Many will still say that there is no pattern or that any pattern is just a loose guide to be adjusted on the needs of the day. But they really donâ€™t mean that. They mean there is no pattern they desire to follow, and there is only a simile of a gospel plan of salvation which they have sanctioned as both movable and malleable. That there is not pattern of things that absolutely must be followed - whether for justification or for works of any kind. These typically follow after particular theories and doctrines of men and insist that there is nothing much needed to be done to become a Christian; and that are no â€œworksâ€ that must be accomplished in order to please God. They throw everything they define as works into the same basket --- and accept nothing given in Godâ€™s book unless it happens to suit them.
Here then is a charge to teach the things that are fit, or “fitting for sound doctrine” as it is rendered in the New American Standard Version. If this is the apostles’ charge (and it certainly is) then it should be in our interest to become acquainted with the behaviors that support sound teaching as the apostle lists them here for each group.
The apostle indicates that the older men should be sober minded, watchful, sound in their faith, sound in their love, and sound in temperament. Older women he requires to be reverent, to avoid slander and also wine (as it seems in so saying that the two may be closely joined), and to be teachers of the quite broad category of “good things.” They are also charged with teaching the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to show discretion in the things that they say and do, to be chaste, to be keepers of the home, to be good of character, and finally, to be obedient to their own husbands.
For the young men he offers that they, as with the older men, should also be sober-minded, showing a pattern of good works; and again in teaching showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, with these things founded upon “sound speech that cannot be condemned.” He says this will help to make it so that “one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”
It is an interesting side note that slavery is not anywhere condemned in the Bible, and slaves, here as elsewhere, are not told to rebel or to free themselves, but rather they are enjoined to be the best they can be at all they may do. He concludes this passage with an admonition that they act as they might if they were “their own masters” and that they should be pleasing to their actual masters in every duty assigned to them without any back talking. That they should not steal; and that they should work in “good fidelity”— that is to say, they should be entirely trustworthy in everything given to their charge.
So, with all of that said, it seems everybody from every walk and out of any possible groups or castes, in any stage of life, all those that call on the name of Christ, are each one called upon to be the very best at whatever it is that they do, and that in whatever situation and station they may find themselves, they are to excel in these identified characteristics and good works.
We, as believers and disciples, it seems, are to be a cut above and a fine degree ahead of all of the rest. This is a case in point of the required pattern for good works.
Did you have an easy time reading through that and in following along with the comments? Do all of these mentioned behaviors come naturally to you? If they do, I applaud you — for you are stronger and better than I am, and I suspect, you may be head-and-shoulders above the mean. If these things came easily and were natural for either the learner or listener then I don’t believe that the apostles would have bothered mentioning them here or in the other places in scripture where these things are brought to mind.
Do you see the pattern in his words? Do you understand what his purpose was in writing this to Titus and thereby to all of the rest of us beyond as readers? It is, I think, to encourage us to build and establish these characteristics and virtues, these good things, and to note that to ignore doing so will involve eternal consequences. In case we should miss it, he states the purpose in verse 5, again as we first quoted it in verse 8, and yet a third time in verse 10. You won’t hurt anyone by adopting such things.
He says these things are to be done so that the word of God may not have evil things spoken against it. That one that is an opponent may be ashamed, not having anything evil to say about us. And why should that be? Because as is stated in verses 11 through 14: “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, (that) we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
It is found in the giving up of the lawless for the lawful — the useless left off for the useful – the unproductive given over for the good.