Our passage today is short, and if we were just reading through the book of Titus, we would probably be tempted to sort of skim over it. At least that is true of me when I read conclusions. But as you already have seen by doing the lesson and in our discussion time, even these three verses are rich with teaching and application.
Everyone who is in Christ is responsible for good works.
One of Paul’s goals in writing his letter to Titus is that God’s people may never be found unfruitful. We have been saved by His grace, but He has created us for good works as the loving expression of His love and as demonstrations of the power of the gospel.
This is what the whole book of Titus has been about! What have we said the theme of Titus is? Right belief leads to right living. When we know Jesus Christ, our lives are changed because of it and should be characterized by good works.
Good works – not the good things that we as moralistic people decide are important. Rather, the good works that we read about in Titus are the actions that Jesus Christ asks of his followers.
Every Christian is saved to serve Jesus Christ.
We need to see ourselves as vital team members, as family members, committed to ministry.
Ministry means service. Sometimes we use the word ministry in big ways, like full-time paid ministry and thus we might be daunted by thinking of ourselves as being in ministry. But ministry is much simpler than that. It is service.
It may take on a structured form, such as teaching Sunday school, being part of a worship team, helping with church hospitality, leading a small group, or one of many other ways we might serve in the church. Or, it may mean a less structured means of ministry – inviting new people at church over for a meal, encouraging other believers in their walk with Christ, discipling our children. But there should be no such thing as a Christian who doesn’t do ministry. If you’re saved, you are called to serve on God’s team.
Ministry should be the overflow of our walk with Christ. If we know him (through right belief), we love him. If we love him, we want to obey him. One way we obey him is to serve him. We do not serve simply out of obligation or begrudgingly, but ideally we serve because our hearts and minds are bursting with thankfulness for what he has done for us and exploding with joy over who he is. And so we are all in! We do what he asks of us.
The body of Christ is designed by God to be interdependent.
We see in these verses that Paul had a team. He had a plan and a system. These men were working together to spread the gospel throughout the world. So there are the guys who go out and carry the gospel to those who haven’t heard or need to be built up. But the church in Crete was part of Paul’s team, also. Their job was to stay put and “learn to devote themselves to good works and not be unfruitful.” Their role was just as important.
There was loads of intentionality behind Paul’s ministry, and there should be the same within our church. We see through Scripture that God wants to use the local church to live out the gospel and be a light to the watching world by living for God and being fruitful. Whether we are the one’s God calls to go out to all the world to spread the gospel or whether we are those that God calls to stay put to spread the gospel, we are all part of his great purpose in the world.
We need to see ourselves as part of the team, and intentionally work together as such. After all, the church has the most important job to carry out – that of bringing glory to God!
We are to support those who are taking the gospel out
Zenas and Apollos, who were probably the bearers of this letter to Titus, were not only to be received by Titus and the Cretans, but to be outfitted for the continuation of their journey. And not just outfitted, but the church at Crete was to “see that they lack nothing.” Food, funds, and whatever necessary provisions might be needed, including companionship if it was needed. Paul uses the basic need of these two men as an opportunity to communicate truth in practical ways. He uses their needs as an opportunity to remind the Cretans of the responsibility we all have to engage in good works. Meeting the needs of these men who were travelling the world for the spread of the gospel was one way that the church could serve the Lord Jesus and not be unfruitful. It is our job as Christians to care for the needs of one another.
We have the same opportunity as a church today. We have many global workers who have been sent out by our church, and we should be taking care of them. In order to do this, we must first know them well enough to know what their needs are. We need to be in relationship with those around the world who are doing the work of the gospel. We need to know what to pray for, and we need to be faithfully, continually praying for them. Their jobs are tough, and sometimes discouraging. They need our prayers. They also need our financial support. They need communication and fellowship with those they have left behind. They may even need visitors to go and encourage them where they are serving.
We currently have some in our church who are preparing to go out for the sake of the gospel. These, too, we should be taking care of. Just like Zenas and Apollos, we should be ensuring that they lack nothing they need as they leave us. What a wonderful opportunity we have to live out the teaching we are receiving. Get to know those who are hoping and preparing to be global workers. It will be a great investment of your time!
As we close this morning, let’s look at the verses that sum up our motivation for the kind of living we are talking about this morning – godly living.
“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.”