Explore the Bible

with Anne Maniscalco

Sunday,  August 18

Living with Integrity

Titus 2:1-15

The television commercial, featuring cartoon characters, depicts a father and son carrying out everyday activities. Whatever the father does, the little fellow is watching and mimics the dad’s behavior. We who are parents can smile at this, remembering times when our children watched us closely to see actions they then sought to emulate.

In like manner today’s lesson, Living with Integrity, reminds us that we’re called to model the kind of godly lifestyle that others should choose to copy. “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ,” Paul told fellow Christians in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV). Since the apostle exerted such diligent effort to closely follow his Lord, he could confidently hold himself up as a role-model. I wonder how many in our churches would be comfortable making such an assertion. As we examine the various types of people that comprise our church’s membership, we’ll see some requirements involved in living a life of integrity before fellow believers and also the world.

Paul begins this chapter admonishing Titus to “proclaim things consistent with sound teaching.” Our Personal Study Guide points out that this chapter “links orthodoxy (right beliefs) with orthopraxy (right living)… Paul required Titus to not only teach believers to maintain consistent integrity, but also to illustrate this principle in his behavior.” Jesus also focused on the relationship between knowing and doing: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17 NKJV). James also reiterated this correlation when he challenged readers to “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

First, Paul addresses the expected godly behavior of the congregation’s older men, beginning by saying they were to be “self-controlled,” and then listing other virtues (Titus 2:2). They were to live in such ways as to earn the respect of others. Paul kicks off verse three with the phrase, “in the same way” (CSB), as he addresses older women. This phrase could mean the attributes that men should exhibit would likewise be applicable to women. These older women were to be Christlike in their words and their actions. They weren’t to be enslaved to strong drink, since they were to set a good example to the younger women, teaching them “what is good.” The more mature women were to encourage their younger counterparts to show love to their husbands and children by making a well-ordered and Christ-centered home a high priority, and displaying a godly manner of life (vv. 4-5). Wives were also to follow the leadership of their husbands, “so that God’s word will not be slandered” (v. 5 NIV).

Paul again uses the term, “in the same way,” to address the young men, having Titus encourage them to be “self-controlled in everything.” Obviously, many of the other Christian character traits mentioned would likewise apply. Titus was admonished to be sure his actions matched his message. He was to be “an example of good works” and his message “sound beyond reproach” so nobody could bring a verifiable charge against him (vv. 7-8).

Verses 9-10 speak to believing slaves. Paul neither condemns nor condones slavery by this reference. The ownership of slaves was a commonly-accepted occurrence in that culture, so Paul advised these to be obedient, faithful, honest, and well-pleasing to their owners so as to make winsome the “teaching of God our Savior.” We may apply these same guidelines to our interactions with those in authority over us today. Whatever our station in life, we should seek to be mature in our faith and these Scriptures give examples to embody.

Paul then focuses on “the grace of God” (v. 11), saying it “appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” This grace “appeared” in a man, Jesus Christ, who likewise stated, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32 KJV). Grace also presents a message: to shun ungodliness, and devote ourselves to a godly lifestyle (v. 12), expectantly preparing for “the blessed hope,” the appearing of Jesus Christ (v. 13). 1 John 3:3 (NLT) declares that “all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.”

In addition to redeeming and purifying us, we will see our indwelling Lord continually working in us, making us “eager to do good works” (v. 14 CSB; see also Ephesians 2:10 and Philippians 1:6). Finally, Titus was to authoritatively proclaim words of encouragement and rebuke as needed (v. 15). Church leaders today must accept this two-pronged challenge, as well.

Maniscalco is a member of Emmanuel Church, Ocean Springs.