“The grace of God has been revealed”
Candle Lighter: “We should live in this evil world…”
Response: “…with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.”
Scripture: Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 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 good deeds.
15 You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
Some background will be helpful in grasping some of the dynamics of this pericope. Here we have another of Paul’s letters to fledgling churches. This one is to Titus, a “son in the faith.” Titus’ calling is to serve on the island of Crete, off the coast of Greece. The culture of the Cretans was vulgar and crude, known particularly for lying and moral corruption. They were also great lovers of money and greedy in nature, not a pleasant people! Into this world came the gospel! In the portion of this letter, Paul gives guidance for how a believer should live in the midst of this kind of world. I believe, through the apostle, God gives to us direction as to how we might live in today’s world, not totally unlike the lifestyle of the Cretans. The beginning words start with the grace of God extending to all people. God always is the initiator of grace. What is very clear is that we not separate ourselves from this world. His exact words, “live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day…” What a contrast to the mindset of the world today! Wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God―what a beautiful and attractive way to live. In a Christmas season with Santa’s, newest “gotta have” toys, gadgets, new Christmas songs, winter solstice celebrations, “winter” concerts, parties, newly released movies, college bowl games, etc…everything to fill the mind with anything but the significance of the birth of the Savior of the world, we have the opportunity to encourage those around us in the truth. The Cretans thrived on lies and corruption of all kinds. In the midst of such, churches grew and ministered among that society and lives were transformed. We’ve been given that same opportunity in our world these days of advent. Perhaps you’ll have an opportunity today to express devotion to God and help point a “Cretan” to the Savior.
Music: “O Holy Night” Home Free (They were at Bob Carr in Orlando 4 days ago!)
O God of truth and wisdom, I praise thee for the revelation of thyself in the gospel, for thy heart as a dwelling place of pity, for thy thoughts of peace towards me, for thy patience and thy graciousness, for the vastness of thy mercy. Thou hast moved my conscience to know how the guilty can be pardoned, the unholy sanctified, the poor enriched. May I cherish simplicity and godly sincerity of character. Help me to be in reality before thee as in appearance I am before men, to be religious before I profess religion, to leave the world before I enter the church, to set my affections on things above, to shun forbidden follies and vanities, to be a dispenser as well as a partaker of grace, to be prepared to bear evil as well as to do good. O God, make me worthy of this calling, that the name of Jesus may be glorified in me and I in him as I live in the very fallen, broken, and confused world. Amen.
― The Valley of Vision, p.12, adapted DS
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