“There are two choices in the Christian life. You can drift along, or you can employ your talents enthusiastically for the glory of the Lord……..God is not going to measure the use of our talents against those of other people, but only against what we ourselves are capable of doing according to how he has equipped us.” Charles Stanley
Jesus, knowing that He had come from God and was going away to God, stood up from dinner and removed His outer garments. He then wrapped Himself in a towel, poured water in a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His towel.
Commentary from The Voice Bible:
Within pain and filth, there is an opportunity to extend God’s kingdom through an expression of love, humility, and service. This simple act of washing feet is a metaphor for how the world looks through the lens of Jesus’ grace. He sees the people—the world He created—which He loves. He also sees the filthy corruption in the world that torments everyone. His mission is to cleanse those whom He loves from those horrors. This is His redemptive work with feet, families, disease, famine, and hearts. When Jesus sees disease, He sees the opportunity to heal. When He sees sin, He sees a chance to forgive and redeem. When He sees dirty feet, He sees a chance to wash them.
“….employ your talents enthusiastically for the glory of the Lord….”
As I think about these things, I am challenged to consider my ponderings over the last two months of how Titus 2’s ministry should continue to grow and how to use my own and our volunteers’ spiritual gifts. As I talked to a close Christian friend this week, she asked if I had done a spiritual gifts inventory review recently. It has been 10-12 years since my last inventory. We know that over time and with spiritual growth, experience, and wisdom, God will cause different gifts to “mature” in a growing disciple. She suggested that I might benefit from a review of my spiritual gifts. So, I will take some time today and in the week ahead for review and contemplation of spiritual gifts and how they are to be employed.
I have been confronted in the last six months with some challenging questions, most notably, “Why are you doing this?” It is not primarily to give women a temporary shelter off the street or out of jail, although that has often been the source of applicants. We do not do it to improve their health or financial stability, although those are things that occur as we do our work.
We do it to help bring the Word of God alive in the hearts and minds of women as THEY submit their lives to Christ and are transformed into empowered and equipped believers who can share the Gospel wherever they go. We teach and observe the women who come to us looking for evidence of brokenness that leads to sincere yearning for Christ and to meekness and humility, for openness to living honestly and accountably, for eagerness for the Word, for hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for willingness to take correction, and for a softening tender conscience. We have observed over the years that such changes in a woman are generally observable within two to six weeks of her arrival at Titus 2 as she is allowed time for quiet and contemplative consideration of what she wants in life. If she is genuinely seeking a relationship with Christ then she will flourish and grow in Titus 2. If she is self-bound in rebellion she will engage in aversion to truth, judging others to make herself look better, and jumping quickly into conflict with others. She will be distracted and inattentive and she will not be open to the work that we do. Women who come in with such resistance and rebellion disrupt the work that others are doing in the program. We try to keep such disruptions to a minimum.
Some come wanting the blessing and benefits of Titus 2’s ministry- shelter, healthcare, material provision, friendship- but they are not willing to surrender their hearts and minds to Christ and invest the time to learn and grow in a Christian worldview. Some are looking for a quick fix of an immediate problem, not a lifelong transformation to overcome past decisions and mistakes. Titus 2 doesn’t offer quick fixes. We offer the love and transforming power of the Word and a supportive community. Titus 2 is certainly not the only place one can find that or even the best place. But it is the right place for some. Titus 2 volunteers are not here to exhaust ourselves and drain our supporters’ resources attempting to break down resistance and combatting the distraction and disruption of those who come with false motives…….to get what they can and not be changed. When false motives are revealed, as they will be in time, the exit plan is put in place and further efforts to offer transformational assistance are discontinued. We love them, pray for them, wish them well in their pursuit of what they seek, and help them move on.
We have said “no” to some because we did not perceive that they were ready for the structure and discipline of our program. We have said “go” to some who came and found that they did not want what we give. We have found joyful fellowship with many who embrace the teaching, values, and lifestyle of Titus 2.
We have a sense of urgency about the task of making disciples. And, as Christ instructed the 70 disciples he sent out, when you meet resistance and they will not hear the Word, shake the dust of your feet and move on. There is no time to waste among those who will not hear the truth. Or, as one of our students commented this week, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”
I have felt firmly that our task is rooted in Titus 2’s words from the Apostle Paul:
“….talk to them; give them a good, healthy diet of solid teaching so they will know the right way to live.……here’s what I want you to teach the older women: Be respectful. Steer clear of gossip or drinking too much so that you can teach what is good to young women. Be a positive example, showing them what it is to love their husbands and children, and teaching them to control themselves in every way and to be pure. Train them to manage the household, to be kind, and to be submissive to their husbands, all of which honor the word of God.
……Set a good example for everyone. Go out of your way to do what is right, speak the truth with the weight and authority that come from an honest and pure life. No one can argue with that. Then your enemies will cower in shame because they have nothing bad to say against us.
……Advise all who serve: Work hard for your masters, and be loyal to them. Strive to please. Don’t be rude or sarcastic. Don’t steal or embezzle your masters’ property. Show them you are trustworthy, and all the credit will go to the teaching of God our Savior.
We have cause to celebrate because the grace of God has appeared, offering the gift of salvation to all people. Grace arrives with its own instruction: run away from anything that leads us away from God; abandon the lusts and passions of this world; live life now in this age with awareness and self-control, doing the right thing and keeping yourselves holy. Watch for His return; expect the blessed hope we all will share when our great God and Savior, Jesus the Anointed, appears again. He gave His body for our sakes and will not only break us free from the chains of wickedness, but He will also prepare a community uncorrupted by the world that He would call His own—people who are passionate about doing the right thing.”
Commentary from The Voice Bible:
At times Paul can be unrelenting. As he challenged Timothy in the two letters he addressed to him, Paul also challenges Titus to live the truth he teaches. People are drawn toward God, not through bold arguments, but by passionate godliness. We must be passionate about doing the right thing. Our actions tell the story. Our lives are living parables, shouting the mystery of godliness. Paul tells Titus to be bold, to teach with authority, and not to let anyone belittle him. We get a clear picture of a strong, courageous giant of a faith. Titus is sent to the people of Crete—a people short on virtue and long on vice—to fashion a church of loving disciples.
“So, Titus, tell them all these things. Encourage and teach them with all authority—and rebuke them with the same. You are one called to serve.”
We believe that by doing these things we will be able to “….employ our talents enthusiastically for the glory of the Lord….” and mentor women into abundant, recovered lives.