We Are What Nobody But God Sees
Reading: Titus 1
Paul had left Titus with a daunting task. The older apostle’s “true son” in the faith (1:4) had been assigned the job of appointing elders for all the towns that had been reached with the Gospel on the island of Crete.
The trouble was, the Cretans didn’t have very good reputations (1:12) and that, unhappily, included some of those who claimed to be believers. The elders that Titus was looking for would be responsible for guiding the young churches and keeping heresy at bay—and it seems there was a lot of that going around that one little island! Choosing men of integrity was vital.
The heresy and the hypocrisy would be challenges to Titus both in facing opposition to the Truth and in choosing men who met the standards for church leadership. From among those who had been, as Paul described it, “liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons,” Titus had to find men who had been so transformed by the Spirit of God that they were now considered “blameless” by those who knew them. No easy feat.
Actions had to provide the proof since some of the possible candidates may have been among those who claimed “to know God, but by their actions they deny him” (1:16).
Hence the impressive list of requirements necessary for the men who would be chosen as elders, given to Titus by Paul and recorded for us in Titus 1:6-9.
Some of the Cretans who claimed to know God were “talkers” (1:10, 11) who went around spreading their particular brand of religion among any groups of people who would listen. They did it to deceive for the purposes of financial gain. Titus was to rebuke them in an effort to get them back on track. Otherwise he was to oppose them with the Truth.
The need for a strict standard was obvious. It wasn’t enough that any of the candidates for leadership “talk a good line.” They had to also “walk a good line.” They needed to be men of integrity. I wonder if Titus had to struggle with some of the believers in the church who might have been willing to compromise a bit on the requirements for their new leadership? After all, if the elder has to hold to such a high standard, might he not ask those over whom he has authority to hold to those same standards? Cretans, apparently, had trouble with any kind of standards and might have quite happy to follow someone who was a little less “perfect” than Paul seemed to think was necessary.
Perhaps, like Clinton, JFK, Nixon, or Swaggart and Bakker, some of them believed (and hoped) that private lives, were not meant for public scrutiny. Biblically however, whether it be secular or spiritual, leadership was, and is, a verb. A man, or a woman, is measured as much by what he, or she, is in private as by what they are in public.