I remember sitting across from her at a restaurant booth, a dish of ice cream untouched in front of me. At 17, I was going through the usual teenage angst, complicated now by the difficult time my parents were going through in their marriage. But the woman with me that day knew all about it
She’d known me since early childhood. Our families went to the mountains, on road trips, and spent major holidays together. I had sleepovers with her two daughters, and she would help curl my hair for church the next morning. She and her husband taught my 9th grade Sunday school class, opened their home and family cabin to teen girl retreats and Bible studies, and filled in the leadership gap with two other couples when our high school group was between youth pastors. They were like the family we didn’t have in Denver.
So as I cried and vented, she wisely guided me back. Back to a peaceful spirit, back to an understanding heart, back to realistic expectations for those around me, back to Scripture and prayer. That was the first time I discovered I could pray and thank God in advance for what He was going to do. She prayed with me things that wouldn’t show outward results immediately, but they were heart-issues that, once dealt with, would have incredible inward results. This lovely mentor took my hand and didn’t let go, even after things got better between my parents.
My family moved to California soon after I graduated from college in Arkansas. When I got married she sent one of her paintings as a wedding gift, this one depicting a favorite, turn-of-the-century Colorado mountain town. That ice cream afternoon took place 30 years ago. She’s still influencing my life, though now that there are 1,000 miles between us, visits are less frequent. And every time I look at the watercolor hanging above my piano, I remember her. Her advice. Her encouragement. Her commitment to the truth. Her prayers. Her love.
Besides, I think of her every time I call my 17-year-old daughter’s name. They share it.
As we begin studying this new book, remember we are no longer dealing with the same man. Titus and Timothy are different leaders with different congregations and different needs. Paul mentored both young men. Some of the information he gave was similar. Yet, the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul in a way that was unique to each personality and place of ministry.
From the very beginning of his letter to Titus, we understand the basic reason for writing. First, Paul starts with a long, definitive outline of his role and the reasons he identified himself as a bond-servant. It’s compelling how important it is to this apostle not to have his letters misconstrued by those reading them. He never wants to assume people will know or remember the facts of who he is in Christ. Paul wants Titus, Titus’ church, all the people of Crete, and anyone else who reads his letter, to know the reality of his heart and why he does what he does. Since the opportunity is there, Paul asserts the gospel from the moment he begins writing.
I. Read Titus 1:1-5.
One of the main themes of Titus is “Truth equals Godliness.” The more we are impacted by truth, the godlier we become. When we’ve come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit lives within us, every bit of revelation through the Word, every morsel of inspiration received from a talk makes us stronger, surer and more like what God wants us to be – like Christ. But it is in hearing and knowing truth that brings us there.
Mentoring needs to have this idea as our focus. When we speak, it must be true. When we give an example, it must shout truth. When we make a choice before the audience that is always watching, it has to be grounded in truth. As we intentionally look to help those God has put in our lives, it must be based on truth. Then, the Holy Spirit’s efforts through us, when received in word and truth, will produce fruit in the life of the person we’re mentoring.
1. What reasons does Paul give for his calling?
2. According to Titus 1:4, what title does Paul bestow on Titus?
3. Why was Titus left in Crete (verse 5)? What might this reveal of Titus’ character?
II. Read as many of the following Scriptures about truth as time permits: Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Samuel 12:24; Psalms 51:6, 86:11, 119:51, 60, 145:18; Proverbs 20:28; Jeremiah 4:2; Zechariah 8:16; John 1:14, 3:21, 8:31-32, 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:13; 2 Peter 1:12.
Throughout Scripture truth is held up like a beacon. It’s mentioned in the four short books of our study’s text 11 times alone. It is the foundation for Christ-like living, which gives feet to our main purpose in life – loving and glorifying God. But it isn’t just our own godliness we need to pursue as we mentor. Author Susan Hunt says:
“It is not enough for me to want to live for God’s glory and for you to
want to live for God’s glory. I must want to help you live for God’s glory.
I must honestly want God’s glory for your life … encouraging and
equipping are not the same as pampering and indulging.”1
If godliness and bringing God glory through all we do is the main goal as we seek to intentionally mentor and be mentored, we need to be steeped in truth. And we need to speak that truth firmly in our mentoring.
1. What do you learn about truth from the above verses?
2. How does Jesus present truth in the book of John?
3. How could you use the idea of pursuing truth in a mentoring relationship?
I. Read Titus 1:6-9.
Titus as well as 1&2 Timothy are known as the “Pastoral Epistles.” They were written to pastors or elders who were, in turn, to make pastors, elders, and other godly leaders for the local churches. As we saw from earlier study, a huge chunk is given to listing characteristics to look for in such men. But as we noted yesterday, these are two different men working among different cultures and congregations. The lists are similar but not in all points.
1. Make a list of traits for elders given by Paul in this passage.
2. How does this list compare with 1 Timothy 3:1-7 that we studied in lesson 3?
3. What is different and why might these differences be included?
II. Read 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, 7:5-16, 8:6-24, 12:18 (skim entire chapter for context); Galatians 2:1-3.
As you read the above passages, be aware of what Titus was doing, his involvement, his support of Paul, and his leadership among the churches he was assigned.
Very little is known of Titus. He’s not mentioned in Acts, the main historical record of the early church that includes Paul’s missionary journeys. But as with many people who are given just passing mention in Scripture, we can deduce much from how the people are presented and what they do.
Such study can lead us to find gems within their character, causing us to want to emulate them. In researching Titus, it’s interesting to note the appeal of such a man to the United States Army Chaplain Corps. Here’s the explanation of their “Order of Titus Award”:
According to the Department of Defense, the “Order of Titus award is the only
award presented by the Chief of Chaplains to recognize outstanding performance of ministry by chaplains and chaplain assistants. The Order of Titus is awarded for meritorious contributions to the unique and highly visible Unit Ministry Team Observer Controller Program. The award recognizes the great importance of realistic, doctrinally guided combat ministry training in ensuring the delivery of prevailing religious support to the American Soldier.”2
1. What do these verses tell us about Titus?
2. How does Titus’ example encourage you in your walk?
3. In reading Paul’s descriptions of Titus, what do you think might have been some of his goals in mentoring this young man?
III. Read Psalm 15; Ephesians 6:18.
Everything in Scripture is for the benefit of all believers. Though there are some things that pertain to a specific season, time, situation, or people group, we can learn from every portion of God’s word. As women, we can look to these lists of exhortation as guides for future spouses, as character traits to encourage in husbands, and as items of prayer for the pastors and leaders within our churches. As mentors, we need to intentionally look at our lives constantly and keep a ready list of those character traits on which to focus.
1. What does it mean to be above reproach or blameless in our day and culture?
2. Do you pray consistently that the leaders of your church will faithfully hold fast to the Word in their teaching?
3. Are you building character traits within yourself that will give you a solid platform for exhortation and refuting?
4. What would you do if a friend were being mentored by someone not exhibiting these traits?
I. Read Titus 1:10-11; Deuteronomy 13:1-4; Acts 10:45, 11:2; 2 Corinthians 11:13; Galatians 2:12.
The NASB uses the term “sordid gain.” According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, “sordid” means “meanly avaricious; covetous” and selfish or miserly with money.3 “Gain,” as we saw in lesson 6, means “profit, interest, something obtained as an advantage.” The ESV says “shameful gain” and the NIV terms it “dishonest gain.” Timothy had the same problem in his congregations. Some people within the church taught solely to make a profit. With such a goal, it’s obvious that the accuracy of the content wasn’t important to them.
One of the main goals of a mentor is to guide – by word and example through authentic love – in what it means to live out a godly life. Part of that authentic love is making sure of our own motives – especially when it comes to money. Things really haven’t changed much since Paul’s time. Unfortunately, all-too-frequent stories of leaders from every denomination who put money ahead of the gospel message mar the name of legitimate ministry. And more than 600 years before Titus had his pastorate, Ezekiel wrote, “So My people come to you in crowds, sit in front of you, and hear your words, but they don’t obey them. Although they express love with their mouths, their hearts pursue dishonest profit.” (Ezekiel 33:31, HCSB)
1. From the Titus passage, who are the ones who have to be silenced?
2. What is the result of their actions, and what is the reason Paul gives for their choices?
3. Why do you think Paul emphasized that these men were “upsetting whole families”?
4. Give some examples of what Ezekiel was talking about in today’s world.
II. Read Deuteronomy 4:9, 11:1-7, 18-19.
In Titus 1:10, Paul uses the term “rebellious” for those men who are wreaking so much havoc. Scripture often points to the problem of poor recall in conjunction to a rebellious spirit (Psalms 106:7, Ezekiel 16:22, Micah 6:5). They didn’t remember. Throughout the Old Testament, prophets cried out to the people in their rebellion, trying to remind them of the true and right way. But Israel often didn’t remember God’s words, His wonders, His covenant, His deeds, His kindness, or His provision. It wasn’t due to some nation-wide, genetic brain flaw, and it wasn’t confined to Bible times.
Remembering is a choice.
Forgetting often means something wasn’t written down, reiterated, posted, prioritized. It wasn’t important enough in our minds to keep it in the forefront of our thinking. It’s disregarded. Then it’s easy for it to be compromised.
Scripture is filled with God’s instructions. It’s His Word. The only way to battle the false thinking, coming from without to attack the church and “whole families” of the faith, is to correctly remember what is within God’s communiqué to us. It takes time. It takes study. And it takes choosing to go over it again and again … in order to remember.
1. From the Deuteronomy verses, what were some specifics that the Israelites were to remember?
2. Why were they to remember? What were they to do with this knowledge?
3. What is one thing God has asked you to remember? With whom will you share?
DAYS 4 and 5
I. Read Titus 1:12-14; Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9.
In Titus 1:12 we find a quote about Cretans that was common to that day – “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This starkly harsh statement has been credited to the Cretan poet Epimenides who was into hyperbole, or exaggeration for effect. Ancient writers Cicero and Polinas also made similar statements.
Here’s what Pastor Chuck Smith said about the people with whom Titus was entrusted:
“Now, Crete had a very bad reputation. The people of Crete were known to be unscrupulous. They were money-mongers. There were in the ancient days, what they called the three evil C’s: the Cretians, the Cicilians, and the Cappadocians. But Crete they said was the worst of all. And in fact, a Greek word, “crecia” was ultimately coined from the evilness of the Cretian people. And “crecia” is a man who is so money-hungry that he is dishonest and unscrupulous in all his dealings.
And such were the Cretians known to be, and yet in this environment there was the body of Christ. And Paul left Titus, who was much like Timothy. According to Paul in Corinthians, he had the heart of Paul. He was a trustworthy servant and companion with Paul in the Gospel. And so he left him in Crete with the purpose of ordaining elders in every city as Paul had appointed him.”4
(Note: Most modern English sources use the term “Cretan” for the people of Crete, but some scholars refer to the people who lived on Crete during Bible times as “Cretians.”)
1. Back in verse 2 of Titus 1, of what did Paul remind Titus regarding God’s character that would have made an impact on his Cretan congregation?
2. What aspect of His character has God recently revealed in an impacting way to you?
3. In Titus 1:13, what word does Paul use to indicate how Titus was to approach his ministry in Crete? What is the intended result?
4. Being sound in the faith for Titus and his congregation means not paying attention to two things: 1) Jewish myths and 2) commandments of men (verse 14). Cross-referencing leads us to Paul’s letter to the Christians at Colossae. From Colossians 2:20-23 list some of the error being promoted there.
5. What in your life needs more severity to correct, things that might even have become tools of destruction to others?
II. Read Titus 1:15-16; Matthew 15:18-20; Romans 14:13-23; I John 2:4-6.
Truth: we are saved by faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ alone. But somehow Truth gets distorted and it becomes salvation by grace…plus whatever you’d like, just fill in the blank. In Titus’ day there were those who believed that the traditions of the Jewish faith were still necessary to somehow complete what Christ did on the cross, as we saw in section I while exploring the Colossians 2 passage. The foods and traditions espoused by those Paul terms “the circumcision” formerly kept God’s people separate from spiritual corruption. It kept them healthy. And being within the Law gave them a chance to be in relationship with their Maker. But it all pointed to Christ, the ultimate and final fulfillment of the Law. Once He came, His work alone saved and brought us into right relationship with God. Yet, Titus’ church was filled with young believers – both Jewish and Gentile – who had to deal with this idea that they were somehow impure from what they put into their bodies.
1. From Titus 1:16, what was it that showed the true colors of those who only professed to know God? And what were some of the words Paul used to describe them?
2. What did Jesus have to say in the Matthew passage about what really defiles us and makes us impure?
3. As mentors, we really become filters, of sorts, for those we come alongside. The Romans passage offers another perspective on the idea of what makes us defiled or pure, and Paul used food to illustrate this point. What from these verses stands out to you in helping younger believers to stay strong?
4. What aspect about “Truth equals Godliness” stood out the most to you this week? How will you use it to help another?
Truth. Pilot questioned its existence. Philosophers debate its essence. People of every tribe and nation seek it. But there is absolute truth. As a mentor, we need to confirm its existence, verbalize its life-changing impact, and help others to find it. And it can happen over a simple bowl of ice cream.
1. Hunt, Susan. Spiritual Mothering. Crossway Books. Wheaton, IL. 1993.
3. An American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, S. Converse, New York, 1828, facsimile reprinted by Foundation for American Christian Education, San Francisco, CA, “sordid”.
4. Smith, C. “Text Commentaries: Chuck Smith (Blue Letter Bible: Titus).” Blue Letter Bible. Last Modified 1 Jun, 2005. http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/smith_chuck/c2000_Tts/Tts_001.cfm
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