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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Actions speak

Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around. 
(Titus 2:1-8)

We began to look into the book of Titus yesterday.  As you may recall, Paul was writing to Titus about the character traits of a solid church leader.  As we move on in this study, we see that Paul now tells his readers that they are to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine.  One thing I understand about Paul's stand in life is that he no longer lived by the "rules" of the church just because they were the rules.  He had a life commitment to his Christ and that spurred him to look beyond the rules to living in such a way that his life was a living testimony of the power of Christ to transform.  He had come to the revelation that rules create rebellion in the hearts of rebellious people.  Rules did not produce right living unless the heart understood the basis for the rules.

Actions speak louder than words - our actions are the judgments others will form.  Like it or not, others judge us based on what they see much more than on what they hear from our mouths.  Paul wanted the believers to speak up for the things that make for solid doctrine - sound beliefs and grounded life principles.  Their manner of living was to be temperate - moderate, living within the limits - not extreme or excessive in the pursuit of their own natural passions or appetites. 

In addition, Paul focuses us on the importance of living in such a way that our actions build the dignity of others - encouraging them to develop healthy faith, solid love for others, and tremendous endurance in their beliefs.  He asks us to live in such a way that our actions produce evidence of goodness, wisdom, and right choices.  Paul's emphasis in this chapter is to focus us on the fact that our actions may be the only thing someone uses to form their opinion about God's grace and love.  It is important for us to remember that a person can be turned away from God's message, or drawn toward it for the answers they seek, all because of what they see in us.

What others see in us becomes the standard of acceptable actions on their part.  Our actions are reproduced in the lives of those with a less mature faith than our own.  So, our words should be solidly reflective of the truths contained in the Word.  Our actions should be above criticism when judged against the Word.  In other words, when someone looks at us they see Christ.  Pretty lofty goal, huh?  Regardless of where you are today in your spiritual walk, Christ can and will be visible - you need to recognize the power of his grace to shine through, even if we aren't perfect yet.  God's character shines through us in the form of actions that reflect both his power and his intense love.  Couple this with the truth in his Word and the testimony of a servant of Christ becomes a powerful tool to reach a hurting and lost generation.