The short book of Titus is a letter from the apostle Paul to a young pastor charged with setting in order the church of Crete.
Paul urges him to choose Godly men as elders and leaders of the congregation. He goes on to define the characteristics that should define the lives of each member– men and women alike.
Christians are called to be living examples of the doctrine we profess. We are a creation, created to reflect the beauty of our creator. As a master painter, Jesus takes the canvas of our lives (if we let Him) and displays His beauty, through our surrender, to the world around us.
Paul gives examples of the conduct of older and younger Chrisitan men and women.
Older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience… likewise, exhort young men to be sober-minded, 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 2:2, 6-8
Older women likewise that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they admonish young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, home-makers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.Titus 2:3-5
He goes on to say that it is the grace of God and the Holy Spirit that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. To live godly lives in this present age. Not by our striving to do good. Good works are the natural outflow of a life surrendered to Him. His work in us.
In chapter 3 verse 1, Titus is commissioned, among other things, to remind the believers to be “ready for every good work”. He didn’t say ready to go overseas as a missionary, ready to adopt, ready to begin a youth club at the local high school, ready to use your medical training for the poor, ready to pray in front of an abortion clinic. Ready for every good work.
I am learning that not only do those good works look different for everyone, but they often look different from my giftings and outside of my comfort zone. These good works can be as simple as paying for the groceries of the woman in front of you or as complicated as a 5-year adoption from the corrupt government in Haiti.
And let our people also learn to maintain good works (wherever they are), to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.Titus 3:14 (Emphasis and parentheses mine)
Fruitfulness cannot be defined by a single vocation. It is not only for the “radical Christian.” Fruitfulness is being ready wherever you are to say yes. It’s being ready for every good work. Are you a ready Christian? This is the mark of a true follower of Christ.
If you are planted by streams of water and pruned by the master gardener then a healthy harvest of fruit is natural. You cannot be in Him and wrapped up in yourself at the same time. When we are in Him, we are ready, perhaps the lesson will be learned slowly, but it will be learned regardless. Knowing the source of our beauty, knowing whom we are showcasing, should give us purpose in the small works and humility in the big ones. There are endless ways to reflect on our artist.
It’s refusing to let my mind wander to those anxious or fearful places along with the culture around me.
It’s putting aside those lesser things that keep me busy to fulfill the duties God puts before me.
It’s letting others lead when I feel most equipped, or leading when I feel most unable because God’s power is made perfect in my weakness.
It’s serving others when I most want to be served and resting when serving would draw people to myself rather than Christ.
It’s going somewhere I never desired to go and leaving a place I was so ready to settle in.
It’s choosing the lonely path that leads where few would dare follow and being ok when misunderstood.
It’s rejoicing at another’s wedding while I continually long for my own.
It’s keeping quiet when I feel like shouting and proclaiming loudly when I feel too timid to even whisper.
It’s submitting to another when my personal will is pulling me in another direction.
It’s doing every work, even the most undesirable with excellence and joy.
It’s serving–unnoticed, underappreciated, or unrewarded by men–without bitterness.
It’s sacrificing personal safety in uncomfortable places for the sake of precious children who have not chosen those circumstances.
It’s allowing dreams to be changed and conformed to the greater plans of God. It’s seeking God’s kingdom at the expense of my own.
How does a Christian woman (or man) go on saying yes even when she reaches that inevitable moment of weakness, where her pouring out seems too much, the lure of a selfish life too appealing? She finds herself secure, resting in the arms of her Beloved, even in the midst of trials.
When burnout comes calling she finds her joy and peace, not from the changing circumstances but the steadfastness of her unchanging God.
Sure, steady, confident, ready, not because she is able to endure, but because of who her God will still be while she is enduring.
That is how the Christian will learn to “maintain good works” in every season. Are you ready?