For the Third Day of Lent we move to a letter written to a church planter by the name of Titus. The fact that this epistle, along with the two to Timothy, are included in the Bible is quite instructive. We should never read them as though they are addressed to every believer individually; portions of them make little to no sense when read that way. But God does let all of us in on what is truly expected of those who are appointed to lead congregations, thus allowing all members to note the extent to which pastors are truly honoring their God-ordained role. Titus 2:1-15:
2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
As a reflection for repentance of the mind which this site is encouraging for Lent, this passage offers a potentially sobering reminder for pastors of what we are truly to be about; at the same time it reminds lay persons of the criteria by which their leaders should really be evaluated as opposed to the many expectations we may have created for them. More than enough has been written on the either subject. Whether it has been heeded might be a different matter.
What stands out in particular is the emphasis on those good works we are often so fearful of in the more “conservative” corners of the church. One wonders what is being conserved when such clear, direct biblical passages as this one can be shunted aside. What is unclear about being a model of good works? What is open to interpretation about respecting all people, acting with integrity, giving no one a chance to launch accusations that have any basis in facts? Errors on this score are easily seen in groups such as Westboro Baptist; lesser failures, however, easily go undetected from our side of the fence, even while creating ill will from the other.
So let us honestly allow God to examine our manner of leading and being the church as it is actually designed to function in the world. How would you pray for this to occur? Please offer those prayers in the comments.