For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you. Titus 1:5 NAS
LET IT GLOW
We can laugh about it now, but at the time, it certainly wasn't funny. Our family took a vacation to Kansas City one summer when the kids were elementary age. We spent the night in a motel where the door to your room was inside a hallway. The next morning, during our rush to load the car and begin our fun day, our son had to answer nature's call. We three waited in the car for a while. Finally, he burst through the door with this horrific look on his face. He was scared to death that we had left him there.(He couldn't find his way outside.) Why one of us didn't go back in to wait for him, I don't know and am sorry now for our lack of good judgment. The poor little guy thought he was left all alone in a strange place. I wonder if Titus felt the same way.
Paul first encounterd the people of Crete, a Mediterranean island, while he was being transported to Rome for his audience with Caesar's tribunal (Acts 27:1-13). There was a strong northerly wind, Euroclydon, (hurricane) that forced his ship to travel along the island's southern coast and take refuge there for a period of time. Although he was technically under arrest, Paul's guard gave him freedom to visit churches and conduct ministry (Acts 27:3). The island first heard about Christ from Jewish pilgrims returning from Jerusalem with amazing stories of Pentecost (Acts 2:11). Their isolation made them susceptible to the influence of local traditions, itinerant philosophers, and Roman temptations. Paul left Titus in charge for organizing and stabilizing work there. (Swindoll)
"Paul left a church and converts wherever he went and they needed to set in order a church and ordain elders in every city," states Liberty Bible Commentary.
Titus was left on Crete to correct the things that were wrong. The churches needed qualified leaders, some of which needed shepherding. One group of false teachers was trying to mix Jewish law with the gospel of grace (verses 10, 14). Some Gentile believers were abusing the message of grace and turning it into a license to sin (2:11-15). These weren't easy people to work with and Titus needed extraordinary patience and love. He could have easily left, but didn't. Titus was Paul's official apostolic representative with authority to work. It had been Paul's policy to ordain elders in the churches he had established (Acts 14:23), but he hadn't been able to stay in Crete long enough to accomplish this task. (Wiersbe)
Do I leave God's work when people get hard to work with or hard to love?
In his book, Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Swindoll divides the apostle's letter into two sections:the leadership of the church (1:5-2:10) and the mission of the church (2:11-3:11). Paul begins with a description of church leadership, giving all of his attention to matters of character, ignoring organizational structure. If men possess godly character, they will lead the church well regardless of the model they adopt.
LET IT GROW
Paul describes to Titus the characteristics of the character that a man suitable for the high and holy office held in the church found in verses 6-9. I divided them into two parts: those qualities he is and those he isn't supposed to have. (Shouldn't these also apply to all believers and church members?)
First, here are the character qualities of a church leader that he is supposed to have:
1. above reproach means "blameless" or "without accusation." It's not a requirement for sinless perfection,
but a general assessment of a man's maturity and reputation. This general quality of character frames all the
rest, dividing into 3 broad categories: home life, public life, and church life. This personal life is beyond
accusation and public scandal.
2. the husband of one wife reads in the Greek "a one-woman man." This describes a man who is married
to one woman and continues to live in fidelity and harmony with this same woman. This husband is
consistently, both inwardly and outwardly, devoted and faithful to his wife (1 Tim. 3:2). An otherwise
qualified single man is not necessarily disqualified. This is not speaking of divorce, but of internal and
external purity in the sexual area.(Prov. 6:32-33) (MacArthur)
3. having children who believe describes a man who has effectively accomplished in his home what we
hope he will facilitate in the church. The Greek term teknon, translated "child," doesn't imply any particular
age range, but ususally has in mind any offpring still living under the roof and authority of his parents. Also,
the term is plural, suggesting we consider his children in general, not any particular one. Let's face it, many
of the very best families have a child who goes astray, at least for a time. This doesn't disqualify a leader
by having a prodigal child.
MacArthur tells us that these leaders have faithful children who believe in Christ and are submissive
4. hospitable denotes loving someone who is foreign or different. He welcomes those who are different and
easily overcomes the natural tension that exists between them because of their differences.
5. loving what is good describes a deep-seated love for and submission to the Lord, His Word and His
will, as it is carried out in His way and in His time. He's quick to examine his actions and motives in a
constant effort to do what's right.
6. sensible suggests being reasonable, having sound judgment. It's translated as "self-controlled." Sensibility
should be the defining quality of the congregation, starting with the leaders.
7. just means "conforming to custom, fulfilling obligations, and observing legal norms. A just man seeks
fairness for others but rarely for himself.
8. devout speaks of someone who authentically and completely devotes himself to the Lord. He doesn't
seek perfection, but walks a consistent walk with Christ in which he remains open to change, ready to
sacrifice his own way, and sensitive to the Spirit's conviction and encouragement.
9. self-controlled means having dominion or possession over oneself. He must not allow his emotions to
dictate his responses.
10. holding fast the faithful word refers to men who base their lives on sound doctrine as it has been
taught by a trustworthy authority.
11. exhort in sound doctrine uses the verb "exhort" which comes from parakaleo, referring to the Holy
Spirit. It's a faithful teaching and defending of Scripture which encourages godliness and confronts sin and
12. refutes those who contradict uses the word "refute," which is to show people their sins and summon
them to repentance. Leaders must know the truth, live the truth, teach the truth, and defend the truth
against a clever, ruthless enemy.
[Reference: Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus]
As I said earlier, I think these characteristics should be evident in all believers. Which ones do I need to work on? Which ones do you need to work on?
LET IT GO
Ask the Lord which characteristic I need to develop in my life.