Grace Makes Good
Almighty God, I thank You for the rich heritage of this good land. Look with favor on those who lead this nation.
Consider: Imagine coming home after a day out in mud and rain. How does it feel after you are washed, warm and in fresh clothes? How does it feel to know that Jesus washes you clean (5)?
What changes people who are “disobedient, deceived and enslaved” (3) into those who are devoted to doing what is good (1,8,14)? It’s certainly not expertise in the Law. The false teachers whom Titus faces on Crete are almost certainly Jews who, having become followers of Jesus, want to retain Jewish practices, rules and regulations. They engage in discussions about the appropriateness of Jewish law and its continuing application, over against the new worldview established in Jesus. It reminds us that transformational change, dislodging old ways of thinking and replacing them with fresh thinking, never comes easy.
What really brings about change is “grace” (7, see 2:11), “kindness and love” (4), “mercy” (5), and unwarranted generosity (6). These are the drivers of fundamental change. We need look no further than the Zacchaeus story for a revolution in attitude brought about by Jesus’ loving kindness (Luke 19:1–10). Anton Chekhov’s understanding of this principle comes through in his short story “The Beggar,” in which the lying drunkard, Loshkoff, is transformed, not by the harsh demands of the advocate Skvortsoff but by the compassion of his maid, who fulfills all Skvortsoff’s requirements on Loshkoff’s behalf. The work of Jesus, of course, can never be captured entirely in one story. The cleansing he brings is confirmed and sealed as he comes to dwell in his followers by the Holy Spirit (5), ensuring ongoing sanctification and eternal safekeeping.
Crete should be a better place because of the Gospel: a place of gentleness (2), a more respectful and more hospitable island (the provision for “urgent needs” of verse 14 is almost certainly a reference to providing for the needs of others).
Apply: Changing the way we think about the world, ourselves and others is a long, costly process. God is committed to the change (3–8). Are you still fully engaged in that process?
Transforming Lord, I want to get on board with the renewing work You are doing in my life. I want to engage with the Spirit’s growth-path for me.
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