For the Love of God, Volume 2/April 23
From Gospel Translations
Leviticus 27; Psalm 34; Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2
IN 2 TIMOTHY 4 PAUL EXHORTS HIS READER to preach sound doctrine (see meditation for April 21); here in Titus 2 he exhorts them to teach “what is in accord with sound doctrine” (2:1).
The ensuing verses show us what this means. By what is “in accord” with sound doctrine Paul means how to live in accordance with sound doctrine. From the apostle’s perspective, Christian leaders must teach not only what to think but how to live in the light of what to think.
Thus older men are to be taught “to be temperate, worthy of respect, selfcontrolled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance” (2:2). That means more than simply telling them those words from time to time. Each of these points needs to be applied and illustrated and pressed home. Similarly, in this passage there are practical things to be taught to older women (2:3), younger women (2:4- 5), young men (2:6-8), and slaves (2:9-10).
Yet these things are not separate education tracks for different groups of people or something to be added to the Gospel. Far from it: what is being laid on these diverse groups is merely the outworking of the Gospel. The next paragraph makes this clear (I have italicized some of the words more traditionally associated with salvation): “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live selfcontrolled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (2:11-14).
The logic is transparent enough. If Jesus gave himself to redeem us from sin and to live godly lives in this present evil age, we must devote ourselves to determining what godly lives look like, and to living such lives. Such lives involve many common elements for all groups of Christians, but the practicalities of life mean that there are certain temptations that beset certain groups—old men, young men, and so forth. Some months before he died, my aged father wrote in his diary, “Oh God, save me from the sins of old men”—as I at the moment need to be saved from the sins of middle-aged men.
So we must teach and live what is in accord with sound doctrine. “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you” (2:15).