Viva La Contrast!
Read Titus 2:1-14
They both look the same. Those were the words that I spoke while trying to determine the difference between two colors. Since both my husband and I are legally blind, determining the color of an object often depends on a good contrast and on the light and how it reflects off the object we are holding. On this recent occasion, after looking at the colors in several locations, both outdoors and inside the house, I simply couldn't see enough of a contrast to determine which color was which. Thankfully, we can always ask someone. That puts an end to our wondering, and in the long run it is merely a minor inconvenience.
However, there is another contrast that is truly important. It is the difference that those around us should see in the way, we who belong to Jesus live. Please know, before we go any further, that I am in no way talking about flawless living. We know that we received salvation through no good works of our own, Ephesians 2:8-9, and we walk with the Lord by the means of that same on-going dependence upon His grace, Galatians 3:3. That said, our lives should be changing as we get to know Jesus and learn to renew our minds, Romans 12:2. As our lives change, those around us will be able to see a contrast between how we live and what is seen all around them. In Titus 2, the Lord challenges several subsets within the church to live a different life than those around them. Let's glimpse three of them and the result that comes from living in these Spirit-enabled ways:
1. Older Women
Paul doesn't give a cut off age between younger and older women, but he gives a challenge to ladies who have had more life experience. We are to be examples. Our speech that doesn't tear down, our submission to our own husbands, and our kindness should be evident. We also are to encourage other women to love their husbands.
The result? We will not be the cause of the word of God being dishonored, Titus 2:5.
2. Younger Men
What a challenge the Lord gives here. So often, younger men are portrayed as foolish, lazy and crude. Sometimes, as we watch a sports program on TV, I have commented to my husband that it was as if we were listening in on boys in the locker room, rather than men discussing sports. Paul holds out the beautiful contrast. Younger men are to be sensible and doers of good deeds. They are to be dignified and sound in speech. Their doctrine is to be pure. As with the women, these men's lives are to show a contrast in both their actions and speech.
The result? The opponent will be silenced. A very sad thing that the Lord said to King David was that his sin, laid out in 2 Samuel 11, was the cause of the enemies of God to blaspheme, 2 Samuel 12:14. During that period of his life, David looked exactly like one of his contemporaries, one who hadn't tasted and seen that the Lord is good, Psalm 34:8.
At the time when Paul wrote this letter, there were millions of slaves in Rome. Many came to know Jesus' love. How should they live now that Jesus lived within them, 1 Corinthians 6:19? They should not act in a matter that would probably come naturally in that environment. They were not to steal or argue. Instead, they were to be well pleasing to their masters, submitting to them and acting in a trustworthy fashion.
The result? Their lives would make the truths about God attractive to a watching world. The beautiful contrast between how someone might be expected to conduct herself, getting away with whatever she could and the beauty of a Spirit-led life.
Titus 2:11-14 challenges each of us, whether or not we are pictured in one of the Titus 2 groups, to live differently because of God's grace. Since He died to free us from the power of sin, we should be eager for His coming, and ready to do good works. We should live righteous lives, displaying what the Lord has already done for us, as well as what He is continuing to do in our lives.
Lord, Help us live in a way that is in contrast to what is expected by the world, Romans 12:1-2. We look to You for the strength to do it. May You be honored for every change that we make, 2 Corinthians 3:18.