For there are many who are rebellious, vain talkers and deceivers, especially those from the circumcision. They must be silenced—those who upset entire households by teaching what they should not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply, so they might be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Judaic myths and commands of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure. Both their mind and conscience are defiled. They claim to know God but their deeds deny Him. They are despicable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. (Paul’s Letter to Titus 1:10-16 TLV)
Well now, here’s a tough word. The context here is Paul writing to our brother Titus whom he’d commissioned to serve the Church on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. The problem arose that there were some Christians there who were speaking ill of the people around them. Immediately as I read that the thought came to me, How many of your brothers and sisters do you hear speaking like this? And the troubling thing is that there are many! I heard an account from a friend that a man he was speaking to didn’t like a particular Christian recording artist simply because, “he’s black.” Likewise I hear comments about our president, the homosexual community, the Arab world, the African people, and many more that have equally pointed and frankly bigotted roots.
Now it should be noted that there is a difference between bigotry and faithfulness to the Word of God. That sounds obvious, but apparently it isn’t because I have heard so many arguments where believers are called bigots (I know I have been) for labeling as sin things that the Bible has always called sin. The difference as far as I can tell is the heart behind it. Allow me explain via the passage above:
- Liars are bad. If you’re not sure about this, just wait until someone you trust, or even someone you barely knows you lies to you to take advantage of a situation and see how you feel.
- Evil beasts are bad. Beasts (i.e. large animals) are good. They are here for a purpose and were created by God in the beginning, but evil beasts are bad… I mean even the pagans get this. That’s why ancient texts are filled with evil beasts like the Cerbrus, the Leviathan, dragons and the Hydra.
- Lazy gluttons are bad. Here’s an example of a double negative that will never amount to a positive. Why? Because they don’t quite have the ambition to do anything but serve themselves.
So here these believers are rebuking and speaking ill of three understandibly bad things. If these believers were condemning lying, evil/wickedness, sloth, and gluttony we’d have no problem. What Paul is saying here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is that when your rebuke of sin crosses the line from the sin itself to the person or people (who are still created in the image and likeness of God), you have fallen into an equal sin of pride and malice. We “claim to know God but our deeds deny Him”, and in that state of sin, we are “despicable and disobedient and worthless of any good deed” (v. 16). That’s not to say that the sinner is off the hook, but instead remembering OUR place; and that place is not on the Judgement seat… that seat is already filled.
Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you all and I pray that you are well. As usual, feel free to comment below or email me if you’d like to join the discussion. I may not be posting much for the next few weeks as we finish up preparing for the move back to Florida, so I would ask any of you reading this for continued prayer as we pack and travel And wait for our home to sell.