A “Community Devotional” based on Titus 3

  SCRIPTURES    REFERENCE TO THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY
Titus 3:1Paul’s charge to Titus to remind the church to be subject to rulers & authorities shows how we all need the ongoing encouragement that comes from being together in Christ. The biblical usage of the words “reminding” and “remembering” implies a communal act. Furthermore, the apostle’s command acknowledges how biblical community is community WITHIN community – not above society or outside of culture – but a part of it. When believers are subject to civil authorities they are, in effect, submitting themselves to God and allowing His law of love to influence the world around them. In so doing, the seed of God’s kingdom germinates within a local church’s surrounding social fabric so that more lost people find their spiritual home in Christ. Other responses Paul includes under his command to “remind” is to be obedient and to be ready to do whatever is good. In essence, Paul is telling this community of believers (and your small group) how to be a community that’s effective in making Christ known to more people. You can live out this command as a small group leader by reminding group participants of biblical truths and encouraging them to bring their faith to life through obedience to God’s Word. One application of this is to find practical commands and exhortations like the ones given here, read them just before your group’s prayer time, and then ask the Lord to help you live them out individually and as a small group.
Titus 3:2Titus is also told he must remind believers “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” When we act this way we open dialogue with one another – as a small group and with those who have yet to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. All the things Paul mentions in vv. 1-2 are reflections of true humility. People are drawn to people who are genuinely humble. True humility signals you’re safe and therefore somebody that can be trusted with a person’s more intimate dimensions of life, which for most, includes the spiritual and emotional. Again, Paul is telling Titus (and us as small group leaders): This is how you can make a significant evangelistic impact! These are practical and powerful ways your group can foster biblical community within itself and attract unbelievers to Christ. How can we be anything but humble in light of the grace God has given to us in Christ? If we really ‘get’ what has been done for us, as the apostle explains in vv. 4-7, then our lives must exemplify nothing short of the same kindness & love that God extended to us in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:8Paul reemphasizes what he has just conveyed to Titus. If he were speaking to us as small group leaders, it’s as though he’s saying, “Listen, did you hear what I just told you to do? It’s really important you remind your group of what God has done for us and what we’re to do in response to His kindness and love toward us! Consequently, your group participants will be inspired to become more thoughtful and faithful in consistently living according to the truth we have in Christ. This is excellent for your group and everybody who comes in contact with your group. Moreover, you’ll see results! You’ll be more effective in reaching the lost and loving the found!”
Titus 3:9The apostle seems to shift gears here, but his guidance is equally relevant to small groups. As referenced under point three, it is wise for us as small group leaders to avoid “foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law.” The reason is because all of these modes of verbal combat are useless. Sometimes it’s difficult to anticipate WHAT conversations will end up going this direction, but oftentimes you can sense WHEN they are going down a wrong path. You have permission to steer your group’s discussion time away from these non-productive and potentially harmful exchanges. By doing so, you’re being obedient to Christ and safeguarding the health of your group. Notice here how the first-century church would hear the biblical message from a church leader, but then they would actually talk about it and live it out together. The small group is the ‘other half’ for how the Church can follow this biblical pattern for community life.
Titus 3:10-11Here we have direction for how to respond to a divisive person who may one day land in your small group: We are told to 1) Warn him once 2) Warn him a second time 3) Have nothing to do with him. A person who is divisive is deadly (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-20). As the small group leader, your concern is for the WHOLE group. Sometimes you have to risk offending one person for the sake of the whole; otherwise, several people will be harmed by the unbridled negativity of a divisive person. There are occasions (thankfully, rare) when somebody should be warned. For example, “If you can’t demonstrate unity and show support for the leadership and purpose of this group then you shouldn’t be a part of this group.” In occasions like this, you’re invited to consult with your coach after your first or second ‘warning’. Rule of thumb: If somebody is bold enough to express divisiveness in front of everyone in the group then you have permission to speak to their divisiveness with equal boldness publicly. This is good and needed in order to prevent your small group from becoming a breeding ground for dissension within the church.   Whenever a person is expressing divisiveness about the church, stop him at once and establish that the group is not the place for expressing their personal frustrations or issues over what they think is wrong or lacking (v. 2) – that person should go directly to the leadership of the church and talk it out with those who have the ability to address their concerns in a practical way. Ultimately, we’re told to have nothing to do with a divisive person because their divisiveness is a sign they are warped and sinful (Proverbs 6:12-19; 16:28). Their view of things is severely distorted and the way they act out of this faulty perception is habitually negative and sinful. There is no changing them and therefore, sadly, they condemn themselves. This is a tragedy, but it would be much more tragic if this person was given a place to draw away other group participants into the awful effects of divisiveness.   Keep in mind if a person stumbles into divisive behavior a time or two that does not make them a divisive person; they may simply be misguided or mistaken. The key is they respond to your leadership and receive any warning you give to them. A divisive person is one who persists in their damaging discord after being warned for the second time to change their tone or be dismissed. Also, this is an encouragement to you, as the small group leader, to not hesitate to put a halt to divisiveness or dissension when you sense it is surfacing. Look to Matthew 18:15-20 and Ephesians 4:1-6, 25-32 for guidance on how to address this with a person.
Titus 3:12-13Tychicus was Paul’s traveling companion and fellow worker in the ministry (Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7). Imprisoned or not, Paul always leaned on his friends. On several occasions Tychicus delivered messages on behalf of the apostle. The faithfulness of the apostle’s messengers (like Artemas, Tychicus and Apollos (v. 13)) is credited for getting his letters to those who preserved them. Thanks to their partnership in ministry, the early Church was strengthened in its beginning and we have the inspired Scriptures in their entirety. Ministry by nature is relational and mutual. Every role is vital to the work the Lord wants to do in and through His Church. These verses can inspire two initiatives in your group: 1) Invite people to lean on one another and explain how this is ministry and outreach combined (John 13:1-17, 34-35) 2) Appoint each person to a ministry role that will contribute to the welfare of the whole group. Don’t just assign tasks, but creatively brainstorm what service the Lord wants each person to bring that will feed the growth of biblical community.
Titus 3:14-15Building upon the previous examples (vv. 12-13), Paul again stresses the importance of “doing good” (3:1c). Notice how he speaks in the plural and possessive with passion: “Our people must…” This is evidence showing how the apostle was thinking all along of his audience as a community. Paul is a pastor at heart and wants to see these early believers nurtured in their faith and effective in their witness. He is saying that being devoted in “doing what is good” will result in procuring basic necessities each day and living a meaningful and productive life. For Paul, this was a very important principle for life and mission (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). These new communities of believers needed to provide a good witness to the communities in which they dwelt. Paul’s advice might seem mundane, but it is charged with missional purpose. How can your small group be a good witness in your community? What does “doing good” look like for you as a small group? Paul closes his letter by passing along the goodwill of “everyone” who is with him and refers to both himself and them in a unified way. Think and speak in a similar way (“our,” “we,” “us”) with your small group to build ownership and strengthen people’s sense of belonging.

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