Rebecca Van Noord
We often fall into old habits that reflect the way we once were. Although we’ve been made new, we haven’t been made perfect, and sometimes it shows. People within our church communities might have one perception of us, but others may have experienced another side—one that can make us feel shameful about our witness (or lack thereof).
While Paul spoke to Titus about relationships within the Cretan community, he also emphasized that believers needed to think about how their actions affected those outside the community. They needed to obey authority (Titus 3:1) and show perfect courtesy to all people (Titus 3:3). Although the Cretans had been told this before, Paul wanted Titus to remind them. He would later offer another reminder as well (Titus 3:14).
We might be tempted to cultivate the impression that we’re better than we really are. But we have a responsibility to interact with all people in a way that reflects Christ. Paul tells us why: “For we also were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, enslaved to various desires and pleasures, spending our lives in wickedness and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the kindness and love for mankind of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not by deeds of righteousness that we have done, but because of his mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3–5).
We haven’t earned anything through our own goodness—and we still can’t. But we have been forgiven for our old way of being. When we fail and then repent, we’re reminded of our need, Christ’s sacrifice, and His renewing work in us through the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
When we’re not honest with others—including those outside our faith communities—about our failures and our need for forgiveness, we’re projecting a false righteousness that turns others off from the gospel. Instead, by being honest and transparent about our weaknesses, we’re testifying to Christ’s righteousness and the work of the Spirit. Knowing this, we should examine all areas of our lives and all our relationships, seeking forgiveness and restoration where it’s needed.
How have you failed people in your life? How can you reach out and seek their forgiveness?
This article was originally published in Connect the Testaments: A 365-day Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.