As part of Paul’s letter to Titus and in his admonitions concerning “things that become sound doctrine” he gave advice and instruction on how all Christians are to act and as to the character they are to exhibit both public and private. In chapter two is this statement: “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” (Titus 2: 7, 8)
So here is a charge to teach “the things (that) are fitting for sound doctrine,” as it is stated in the New American Standard Version of the New Testament. If this is the apostles charge here (and it surely is) then it should be in our interest to become acquainted with those things supporting that as Paul lists them here for each group.
He states 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 both 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 should also be sober-minded, and that they should show a pattern of good works; and in teaching showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, with these things founded upon “sound speech that cannot be condemned,” and 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.”
He concludes this passage with an admonition that slaves should be “their own masters” and should be pleasing to their true masters in all their duties 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 over to their charge.
So all types of persons in every walk and of all groups, in every stage of life that might call on the name of Christ, are called to be the very best at whatever it is that they do, and to do that from whatever station and in whatever situation they may be found. We (it seems) are to be a cut above and a fine degree ahead of all of the rest. And this is a case in point of the required pattern for good works. The key to good character then is being sound – operating in, with, and through sound things: using sound speech, exhibiting sound teaching in sound behaviors.
How are you doing with embodying all of that within your life? Did you have an easy time reading and in following along with the comments? Perhaps all of this mentioned comes naturally to you? Or, did it all pass in through your eyes and into your head only to exit without ever stopping for assimilation? If only retention was the problem: we all would need to just stop and think. But if you caught it all and it all comes second nature to you, then you are one of two things: either youre stronger and better than most and head and shoulders above the mean, or you are perhaps just not being honest. If you are truly in the first group — good. If you find yourself in the second — good luck. If these things came quickly and were natural for either learner or listener then I dont believe that the apostle would have bothered mentioning them.
Did you note what his purpose was in writing to Titus and all of the rest of us as readers in time to build and establish these characteristics and virtues? In case we should have missed it, he states the purpose in part in verse 5, again as we quoted it above in verse 8, and finally in verse 10. He says these things are to be done so that the word of God may not have evil things said against it. That one who is an opponent (and that would mean an opponent of godliness) may be ashamed, not having anything evil to say about you, and therefore about God. 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.”
Being hypocritical and not doing as we ought is an easy thing to do – just look around; for the fruit of contrary living is everywhere. I’m pretty good at being hypocritical when Im not considering what I do and how I should be doing it. And there are folks about that simply cannot muster up enough decency to do a thing for someone else or to be consistent from day to day in their dealings with others. The world is slap full of them. They are decent up to a point, scrupulous only as long as they are within sight, and honest only as long as things have to do with them and suit their own purposes. You know there is a lot of this type of weed in the world. They are everywhere. You also know that many of them profess to be Christians when they in fact are not.
There is one word that is conspicuously absent from much modern writing and from exhortations on how to live and to be successful. Do you know what word that is? It was mentioned several times in the reading above and in this examination of it – character.
The lessons and precepts incorporated within the New Testament have no value unless we put them to practice. Reading God’s word and not putting it to work is a little like entering a boat in a motorcycle race. Talk is cheap and is generally good for nothing, and selfish displays have no value to anyone. Character however, is perhaps the only thing that well leave behind here when we make our final exits and are taken out through the mists of time. So Paul admonishes us not only to listen, but to put the words to work and to do our best to incorporate good character and sound behavior in our lives as living examples of sound instruction: so that God and his word will be honored among the people, and so that no evil may be spoken either against us or against it.
What will your legacy be; what will be left behind when you are gone?