Today’s read was Paul’s letter to the young pastor, Titus. Titus was another young man like Timothy, whom Paul had taken under his wing to train and disciple in the faith. He had traveled with Paul on some of his missionary journeys and had now been given the responsibility to remain in Crete and oversee the church there. Paul tells us the purpose of his letter in the very first verse: “to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” His letter gives Titus a foundation for teaching and growing the body of believers he is leading.
For a pastor, this letter is incredibly insightful to keep the focus on what is important (sound doctrine) while shepherding the sheep – sheep who can often be argumentative, selfish, and worldly! For us sheep, it gives us clear direction in what should occupy our time as Christ-followers (good deeds which adorn the gospel). These three chapters are a short read but contain a lot of wisdom for us.
One passage stood out this morning. In 3:3-7, Paul reminds us why our lives should look so different than the ungodly culture we live in. He takes us back to what we used to be before Christ saved us. All of us, to varying degrees, were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to lusts and pleasures, wasting our time being malicious, envious, and hateful. BUT… (what a beautiful word!) … while we were still all these things, the kindness and love of God appeared! The Savior came right into our messy, rebellious lives, and saved us…not based on anything we had done or could do that might have seemed “righteous” in the world’s eyes, but solely based on His grace and mercy.
Here’s the wonderful truth. When we were saved, we experienced the “washing of regeneration and renewing” by the Holy Spirit. All those things we WERE no longer mattered, nor existed, in the mind of God. They were wiped away. Like a brand-new baby coming into the world with no history or sin or record of wrongs, we now stand before God completely exonerated, righteous and pure. How amazing is that!?
It is because of this gift of newness that Paul says we should reject any hint of the old life. Why would we want to return to what once separated us from the Savior? He gives us new desires, new hope, and a new purpose. Our response is to walk in that newness.
What’s our takeaway?
First, we should rejoice that we are new. If you have a past but have received God’s forgiveness and salvation, that past no longer defines who you are. LEAVE IT. Walk in who you are now.
Second, we should allow others to walk in the renewal of forgiveness without judging or treating them based on their past. If you know someone who has a “history” but by all indications has genuinely confessed and repented, treat them like God treated you. Give them the gift of newness and help them walk forward in faith. We should, like Paul, “further their faith and knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.”
Are you new? Then walk in newness!
Are you still in your old life? Jesus came to make you new if you will believe.