Esther King, Bible study leader for this month’s study
12As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there. 13Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. 14Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
15Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith.
Grace be with you all.
This is Paul’s last instruction to Titus. Here, Paul turns the focus of Titus and the Cretan church over to the positive and practical things they must do.
We’re reminded that Titus isn’t from Crete and his work there isn’t his forever-job! Paul wants Titus to ‘put in order what was left unfinished’ – establishing leadership in the Cretan church – but he’s also sending reinforcements. Artemas and/or Tychicus. Not only that but he wants Titus to join him in Nicopolis if possible. I love this hint of the importance of fellowship and it stacks up with what Paul’s been saying in his letter. It reminds me of the kind of relationships Titus is supposed to teach as described in Titus 2. We’re to build each other up and encourage each other in the faith.
On a similar note, Paul gives another specific instruction. Zenas the lawyer and Apollos were most likely traveling Christian missionaries – reliant on the generosity of local believers to meet their needs so they could focus on furthering the work of the gospel. The Cretan believers are to do everything they can to help them and see that they have everything they need. What better way for the Cretans to serve and help to further the faith of the elect, than to support Zenas and Apollos who are devoted to doing just that themselves?
I love the way the word everything is repeated. Paul is telling them to be wholehearted in their support and I sense Paul emphasising this wholeheartedness in verse 14 where he says, ‘Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good.’ You can’t really be devoted to something if you’re not wholehearted about it, can you?
With this verse we’ve come full circle back to the ‘big idea’ we started with and I want to pick out a few key points:
1. We need to learn to be devoted to doing good. As our video clip at the start showed, and as we’ll know in our own hearts, doing good doesn’t come naturally! But this is a skill we must learn if we’re going to be productive in our knowledge of Jesus.
2. Living a productive life in our knowledge of Jesus means being changed by the knowledge of what God has done for us. God’s grace transforms us, changing EVERYTHING – our perspective, heart, behaviour and actions.
3. When we’re wholeheartedly devoted to doing good it makes the gospel attractive! It blesses people and causes them to look to God and praise him. And that’s what it’s all about!
WE are reading this letter, praying that it will change and equip us to further the work of the gospel today. We’re part of this cycle and we need to be actively involved so it will continue in perpetuity until Christ comes again! Amen!
It’s important to remember that the key to all this is in Paul’s sign off at the end of his letter. After he’s sent his greetings he writes, ‘Grace be with you all.’ This is a great reminder to us all! We can’t live productive lives without first being saved and receiving God’s grace. And once we’re saved, we can’t go on that journey of learning to be devoted to doing good without God’s grace. Grace will train us to have the right motivations and purposes. And we’ll certainly be made aware of God’s grace time and again as we make mistakes and get back on track. So, it’s really important! ‘God’s grace be with us all!’
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to us through this passage. Thank you for the way it exhorts Christians to avoid or deal with anything that threatens to prevent us from glorifying you and therefore pointing others to you. Thank you for the way it prompts and instructs us to actively participate in your work in the world. Lord, if it weren’t for your gift of grace, it would be impossible for us to be made righteous in your sight or glorify you at all. And we can’t live a life that glorifies you without your Holy Spirit working in and through us. Please help us to live for you and because you first loved us, to truly love you with all of our hearts, all of our souls, and all of our strength. AMEN