Titus 1: False Teachers
This reflection was written on February 18, 2010 and is posted today as we reflect of false leaders, teachers, and the alternative facts they present as truth.
Paul is not the only one who warns early church members of false teachings and false teachers. In Chapter 3 of his letter, James warns us that we must make the distinction between earthly and divine wisdom. Throughout his letter he cautions us that faith without works is dead. Words without action are meaningless (1:22). And we humans are clever at rationalizing our actions, making sense where there is none to be made. Today, we hear Paul’s words to Titus that he is to silence those who would spread falsehoods, he is to refute counterfeit arguments, he is to witness against the emptiness of any doctrine which does not carry the true message of the new Law of Freedom.
Like James, Paul speculates about what these false teachers may hope to profit for their own sordid gain. As a minister designated to lead Christ’s flock, Titus is required to speak and act on the deception he hears and sees. He is asked to call God’s people back to honesty and integrity.
How many of us are willing to do the same if it means we make our family, friends, and colleagues – and ourselves – uncomfortable? Are we willing to act if we know that our words and actions may cause discomfort? Are we prepared to give up our worldly wisdom for the divine? Are we willing to sacrifice our earthly life in order to belong to God?
Both Paul and James remind us often that we are known by the fruit of our labor. Our deeds either support or deny our claims about ourselves. As we make our pilgrimage toward Easter, as we investigate what we are willing to change about ourselves, can we see the places in these verses where Paul speaks to us? As stewards of God’s word, how do we live, how do we play, how do we work, and how do we pray? Are we sayers of God’s word only as James challenges us to ask? Or are we doers of the Word as well? Are we following false teachers or – even worse – are we acting as false teachers? Or do we seek to full members in the unifying body of Christ? Do we exhort with sound doctrine to refute opponents?
Paul makes a simple list for us to use as a measuring stick for ourselves. We may want to spend time with verses 7 through 9 sometime today as we explore God’s call to be . . . hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that one will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.