The Apostle Paul didn’t mince words with his “true child in the common faith.” If you assume this must be Timothy you are wrong. Paul gave this title to Titus, whom he had directed to the young churches of Crete for the purpose of establishing leadership.

Don’t quit. Find faithful men and empower them for the work of the ministry. Don’t tolerate subversive or divisive factions. Focus your people on the goodness and grace of God. Insist on a diligent commitment to unity and good deeds.

These are all themes in this gospel-packed letter from a veteran church planter to a young leader. Paul uses the expression “this testimony is true” twice in the letter to focus Titus on the polar extremes of his ministry assignment:

Titus 1:12-13

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” THIS TESTIMONY IS TRUE. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

Titus 3:4-8

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. THE SAYING IS TRUSTWORTHY, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Two truths, Titus, will frame your ministry: People are fallen but God is good. Cretans are liars. This is true. They are lazy gluttons: True. But God is kind and gracious and good. You can’t be surprised by the first trustworthy statement, and you must never forget the second.

Perhaps you feel like you are serving at the First Baptist Church of Crete. You’ve been burned by Cretans. Painful isn’t it?

But don’t get too self-righteousness. You’re a Cretan too. God in his mercy and grace places imperfect leaders among imperfect people to point them to a higher and more perfect goal: that setting our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith we may run the race he has set before us.

Don’t quit. Don’t tolerate subversive and divisive attitudes. Point your people to the goodness of God and the good deeds of the gospel. Fix your eyes on Jesus. And run for the glory of God.

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Further Reading: Titus 3:1-11 (ESV)

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.