - NT - Titus, Discipline, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Preaching

2 Timothy 4:1–2 (NKJV)
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

What exactly does it mean that Timothy is, in Paul’s words, to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season”? Thankfully, Paul gave Timothy some guidance and direction, guidance and direction that can help ministers of the Gospel today understand their task. Paul continues, “Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” So let us consider each of these commands, beginning today with what it means to “convince.”

The Greek word behind “convince” is elencho and means “to show someone his sin and to summon him to repentance” (TDNT). The ESV translates it as “reprove” in this case and that captures the sense. Paul uses the word elsewhere in the pastoral epistles:
· 1 Tim 5:20 – He commands Timothy, “Those [elders] who are sinning [reprove] in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.”
· Titus 1:9 – Paul notes that elders are to “be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and [to reprove] those who contradict.”
· Titus 2:15 – Paul commands Titus, “Speak these things, exhort, and [reprove] with all authority. Let no one despise you.”

To reprove, therefore, involves two components. First, the preacher must identify what is erroneous or sinful – he is the “reprove” those who are sinning, to “reprove” those who contradict, and to “reprove” with all authority. Second, the preacher must summon the offender to repentance. “Let no one despise you,” Paul commands, since the preacher is to speak the very words of God to the one sinning.

What this means is that the minister of the Gospel must be prepared to deal with the sins of his people. It is not the job of the preacher to tell smarmy stories that make God’s people feel good about themselves; it is not the minister’s responsibility to make people feel comfortable; his responsibility is to speak the Word of God into the lives of God’s people so that their sins are exposed and they grow in holiness and in the fear and love of God.

If this is the duty of ministers of the Gospel, if ministers are “to show someone his sin and to summon him to repentance” then what corresponding duty does this require of those who are reproved? What is your responsibility? Your duty is to listen and to give heed. Your duty is not to harden your neck and resent correction, but to cultivate a spirit that longs for reproof.

So reminded this morning that preaching the Word involves exposing sin and summoning God’s people to repentance, let us acknowledge our sin: preachers often fail to speak clearly about the sin that so easily entangles us and Christians often bristle when our sin is exposed and confronted. Rather than humble ourselves before the Word of God, we are tempted to say, “What will they think of me if I say that?” or “Who do you think you are to confront me?” And so reminded of our sin and that there is only one sacrifice, Jesus the Christ, whose shed blood can cover the guilt of our sin, let us confess our sin, beseeching God’s forgiveness. And as we confess, let us kneel together as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Add to Perseverance Godliness

October 20, 2014 in Bible - NT - 2 Peter, Bible - NT - Matthew, Bible - NT - Titus, Bible - OT - Psalms, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Sanctification, Singing Psalms, Worship
2 Peter 1:5–9 (NKJV)
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Thus far in Peter’s exhortation we have learned to employ all diligence as we add to our faith virtue, to our virtue knowledge, to our knowledge self-control, and to our self-control perseverance. Today we consider Peter’s admonition to add to our perseverance godliness.
Webster defines godliness as “the quality or state of being spiritually pure or virtuous; devoutness, piety, sanctity.” We might define it more simply as the quality or state of becoming more like God – reflecting the moral character of God in our lives.
Jesus instructs us in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to be perfect even as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We are to become like our Lord – an observation we will consider at length in the sermon this morning. To be godly, therefore, is to enjoy the sum of all virtues – it is the goal of our sanctification: becoming like God. We persevere not for perseverance sake but that we might reflect the character of God.
Godliness is often set in opposition to worldliness – becoming increasingly like the world. Paul reminds us in Titus 2:11–12:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
God’s grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age. This is one of God’s purposes in salvation. So how do we grow in godliness? As with all graces, we grow in godliness only by the grace and mercy of God. As Paul said, it is the grace of God that teaches us to be godly in this present age. Peter likewise reminds us God’s divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. God is the One who teaches us to be more like Him; He holds us by the hand and shapes us into His image.
One of the primary means God uses to cultivate godliness in our lives is worship. We worship God and as we worship Him we become more like Him, we become godly. Worship fixes our eyes on the Lord and shapes the trajectory of our lives. Just like driving – where you fix your gaze determines where you go.
This is one reason God has given us an extensive collection of psalms in the biblical canon – psalms that we can sing so that we become more like God; psalms that we can imitate as we compose new songs to the praise and worship of the Lord. We are to grow in godliness and God has given us the psalms to help accomplish this.
So how intentional have you been to memorize the psalms, to sing them in times of temptation and struggle, and to use them as you labor against the Evil One? One of the reasons we have psalm sings as a congregation is to enable us to fight more effectively. We don’t sing the psalms just so we can sound pretty or edgy or manly – we sing the psalms so that we can become more godly.

So reminded of our calling to become more like God by worshiping Him, let us confess that we have often taken our eyes off the Lord and drifted toward worldliness. Let us kneel as we confess together.

Called as Homemakers

November 21, 2011 in Bible - NT - Titus, Ecclesiology, Meditations

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)
Last week we considered once again Paul’s admonitions to the younger women in the congregation at Crete. We found that Paul expects them – along with all other Christians – to orient their lives around the Triune God. They are to be discreet, chaste, and good – all traits which point to the Triune God and urge us to put Him and His Word at the center. Rather than orienting our lives around what Eugene Peterson calls the modern Unholy Trinity of our Holy Needs, Holy Wants, and Holy Feelings, Paul urges younger women to orient their lives around the Holy Trinity.
Today we consider the orientation that Paul expects from younger women. He commands that younger women be instructed “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be…homemakers, obedient to their own husbands.” Notice that each of Paul’s admonitions orients the life of younger women around the home. Paul admonition assumes, of course, that these younger women are married and that they likely have children. So let us make a few observations from this text for those of you women who are married and/or have children at home.
In the beginning, when God created them male and female, he created the woman to be a help to the man in his calling. God had given the man and the woman together an immense task – to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. In short we were to exercise dominion over the earth. Both the man and the woman were designed to fulfill this task but were designed to fulfill the task differently. By design, the man was oriented to various tasks and the woman was oriented to helping her man fulfill those tasks.
This is the understanding that Paul reflects in his admonition that the older women teach the younger women to be “homemakers.” Literally the word is home-energizers, women who are busy working at home doing all that they can do to bless their household and assist their husbands to fulfill the divine commission that has been given to both of them.
This design difference between men and women leads Paul to deliver specific admonitions to the married women and the women with children in the congregation. Notice Paul’s commands: first, to married women. If you are married, then Paul’s admonition to you is that you love your husband – be devoted to him, committed to his well-being, and manifesting the same type of love for your husband that the church is called upon to manifest for Christ. You are to be your husband’s suitable helper and – though feminists rage and foam – be obedient to your own husbands. By fulfilling these mandates you will be blessed and, what’s more important, the Word of God will be adorned with glory rather than blasphemed.
Second, Paul gives commands to women with children. If you have children at home, then Paul’s admonition to you is that you love your children – care for them instruct them, cherish them, serve them. Your calling is not to care for them alongsidevarious other tasks that you view as more important. Your calling is to care for them preeminently.
Notice, therefore, that Paul insists that your husband and your children are to get your best thoughts, your most intense care, your most ardent devotion – for this is how God has designed you.
And husbands, your responsibility is to make sure that your wives can fulfill these tasks. Guard them, protect them, provide for them so that they in turn can love and cherish laboring at home.
Reminded that God has designed men and women differently and that our calling as human beings is to go with the grain, let us kneel and confess that we often rebel again his design.

The Unholy Trinity

November 14, 2011 in Bible - NT - Titus, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Trinity

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)
Today we approach the last of two exhortations on the lessons that women are to teach us as the people of God. As we consider Paul’s admonitions to the younger women we see two primary concerns expressed. First, Paul is concerned that younger women be oriented in a specific direction. Second, Paul is concerned that younger women possess a certain character.
So let us take the second concern first. Paul wants younger women to possess a certain type of character. Whether you are single or married, young or old, the character qualifications that Paul places before us help us to see what it means to be a real woman. Our modern culture has made a full frontal assault on femininity and so women are terribly confused. And this frontal assault has been aided and abetted by abdicating men who would like nothing better than to shun responsibility for the women in their lives.
Paul commands younger women to be discreet, chaste, and good. He wants them to live lives grounded in and oriented around the Triune God. So God is the Creator of all; therefore, Christian women are to be discreet – to order their lives in a way that reflects how God designed the world. God is Holy and therefore Christian women are to be chaste – distinct from the scandalous behavior of the women around them. Cretan women were the ancient equivalent of skanky Hollywood actresses and Paul wants the Christian women to be separate. Finally, God is goodness itself and so Christian women are to be good – embodying the character of Jesus in their own lives by the power of God’s grace.
Each of Paul’s admonitions puts the Triune God at the center of our life and consciousness. In order to be discreet, chaste, and good, Christian women must know who God is and what He is like. Your minds and hearts must be engaged and attune to God Himself. And this necessitates that Christian women know and understand the Word of God for this is where the Triune God has revealed Himself.
Contrast this mindset with what Eugene Peterson calls the Replacement Trinity of modern culture, a Replacement Trinity that women in particular are greatly tempted to worship and obey:
…the three personal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is replaced by a very individualized personal Trinity of my Holy Wants, my Holy Needs, and my Holy Feelings… The time and intelligence that our ancestors spent on understanding the sovereignty revealed in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are directed by our contemporaries in affirming and validating the sovereignty of our needs, wants, and feelings….
          It is clear that we live in an age in which the authority of Scripture in our lives has been replaced by the authority of the self: we are encouraged on all sides to take charge of our lives and use our own experience [our own needs, wants, and feelings] as the authoritative text by which to live.
         The alarming thing is how extensively this spirit has invaded the church. I more or less expect the unbaptized world to attempt to live autonomously. But not those of us who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. I am not the only one to notice that we are in the odd and embarrassing position of being a church in which many among us believe ardently in the authority of the Bible but, instead of submitting to it, use it, apply it, take charge of it endlessly, using our own experience as the authority for how and where and when we will [submit to] it.
         One of the most urgent tasks facing the Christian community today is to counter this self-sovereignty by reasserting what it means to live these Holy Scriptures from the inside out, instead of using them for our sincere and devout but still self-sovereign purposes [serving our Holy Wants, Holy Needs, and Holy Feelings].(Eat This Book, 31,32,59)
So how are you orienting your life? Are you orienting it around the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Or are you orienting it around the Unholy Trinity of your Holy Wants, Needs, and Feelings? Paul challenges you to put the Triune God at the Center – to be discreet, chaste, and good.
Reminded that this is our calling, let us kneel and confess that we have often fallen short.

Teachers of Good Things

November 7, 2011 in Bible - NT - Titus, Ecclesiology, Meditations

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)
After taking a hiatus for several weeks, this morning I would like to return to our text in Titus and Paul’s description of the lessons that we as the people of God are to learn from the women in our midst. After all, the reason that Paul gives these specific admonitions to older women and younger women is that he desires them both to be models of Christian character for the entire congregation. So what do we learn today?
Paul urges older women to be “teachers of good things” and to use their age and maturity to instruct the younger women. Paul then goes on to specify what these “good things” are – loving husbands, loving children, etc. For the moment let us reflect on the fact that Paul calls all these things good.
Historically, Christians have been concerned to uphold the three great virtues of truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth points us to that which corresponds with the way the world actually is. Jesus came, we learn in the Gospel of John, to testify to the truth, to point us to what is really real, ultimately pointing us God’s revelation of Himself in His Word and in His Son. Goodness points us to that which is right and virtuous, reflecting the character of God Himself, which is, again, revealed both in the pages of Scripture and in the life of our Lord Jesus. God is goodness itself – and the law and Jesus’ life point us toward this goal. Beauty expresses those things that have a sense of proportion, order, and glory. The garments of the priests in Israel were made “for glory and for beauty” indicating that beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder but a reflection of the character of God. God is Beauty itself and has woven it into creation to point us to Him.
In labeling these things “good”, therefore, Paul is directing older women to the Word of God written in the law and incarnate in Christ. He is urging these Cretan women to be models of biblical living, models that reveal the wonder of God’s work in redeeming the most mundane duties of life. Increasingly we are surrounded and seduced by alternative definitions of the “good”, definitions that have little to do with the character of God and much to do with our own selfish drives and impulses. Increasingly, therefore, we meet men and women and children suffering the ravages of evil choices.
And so Paul wants the Christian community, and Christian women in particular, to be a haven of peace and righteousness and stability in the face of such suffering. Therefore, the challenge that Paul issues to us, issues to you, is this: are you so attached to what is good, so fond of it and experienced in its application in daily life, that you are able to model it to others. You older women, in particular, have you embraced the good and fulfilled your God-given calling to pass that good down as a heritage to the next generation?
Our God is the fount and source of all goodness and He has revaled that goodness in His law and in His Son – so how passionate have we been in pursuing both? How eager are we to read and understand and feast upon the Word of God? How zealously do we present ourselves before the Son of God and seek from Him an abundant supply of goodness?
Reminded that this is our calling – a calling that older women are to embody and that the rest of the congregation is to learn – let us kneel and confess that we have often fallen short.

Women and Wine

October 9, 2011 in Bible - NT - Titus, Ecclesiology, Meditations

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)
In our text today, Paul continues his admonitions to older women and his admonition is that older women “not be given to much wine.” What does Paul’s admonition reveal to us?
It is a perennial tendency of sinful men to identify the cause of our problem as human beings as something outside ourselves, something external to our nature. Rather than correctly understand that our fundamental problem is a problem of the heart – that we are indeed corrupt and twisted, inclined to evil rather than to good – we begin to imagine that we are basically good people and that the problem is all these corrupting influences that surround us.
The fruit of this thinking is the moralistic crusade – in order to secure salvation we must abolish whatever it is that is corrupting us. And so some have insisted that that which corrupts us is sexual pleasure – the solution? Develop man made rules restricting sexual enjoyment. Others have insisted that that which corrupts us is certain foods – the solution? Develop a list of those foods which are acceptable and those which are forbidden. Still others have insisted that it is ignorance which corrupts us – the solution? Develop schools, pay teachers larger salaries, save our kids.
But among the items which have been said to be the source of our corruption, none has been more fiercely condemned in the last 100 years than the demon liquor. The prohibitionist movement in America and the continuing antipathy toward alcohol of any sort in many conservative Christian quarters is evidence of the hold this notion has had and continues to have upon the Christian conscience.
But here’s what I’d like you to notice in our text today – Paul does not say that older women are not to drink wine, he says that older women are not to be drunkards, not to be given to much wine. Despite much conservative Christian thought to the contrary, alcohol is not in itself sinful. What is sinful is the abuse of alcohol – drunkenness is a sin. And what this means is that the fundamental problem is not with the alcohol, the fundamental problem is with us. As sinners we continually abuse the good gifts that God has given us, using them not for the glory of God but in sinful ways.
You see the same Bible which condemns drunkenness in the most emphatic terms, also tells us that God gave wine to gladden the heart of men. The problem is not the wine – the problem is us. We take a gift from God and corrupt it. And so Paul insists that older women are not to be drunkards, not to be given to much wine. And if women aren’t to be drunkards then neither are the rest of us.
Reminded that the primary problem in the world is our sinfulness and not the objects in the world, let us kneel and confess our misuse and abuse of His gifts.

Women and Slander

October 2, 2011 in Bible - NT - Titus, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Tongue

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)

Some weeks ago we began a series of exhortations for the women in the congregation. What would God teach us through them and what are the particular sins which women need beware of? Last time we considered Paul’s admonition that the older women are to be reverent in behavior; this week we consider his admonition that the older women are not to be slanderers.

Characteristically sins of the tongue seem to tempt women far more than they do men. Fittingly, therefore, the Word of God does not shy away from exhorting women in this specific area. One of the key signs of godliness is the way we use our tongue. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks – and therefore that which comes out of the mouth reveals that which is in the heart, reveals that which we treasure and love and esteem.

So what do you love? What do you treasure and esteem? Well answer me this – what is coming out of your mouth? For what is coming out reveals what is inside. We have this strange notion that the way someone acts and speaks doesn’t really reveal what they treasure. But Jesus insists that that’s just not true. So let me ask you – what is coming out of your mouth? Is it thanksgivings to God, the wisdom of God’s Word, words and remarks that refresh the soul and build up those with whom you are speaking, gracious words that always put the best interpretation on others’ actions? Or is it fretting and whining, complaints and grumblings, gossip and slander?

It is this last sin that Paul particularly focuses upon in our text – the sin of slander. Slander is closely related to gossip. Gossip becomes slander when the rumors we circulate are clearly false and intended to destroy. Slander has a much clearer sinister element to it – intending as it does to harm the one about whom the tale is told. While those who gossip sometimes delude themselves into thinking that they are really helping the other person or at least not harming anyone, the slanderer intentionally sets out to harm another by spreading falsehoods. She is using her tongue to destroy.

So whom have you slandered? Whom have you maligned and mistreated with your speech? Your husband? Your father? Other women? Your elders? Beware the sin of slander.

Warnings against this sin are replete in the Scriptures. David complained, “For I hear the slander of many; Fear is on every side; While they take counsel together against me, They scheme to take away my life.” His son Solomon notes in Proverbs 10:18, “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool.” And Paul, in the other testament, notes that in the latter days men will be “unloving, unforgiving, slanderers.”

Because of the insidious nature of slander, severe curses are called down upon the one who practices the same. The psalmist prays in Psalm 140:11, “Let not a slanderer be established in the earth; Let evil hunt the violent man to overthrow him.” And God Himself announces in Psalm 101:5, “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy.” God takes slander seriously.


And so reminded that the words we speak reveal what we treasure and love, let us turn to God and confess that we have loved wickedness and deceit. Let us kneel as we confess together.

That the Women be Reverent

September 12, 2011 in Bible - NT - Titus, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Sexuality

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)

The women of Crete did not have a sterling reputation in the ancient world. Part of this was no doubt a consequence of the topless attire that they wore. But part of it was also a consequence of the conduct of some of Crete’s leading women.

One of the ancient legends associated with Crete that most people know is that of the Minotaur. What fewer now know is that the Minotaur was the offspring of the Minoan Queen Pasiphae who had mated with a bull. Pasiphae’s sexual perversions weren’t lost on her daughters – one of whom, seduced by the Greek hero Theseus, paved the way for the destruction of the Minotaur and the decline of Cretan power and the other of whom later married Theseus and then tried to seduce Theseus’ son, precipitating the son’s death when he refused her advances. Not to be outdone, another of the royal Cretan women was banished from Crete for her illicit behavior, rose through skillful use of her beauty in the court of the King of Mycenae, married the king’s son, and then assisted the king in murdering his own son so that she could become the king’s wife. These perversions led to the disgrace of Cretan women generally – their conduct became the example by which all were judged; even the upright were viewed with suspicion.

Paul is very concerned that Christian women cause no such shame for the Gospel of Christ. He states the motivation of all his exhortations quite plainly in v. 5 – “that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” In so doing, Paul indicates that the operative concern for our lives as professing Christians is not our happiness, not our ease or comfort, but preserving the Word of God and hence God Himself from being blasphemed.

And so Paul’s first command to the older women is that they be “reverent in behavior.” Literally his exhortation means that they conduct themselves in such a way as would be fitting in the temple of God; that they act as they would if they were in the presence of God Himself all the time – for this is, in fact, how we live. We all live coram Deo – before the face of God. And so we are to live reverently.

So women – how are you doing? What are you using as the measure of your actions? What determines the sacrifices you make? The way you spend your time? The way you speak to your children? The way you respond to your husband? The way you speak about your husband to your friends? Paul urges you to measure your life by the Word of God – don’t do anything that would bring shame on Jesus’ Name, that would give the enemies of God cause to blaspheme God’s Name. Suffer anything rather than shame your Savior.

And this is the same message that Paul gives to you men as well. We are all to live such that we adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. So how are you doing? Has your attitude at work adorned the Gospel? Has your thankfulness at home adorned the Gospel? Has your care for your children adorned the Gospel? Or have you brought shame on Jesus’ Name?

Reminded that our conduct as Christians inevitably reflects on the Name of our Savior Christ, let us kneel and confess that we have given occasion for the enemies of God to blaspheme.

Those in Authority

September 29, 2008 in Authority, Bible - NT - Titus, Discipline, Meditations

Titus 2:15-3:2 (NKJV)15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. 1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

Authority is not a popular subject in the Church today. We talk frequently of love and kindliness, of patience and longsuffering, of compassion and sympathy, but rarely of authority. As this text in Titus makes clear, however, Paul had so such inhibitions. He spoke quite freely of different authorities and our responsibility to them.

In the text today, Paul speaks quite frankly with Titus about his duty as an officer in the Church, his duty as one in authority, and about the duty of the congregation, their duty as those under authority.

So what is Titus’ duty as one in authority? He is commissioned by Paul to speak the truth, to exhort the people of God, to rebuke them with all authority, and to remind them of their duty. Paul commands Titus to let no one despise him. In other words, if Titus were to allow someone to despise him, he would be sinning. What does Paul mean “to despise”? The Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament remarks that to despise in this context means “ to refuse to recognize the force or power of something—‘to invalidate the authority of, to reject, to disregard.’” It is the last sense of this word to which I want to draw your attention. If Titus were to allow someone to disregard his authority, rightfully delegated to him by God through the laying on of hands, then he would be sinning.

The same thing goes for others in positions of authority. Whether parents, employers, magistrates, or babysitters – those who have been entrusted with a measure of authority must exercise that authority. They must use that authority for the benefit of those under their charge and the glory of the one who gave them the authority in the first place. What does it look like to use this authority?

Well, Paul gives us some pointers. At the very least it involves instruction and exhortation. Titus is to remind the members of the congregation of their duty. He is to remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to show all humility to all men. He is to plead with folks to do what is right, to admonish them and beseech them to act in such a way that it adorns the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

But what if this fails? What if Titus admonishes and exhorts and pleads with a brother or sister and he still doesn’t listen, he rebels and refuses to acknowledge Titus’ authority? Once again we come to Paul’s words – “let no one despise you.” Let no one, Titus, disregard your authority. As any parent or magistrate knows – when you lay down the law and then fail to discipline when the law is broken, you get more disobedience. And so Paul exhorts Titus later in the letter:

“Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (3:10-11).

If folks failed to give heed to the voice of authority vested in Titus as an officer of the Church, then Titus was to proceed to discipline the fellow as any good parent would.

Notice, then, that Titus’ duty as one in authority is to use that authority for the building up of the body and the instruction of those under his charge. Simultaneously, the duty of those under authority is to honor the authorities that God has placed over them, showing all good fidelity and being well-pleasing in all things. This is the ideal relationship. Those in authority looking out for those under authority and those under authority honoring those in authority.

Unfortunately, this ideal relationship is often not the real relationship. As those in authority we frequently abdicate our responsibility and fail to shepherd those entrusted to us. As those under authority we frequently kick against the goads and disregard those who have been entrusted with our care. Reminded of our sin, let us kneel and confess it to the Lord.