I’ve been continuing this year to follow James Gray’s ideas for mastering the Bible (reading one book of the Bible over and over for a month—the shorter ones sometimes sixty times or more). After only one year of this, I’ve found that my understanding of the New Testament and love for the Person and work of Jesus has increased exponentially, and I recommend it to you.
This month, I’m reading Titus, and I’m completely taken by 3:1-7 because of its relevance to all of us who try to persuade others about the truth of Christianity and meet with anger or rudeness:
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Why are we to be “peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men,” even—no, especially—to those who treat us poorly? Paul says it’s because when God showed His kindness and love to us malicious, hateful human beings, He saved us completely by grace. We weren’t righteous. We didn’t deserve it.
This is the gospel. So when we, likewise, are kind to people, we illustrate something very important about the gospel to them. We reflect the kindness of God that flows out from Him towards people who haven’t earned it. This is why Paul concludes his thought by saying we need to “be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Coming at the end of this section, it would seem that a big part of why these deeds are profitable is that they illustrate grace and the gospel to the world around us.
Throughout salvation history, God has used visual parables to teach people truths about Himself (the institution of marriage, the rescue of the Israelites from slavery, the temple, etc.), and when we are gracious to others, we become part of a parable of God’s grace. What an incredible, humbling thought! It brings new weight and depth to the importance of being a kind and patient ambassador.