Sunday, August 10, 2008

Matt's Messages "Devoted to Doing Good"

“Devoted to Doing Good”
August 10, 2008
Titus 3:1-15

Titus had been left by Paul on Crete to identify true elders and to combat false teaching and to provide gospel-applying instruction to the believers on Crete so that their lives matched their doctrine.

Last week, we looked at the first 7 verses of chapter 3 which highlight the glorious gospel of grace–that “He Saved Us.” And that led us to a table of kindness, love, mercy, grace, and hope.

Today, I want to read the entire third chapter and especially focus on verses 1 and 2, and verses 8 through 15. These are, again, the practical outworkings of the gospel. They are “applying the gospel” to all of life.

And there is a particular phrase that appears three times in the English translations in this chapter that I think sums up the burden of this passage. “Doing What Is Good.” Or King James, “Good Works.” Listen for that phrase, as I read it. Especially with the phrase, “Devote themselves” in front of it.

Paul wants Titus to teach the church in such a way that the believers learn to devote themselves to doing what is good. So our title for today is “Devoted to Doing Good.”

I have four points that I want to make this morning, each of them explaining more fully what Paul means when he calls the believers to be “Devoted to Doing Good.”

We should be devoted to doing good... #1. IN SOCIETY.

I get this from verses 1 and 2. He starts with following our leaders. Look at verse 1.

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good...”

Paul instructs Titus to remind the church to be submissive to government, obedient and ready to do the right thing.

That word “good” here is the Greek word: AGATHOS. And it has the flavor of doing the right thing. The good thing in any given situation.

Notice that Titus had to remind the believers of this. They don’t necessarily do it automatically. They have to be reminded. “This is how a Christian acts.”

Submissive. Obedient. Devoted to Doing Good.

It doesn’t sound so hard until the sign says to go 55 and you feel like going 70. Right?

We all think that we’re fine upstanding citizens until we realize that we are confronted with big AND SMALL ways of being unsubmissive to authority.

Some of us may be tempted to cheat on our taxes. Others of us might be tempted to park where we are not allowed.

Titus was supposed to teach the people that Christians are subject to authority and obedient and ready to good whatever is good.

Do you need reminded of that this morning? I needed that.

We need to be devoted to doing good in society, with our leaders and with all of our neighbors. Look at verse 2.

“ slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”
There’s not a lot of wiggle room in that verse is there?!

This is what Christ-followers do.

They don’t slander anyone. They don’t tell falsehoods, or half-truths about someone else and damage their reputation with anyone.

They are peaceable and considerate. Christ-followers love peace and unity and don’t go stirring up trouble where it doesn’t need to be! And they think of other people ahead of themselves.

Christ-followers show true humility (some translations have “courtesy” here) toward everyone.

They don’t think of themselves as better than others and they treat people like don’t!

Do you need constant reminding of these principles, too? I do.

But, but, but...what if someone slanders you?

“To slander no one.” Not even those who drag your name through the mud.

What if they aren’t courteous? “To show true humility toward all men.”

This is how a Real Christian operates in society.

And it looks very different from the way the world works, doesn’t it?

What if all of the people who claimed to be Christians lived out just verses 1 and 2 of Titus 3?

What would happen to our witness?
What would happen to our society?

It would be changed. Because of changed people.

We should be devoted to doing good in society. That means to other people.

Is there a situation right now that you’re involved in where you have been running against verses 1 and 2? It’s time to ‘fess up and devote yourself to doing good.



We should devote ourselves to doing good because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. V.3

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures [We lived like the world!]. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

We talked about this at great length last week. Isn’t it glorious?

Now, see what Paul does next with that gospel. V.8

“This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

See what Paul is doing?

He says that verses 3 through 7 are a trustworthy saying. The gospel is true. It can be trusted.

And Paul says that Titus needs to stress the gospel with the church–why?

“ that those who have trusted in God [that is, those who have believed the gospel] may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”

“...those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”

Again, this is applying the gospel.

Christians don’t devote themselves to doing what is good because they are good people in and of themselves.

If someone asks us how we’re doing, we says, “Better than I deserve.”

If someone says, “You’re a good person,” we know better! Right?!

Christians don’t devote themselves to doing what is good because they are good people in and of themselves.

Christians devote themselves to doing good because of the gospel!

We do devote ourselves to doing good, but not because we’re good or because our good works somehow balance out our bad works or add up to our salvation–no because we have been saved to serve. Blessed to be a blessing. Rescued to reach out.

Because Jesus died for me, I can now devote myself (notice that strong word–DEVOTE myself) to doing what is good.

And everyone benefits.

V.8 says, “These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

Now, we can’t see it in our English versions, but there is a different word for “good” in verse 8 than there was in verse 1. This is the word “KALOS” and it has the flavor, not just of doing the right thing, but doing the morally beautiful thing.

It involves not just “not doing bad” (negatively), but positively doing good. Doing something, taking action that is morally praiseworthy and beautiful.

And here, I think it emphasizes that we do good works that help other people. It’s profitable for everyone. It’s good for others.

We could make a long list of things that would fit that category:

Feeding the hungry
Showing hospitality
Giving directions to someone who is lost
Sacrificing for a family
Guarding someone’s reputation
Speaking positive-gossip about someone in the community
Volunteering in a ministry at church or in some other area of society
Raising funds for a good cause

The list could go on and on and on.

And it all comes from the gospel!

Christians are devoted to doing good, not because they are good. But because they are believe the good news!

Good Works Come from the Good News!

Titus, “I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”

Now, of course, the big application question is, are we devoted to doing good?

I know that I like to think of myself as being devoted to doing good.

But am I?

Or am I just sitting on my rear end, thankful for the gospel, but not letting it move me one inch?

How about you? Are you devoted to doing good?

It will probably cost you something, if you are.

For almost a year now, I’ve volunteered with Meals on Wheels (you can see a little ad in the bulletin that they’re still looking for more volunteers).

I like doing it, but Thursdays roll around and I always have something important that I’m working on that takes a backseat to going over to home, and picking up one of my children, and then running out to Kylertown and running all over the countryside delivering meals to wonderful older folks, many of whom have yappy little dogs that delight in chasing me and making me wonder if I’ll still have heel when I leave!

And I’ve been coming up on a year and having to decide if I’m going to re-up my commitment or let it slide.

I hear Paul saying to me, “those who have trusted in God [must] be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”

What about you? Are you devoted to doing good?

These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

And we do them because of the gospel!


Remember them from chapter 1? They’re still there and causing trouble. V.9

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”

It seems like this must have been what the false teaching was focusing on at Crete at that time: controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law.

Paul tells Titus not to get caught up in it. “Avoid!” “Unprofitable, useless.”

Of course, he’s not saying to not engage in controversy at all. The elders actually had to be equipped to refute this false teaching, remember that from chapter 1?

But somehow Titus and the other leaders were to steer clear of getting embroiled in it so that it took up their minds and their ministries.

And they sure weren’t supposed to adopt these teachings and arguments!

And when someone came around with them, they were to be treated strongly.
Look at verse 10. “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

Remember, doctrine matters. It affects life.

And if someone is teaching something heretical and trying to divide the church over it, they need to be confronted, taken through a process of confronting, and then disciplined. Church discipline, rightly practiced, is love for the offending party, love for the church, and love for the Truth.

And Titus and the elders at Crete needed to practice it.

If not, the church would get infected.

So, surgery was needed on the Body of Christ.

This is not popular these days. Everybody just wants to get along and be nicey-nicey, except for some people who just want to fight.

But Titus wasn’t allowed to do either of those. He was supposed to avoid the fighting and put the divisive and the heretical out of the church.

So that they could devote themselves to doing what is good.

In spite of the false teachers.

Because there is good work to be done.


Paul has some last minute instructions that were specifically for Titus in the last four verses. But they all emphasize the same main idea. V.12

“As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there.”

Apparently, Titus was going to be relieved at some point and was supposed to join Paul in Nicopolis the for the winter. V.13

“Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need.”

Now, the most surprising thing about this verse is that really is such a thing as Christian lawyers, did you know that was possible? [Just kidding!]

Apparently, Zenas and Apollos were carrying this letter to Titus and Titus was supposed to look after their needs and support them and send them on fully supplied.

He was to care about them and take care of them. And then see how Paul follows that. Verse 14. He says again:

“Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities [like Zenas and Apollos?] and not live unproductive lives.”

The King James has “unfruitful.” I think that’s great.

We need to learn to devote ourselves to doing what is good, so that we are fruitful!

So that our lives are productive. So that they produce good things.

So that there is fruit.

We are, as Christians, saved to bear fruit.

People should look at our lives and say, “What has gotten into that person!” They are so good! So good to be around. So productive. So fruitful. So much a blessing for others.

A year ago, I asked this question of our church. What would the community say if our church disappeared?

Would they notice?

Would they bemoan the fact that the Ark Park got taken down and shipped off?

Would they feel it at all that our little Jesus-worshiping, disciplemaking community was gone?

Would they weep?

Would they say, “Oh, that church has been a total blessing to our community. I’m so sorry to see it go.”

Would they feel like some of the fruitfulness had been sucked out of our community?

We’ve seen how communities feel when jobs leave with companies.

What would happen if our church left this community?

Would they feel it?

Not just that our gospel witness had disappeared (as all important as that is), but if our gospel-produced good works disappeared, what effect would that have?

I’m not sure. I’d love to see our church be an integral part of our community–a city set on a hill. A light on a stand.

A worshiping, disciple-making community that let’s its light so shine before men that they see it and glorify our Father who is in Heaven.

I pray for fruitfulness for our church.

In Society.
Because of the Gospel. Not to earn our way but because He’s given His all for us in His mercy and grace.
In Spite of the False Teachers. Avoiding them where possible and confronting them and discipling them when they get in our midst.
Devoting Ourselves to Doing Good.
To Live Lives that are Fruitful.

What is the application of this message for you this morning?

What do you need to change, to do differently, to start?

Does it have something to do with submission to our government and its leaders?

Something to do with your neighbors?

Some new initiative that you need to undertake to be devoted to doing good, to being fruitful?

Or maybe it’s renewing your commitment to doing something good.

Whatever it is, can do it because of the gospel. You can devote yourself to doing good because of the grace of Jesus Christ.

If you have not yet come to believe in Jesus Christ, I invite you to do it today.

You can turn from your sins and put your trust in what He did for you.

Not righteous things you have done, but the mercy and grace shown to you at the Cross.

His Good News is sufficient to save you and then to equip you to devote yourself to doing what is right and what is morally beautiful, what is good.