Today’s Bible reading is Ezekiel 9 and Titus 3.
Whether we live in the first or the twenty-first century, we inhabit a world which lies under the sway of the evil one. Day by day, we witness and experience some ugly things. Foolishness. Disobedience. Deception. Slavery to passions and pleasures. Malice. Envy. Hatred. We know this because we are more than witnesses to the ugliness; we’ve been participants.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)
But something has changed. More accurately, Someone has changed us.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
We are hope-filled heirs of the gracious, conquering King. And yet, we continue to witness and experience a world that lies under the sway of the evil one for a little while longer. So how should we conduct ourselves in the midst of such darkness? “Remind them,” the apostle Paul charges Titus. Remind those disciples living on the island of Crete, a haven of “liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (Titus 3:1-2)
This is what it looks like to be the salt of the earth. Not foolish and disobedient, but submissive. Not deceiving, but ready for every good work. Not slaves to various passions and pleasures, but resolved to speak evil of no one. Not passing our days in malice or envy, but taking a pass on ever-present opportunities to quarrel. Not full of hatred, but gentle, demonstrating perfect courtesy toward all people.
First century Crete needed light. So does twenty-first century America. In Titus 3, we’ve just been reminded where the light comes from.