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Learning to Engage in Good Deeds (Titus 3:12-15)

I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.

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Introduction: The Christian and Good Deeds

There is a story I read recently which was attributed to someone named Beecher. Whether it was the preacher Henry Ward Beecher, I'm not sure because they didn't say. However, the tale is entitled 'Good Deeds Performed Unconsciously.' It goes like this:

"A farmer goes to market to purchase grain. He puts the bags containing it into his wagon and drives slowly home. As the wagon jolts over the stony road, one of the bags becomes untied, and the grain is scattered along the way. The birds catch some of the grain and fly off with it and drop it in distant places. Some is blown in different directions by the winds. Thus, the farmer goes on for miles, without knowing what he is doing; but the next summer he finds the scattered seed. It starts and grows, and when he sees his own grain, he does not know it. He did not even know that he lost it. And so, it is with good deeds. Men often perform them unconsciously, and they bear fruit, and when they see that fruit, they do not know that it is the result of anything they have done.

However, the truth is that good deeds, for the Christian, should not be something unconscious that we do. Rather, they should be deliberate acts done in the name of and for the sake of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Titus 3:12-15 Paul is finishing his letter to his young spiritual son, Titus, in which he had been instructing Titus on setting up the new church in Crete where Paul had left him. Part of Titus' job was to appoint spiritual leaders, both elders and deacons. Paul also warned Titus about false teachers that had arisen at Crete, and he instructed this young godly man on Christian living in contrast to the false teachers. Paul goes so far as to talk to various groups of people and instructs them how to live godly lives. The different groups that he addressed include older men, older women, younger women, younger men and slaves.

If we look carefully at this book, a major theme that arises is the fact that the gospel produces godliness in the lives of believers. And there is no legitimate separation between belief and behavior (Titus 1:1; 2:1, 11–14; 3:4–7).

Therefore, good works or deeds, though they don't save, play a vital role in the life of a believer. We see this, for instance, in Titus 2:11-14 where it tells us:

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing in glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds."

Paul continues this theme in Titus 3:8 when he says:

"This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed in God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men."

Another prevalent theme in this short book is the truth that true Christian living will draw others to the gospel (Titus 2:5, 8, 10). Unbelievers see us, including how we live, how we speak and how we act, which causes some of them to reason that they want what we have. And hopefully to be led to the Lord that we love and serve.

An example of this is found in what Paul tells slaves. He tells them:

"Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, (i.e., stealing), but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect (2:9,10).

Now as we come to the end of this letter, Paul is consistently following through with the theme of doing good deeds as a Christian while he addresses some personal concerns in his closing correspondence to Titus.

Let's look a little closer at the last 4 verses of this epistle and see how Paul mixes the idea of good deeds with his personal comments regarding others.

He seems to focus on two different groups in his farewell address. First, he focuses on those who are leaders. Then he turns to the people of God in general.

I. Doing Good Deeds as a Leader (12-13)

We see Paul's concern for the leadership and their good deeds in verses 12-13. He tells Titus:

"When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Diligently help Zinas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them."

Starting with Titus himself, the men that Paul is talking about are living a life of faithfulness to God and are showing that by the deeds they are doing.

Titus, as we talked about in our earlier study of this epistle, was a trusted companion of the apostle Paul and a devout follower of Jesus Christ.

Here is some information on him that I found on the website gotquestions.org. It tells us:

"Titus was a Gentile (Galatians 2:3) who was led to faith in Christ by Paul (Titus 1:4). He was drawn to the ministry and became a co-worker with Paul, accompanying him and Barnabas from Antioch to Jerusalem (Titus is included in the “other believers” of Acts 15:2). At the Jerusalem Council, Titus would have been a prime example of a born-again Gentile Christian. Titus was living proof that the rite of circumcision was unnecessary for salvation (Galatians 2:3).

Later, Titus went to Corinth to serve the church there (2 Corinthians 8:6, 16-17). On Paul’s third missionary journey, which took place from A.D. 53 to 57, Paul arrived in Troas and expected to meet Titus there (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). Not finding his friend, Paul left for Macedonia. Titus rejoined Paul in Philippi and gave him a good report of the ministry in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:6-7, 13-14). When Titus returned to Corinth, he hand-delivered the Epistle of 2 Corinthians and organized a collection for needy saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:10, 17, 24).

Several years later, Titus and Paul traveled to the island of Crete, where Titus was left behind to continue and strengthen the work. Titus’s task was administrative. Mostly he was to maintain sound doctrine and “straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:5). When Artemas and Tychicus arrived in Crete to direct the ministry, Paul summoned Titus to join him in Nicopolis, a city in the province of Achaia in western Greece (Titus 3:12).

The last mention of Titus in the Bible indicates that he was with Paul during Paul’s final Roman imprisonment. From Rome, Titus was sent to evangelize Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10), an area which later became known as Yugoslavia and is now called Serbia and Montenegro."

Moving on to the next leader, though nothing is known of Artemas beyond this letter to Titus, it is obvious that the apostle has confidence in him as he is one of the likely candidates to take over for Titus when Titus leaves Crete to meet Paul again in Nicopolis. We don't find it in the Bible, but tradition says that Artemas was the Bishop of Lystra.

The other candidate that Paul mentions as a possible person to take over for Titus is Tychicus. According to gotquestions.org:

"We first meet Tychicus in Acts 20:4, during Paul’s third missionary journey. He is mentioned as one of Paul’s companions on the way from Corinth to Jerusalem to deliver a gift to the church there (see Romans 15:25–26). We learn that Tychicus was a native of Asia, or what we would call Asia Minor today."

The Apostle refers to this man as a 'dear brother' of his and a faithful servant of the Lord's in Ephesians 6:21. And we read in Colossians 4:7 that Paul calls Tychicus a 'beloved brother', 'faithful minister' and a 'fellow servant.'

All the things that we hear about Tychicus are both impressive and worthy of praise. Tychicus was a trusted messenger, faithful preacher, and loyal friend. Further, he definitely met the qualifications for being an elder found in Titus 1:9. which tells us:

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it”

Tychicus, certainly practiced what he preached and was an excellent example to the outside world of what it meant to love and follow Christ.

Not much is known of Zenas the lawyer except that he was a friend of Paul and a pious man. His name is Greek, and his profession may have been Greek civil law, rather than Jewish law. Also, we can infer by the text that he was a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Apollos was originally from Alexandria. He was an evangelist, apologist and church leader who was an outstanding teacher of the Scriptures. If you remember from Acts 18:24-28 he was converted to Christ after being acquainted only with the teaching of John, the Baptist. This probably meant that Apollos preached repentance and faith in the Messiah—he maybe even believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah—but he did not know the full magnitude of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Aquila and Priscilla, who were friends of Paul, spent some time with Apollos and filled in the gaps in his understanding of Jesus Christ (Acts 18:26). Apollos, now armed with the complete message, immediately began a preaching ministry and was used of God as an effective apologist for the gospel (Acts 18:28).

Apollos traveled through Corinth where he watered where Paul had sown (Acts 19:1; I Corinthians 3:6). His natural giftedness got him a lot of followers which, unfortunately lead to divisiveness in that church. Gotquestions.org tells us:

"Against Apollos’ wishes, there was a faction in Corinth that claimed him as their spiritual mentor, to the exclusion of Paul and Peter. Paul deals with this partisanship in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13. He tells the Corinthians that Christ is not divided, and neither should we be. We cannot love personality over truth."

Titus 2:13 is the last time in the Bible that we hear of Apollos. Obviously, he and Zenas were on their way through Crete and Paul was asking Titus to see that they had everything that they needed.

This shows us that a major part of 'doing good' as members of the Body of Christ is to act responsibly toward fellow members, making sure that needs are met, and ministry is able to be done.

But all of these men that Paul was talking about were Christians who did good deeds. They were examples of being followers of Jesus Christ. In doing this they copied what the Lord Himself had done when He was on earth. Because in Acts 10:38 it tells us of the Lord:

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

A follower of Christ is known by his love and good deeds toward his fellow men and women. Especially toward those who are their fellow believers. Just as Paul said in Galatians 6:10 that:

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith”

And these leaders of the church, like all Christian leaders, set the example for everyone by leading the way in doing acts of service for those in need and sharing their faith with those with whom they came in contact, using the spiritual gifts that God had given to them.

II. Doing Good Deeds as a Layman (14-15)

But we must take this admonition to do good deeds a little farther as it isn't only the leaders that are expected to do good deeds but all who profess the name of Jesus Christ. That is what Paul says to Titus in his final words, found in Titus 3:14-15 when he says:

"Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all."

It was John Wesley who said:

"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

That should be the motto of every person who names the name of Christ. The world should be a better place in which to live because we live in it. Not because we are great people. But because we serve a great God who Himself loves others and does that which is good to all mankind.

We should all be on the look-out for needs that we can meet, especially those that Paul calls 'pressing' or urgent. In this world of sin and evil, there is always someone in need that could use a helping hand. We should make ourselves fruitful by doing anything we can to alleviate that need.

Conclusion

As we come to the end of our study of Titus, I am reminded of a group that I read about named the Titus Society. They were a group out of London who got their name, not from this book, but from the Roman emperor Titus who counted a day lost in which he had not done some act for the good of others. The members of this society bound themselves to this philosophy of life.

On the website Biblehub.com they talk about this society and say these words about the concept of doing good. They state:

"There is no need of looking far to find the opportunity, since sorrow, suffering, ignorance, poverty, and sin are everywhere. No one who walks the streets with his eyes open can fail to find someone to whom a kind word, a pleasant smile, a small gift, a few words of instruction or of exhortation, or even a cordial grasp of the hand, would be a benediction."

The bottom line is that we who belong to Jesus Christ are not our own. As Paul says in I Corinthians 6:19,20, we are bought with a price. Therefore, we have an obligation to glorify God, for He is the one who bought us out of the slave-market of sin. Part of that obligation is to 'engage in good deeds' and meet the urgent needs of those whom God places in our path.

May we not shirk our responsibility. But rather look for someone today that we can help. And let us spend the rest of our lives like our Lord Jesus Christ who went about doing good. Finally, may He receive all of the praise for our efforts. For He alone is worthy of that praise!

© 2021 Jeff Shirley

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