I try and read the Bible everyday. When I do I ask God to speak to me. I ask him to show me what’s happening in my life and my world and what He’d like me to do as I read.
It’s remarkable how He provides what we need and even what we want when we ask Him for things like this.
A couple of months ago I sat down to read the book of Titus, it’s a letter Paul wrote to a young pastor. As I sat down to read my heart was troubled. Believe it or not there was significant tension throughout the world and amongst fellow believers because of some of the things a few politicians were saying and doing. To make matters worse these politicians would invoke the name of Jesus and some vocal Christians on twitter were saying that it was a smoke screen to garner support from an important voting block. All of this had created a great deal of tension in my heart and as I sat down to read Titus I was trying to understand what it was I was supposed to do in response to all this. Was I suppose to speak up or stand up or just shut up?
With those questions on my heart I read these words…
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Titus 1.15–16
As I read this I thought that there may not be a better pair of verses in the entire Bible to describe the current state of our culture. So many people doing so many things that seem to run counter to the way of Jesus all in the name of Jesus. God’s name being taken and used in a vain attempt to certify behaviors, actions and positions as Godly all while leading the masses into hysterical reactions that only serve to divide the Church and the entire country. Truly, if you take Jesus seriously we must take heed of Paul’s words and look beyond what we hope people say to the actions that are being done by those people.
I thought as I read these words — I must say something. I must stand up and point out how evil and hypocritical everyone is being!
But then I kept reading this letter to a young pastor… the very next verse says this.
“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.” Titus 2.1
As I kept reading through chapter 2 of this letter to a young pastor it became clear what a pastor ought to do in the midst of bad behavior done in Jesus name. It’s true I MUST say something but it wasn’t primarily condemning the evil behavior or the evildoers instead it was to teach what is true to those who will listen.
Paul goes on to give Titus some idea of why teaching “what is appropriate to sound doctrine” just might be the answer to those who “claim to know God” acting in ways that are counter to God’s heart.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,” Titus 2.11
It’s so easy to think that you ought to be doing more. I often wonder if I could or should be fighting for broader influence and trying to make a bigger impact especially at a time when things seem so volatile but Paul’s letter to Titus reminds me that as a pastor I have been entrusted with the opportunity to bring light in the darkness — not through my statement on any current event but through the lives of those who accept the teachings of Jesus and willingly trade in their will for His. My job (amongst other things) is to teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.
So, if you’re a pastor (maybe you’re pastoring a church vocationally or you’re voluntarily pastoring a small group and especially if you’re pastoring your family) and you see corruption, disobedience and evil being done in the name of Jesus you really MUST say something — but it might not be what you think! Teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine because that is what teaches those who are committed to Jesus to say “NO” to all the sinful behavior and worldly passions you see pulling at your people’s hearts and in time they will live with self-control and be lights in the midst of the darkness that surrounds us all.