3 We were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, and slaves to our desires and various pleasures too. We were spending our lives in evil behavior and jealousy. We were disgusting, and we hated other people. 4 But “when God our savior’s kindness and love appeared, 5 he saved us because of his mercy, not because of righteous things we had done. He did it through the washing of new birth and the renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 which God poured out upon us generously through Jesus Christ our savior. 7 So, since we have been made righteous by his grace, we can inherit the hope for eternal life.” 8 This saying is reliable. And I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God might give careful attention to doing good. These things are good and useful for everyone.
Through the faithful writings of Paul, we hear some back-to-basics words meant for the Apostle Titus. Paul was instructing Titus to go to Crete to support the churches there. Titus’ mission was to be sure that the Christians of Crete would not be distracted by lies and falsehoods! Paul reminds how because of God’s grace, we were given “new birth” and “renew(ed) by the Holy Spirit, which God poured out generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Perhaps the Cretans just needed a reminder. They did not have a good reputation in the world. Because the Greeks had been followers of mythology, some included the Greek god, Zeus, by adding him into their storyline. Other leaders were using the churches to keep their pockets lined, instead of honestly following the ways of God. They were distracted by their desires. They were not living lives of faith or supporting others in need.
Today the book of Titus is a great reminder that we need not get lost by our distractions, disbeliefs and/or our desires. I cannot think of a better time than now to hear that we need to remember the basics of God’s love for us. Paul’s words compel us to go back to the basics of the trinity. We are saved by God’s grace and given new birth through the Holy Spirit, and the life of our Savior, Jesus points the way. At this time of the year, let’s go back to basics.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
I encourage you to check out the whole book of Titus, which is just three short chapters. You might also consider the additional explanation found through the resource known as the BibleProject. Here is a link to that source (if link is not working in the app, be sure to click the “website” button to view on the MUMC site: Overview: Titus)
Prayer: Gracious God, As the school year begins again, help us to use this time to return to the basics of who we are in You. Help us to continue to turn to You in faith and to support others in your holy name. Thank you for the basics of your love and grace shared for all. Amen.