This story is now about 20 years old, at least. But in the mid to late 90s, one of our church teenagers was a student in a local public high school. There was a period of time at the school where one or two fights seemed to break out practically every day in or near the lunch room. Teachers and administrators would have to get into the middle of what were repeated events that disturbed everyone.
Our church teen got to a point where he had enough of witnessing this, and after the latest confrontation had been calmed, he jumped up on a table and shouted loudly, “Everyone, Stop this! Be nice! Just be nice to each other!” I’m not sure how it worked out over time, but he made a very strong point.
How should Christian people handle themselves in a world that is often a bit crazy? Paul has some directives that he writes to his disciple on the island of Crete: Titus. This was not a glorious assignment. The people on Crete had something of a reputation for being in the “wackbiscuit” category of behavior.
Titus 3:1 – Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
That gentleness stuff is not the natural bent of most people, especially contemporary Americans. We are certainly more prone to call people out and aggressively tear them down. Yes, there is a time where truth needs to be affirmed strongly, and it could be argued that such a time as that is now our current experience. But there is a way to do this that is compelling and Spirit-driven.
Paul says that he and others who had come to know Christ were wackbiscuits at one time in their lives …
Titus 3:3 – At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
But then there was a change in their lives, as the ultimate kindness was shown to them …
Titus 3:4 – But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
This is one of the very best summary statements about the gospel message and the work of Christ. It is not what we’ve done, it is what he has done in mercy toward us. The result is a washing from the stain of sin, an inner renewal through the Holy Spirit, and a future life as heirs of eternal life.
So how should one of God’s heirs act?
Titus 3:8 – This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Yes, an heir of the hope of eternal life should not act like the rest of the world. Rather, daily life should be about doing good, and that will take a focus upon other people. This is a conscious act of devotion that is an excellent lifestyle that is profitable for others. This is about as practical as it gets. Just be nice! Share the gospel.
This is our identity – though sinners in Adam, we are justified in Christ and adopted into his family to serve as ambassadors and heirs of God.
This ends our series on IDENTITY. The next week will be off from any devotionals. Then on Monday the 22nd begins a 30-day, 5-week, Monday-to-Saturday set of writings that take you through the book of Romans. I’ll copy them here to this site, though there is a dedicated site for these writings to accompany the upcoming citywide sermon series called “Overcomer.” You might invite friends to follow that at www.ReadRomans.com.