Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC

Titus 3:1-7
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Paul is writing here to one of his young trainees in the Lord. Titus, along with Timothy, are the two most prominent understudies of Paul in the New Testament. Both were Pastors leading the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ and needed direction in how to lead their congregations. Titus was pastoring on the island of Crete, and Paul said he left Titus there to structure the church in such a way that effective ministry could go forward. As he moves toward the end of his letter he addresses their response to civil authorities, and Paul says here that how they responded to their governing leaders was indicative of their understanding of God’s grace.

When Paul says here they were to be “submissive” to the authorities it is a stark reminder that these authorities are a part of God’s general order for human society.  This is an incredible truth for them at the time, because the Roman government did not promote Judeo Christian ethics at all. In fact, they promoted worship of the emperor and sacrificing to other pagan gods in hopes of receiving health, economic, and relational benefits. Also, the command to “be ready for every good work” means they were to not just have a passive posture of keeping the law, they were to be positively involved in society. This is an example of the practical outworking of being salt and light like Jesus told us to.

Speaking of Jesus, think about His example of submission to authority. Jesus came to this earth at a time when God’s original chosen people were living under Roman oppression. Some wanted Him to come and dethrone the Emperor and establish His own Kingdom on this earth at that time, but Jesus had a greater cause. Had he done just that, mankind would have no hope of eternal life because we would still be in our sins. This is why He went to the cross for us, because we needed a Savior not a new system of government. He allowed them to nail Him to a tree because the greatest need of mankind is not temporary freedom and prosperity, it’s eternal life. It’s only after God’s eternal purpose in saving His Children is complete that He will finally remove sin forever and establish His Kingdom here.

Beloved, let us respond to authority just as Jesus did. He said we should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and render unto God that which is God’s. We will never worship any man as if he were the Lord, but how we respond to reasonable and appropriate obligations from our governing authorities is indicative of where our true faith lies. We are not citizens of this nation first, we are citizens of Heaven first. As a result, our desire should be to take every opportunity we can to peacefully engage others in conversations about salvation, not just politics or societal structures, and to declare that our hope is fixed on Heaven.

So, what do you think about God’s grace? Thank God for His kindness and love shown to us. He died for our sins, rose from the dead, drew us to Himself through the Holy Spirit, and saved us because of His infinite mercy. The world will take notice of our Lord when they notice us fully resting in His love and setting our hope on His Kingdom to come. Let’s be salt and light in this season. Let’s live as pictures of God’s grace.

Father God, it is such a complicated time. It seems as though sin and Satan are running amuck in our world. But God, I believe You are still on Your throne. I trust in Your sovereign grace. You saved me and brought me into Your family. You are coming again to establish Your perfect Kingdom on this earth, so Lord I choose to rest in You. I know I don’t have to be up in arms over everything I see around me. I simply need to rest in Your arms. Thank You Jesus, amen. 

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever