What Titus Was To Do
5I left you in Crete to do what had been left undone and to appoint leaders for the churches in each town. As I told you, 6 they must have a good reputation and be faithful in marriage. Their children must be followers of the Lord and not have a reputation for being wild and disobedient.
7Church officials are in charge of God's work, and so they must also have a good reputation. They must not be bossy, quick-tempered, heavy drinkers, bullies, or dishonest in business. 8Instead, they must be friendly to strangers and enjoy doing good things. They must also be sensible, fair, pure, and self-controlled. 9They must stick to the true message they were taught, so their good teaching can help others and correct everyone who opposes it.
10There are many who don't respect authority, and they fool others by talking nonsense. This is especially true of some Jewish followers. 11But you must make them be quiet. They are after money, and they upset whole families by teaching what they should not. 12It is like one of their own prophets once said,
“The people of Crete
always tell lies.
They are greedy and lazy
like wild animals.”
13This surely is a true saying. And you should be hard on such people, so you can help them grow stronger in their faith. 14Don't pay any attention to any of those senseless Jewish stories and human commands. These are made up by people who won't obey the truth.
15Everything is pure for someone whose heart is pure. But nothing is pure for an unbeliever with a dirty mind. That person's mind and conscience are destroyed. 16Such people claim to know God, but their actions prove they really don't. They are disgusting. They won't obey God, and they are too worthless to do anything good.
There is a grittiness about Titus’ leadership. He uses robust criteria in choosing leaders and a tough approach to anyone peddling error. It can sound a little heavy in our culture where accepting everyone and criticizing no one is something of the norm. But the truth of God (1:14,16) is at stake and the promise of eternal life is under threat. This is no time for lowering the bar.
Titus will need to ask some awkward questions and delve into details he’d rather pass over if he is to find the right church leaders (1:5-7). He isn’t just looking for proficiency in administration or skill in articulation. Character and reputation are paramount.
How is this person living out eternal life? Is there integrity, displayed in their faith at home as well as publicly? Do people feel fearful of them? Is their approach overbearing? Do they listen or raise their voice to win their point? Titus cannot be swayed solely by their knowledge of the truth. That’s important but only if he sees it (v 8) as well as hears it.
The Cretans carry a reputation for deceitfulness (v 12) and that’s exactly what the false teachers demonstrate. There will always be those within the church community who, for a mixture of reasons, will lead people away from the message of eternal life. Listening and watching them closely will uncover words and actions (v 16) which indicate an unwillingness to obey God (v 16) and a blindness to the trouble they are causing (v 11). Titus is not to ignore this in the hope it might go away. These people must be called to account. But Titus must check his motives. Any correction of others must be done with a longing to see them grow in faith (v 13).
Lord Jesus, You are the way, the truth and the life. As I follow you, my desire is that I never fudge the truth or contradict it by my lifestyle. By your Spirit, alert me to blind-spots of lack of integrity or failure to grasp opportunities to speak for you. I pray in your name, Amen.