“You will know them by their fruits,” Jesus said when warning his disciples about false teachers (Matt. 7:15-20). Teaching and living go together. Say something often enough, or just hear it said, and you will soon be living as if the thing being said is true.
Which brings us to Titus. Paul stationed Titus in Crete to amend what he found defective and to ordain elders in every town. The Cretan churches faced two primary issues: the presence of some subversive teaching (Titus 1:9-16), and ongoing problems involving Christian morality. “The grace of God, the goodness and loving kindness of God, has appeared for the salvation of all people” (2:11; 3:4). This “What?” leads to a “So What?” God’s salvation teaches us a new course of life (3:5). We are “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, waiting our blessed hope . . . zealous for good deeds” (2:11-14).
God promised this eternal life before time began and, after centuries of silence and mystery, at the appointed time he entrusted Paul with this message that produces godliness. This teaching is a precious gift (“the grace of God”). It is dependable and deserving of our trust (“the faith”), consistent with reality (“the truth”) and with good spiritual health (“sound doctrine” or “wholesome teaching”).
What can we expect to see when a community of believers teaches and lives the gospel message? People will find it difficult to malign the gospel message–its fruit commends it instead (2:5). Those who do oppose will be put to shame (2:8). And Christian teaching about God will attract outsiders because of its effects in the lives of believers (2:10). How can we sum up our purpose and goal for each new day as Christians? Surely we cannot state it better than Paul stated it to Silas: “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, to provide for daily necessities, and not lead unproductive lives” (3:14).