As our profane society rejects God and races to become increasingly secular and depraved, how should we as Christians live and interact with godless people? Paul tells the answer to his fellow disciple, Titus, in these verses:
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. Titus 3:1-8
Living as a minority among the lost, we are told to remember our duty. That is to be a witness of God’s love and his perfect will, showing that God can save them from their sin by demonstrating a saved life. We do this by embodying characteristics of Christ in our conduct:
- Obedience to rulers and institutions – to be a good citizen.
- Be ready to do good! – to serve and love our neighbors, especially the lost.
- To speak no evil – to not curse them or wish on them God’s wrath or to slander them.
- To not brawl (fight) with them – no contention, to not retaliate or to seek vengeance.
- To be gentle and kind – we must remember that these are the people that we are to love and to reach for Christ.
We are told to do this in humility as we remember that we too are sinners. It is only by the grace of God that our sin is forgiven, and we are to feel compassion for these lost souls, not dispensing hurtful criticisms of imagined superiority. In the verses, Paul gives us the characteristics of the depravity of man, in which we were once willing participants, and are so clearly evident in our world today. The absence of these in our lives set us apart from the world:
- Foolish – ignorant of the truth in God’s word and instead pursuing the error of the world.
- Disobedient – following their own desires, contrary to the laws of God.
- Deceived – believing the lies of Satan, that it is preferable to live without God and that sin is accomplished without penalty.
- Serving diverse lust and pleasures – slaves to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Pursing their own comfort and pleasure, living their best lives now, looking forward to an eternity in hell.
- Living in malice and envy – malice is the desire to do evil, an ill will towards others. Envy is the discontent and resentment of coveting other’s possessions, qualities or luck. Not a good way to live!
- Hateful and hating one another – no love for their fellow man. Distrust, self-serving, and happy to hurt for gain.
We are told to remember our salvation. We who believe were made righteous by the grace of God through his son Jesus. We are now heirs and citizens of the kingdom of God (no longer of the world, but now aliens here for a while) with the hope of eternal life. We should be grateful and strive to bring those who are lost to Christ so they can be saved too.
We are told to remember our mission. Our purpose here on earth is to reach lost people with the gospel. We should know it is futile to strive to change the culture, norms, values, and behaviors of the lost by logic, persuasion, or force; only Christ can change them. We are to reject the sin of our society, but we cannot become enemies of the very people we are to win for him. We are to “affirm constantly” the truth of the gospel, while demonstrating a saved, transformed life. Doing these things will be “good and profitable unto men,” meaning to save their souls from hell and instead to eternal joy.