We like to think we’re learning to be more grateful, applauding our doctors and nurses, appreciating a million and one others who are working and sacrificing to keep things going. Lorry drivers, shop workers, refuse collectors and countless others we never see who make sure we have water, electricity and internet!
Some are also trying to be hopeful, dreaming of a better kind of ‘normal’ when we’re free to go out and about again. We’ll realise what a gift we have in nature, and what a privilege it is to play football or golf or go out for coffee or a meal with family and friends. Perhaps we’ll have learnt to be a little more considerate towards other people, a little more patient and courteous.
For those willing to go a bit deeper, times like these might prompt us to actually humble ourselves before our Maker and consider changing some of our questionable ways.
As usual, God is way ahead of us and we find some of these very ideas in the Bible neatly summed up in this 3rd chapter of the Apostle Paul’s 1st century letter to a younger minister friend Titus. Here we find these principles, that people should think gratefully of what has been given and done for us, think hopefully of what has been promised to us and think conscientiously of what we should be and do as a result.
Before we look at these in more detail let’s understand the 1st Century had crises of its own. There were conflicts and natural disasters. Rome had made great achievements but it was a harsh society, hard on women and children and slaves. Some of the emperors were notoriously corrupt like Nero and Caligula. Given their dreadful example people could have been tempted to be self-centred and abusive.
For all its human imperfections the growing Christian minority were providing a refreshing alternative. They were respectful to women and children and showed remarkable compassion and generous hospitality to sick and disadvantaged in every level of society. They paid their taxes without complaining, prayed for those in Government, even forgave those who persecuted them!
What was it that inspired them? It was the grace of God in Jesus.
So let’s think gratefully and specifically on what has been given and done through Christ. Because of the grace and kindness of God in giving His Son, because of the amazing love of Jesus giving Himself for us on the cross, because he is risen from the dead and with the Father pours out the Holy Spirit on the Church - flawed people like us can be ‘redeemed’, set free from the negative way we used to think and live. We can be ‘saved’, ‘purified’ from our sins, reborn and renewed by God’s powerful help, blessed in an ongoing relationship of love.
We should be so grateful, never ceasing to praise and thank the Lord for all His mercy, this grace we so little deserve!
More, let’s think hopefully about what we’ve been promised. Paul describes Christians here as ‘heirs having the hope of eternal life’. We’ve been promised a share in the ‘family estate’ of the Almighty forever! Heaven, resurrection, life in all its fulness in peace and joy in fellowship with our Lord and with all His family in heavens and earth that are fully healed and made new. Jesus’ ministry in Galilee was a foretaste of the infinitely greater restoration and wholeness to be enjoyed when He returns.
We are concerned naturally about things in the short term but don’t need to be overcome with fear. Our Father knows our need and our future with Him promises to be nothing short of glorious!
So let’s think conscientiously about what we should be and do in the meantime in response to all that has been done for us and promised to us.
These three short pages of Paul’s letter to Titus demonstrate how for Christians our spiritual devotion must be worked out in very practical application. We shouldn’t waste time, energy and resources on fruitless arguing. We must be humble, honourable, hospitable. The Apostle recommends truth that leads to godliness, good order and self-discipline so our freedom in Christ might be fruitful and profitable in church and family life and beneficial for the whole community. At least six times here Paul speaks about loving and doing ‘what is good’. What ‘good’ might we be able to do for our neighbours in the present crisis? And what kind of people will we be if or when things get back to ‘normal’?
Appreciating what God has done for us, let us seek to live in the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection, grateful, hopeful and conscientious, be the times easy or challenging, seeking opportunity to do good to all for the glory of our Lord and Saviour.
To Him be eternal praise and thanks!