Thursday, September 15, 2022
That was the very first word my then-4-year-old son taught himself to write, all on his own. (Proud homeschooling mama here…)
Like many boys his age, he was fascinated with all things disgusting. It was rare for even a few minutes to pass – especially at supper time! – without him making reference to some sort of bodily function, and laughing hysterically at the mere mention of it while the rest of us just prayed it would stop. My other son, now four years old, has followed suit and is also obsessed with preschool potty humor. To him, every funny noise is flatulence; every repulsive smell must be lingering from the bathroom, and it is all hilarious. Even if we explain that the sound was just a balloon releasing air or the smell was simply spoiled food, he entertains himself for a long while with the (pleasant?) thoughts of bodily functions in the house. He cannot seem to get his mind away from potty talk.
As humankind, we, too, can become stuck in thought patterns or ideas and continue to feed those beliefs. In verses 15 and 16, Paul writes to Titus, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Now, I am not at all implying that innocent preschoolers have corrupted consciences; that was simply a humorous and relatable example about what happens when our minds are focused on one kind of thing. However, there are many people who continue to feed, to themselves and others, lies and negativity and unpleasant thoughts, which are contrary to God. As believers, we are called to live pure lives, demonstrating the redemption of Jesus’ sacrifice. We can claim to know God, but if we deny him by living without pure motives, we have lost our testimonies and are guilty of corrupted minds. Paul calls those kinds of people “detestable, disobedient, unfit for doing anything good.” Ouch. I don’t want those labels assigned to me. When my mind begins to dwell in negativity, judgmentalism, or even perversion, God often brings these lyrics to my mind:
Give us clean hands; give us pure hearts.
Let us not lift our souls to another…
Oh God, let us be a generation that seeks,
seeks Your face, O God of Jacob.
In this book of Titus, much like he did in 2 Timothy, Paul is addressing the issue of “meaningless talk and deception” among rebellious people. Such tendencies must have been rampant then as they still are today. He calls believers to rebuke people who demonstrate this behavior so they will be “sound in the faith.” He also sets high standards for leaders within the church in verses 6-8: “An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
Whew! I’m glad I’m not expected to follow such stringent guidelines, aren’t you? Not so fast. Though these qualifications are given to a specific church, they can still be applicable guidelines for our church leaders – and attenders! – today. Since our leaders are also human and prone to stumble like the rest of us, we must continue to pray for them as they seek God and lead His people. And, as Christians aiming to honor God and constantly growing in our faith, we too should aspire to live up to similar expectations as we serve and connect with our local bodies of believers. I’ll close with this verse that seems to fit with this passage and is a good reminder about how we should think (and therefore how we should behave, since our thoughts influence our actions):
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.
With which of the qualifications in verses 6-8 do you most struggle? Pray for God to help lead you to overcome it.
Most of us who are reading this claim to know God, but have denied him by our actions at times. What are some ways you have done this? Ask God for His strength to live fully for him.