“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,” – Titus 1:1-2 (NASB)
In our modern culture the very thought of being someone’s slave is abhorrent. So is the thought of any person having ownership of slaves for their service. But Paul uses the word “slave” to describe himself. Most often translated “bond-servant” it more accurately means an ordinary life-long “slave.” In fact Paul pictures himself as the most menial slave of New Testament times, signifying his complete willingness to submit to the Lord. All believers have been chosen by God by whom we have been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). The promise we have been given is eternal life in which we have a hope. Paul’s meaning is that all of his ministry was “with a view to” that promise of eternal life. This hope was promised to the elect from eternity past by God, who cannot default on His word. Because God Himself is truth and the source of truth, it is impossible for Him to say anything untruthful. Paul places this act into a time long ages ago. God’s plan of salvation for sinful mankind was determined and decreed before man was even created (Ephesians 1:4). It’s a secure guarantee because the promise was made to God the Son.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” – Colossians 12-13 (NASB)
So, in view of what God has done through Jesus Christ for the faith believer, Paul is describing the behavior and attitude God expects from us in response. Seven characteristics and habits are listed in our verses. We can add twelve more through verse 17. Paul identifies us as “chosen of God.” This specifies true Christians as those who have been chosen by God. No person is converted solely by their own choice or works, but only in response to God’s effectual, free, uninfluenced, and sovereign grace. “Beloved.” Election means believers are the objects of God’s incomprehensible special love. Some of the characteristics we are to adopt and practice are stated by Paul as “putting on.” heart of compassion – the seat of the emotions; kindness – a goodness that pervades the entire person softening all harsh aspects; humility – is the perfect antidote to the self-love that poisons human relationships; gentleness – sometimes translated “meekness,” it is the willingness to suffer injury or insult rather than to inflict such hurts; patience – is also translated “longsuffering,” or “forbearance” the opposite of quick anger. This a process of renewal promised by God and made ours ours by His grace.
“Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.” – Psalm 119:29-30 (ESV)
These days, for those who are paying attention, there is a clamor about what is true or what is not true. The challenge is that there are two or three, even more sides on many matters and each claim to be true and the others false. What is true and what is not do not naturally get along very well. Telling which is which is not easy. The trend is to decide what one “thinks” is true and declare contradictory opinions to be untrue. Global and national media are filled with accusations and declarations. The psalmist in our selected verses gives us a better option. It begins by committing to put what is false far away. How are we to know which ways are the false ways? We can acknowledge and learn truth from what God teaches us. And when God teaches a willing heart and mind, He does so graciously and lovingly. Then we can be wise and do what the psalmist did: he chose the way of faithfulness and set God’s rules and commandments as his objective truth to know and learn. Let’s place God’s teaching always before us and make His rules our standard to follow.