Meeting Needs On Purpose
Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
Titus 3:14 NLT
An aged Paul writes to a young Greek leader in the church of Crete, named Titus. Crete, an island just south of Greece in the Mediterranean Sea, was notorious for philandering, quarreling and laziness.
Paul knew the power of good works demonstrated by devoted followers of Christ . . . shifting from harmful injustice to profitable influence. He writes to Titus, “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.” (Titus 3:8 ESV) Paul gives Titus a mandate and mission.
Imperative. Paul uses the word, “must”. This opportunity is not an option, but an obligation. T. W. Manson writes, “In the Kingdom of God, service is not a stepping-stone to nobility: it is nobility, the only kind of nobility that is recognized.” When our priority is serving, our practice is sacrificial . . . when our practice is sacrificial, our potential is significant. Paul reminds the early Roman believers, “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.” (Rom 12:11-13 MSG)
Instruct. Learning to “engage in good works” is something that doesn’t come naturally. McGee writes, “We must ‘learn’ to maintain good works. It’s something that must be worked at. A great many people think it is easy; we need to know what God considers good works, and we need to learn how to do them.” Paul instructed the believers in Rome, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Rom 12:13 NIV). We need develop the skill of serving and grow in grace giving.
Initiate. We are to “engage” to “meet pressing needs”. Luther calls these, the “urgent necessities”, “the indispensible wants”. In Classical Greek, the are called the “necessaries of life.” Paul encourages Titus to “make the first move” in meeting the most immediate and fundemental needs. We are not to wait . . . but to initiate. Paul reminded the elders from Ephesus, “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35 NLT). Our engagement to give provides us the experience of grace.
Intentional. It’s insightful that Paul used a “double negative” by writing “so that they will not be unfruitful”. In Greek syntax, the use of a double negative communicates purposeful intention. It is the “driving force” of a thought or idea. Kingdom living is intent on being fruitful. To the Christ-followers in Galatia, he wrote, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” (Gal 5:22-24 NLT) Responding as a result of the Spirit and by the Spirit unleashes His passion and desire. Producing God’s fruit becomes our purpose.
Newsong recorded the following lyrics,
“Give yourself away, be the hands and feet of Jesus
Give yourself away, go out and make a world of difference
Let this be the day you see how far that His love reaches
The greatest sacrifice of all is to give yourself away”
Give yourself away . . . Good deeds . . . Giving glory to God. That’s some good fruit. That defines us as Kingdom dwellers.