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Unfinished business

Titus 1:5
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. (NIV)

Although Paul's letters were personally directed to churches or individuals, they were read more widely. So at the beginning of Paul's letter to Titus, Paul reaffirmed his commission and expected that others would respect his authority. When Paul and Titus ministered together in Crete, so many people were converted that there were believers in every city. But that was only the beginning. When Paul moved on to preach the gospel elsewhere it was Titus' job to teach the new believers how to live and work together in a way that validated the gospel and attracted many more to Jesus Christ.

The unfinished business was to establish viable churches with godly leadership. This meant that Titus had to appoint the right people and teach them how to lead others in a way that pleases God. Titus also needed to stop people from using their Christian freedom as an excuse for wrong behaviour, power politics or false teaching. Patterns of worldly behaviour needed to change. Chapter 2 addresses the drinking culture of older men and women, wild behaviour among the younger men, slanderous gossip among the women, disrespect from slaves, and foolish arguments from those who thought themselves clever.

You can tell whether people really believe biblical truth by whether they are willing to change their behaviour. Those who are unwilling to submit to authority, or presume their own right to behave as they like, have never really understood the grace of God which is given to all those who submit to Him. But it was a hard task for Titus. It would not make him popular and he would be criticised by those who were most determined to get their own way. It is the same challenge which pastors face today. Their job is not to find ways of letting everybody please themselves but to teach the people how to conform to the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures. Church leadership which fails to deal with people's unfinished business will never make effective disciples or grow a church which is strong to stand for Christ against the world, the flesh and the devil.

Gracious Master. Thank You for wanting to deal with all my unfinished business. I am sorry when I resist being taught, encouraged and rebuked because I wrongly believe that my way is better than Yours. Please help me to identify where I need to change. May I be willing to listen to Your voice through Your Word and Your people. Please help all Christian pastors and teachers to be strong to clearly teach what is true, so that evil may be seen for what it is and that people will be encouraged to walk courageously with Christ. In Jesus' Name. Amen
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© Dr Paul Adams