Friday, February 10, 2017, 10:07 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 1 (NASB).
Bondservants of Christ (vv. 1-4)
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,
To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
A bondservant is a slave. He or she is “someone who belongs to another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own. Ironically, 1401 /doúlos (‘bond-slave’) is used with the highest dignity in the NT – namely, of believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers” (biblehub.com). Yet, this is not to apply just to the apostles, but to all believers in Jesus Christ. We read in Romans 6:22: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” When Jesus died for our sins he bought us back for God (redeemed us) so we are no longer our own. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for himself. Now we are his bond-slaves and he is our Lord (owner-master).
As well, we are all called of God to specific areas of ministry. We are all given spiritual gifts to be used to minister to the body of Christ for their uplifting, strengthening, encouragement, instruction, and exhortation. And, we have all been assigned specific roles within the body of Christ for the mutual benefit of one another in order that we might all reach maturity in our faith in Christ. So, each one of us has a responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ to help them or to urge them to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, i.e. to walk in holiness, righteousness and godliness, all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within them. And, every one of us is necessary to the proper working of the body of Christ, too. So, don’t think you don’t matter. We, also, should not write off others within the body simply because they don’t fit within our preconceived ideas of how God might choose to use each one of us (See: 1 Co. 12).
Above Reproach (vv. 5-9)
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
Following the same line of thinking as expressed in the first section of this writing, although what is described for us here is a list of spiritual qualifications for the selection of elders within the church, many of these spiritual qualities are also required or strongly encouraged in all followers of Christ. For example, everyone who professes the name of Jesus should live a life above reproach, i.e. “their interactions with others, are to be of such moral quality that they do not bring shame or in any way disgrace the body of Christ or the name of Jesus” (gotquestions.org). We should all live in singleness of mind and faithfulness to our Lord, and if married, also to our spouses. None of us should be alcoholics, quick-tempered, or addicted to any kind of sinful behavior. And, we should all be those who practice hospitality, who are lovers of what is good, and who are sensible, just, devout and self-controlled, holding fast to our faith and to the Word of Truth.
Empty Talkers (vv. 10-16)
For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
Not everyone who says he is a follower of Christ or a teacher of The Word is truly born of the Spirit and a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Many are they who are more like temporary employees, mere contract workers, who are being paid to do a job, but they are not permanent workers, i.e. they don’t have a genuine commitment to the Lord Jesus or to the people they supposedly serve. So, they easily desert the Lord and those they proclaim to serve, whether they do so physically and/or whether they do so spiritually.
They have no qualms about twisting the Word of Truth to their own advantage in order to manipulate and take advantage of others, which they do for their own personal gain, whether it be financial gain or merely for the thirst of power alone. So, instead of telling people what they NEED to hear, they tell them what they WANT to hear in order to please the people (their customer base) so that the people will want to come back to their meetings, i.e. to their churches, i.e. to their places of business (their corporations).
So, I believe God has a plan to rebuke such as these via divine judgment in order that the saints of God may be delivered out of their hands, and also that many of them may turn to the Lord and be sound in the faith, ceasing to trick, manipulate and lead the people of God away to what is false. He loves those who are misguided, and so he rebukes them in order that they might come to their senses and turn (or return) to him and to the truth. I believe God has a plan to silence them, to expose their evil deeds, and to remove them from their positions of rule and authority over the people. They must go, but God and his Word must remain. God will judge these false shepherds of the people so that he will be his people’s only shepherd (See: Rev. 2-3; 14:6-7; Ez. 34; 1 Co. 11:32; Heb. 10:30; 1 Pet. 4:17; Jude 1).
Yet, I believe there needs to be a warning or a caution here to those who are following after these “empty talkers” who manipulate and deceive naïve minds. If you claim to believe in Jesus Christ, and you call him “Lord,” then you have a responsibility before God to test everything you hear against the Word of Truth and to not buy into everything which sounds good on the surface. And, this goes beyond just testing preachers and their sermons to see whether or not they are teaching what is in accord with scripture.
We should, as well, be testing what we hear from politicians, especially those claiming to be Christians, and what we hear from the news media, too, for not everything that looks real is real. Much is faked, manipulated and made to deceive naïve minds. We need to pray and ask God to show us what is true and what is false, so we don’t end up following lies and perhaps even denying what is truth. We need to run away from “strangers” and follow Jesus Christ and his Word. We do this by being willing to forsake our human traditions and those things taught by mere men, which have been passed down from generation to generation, so that we can hear the voice of the Lord clearly and let him open our eyes and hearts to what is truth.
My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.