I've been reading through the book of Titus in my daily time that I spend reading the Bible lately. I know I've read through the book before, but it has seemed very fresh and encouraging to me. Paul writes this letter to his friend Titus to instruct him as a leader of the churches on the island of Crete, and shares some things that have got me thinking a lot.
The whole letter carries the theme of living a respectable, self-controlled life so that we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ well, and also gain the respect of those outside the church. Paul uses the phrase self-control so many times in this short letter, it's easy to see that he's trying to drive home this point. To me, that reminds me that I need to at all times be aware of the strong desire I have to please myself and get my way, and to fight against it. When I allow those self-centered desires to control me, I often offend or deceive others instead of honestly loving them. The problem is, I don't seem to have much self-control. I am thankful to be reminded in 2:11-14 that it is God's grace that "[trains] us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age." God is the source of any self-control I have, and he is continuing to train me in this difficult area as I respond to his grace.
The other part that challenges me is how Paul instructs Titus to teach this message. I can relate to Titus because I am in a position of leadership here at the BCM; I especially relate to Paul's instruction to Titus in 2:6 to "likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled." This seems to be the heart of what God has called me to do here - to lead the young men here at BCM in a life of self-control that honors God and is respectable and loving toward all people. In 2:15, Paul tells Titus to "declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you." This is where it gets hard for me. I'm not one to be bold with many things, and it scares me to think of rebuking people and not letting them disregard me. As I continue to build relationships here, I am trying to learn to follow God's leading in teaching, exhorting, and even rebuking when necessary, and responding well to others when they do the same to me. Hopefully God's encouragment to me through this letter will help me continue to grow in this area as well.