…upright (Titus 1:8d)
Our culture feels a little uncomfortable in the presence of the word “upright.” And I think I understand why.
“Upright” can be interpreted as arrogance. In other words, people can put more trust in their own righteous actions than the grace of God and communicate a sense of superiority to others.
“Upright” can be used as a façade. Every now and then a public figure’s life implodes and we are shocked at the revelations that follow. It is true, sometimes things are not as they appear and a life that seems nearly perfect in every way fails the test of time.
“Upright” can be used to abuse. Once a standard is determined for those things that are good and right, we must decide how we are going to encourage others to follow it. We have probably all been in the position of having our behavior enforced by someone who is, as they say, “no better than we are.”
So we resist the “upright.” We don’t want to be one of them, and we don’t want to be around them.
This is sad, because “upright” is good. In the context of leadership, who wants to follow someone who has no moral anchor?
Technically speaking, the word “upright” in our text this morning is probably referring to one’s relationship to God’s law. Even though followers of Jesus are not judged by the law, it is still a reflection of God’s heart and an example of the attitude and life He desires. In principle, someone who is “upright” before God is someone whose life is “right” with God. He has done everything possible to please God, and has shown godly sorrow in those areas where he is lacking. And, of course, for the believer he is someone who has accepted the righteousness of Christ.
Allow me to toss out a random and somewhat meddlesome thought about the “upright” life. Since a leader’s goal is to ultimately please God, sometimes he is called on to make an unpopular decision. More than one church leader has entered a dark valley when others have disagreed with something he felt he had to do to remain true to his understanding of God’s will, biblical truth, and personal conviction. Sometimes his struggle is a result of his refusal to divulge damaging information that could discredit the very people who are most critical. And other times, he is merely leading through a storm of confusion where clear answers are few.
This is exactly why an “upright” life is important. Sometimes a leader just has to stand on his own integrity because no one else has the perfect answer to a challenge, and he is the leader. This doesn’t mean his solutions will be perfect either. But if he is a sincere seeker of God’s will, and if his moral and spiritual life is above reproach, there is a really good chance, when the clouds clear, people will discover they are at the best place they could have hoped to be.
So, don’t discount “upright.” Sometimes, it is all we have.
Dear God, show me the way of the “upright.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.