Saturday, 2 June 2018
This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, Titus 1:13
Here Paul confirms his thought about Epimenides’ words concerning Cretans of the previous verse. They, as a culture of people, were liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. Titus would have his hands full with such a group of people. Because of this, Paul will give Titus words on how to deal with them appropriately.
His words here show us that reading and studying about cultures, including their philosophical and religious texts, is a smart plan of action. Paul cites Greek philosophers in Acts 17 as well. In knowing the writings, and in using them properly, he was able to effectively communicate to the people on the same level as they were, and with an understanding of what they already believed, or how they acted as a people. His example is one worthy of emulation. For example, to talk to a Roman Catholic is helpful when one understands what Roman Catholicism teaches.
Having agreed about the disposition of Cretans, confirming what one of their own says about them, he then says, “Therefore, rebuke them sharply.” The word translated as “sharply” is a rare one, being found only here and in 2 Corinthians 13:10. It gives the sense of severely, curtly, or abruptly. In other words, because of the general attitude of those in Crete, Titus would have to be short with his congregation. He would tell them something once, and then he was to be abrupt in his second address to them. It sounds like a rather unhappy way to deal with people, but we are shown here that we are to handle each encounter according to the makeup of those being addressed. This can be seen in Paul’s other use of this word in 2 Corinthians 13 –
“Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.” 2 Corinthians 13:10
The reason for Paul’s words there, and his words to Titus here, are for a specific purpose. It is so “that they may be sound in their faith.” As evidenced by Paul’s letters, there are many who are easily swayed by the winds of various doctrines. They are not well-grounded and they keep coming back with the same question based on having heard the next new and exciting thing, no matter how goofy it is. Nothing has changed today, and his words clearly show that being abrupt with people who are prone to laziness in their theology is a definite need. They are to be sharply corrected. If not, they will continuously be corrupted by bad influences.
Life application: Kid gloves in teaching theology may be appropriate for the soul who truly struggles with difficult issues, but they are not appropriate for those who continuously listen to crazy things, absorbing whatever nonsense tickles their ears. Paul’s approach to such people is to be curt with them. If you are considering being a teacher of the word, are you ready to handle such things appropriately? Be assured, they will come, and you must be ready.
Precious Lord God, we live in a world which finds offense at every little thing. It is a world where political correctness has taken deep roots, and so it is hard to have any conversation without bruising someone’s feelings. This has transferred to the church, and simply teaching Your word, as it is written, is found too difficult for many to stand. Even so, may we never fail to teach it accurately, faithfully, and in its proper context. If offense comes, so be it. Help us never to waffle on its precepts, or in our convictions. Amen.