Formations lesson for April 17: Speaking of Public Behavior : Thursday, March 24, 2005
March 23 2005 by Julia S. Ledford

Formations lesson for April 17: Speaking of Public Behavior : Thursday, March 24, 2005
Thursday, March 24, 2005

Formations lesson for April 17: Speaking of Public Behavior

By Julia S. Ledford
Focal Passage: Titus 3:1-11

Have you heard someone say they don't care what people think? I have heard it said by people committed to doing right or determined to do wrong. Paul realized there is a context in which it does matter. Social perception matters when we are followers of Christ because persons will either be drawn to Christ or repulsed from Him, based on our actions.

Paul put the pressure on Titus and the believers under his charge to validate their faith and testimony with admirable behavior. Our grandmothers were right - we should "mind our 'Ps' and 'Qs.'"

What really matters

Most of us learn at some point that it is not the car we drive, the name brands we wear, the house in which we live, or the size of our stock portfolio that ultimately matters. What matters is how we live day in and day out in our houses, in our cars, in our clothes, and with our resources.

Believers represent the Lord Jesus Christ as the Body of Christ in the world. We are His hands, His eyes, His feet and His voice today. We are ambassadors who represent Christ to each person with whom we interface. Paul admonishes us to represent Jesus well.

Are there limits to obedience?

There are some valid questions that emerge in this study, such as how far Paul would intend a believer to go in being subject to government authorities. The qualifying statements would seem to be in verses 1 and 8. We are to strive for that which is good, excellent and profitable to everyone.

Since the overall theme is that we should not allow ourselves to be enslaved to anything evil, Paul was not suggesting that we give unquestioning submission to authorities or anyone else. Being a Christian should cause us to devote ourselves joyfully and faithfully to good works only.

In verses 4-8, Paul gave a succinct and wonderful gospel summary, which he asserted to be a sure saying. We are assured that we have a firm basis for living a new and admirable life, but only because of the goodness and kindness of our loving God who has appeared in Christ Jesus to save us. Through no merit of our own, salvation is a daily gift that should make a difference in our lives and relationships.

Since we have been set free from the full range of sinful attitudes and behaviors, we are free to live a life that honors the one who saved us. We have such new potential through the indwelling Spirit of Christ that we should not let anyone or anything sidetrack us.

Salvation is about change, renewal and new directions. Going backwards is not in the plan. We are saved from negative life behaviors and saved for positive life actions. Christ has set us free to be productive citizens of God's Kingdom, living according to His rules as we encounter the world and its rules.

Are there limits to inclusiveness?

Verse 10 is a bit troubling. It seems out of context with the admonition of verse 1 unless we recall that Jesus once advised His disciples to treat a habitual sinner as "a pagan and a tax collector" (Matt. 18:17). It seems incongruent with Jesus' teachings by word and example that we are to be inclusive, rather than exclusive.

I have concluded that it means to treat troublesome persons in the same way we are to treat any unbeliever and try to win them to the right way through love.

It also means that we should not put ourselves in position to be influenced negatively by them. Where we can influence them positively, we should try. Where they could influence us negatively, we should be shy.

3/23/2005 11:00:00 PM by Julia S. Ledford | with 0 comments

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