Life of Influence{Titus 2:1-2; NLT}
As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.

One of the responsibilities we have as followers of Jesus is to be ambassadors of God’s Kingdom.  What this means is that we are to be representatives of God in our world.  Not only do we teach and preach the Good News of the Kingdom, but we also model what it looks like to follow Jesus.  Our life of faith validates our message.

This is why Paul spends so much space in his letter to Titus in instructing him on how to find the right leaders for these new church families.  They needed men, and as we will see, women who would model the message of Jesus to their community.  These new Christians were going to represent the Kingdom of Heaven to the island of Crete, and so their lives needed to match the message.

In this next section of the letter, Paul focuses on the areas of behavior particular groups needed to concentrate on doing if they were going to impact their world.  The first group Paul mentions are the older men.  The reason is because these are the people who would have had the most influence in the communities of Crete.  Remember, at this time men were the leaders in every facet of life.  It would make sense that Paul addressed them first, because they would have the greatest ability to impact the people of Crete.

The Apostle instructs Titus to insist on three qualities from the older men.

  1. They need to be self-controlled:Teach the older men to exercise self-control…” – To be self-controlled means to have the ability to say no to the desires of your flesh.  Our flesh is focused on the here and now and on what we can see and touch.  Without self-control our lives are at the whim of our desires and we are pulled to do whatever feels good in the moment, rather than doing the good works that God has called us to do.  What needs to be pointed out is that self-control doesn’t begin with self.  We do not have sufficient will power to over come the desires of our flesh.  Self-control is one of the qualities that we develop as we walk with the Spirit.  Without the Holy Spirit we cannot live lives that are marked by self-control.
  2. They need to be respected: “… to be worthy of respect…” – These older men must be men others could look up to and admire.  Their lives needed to be lived in such a way that others would seek to live the way they do.  I am sure that you can think of at least one older man who has that type of respect.  I am fortunate enough to be able to think of several, my father and father-in-law being two of them.  William Barclay writes this about the type of life that is worthy of respect, “(T)he conduct of the man who knows that he lives in the light of eternity, and that before so very long he will leave the society of men for the society of God” (DSB: The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 247).  A man worthy of respect is a man whose motivation for life is to please God.
  3. They need wisdom: “…and to live wisely.” – To live with wisdom is not about education or even knowledge, rather it is about a person’s relationship with God.  These men would know the teachings of Jesus, but they would also live their lives according to his teachings.  When people came to them for advice they would be able to offer them the truth they had discovered in God’s Word.  We live in wisdom to the degree that we know the teachings of Jesus and apply them to our lives.  A man who lives with wisdom is like the wise builder who built his house on the rock.

Over these three qualities need to be faith. It is because of a solid and sound faith that provided the reason why these men could live lives that were influential for God’s Kingdom.  Without faith these men could be men of influence, but they could not point people to the greater things of the Kingdom.  Faith is an essential component of a life that influences other people for Jesus.

Not only is faith essential, but love and patience are to be ever present as well.  Love energizes people to serve, teach, care for, and pray for their neighbors.  It is love that made the influence of these men real in the lives of the people around them.  Patience slows people down to wait on God’s timing.  These men were to live with patience, not trying to rush through the discipleship process or manipulate people to make a decision, because they trusted that God would make things happen in His time.

While these were the qualities Paul told Titus to insist on for the older influential men of Crete, they are qualities that each one of us need to develop in our lives.  For we have all be called to make an impact in this world for God’s Kingdom.

Questions to consider:

  • Why is important for us to remember that we are representatives of God’s Kingdom?
  • How can we develop self-control, respect, and wisdom in our lives?
  • We know that faith and love are important qualities for Christians to have, but why do you think Paul added patience to the list?
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