SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
The Way We Live Can Make Our Faith Attractive to Others
Key Verse: Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured. – Titus 2:7-8a
A faithful Christian is Christianity’s best advertisement. Most people become interested in becoming a Christian because they have encountered someone who genuinely practiced the faith. More than once I have heard a seeker say, “I want what that person has; I don’t know what it is, but I want it.”
What a real Christian has is a relationship with Jesus Christ that transforms all of life. So the “it” the unbeliever wants is really Jesus. An old story can bring this point home.
Three men are rushing to catch a train. As they run through the lobby of the station they bump into a young girl, knocking her things to the floor. One of the men turns back, sees the girl crying, and decides he will forget the train and help the girl pick up her things. As he helps her he notices for the first time that she is blind. After gathering her possessions he gives her a twenty dollar bill and tells her he is sorry for the trouble they caused her.
Then, as he walks away, the girl asks innocently, “Mister, are you Jesus?” The man, startled by her question, pauses and then says, “No, honey; I’m not Jesus, just one of his friends.”
In every church there are church members who are only “club” members. They belong to the church but do not belong to Jesus. Their names are on the membership roll but they are not recorded in what the Bible calls the Book of Life. They have been playing around on the creek bank but they have never jumped in.
Someone asked me if a popular sports figure in my community was a Christian. I thought for a moment, and then said, “I don’t really know; I do know that I have never heard anyone ‘accuse’ him of being a Christian.” If a person is a genuine disciple of Jesus, the word will get around. The way we live – the way we treat other people – will bring honor, or dishonor, to Christ.
We teach sound Christian doctrine not so much with words as by our example. Words are important. False doctrine always misleads people. It leads down dead-end streets and ruins lives. Innocent people are dying daily because fanatic Muslims believe lies about life and about God. In a world being ripped apart by violence, the need is greater than ever for Christians to practice the faith and by our example attract nonbelievers to Christ.
Paul’s instructions to Titus are down to earth whether he is talking about gossip, drinking, self-control, or irreverence. His common sense teaching is made quite clear by the New Living Translation:
But as for you, promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching.
Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have strong faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God (Titus 2:1-5).
Titus is urged to encourage young men “to live wisely in all they do.” And, Paul invites Titus to be a good example to the young men by doing good deeds. He connects teaching and example by saying to Titus, “Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.”
We may not like it but Paul does not question slavery. He does include slaves in his instructions, thereby indicating that they too could live as worthy citizens of the Kingdom. Slaves should, Paul says, “show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way. For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.”
Every pastor would be wise to teach his people as Paul instructed Titus to teach his people: “And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right. You must teach these things and encourage your people to do them, correcting them when necessary. You have the authority to do this, so don't let anyone ignore you or disregard what you say (Titus -15, NLT).
The basic point of this lesson is that we teach by example. We attract people to Jesus more by the way we live than by the substance of what we teach. Adelaide Pollard expressed what should be our heart’s desire in her beautiful hymn, “Have Thine Own Way Lord.” Her last verse must become our first concern if we are to succeed in living so that others see Jesus in our daily living:
“Hold o’er my being absolute sway, Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me!”
That is exactly what Paul was talking to Titus about.
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