Jump Start # 2288
Jump Start # 2288
Titus 3:2 “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
Our verse today actually shows two powerful lessons. First, initially, it illustrates how God expects us to treat other people. Not speaking evil. Avoid quarreling. Be gentle. Show courtesy. Those are all choices. A person can be this way if they want.
The other lesson is found in the next verse. Paul shows that they weren’t always this way. In fact, there was a time when they were just the opposite. They were foolish, disobedient, slaves to passions and hated by others and hating one another. Such a dark and sad description of their lives without Christ.
Hated and hating—brings an image to my mind of a snarling dog. Not the kind that you want to go up and pet and wags his tail at you. This one shows his teeth. This one scares you. Hated and hating—sounds like Cable talk news. I once thought it was all about politics. But I now feel that for some this is just their nature. If they didn’t hate the political scene, then it would be something else. Some folks are just not happy unless they are miserable. I’ve known people who came home from Disney grumpy and complaining. Even the happiest place in the world couldn’t make them happy.
Hated and hating is in our culture. I fear our younger folks will grow up learning that this is the right course to follow. Mad at everyone, unable to see good in anything, nothing to be thankful for, their hearts have soured, they only rejoice to see bad things happen to those they hate. Paul put himself in such a list. The passage begins, “For we also once were foolish…” Down that list one finds hated and hating. Paul was hated by others. And, Paul hated others.
What is powerful about all of this is that Paul changed. The brethren changed. God expects us to change. You can go from hating and being hated to being kind, gentle and courteous. You can avoid quarreling. You can not only get along, but you can be pleasant. You can be a blessing to others. Hateful people can drop that and become nice and loving.
This is not going to happen naturally. The switch and the change came about when they followed Jesus. When the kindness of God and His love for mankind appeared are the words of the fourth verse. Being saved by a gracious God gave them every reason, every example and every opportunity to change. They stopped hating. They stopped being selfish. They stopped arguing about so many things. They learned to get along. They learned to love others and be nice.
Now, what is interesting about this, is that some haven’t seemed to learn this. Even in the church there are those who always want to stir things up. They are not happy if others are happy. If they can find something wrong, they will and then they will tell others about it. And, hating, yes, it’s still there among some who call themselves Christians. Who they hate are any and all who are not like them. You hear it in comments in Bible classes. “Those people,” usually referring to those in different churches or the unchurched. “Those people,” are often mocked, looked down upon and just a shade away from being hated. Bring up those “tattooed” people, or men with long hair, or gays and you’ll find the most unkind, unpleasant and actually unbiblical comments. And dare any of “those” kinds of people enter the church building, the looks, the whispers, the shunning, all go into overdrive. You’ll hear, “What are we going to do?” Or, worse, “we don’t want those kind coming here?”
The Holy Spirit’s words through Paul to Titus was to remind the brethren. Remember where you came from. Remember who you are. Don’t go back to those foolish and wrong attitudes. Don’t open the door to hatred. Christians need to be reminded of these things. They did in the first century and they do today. Hatred can come right in the front door of the church house, carried in our hearts because we have never gotten rid of those things and have never truly learned to be kind, generous, loving and forgiving, as God has been to us.
There’s not much we can do about the world we live in. Hatred thrives. Some wouldn’t know what to do if there wasn’t someone to hate. The only hope of changing folks is showing Jesus. If anyone had a reason to hate, it would have been Jesus. He was perfect, but they accused Him of having a demon. He did good, but they argued with Him for eating with sinners. They didn’t like where He was from. They didn’t like the words that He said. They didn’t like who He included around Him. And, all the while, they were blaspheming Him, and violating the laws of God. Sure, Jesus had reason to hate. He could have opened up the earth and swallowed a bunch of them, but He didn’t. On the cross, He asked His Father to forgive them. His blood that they shed was the very means to forgive them. Hatred doesn’t flow in the veins of Jesus.
Standing in the shadow of Jesus, hatred must not flow in our veins either. This is true of color. This is true of politics. This is true of nationalities. This is true of sports. This is true of those who do not agree with us. This is true of those who do not believe. Hatred will never bring someone to Christ. Hatred will never open the doors for conversation. Kindness will. Love will. Prayers will. But hatred won’t. It always closes doors.
Hated and hating—what a sad way to live. It’s like wearing the ole’ sack cloth and ashes. Why? Miserable on the inside and now miserable on the outside. Hatred is nothing more than modern sack cloth. We can do better. We must do better.