Things Fitting for Sound Doctrine, Part 2 (Titus 2:6-10)
In verses 6-10, Paul continues instructing Titus with regard to the things that are “fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). It is important for Titus to teach sound doctrine—the objective truths of the gospel—but he must also instruct the church on what is fitting for sound doctrine—i.e. how to live according to that teaching.
I. Young Men (verse 6)
Young men are to “be sensible” or “self-controlled.” This requirement comes up again and again in this letter (1:8, 2:2, 2:5). All believers are to be sensible, to be in control of the way they think. The opposite of sensible is senseless or foolish—to give little thought to the decisions you make or the things you believe. The book of Proverbs makes this distinction between the naive (i.e. simple or foolish) and the sensible: “The naive believes everything, but the sensible considers his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). The sensible person considers why he does the things he does, and looks to God’s word for understanding. The fool runs carelessly through life, and gives no thought as to the motives or basis for his pursuits. Since this is the only instruction given to young men in particular, we can assume that senselessness or foolishness is one of the primary mistakes that young men fall into.
J.C. Ryle warns of the danger of a careless and thoughtless life: “Believe me, this world is not a world in which we can do well without thinking, and least of all do well in the matter of our souls. ‘Don’t think,’ whispers Satan: he knows that an unconverted heart is like a dishonest businessman’s financial records, they will not bear close inspection. ‘Consider your ways,” says the Word of God–stop and think–consider and be wise.’”
II. Titus (verses 7-8)
Titus’ life is to be thoroughly blameless. He should demonstrate good deeds, maintain purity of doctrine, behave with dignity, and speak in a way that is above reproach. This is not primarily for his own sake, but for the sake of the gospel: “…so that the opponent will have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus, as an individual, is to live a consistently devoted life in obedience to Christ, so that the testimony of the apostles—i.e. “us”— will not be discredited and spoken evil against. In the same way, since all believers represent Christ and His church, and since He has appointed us as His representatives on the earth, we must be careful to live in such a way that gives the opponents to the gospel no justifiable accusation against us, and therefore, against the cause of the gospel.
III. Bondslaves (verses 9-10)
A person could have become a bondslave for any number of reasons in Greco-Roman society—criminal activity, massive debt, or even voluntary agreement in the hopes of finding better opportunities for education and financial provision. Slavery was extremely prevalent in that context, and it’s likely that as many as one-third of the people hearing this letter would have been slaves. While this is written immediately to bondslaves, we can learn a number of things from these verses about our own vocations, especially in the context of the employee-employer relationship.
These verses tell us that there is no such thing as an insignificant vocation. Any and all callings are an opportunity to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” And these verses teach us that the way we adorn the gospel will be through the simple, practical means of being a good worker. First, it will be by being subject to those in authority over us, recognizing and submitting to the authority structure to which we agreed when we took the job. Second, it looks like genuinely desiring to please our boss or employer by doing things in a way that would satisfy their expectations. Third, it looks like not being argumentative or contradicting (c.f. Philippians 2:14-15). Fourth, it looks like not pilfering, stealing little bits of money or time here or there throughout the day. Fifth, it looks like being faithful in all the tasks we’re given, rather than cutting corners.
- What does it mean to live a sensible life? How can you cultivate a greater sensibleness? If you’re a young man, why do you think Paul gives you only this instruction in his letter to Titus?
- How should Paul’s instruction to bondslaves affect the way you carry out your vocation? Do you find yourself struggling in any of these areas? Do you treat your work and your tasks—however seemingly great or small—as an opportunity to magnify the grace of God?
- Three times in this chapter (vv. 5, 8, 10), we are told that our obedience will affect what others think about God’s word and the gospel. Are you consciously living with the intention of adorning the doctrine of God our Savior? What does your life communicate to those around you about the joy and power of knowing and belonging to God through Christ?