Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate
Today’s Passage: Titus 3
Yesterday my uncle shot me a link to this video series from RightNow Media: The Book of Titus. In the trailer video, pastor Chip Ingram encourages viewers to read through the entire book of Titus and take note of every time Paul uses the word “good.” I couldn’t help reading the third chapter today with that in mind, and it struck me that this really is a book about encouraging the church to do good deeds.
Most people try to do good deeds in order to feel good about themselves, to tell themselves that they’re good people. And as I’m fond of saying, we are not good people, and we want to believe we are good people more badly than we want to be good people. When you try to do good in order to feel good about yourself, your actions end up being selfish, rarely benefiting the person they’re intended for, and often harming them.
But what if you could do good deeds not to satisfy your own desire to be good? What if you did good deeds because God already considers you good? Paul explains:
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (3-8).
Hatred, malice, envy: we Christians were once bad news bears, and as news bears go, we were very bad indeed. Even so, because of his love for us, God saved us, cleansed us, and regenerated us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ has given us the gift of his perfection, so that in the divine courtroom, we are considered just as good as Jesus is, and God is at work making us into the good people we wish we were. As Ingram says in the Book of Titus trailer: “Doing good isn’t something that you do because you earn God’s love, doing good is something ’cause you have God’s love.”
And that’s the basis for Paul’s exhortation for his readers to do good. Now that they’ve received love, they’re in a position to give love. And when he tells them “to be ready for every good deed” (1), I couldn’t help thinking of Paul’s similar words in another of his letters, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Any good deed that we might do, God prepared for us beforehand, and he’s crafting us into people far better than we could be on our own.
I know some of my readers might disagree with me as I once again state my opinion that God has given us some measure of free will, however small. But even as God prepares good deeds for us and us for good deeds, Paul instructs us in the first verse of Titus 3 to be ready to actually do them. God’s gonna make sure that the good deeds he wants done get done. It’s up to us whether we want to be the ones to do them.
Paul only mentions God’s love once in the entire book of Titus, and it’s in this chapter. Did you see it in verse 4? God’s “love for mankind?” God loves us. And as I’ve been grappling with Paul’s theology and the confusing, uncomfortable positions he takes, that phrase was a breath of fresh air. In Jesus Christ, God shows his love for us humans, us news bears of the worst variety, by dying for us. And that’s good news bears.
In other news bears, I’ve got one final sponsored scriptural cartoon for you guys this month. Sponsored by Peter Metzger via my Patreon, it’s based on Titus 3:9-11:
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
Here’s a preview of the factious man obsessed with foolish controversies, and you can see the full cartoon on my Patreon. Enjoy!