Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. (Titus 3:14)
Who are “our people” and why does Paul toss out this lesson on productivity as he closes his letter? Is this a random comment intended to remind the Christians on Crete to demonstrate a good work ethic?
In order to understand where Paul is coming from, we need to summarize some things he had already written. Remember the famous slogan about Cretans: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Then consider the behavior of the false teachers who were trying to confuse others: “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” (Titus 3:9).
What emerges is the picture of divisive individuals who have nothing better to do with their time than burden others with unnecessary rules and discouraging words. Instead, these trouble-makers should be productive for the kingdom and stop looking for ways to use the Lord’s church as a vehicle for personal gain.
The older I get the more conscious I become of time and energy. If I only have so much time and energy, I want to make sure it is used in the most effective way.
It is my observation, it isn’t that we truly have “nothing better” to do with our time, but rather that we neglect what is better while we waste our lives on things that are ultimately unimportant.
Our priorities would be different if, as the Lord’s people, we were supposed to be opponents of one another. Consider this example: I have heard people say world class soccer matches are boring because people run up and down the field forever without scoring. But for those who know the sport, there is a lot going on. Players are positioning themselves, wearing down the opposition, unraveling the defense, and carefully calculating their attack. A last-minute goal that wins the game is merely the culmination of everything else leading up to that point.
But the church is one body. We aren’t here to position ourselves, wear one another down, unravel one another’s defense, or attack each other’s work. That’s Satan’s game plan. The idea that these activities would somehow make the church stronger or more effective is insane and warped (Titus 3:11).
There is so much good to be done and so many reasons why we should encourage one another in the good we are doing.
Perhaps you remember these words from the writer of Hebrews 10:24: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” What “better” thing can you do?
Dear God, help me be productive. In Jesus’ name, Amen.