Meditations in Titus: 21: Doers of Good
Titus 3:1,2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
In the previous meditation we focused on the first part of these two verses, the need for believers to be good citizens and to be obedient to the laws of the land. But we saw all this in the context of Paul’s teaching that our behaviour reveals who we are and should reveal the Lord to the onlooking world. A number of times, we have seen, good behaviour is required for the sake of the Gospel, but now Paul is saying that to be good citizens we shouldn’t just be those who obey the laws of the land, but we should be those who “do whatever is good.”
Before we go on to see the outworking of that in the verse that follows, we would do well to remind ourselves that goodness is something which comes up more than once in this letter. Early on, the qualification for an elder included this: “Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good,” (1:8) ‘Good’ here goes beyond the dictionary definition of ‘what is right, correct and proper’ but includes something that is virtuous in that it brings benefit and blessing to the world, it is a positive, benefiting value. The Christian leader should love that sort of thing.
Then there was the condemnation of the corrupt of whom Paul said, “They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” (1:16) Bad people don’t do good and that is one of the things that marks them out as bad. Then when it came to the older women we saw, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” (2:3) There good was set against wrong speech and wrong behaviour and the indication is that there is speech and behaviour that is good and that is what should be taught. When it came to the young men he said, “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” (2:6,7) Titus’ should be characterized by goodness so that through that he will be an example for the younger men to follow.
Finally in that chapter her spoke of, “Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (2:13,14) The mark of a believer is that they not only do good but they are eager to do good. Later, again as an outworking of our faith he teaches, “I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.” (3:8) Titus’ teaching must always have this end product in mind – that God’s people are to do what is good. In his closing verses yet again he says, “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.” (3:14) Doing good in that context includes working to provide for the family (implied). Thus eight times in this fairly short letter Paul refers to what is good. It may be something we take for granted, but he doesn’t. Goodness is to be a primary characteristic of our lives as God’s children, as believers.
But he continues on our verses above to apply goodness: “do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” Goodness includes the negative, not doing certain things. Things that are bad, wrong or unrighteous are by definition not good. Perhaps because there was so much ‘wrong talking’ there on Crete (see 1:10-14) Paul picks out slander, speaking wrongly about others. One of the aspects of our goodness should be that – that when people encounter us they know we will not say anything wrong about another person or group.
But there is also the positive side to goodness. Being ‘peaceable’ according to the dictionary is ‘inclined toward, or promoting peace; not quarrelsome.’ Jesus said “blessed are the makers of peace” (Mat 5:9). This means we are not only people at peace to be with, but we also seek to bring peace into a troublesome world. Another positive of goodness is being ‘considerate’, being aware of the needs and state of other people and taking that into account in the way we respond to them. And then there is our general attitude towards others: “show true humility toward all men.” Humility is knowing our own frailness, weaknesses and so on, so that we do not laud it over other people. Humility is the counter to pride, of which there is much in the world.
Thus when we exhibit these characteristics , we will indeed stand out in the world and that is what this has all been about, that we stand out as God’s children and reveal to the world an alternative way of living, a better way of living, and in so doing we draw others to Christ. May it be so.