The reason I left you behind in Crete was to organize whatever needs to be done and to appoint elders in each city, as I told you.
Elders should be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, and have faithful children who can’t be accused of self-indulgence or rebelliousness.
This is because supervisors should be without fault as God’s managers: they shouldn’t be stubborn, irritable, addicted to alcohol, a bully, or greedy.
Instead, they should show hospitality, love what is good, and be reasonable, ethical, godly, and self-controlled.
They must pay attention to the reliable message as it has been taught to them so that they can encourage people with healthy instruction and refute those who speak against it. Titus 1:5-9 (CEB)
In the above passage, Paul was telling Titus to trust the Good News of Christ and not be swayed by false teachers. He wanted Titus to be a good leader and teacher for those early Christians in Crete.
He laid out what attributes an elder must have. It was only the best for Paul and his message of grace. They must be men of unquestionable integrity who weren’t divisive by their behavior. These men were to be loving, kind, and reasonable.
And, of course, they were to know the “reliable message,” the Good News Paul had preached to them. They were to help people understand this totally new way of life.
Hard to find all of that in one person. We can look back and feel sort of sorry for Titus. The candidates for elder might have been a bit sparse.
Or am I getting that confused with today’s Christians?
Hmmm… I know I wouldn’t be in the running. I’ve been almost all of the negative things, but only a few of the positive things.
Of course, it’s impossible to be all the things we have been instructed to be. Life is a journey that takes, well, a lifetime to navigate, to slowly learn everything God wants us to know and to be the person God wants us to be. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not. But if Christians are going to show the world what we’re made of, what God is making of us, we've got to pray for courage and wisdom and then step out and do it.
For example, if something on TV offends me or I'm uncomfortable with it, I change the channel. In fact, I don't watch much TV at all (okay, lately I've been watching QVC, but does that really count?). I have felt left out of conversations because people are talking about something that happened on one of the shows I don't watch. And I feel pulled into the conversation because I want to be in the know. I'm afraid I'll appear ignorant or stupid because I'm not watching what they are watching.
But what if I said, “I’m uncomfortable with that program because so much of the language has to be bleeped. I just don’t feel right watching it.” Now I sound like an old fuddy-duddy, looking down my elderly nose at what the younger ones are watching.
Maybe that's what it takes to be different, to be an example. I can quietly just not watch those TV shows, or I can quietly and non-judgmentally give my opinion. It will probably kill the conversation, and people may find someone else to talk with because of it. But I hope they will get the point that I’m trying to make: God’s influence is real and it must be used to steer the world toward Christ, even if it’s just one person at a time.
In Philippians 4, Paul told us to think on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.
I think if we fix our minds to that, we'll stick out for God in this evil world of ours. And you can't beat that with a stick…