Doing Helpful Things
1Remind your people to obey the rulers and authorities and not to be rebellious. They must always be ready to do something helpful 2and not say cruel things or argue. They should be gentle and kind to everyone. 3We used to be stupid, disobedient, and foolish, as well as slaves of all sorts of desires and pleasures. We were evil and jealous. Everyone hated us, and we hated everyone.
4God our Savior showed us
how good and kind he is.
5He saved us because
of his mercy,
and not because
of any good things
we have done.
God washed us by the power
of the Holy Spirit.
He gave us new birth
and a fresh beginning.
6God sent Jesus Christ
to give us his Spirit.
7Jesus treated us much better
than we deserve.
He made us acceptable to God
and gave us the hope
of eternal life.
8This message is certainly true.
These teachings are useful and helpful for everyone. I want you to insist that the people follow them, so that all who have faith in God will be sure to do good deeds. 9But don't have anything to do with stupid arguments about ancestors. And stay away from disagreements and quarrels about the Law of Moses. Such arguments are useless and senseless.
10Warn troublemakers once or twice. Then don't have anything else to do with them. 11You know their minds are twisted, and their own sins show how guilty they are.
12 I plan to send Artemas or Tychicus to you. After he arrives, please try your best to meet me at Nicopolis. I have decided to spend the winter there.
13 When Zenas the lawyer and Apollos get ready to leave, help them as much as you can, so they won't have need of anything.
14Our people should learn to spend their time doing something useful and worthwhile.
15Greetings to you from everyone here. Greet all of our friends who share in our faith.
I pray that the Lord will be kind to all of you!
What changes people who are “stupid, disobedient and foolish” (v 3) into those “who do something helpful” (vv 1,8,14)? How can people who were full of jealousy and hatred (v 3) become gentle and kind to everyone (v 2)? Paul will tell us what brings about change but also warn us what can stifle change.
Hatred is not overcome by hatred. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in post-apartheid South Africa (and replicated elsewhere, including in Canada) demonstrated to the world that longstanding hatreds can be overcome when people are open about injustices done and seek forgiveness and reconciliation between divided parties. Hatred breeds further hatred. Grace can bring healing.
What changed the people in Crete was discovering a God who did not hate them but was good, kind and merciful (vv 4,5). He was not looking for perfect people. He was about giving people a fresh start and a renewed life with a commitment that he would stick with them to the end (v 7). This God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is about transforming the universe and calling people to be part of his mission. The goodness of God was to be experienced in Crete now, as a token of what he would eventually do everywhere.
The law cannot change hearts. The false teachers Titus faced on Crete were almost certainly Jews who, having become followers of Jesus, wanted to retain Jewish practices, including commitment to Jewish rules and regulations. Those who persistently added Jewish practices to the completed work of Jesus were not to be treated lightly (v 10). That makes sense. Letting grace flourish will make Crete a better place, a more respectful and hospitable island.
Is the place where we live better for our presence?
Good, kind and merciful God, you transform people, drawing them into your family and committing to work with them to completion. Thank you for working with flawed people like me. Renew me so that light will be brought into the places you send me. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.