“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14
Paul’s instructions to Titus are cogent and specific. The solid unshakable basis for Christian behavior is that the grace of God has appeared, saving us, redeeming our former way of life into new and vibrant life, and the impetus for diligence in the present is the anticipation and blessed hope for the glory of God and Jesus when He returns. Armed with these realities, how are we to live? As those in active training for godliness, practicing renouncement of worldly passions, and instead exercising self-control and upright choices and activities. We are being made pure. Think rinsing a garment over and over, then shaping and wearing it, or an object being sanded and scrubbed in order to shine.
I found myself recently nagged with irritation and snippiness, fighting in my mind against nasty foxes of criticism, swoons of self-righteousness and wanting my own way. This morning I took time to thank God specifically for making me miserable in that behavior, convicting me of sin, leading me to cry out in repentance, and changing my attitude. He really does this! It can be a relentless battle at times as the flesh picks and pesters, but He is faithful to keep alert our holy desire when it comes under attack, to stir the embers of zeal when they flag and fizzle. He comes alongside to align our passions aright and give godly unction for the present ungodly age. Allelujah!
How zealously am I coming in line with this training, this regular discipline of taking up of good works over self-indulgences? Do I languish and yield to spiritual sloth, giving in to my weak flesh with flimsy excuses or comparisons, or do I take seriously that my Savior will return, and prepare to meet Him as I would to greet another loved one? Am I so armed with the hope of Christ that He fuels and ignites how I love, serve, see and empathize with others, spend my time and resources? Am I willing to shrug off selfishness and lift the weight of servanthood, to go the distance for His kingdom when I would rather not, then get up and do it again?
“While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” “Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” 1 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 12:1-3
Exalted Perfecter of my faith, keep me pressing on now, training in the righteousness in which I will one day behold and bow before You.