Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Doing Good Resources on sale now.
About this series
The Book of Titus
If Christians are “saved by grace,” totally apart from good works, what difference does it make if we Do Good or not? In this series, from the book of Titus, Chip reveals that there are four key reasons why Doing Good matters so much. He also explains how we can become people who habitually Do Good – and the first step begins with who we are, not what we do. According to scripture, Doing Good is not just a suggestion, it is very powerful, and can be costly. Chip encourages us, however, that the price of not Doing Good, can be even more costly. This series clarifies what Doing Good will do in you and then through you, for the benefit of others and the glory of God.More from this series
The Scripture says, “The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Lovingkindness and truth go before you.”
Because the way God executes justice and brings about righteousness in an evil world is He has a group of people in whom Christ lives, by His Spirit, and they see the way He sees and they care the way He cares, and they do what Jesus did when He walked upon the earth.
And we’re in a series called Doing Good, it’s what happens when Christians live like Christians. And I put some study notes there, you want to go ahead and pull those out.
Because the apostle Paul, when he was describing what it looks like for Christians to live like Christians, at the end of Romans chapter 12, he said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
He basically says, “In response to all the evil in the world, you can whine, you can complain, you can call talk radio, you can have coffee with your friends, you can criticize and blame all the people of why this has happened. Or you can do good.” You can be a change agent. You can be light that pushes back the darkness. And when you do it, powerful things happen.
I listed four on the top because doing good, remember, it’s more powerful than evil. Four things happen when we do good. Number one, it pushes back the darkness. Number two, it rescues people from destruction. Number three, it connects our hearts to others. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how it works, but when you help people, when you help people in your home, when you help people at work, when you help someone who is really hurting, something happens. Your hearts connect.
And then finally, it provides unexplainable joy. The Bible talks about the orphan, the widow, the poor, the abandoned woman, the single dad, the person who has lost their job, the person who has lost their home. It’s powerful when you do good.
We’re going through the book of Titus and it’s an entire book in the Bible written for one purpose – to help you understand why to do good, what good really is, and then how to do it.
Why does it matter so much? First, doing good reveals God’s passion for people. Jesus said to His followers, “Let your light so shine before men, that they would see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” People understand God loves them because we do good to them.
The second reason, doing good reveals God’s presence in our lives. Jesus said, “Good trees produce good fruit.” When Christ lives in you and it’s legit and it’s real, it will always produce doing good.
Doing good doesn’t make you right with God. But when you’re right with God, you can’t but help doing good.
Third, doing good reveals the priority in our lives. Jesus in Matthew 25 talked about His return and He talked about, “Be ready.” And He said that when we focus on things that last forever and our focus is on other people rather than just ourselves, we begin to understand there is more than just right now. And we begin to live for what really matters, for what counts for all eternity.
And then finally, doing good reveals God’s purpose for our life. Jesus said His desire for His disciples then and now is that normal, regular, ordinary people like us, you would bear much fruit.
And He said, “Before the foundations of the earth,” think of this, before there was time, before there were galaxies, before He said, “Let there be light,” He said He prepared a good work for you to walk in. That there is a person that has your eye color and only your DNA and just your background and your gifts and your struggles and all that you’ve been through and as you align your life and let the Spirit of God have His way in you, there is a good work that will reveal what God is like to other people, His love and His kindness, His power, His gentleness, His justice, and His truth.
Now, here’s the question it raises for me. If doing good is something that helps people, if it honors God, if it candidly transforms us when we do it, where does it begin? I mean, how do you learn how to do good, not for a week or two or three, and we make little lists and we try and be good little two-shoes, and I’ll do this and I’ll do this and I’ll do this. Two weeks from now, that won’t last.
How is it? I have this picture of, you know when you go to the doctor and you get your yearly physical and then you sit on the little table and they’ve done all the tests and you’re in the funky little gown and always holding the back?
And then he comes and he has the little tomahawk, you know, the little square thing? And he says, “Dangle your leg over like this,” remember this? And what’s he do? He takes it and I always tighten up, he goes, “Would you please relax your leg?” “Okay, I’m sorry, Doc.” And then he goes…right?
He just hits you and what he’s doing is he’s checking out your reflexes. You don’t respond, you don’t think about moving your leg, but your body operates in a certain way so that when something happens, the reflex is that response.
And what we’re talking about is walking with God and being united with Christ and allowing the Spirit of God to so flow through your life that when a need comes up and when you see certain things at home, or at work, or in that third place, you reflexively respond by doing good because the living Christ is living through you.
That’s what we’re talking about. This isn’t about just trying to do a few good deeds or trying to feel better about yourself or trying to make people think that you’re a nice person.
This is about doing good that flows out of God living inside of you.
And so, open your notes and let’s ask and answer the question in our time together,
Where does it all begin? Where do you start to have that kind of a life?
I’m going to suggest that doing good begins by recognizing who defines what is good. I mean, the word “good” has gotten really, over the centuries and even in our day, some people think this means good and other people think this means good.
And so the question is, “By what authority?” Or, “By what standard?” Or, “For what purpose?” I mean, who gets to say, “This is good and this is bad. This is good and this is evil. This is acceptable, this is kind, and this is not.”
The apostle Paul wants this group of Christians on this island that has moral laxity and immorality and boorish harshness and they’re stingy. And the little churches have been planted and he’s writing this letter to a young pastor.
And so listen to the first four verses of Titus chapter 1. And Paul, listen for the words like, where does the authority come from? What’s the standard? Who says so? “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ,” why? “for the faith of God’s elect,” or, “chosen and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.
“It’s a faith and a knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time. In His appointed season, He brought His Word to light, through the preaching,” Paul says, “entrusted to me by the commandment of God our Savior.”
And then, who is the letter to? “To Titus,” this young pastor, “my true son in our common faith:” and then he opens it with, “Grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior.”
By what authority? It’s from God. He says, “I’m an apostle from God, I’m a servant of God, I have taken the revelation from God, entrusted to me, and He commanded it.” So God defines, by revelation, what is good.
The standard, notice the words, were: Faith, faith, faith, knowledge was used. He says, “Truth.” There are certain things that are true, there are certain things that aren’t true. So God defines what is true and for what purpose. Godliness, moral goodness, that which helps people, that which restores, that which heals.
Now, for many of us, we have grown up with a pretty significant history of the Judeo-Christian ethic of what is good and what’s not. But the world was not always like this.
For example, in Rome at the time, mercy was not a virtue. Humility was not a virtue. These were introduced by Christ. I mean, when you were ruthless and powerful and gave no mercy, that was viewed as good.
Women were viewed as a piece of property to be used in any way. There was no sense of being “good” to a woman in the time that this was written. There was no sense of respect for a woman. In fact, we’ll find when he talks about “being good” as a leader, as a person, one of the early things is how you treat women and how you treat your children.
Power, brute force, intimidation – when this is written, that’s what is good. And so Paul is saying, “I’ve got a whole new definition of ‘good’ and, Titus, these people who have come to Christ, I want them to understand: This is what God says is ‘good’ and I want them to know that I wrote this to you and you have my authority so lay it out for them.”
It was prophesied by Isaiah that one day, in our world, that which was good would be called evil and things that are evil would actually be called good. And that was true at this time and I don’t know about you, but I think I can think of a handful of examples today, can’t you? Aren’t there some things that you just scratch your head and you think, “Are you kidding me?”
So first and foremost, where does doing good begin? It begins, let’s define, God defines what good is.
Second, when you want to bring about transformation, when you want to do good, doing good in any organization always begins with the leadership. Whether it’s the leadership in a home, leadership with a bunch of housemates, leadership in a small group, leadership in a company, leadership in a church, leadership in a multi-national corporation, leadership on an NFL team – if you want to bring about change you always start with the leadership.
And so what the apostle Paul does in verses 5 through the end of this chapter, he’s going to say, “This is what good leadership looks like and this is what bad leadership looks like.” And as I read it, what I want you to see is how few skills and gifts and techniques are mentioned. Because often when we talk about leadership, a person can do this and they’re gifted at that and they can vision cast and they can problem solve.
But the apostle Paul focuses first and foremost on character. Follow along as I read. He says, “The reason I left you in Crete,” speaking to Titus, “was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders,” the word just means “a shepherd or overseers in the church, “in every town as I directed you.” And then he gives a definition, “An elder must be blameless,” we’ll learn it means “above reproach, have a good reputation.” And then he’s now going to describe, so what does it means for a leader in the church to be blameless?”
Well, it’s the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe, they are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Why? Because an overseer, different word for the same thing, an overseer, a shepherd, elder, overseer or episcopos is someone who looks in and cares for people and understands what is going on.
He says, “So an elder or overseer is entrusted with God’s work. So he needs to be blameless.” Since an overseer is to be blameless, here are some of the characteristics of a blameless or person above reproach. “He’s not overbearing, he’s not quick tempered, not given to much wine, not violent, and not pursuing unjust gain.” Those are all the negative things that they’re not.
Notice the positive. “But he must be hospitable one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message that has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
And now he says you not only have to define what a good leader is, you’ve got to recognize what bad leaders are and deal with it. He goes on to say, verse 10, “For there are many religious people, mere talkers, deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group, they must be silenced.”
Why? “Because they are ruining whole households by their teaching, things that they ought not to teach and that for the sake of dishonest gain.” They are actually preaching religious messages for money, imagine that.
“Even one of their prophets has said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, and lazy gluttons.’ And this testimony is true.” This was just kind of a bad place. And so he says, “Therefore, rebuke them sharply so that they will be sound in the truth and will pay no attention to Jewish myths and command those who reject this truth, because to the pure, all things are pure; but those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure.
“In fact, both their mind and their conscience are corrupted.” And then the acid test, “They claim to know God, but by their deeds,” their actions, “they deny Him, being detestable, worthless, unfit for anything good.”
And so when we think about leadership and I know we’re going to talk about the Church but I want you to think about who would see you as a leader? Where does someone see you as someone of influence?
Maybe it’s someone in your housemates or maybe you’re a parent and kids would see you as a leader or maybe it’s in the church or maybe it’s in a small group or maybe you’re a supervisor of a team at work or maybe you’re a manager or maybe you’re a CEO, maybe you’re the owner of the company.
But who would see you as a leader? And then for those of you who lead, let me give you three very specific suggestions. They’re to the Church but these are critical for all of us.
Number one, appoint good leaders. Appoint good leaders. And notice, by “good” I mean people with character. We fall in love with talent and we fall in love with gift and we give those kind of people a pass. So appoint good leaders.
Second, remove bad leaders. And this is hard. Especially if they are gifted, especially in a business where they’re making you a lot of money. But short-term, putting up with bad character in places, there’s always long-term ruin.
And then the final admonition here is refuse to compromise. Refuse to compromise, those of you that are in positions of putting people in places.
I had a very good friend and this is a decade or so ago. And without mentioning any names I can tell you it was a multi, multi-billion-dollar company, he was in the upper, upper, upper level of management, only above him were the board and maybe one other person. He, it was tens of thousands of employees. He had been on a journey, had become a very committed follower of Christ, and he wanted to be a Christian, no matter the cost, that lived like a Christian.
Apparently, some of the very, very top executives, after some business meetings that were offsite, spent a weekend doing some things that, in their policy manual, it was absolute, immediate termination for that kind of behavior. It came to his attention, he was morally responsible, and so he executed that and told those people that they were terminated.
Some of the most gifted, most powerful, important people in this multi, multi-billion-dollar company. And then he was called in by powers above him, and there were very few, and they said, “You can’t do that.” He goes, “What do you mean I can’t do that?” They said, “Well, you can’t do that. Do you realize that team, those people… the giftedness, the strength, the knowledge, the…you understand how many billions of dollars that team has created to make…? You can’t fire them.”
He said, “We have in our policy manual, this isn’t grey, this is blatant, this is black and white.” And he was overruled. And he chose to make a very positive transition, he let those above him know that, “I can’t work in an organization because if this was anyone else in our company, they would be terminated immediately. And it’s only because of their giftedness and their talent that you’re changing the rules. I can’t work in a company like that. I resign.” He refused to compromise.
Very, very interesting that the decline of that organization over the next eight to ten years and interesting how God orchestrates things that you need to be vested when you leave a company and all those certain things and, you know how the market and things go up and down and up and down and he just felt like in integrity, if that’s the way they were going to operate once he left, he sold all of his stock, which was a lot.
And it happened to be sold at the peak. And a few months later, the peak went to the pit. And see, I think God wanted to say to him, and wanted to remind us, “You know, you can bank on gift and on talent and you can fudge. Or you can make sure you have good people in responsible situations. And you can be bold and courageous and remove bad people in the right way, in the right attitude.”
And then you refuse to compromise. And there will be some short-term pain, but it produces great long-term gain.
So if you want to do good, where does it really begin? It begins with realizing God defines what is good, not the culture. Not the culture of Crete, not the culture of Greece, not the culture of Rome, and not the culture of twenty-first century America, or Hollywood, or Washington D.C., or the Silicon Valley. God defines what is good and what is bad.
Second, it starts with leaders. Whether you like it or not, whether I like it or not, and I often don’t like it, you are, the greatest Christian someone is ever going to meet in their whole life. It’s scary, isn’t it?
I mean, they are three or four layers away and you don’t even know it and, you know, they are four cubicles down or they are on the jobsite and they have heard about you and they know you’re a Christian, and you are the greatest Christian, so you are a leader.
And so what I am wanting to now talk about is how do we develop the kind of heart, the kind of relationship, and the kind of character so that when difficulty comes, so when opportunity comes, when a need comes, our reflex response flows out of who we are, not just actions that we take.
Point number three, doing good, personally begins with who you are, not what you do. It begins with who you are, not what you do. When seeking to do good does not flow from who you are, the results are disastrous.
When there’s something – it’s like an old car with rust and you can take it into a body shop and they can spray nice paint and what do you know, in four or five months, all the rust is going to come through, but it looks pretty on the outside, but it’s not.
And now what he’s going to do is he’s going to talk about leadership in the Church, who you need to be, and I’m going to walk through it because this is very clearly addressed to elders or Church leadership, elders and pastors, but I want you to listen and realize, the very qualities and character that’s going to be developed is basically what it looks like when Christ is living His life through ordinary, regular people like you and me.
Just the standards are going to be absolutely clear, you have to come to this level of maturity to lead God’s Church.
What I want to tell you is, I have a good, good friend who worked in a very, very, very large church, I think it was the largest in America at the time. And he ended up working with pastors and leaders all across America and around the world, and he began to see that although we have the greatest opportunity ever in all of history with technology and resources to help people, really communicate, not just the words but the life of Christ, is that we have a crisis.
And he did research and he now spends his life helping leaders live out their calling with a healthy soul. He says, “The epidemic of leadership struggles comes at a time of amazing opportunity for the Church. The potential to reach and fulfill the Great Commission is unprecedented in our day. However, the Church will never be able to leverage this amazing moment of opportunity without strong leadership. Today’s troubling statistics on pastors paint a bleak picture.”
And my premise is this, and this is not – and boy, I’m a pastor, I’m not down on the Church. But here is what I know, sick shepherds produce anemic sheep. Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry permanently every month in America. Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-five percent of their wives feel discouraged in their roles.
Fifty percent of pastors’ wives feel their husbands entering the ministry was the worst and most destructive thing that ever happened to their families and marriage. Thirty percent of pastors say they either have been in, or are in, an ongoing affair, or a one-time sexual encounter, with a parishioner.
Seventy-one percent of pastors stated they were burned out, they battle depression and fatigue weekly if not daily. And only one out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister. That’s not happy news. The pastor’s greatest leadership tool is not techniques, not speaking ability, not being a great CEO. It is leading from a healthy soul.
What you see is a Christianity across America, and parts of all over the world, where most Christians don’t live like Christians. And those of us that never opened the Bible growing up and those of us that didn’t know anything about God, when you meet lots of Christians who say one thing and live a different way, here’s what we do, “Not for me.”
So there’s a lot on the line, there’s a lot at stake. So let’s walk through, how do you become the “who”? First of all, the qualifications for a leader or of a people to do good, first and foremost, it’s character. And the word is “blameless”. Blameless.
The word “blameless” means “above reproach”. It says, it just means having a good reputation. In other words, when your name comes up on the screen of people’s mind, both inside or outside of the Church, as a Church leader or as a person or the greatest Christian someone ever knows, you’re above reproach!
And then the rest of this passage, what he’s going to do is he’s going to describe what “blameless” looks like in different areas and so he goes for the jugular. Because you can fake it out there and so he goes right to the home. At the home, he says, blameless looks like being devoted and discipling. Being devoted in your marriage and discipling.
Notice the text, he says, “The husband but of one wife,” literally, the Greek says, “A one-woman husband.” And for some of us we read that and we think, “Well, what does that mean?” He’s not talking about your history.
The average Roman man, especially an affluent Roman man, had three women in his life. Woman number one was a slave girl who helped around the house and was available for sex at any time. Woman number two was a temple prostitute, that as a man would go to work and worship at the various temples, part of the temple worship in that time was temple prostitutes. So they were giving glory to God and having sex outside with the temple prostitute.
Woman number three was a wife who bore children and carried on the family name. And women lived with this as a reality. This is the way life is in that world.
See, Jesus liberated women. Jesus said, “A woman matters.” He says, “You want to be a leader in the Church? You need to be a one-woman man. And that’s your wife.”
And in our day he would say, “You need to be a one woman man. That means your mind and your heart doesn’t float, not just in your behavior,” but Jesus said, “when a man lusts in his heart for another woman, he commits adultery with her already.”
So he says, “You’re a one woman man with eyes for your woman, not on the internet, not other places, not being flirtatious.” He says, “That’s how you’re blameless at home.”
Second, he says, “You need to be an engaged parent.” Notice he says, “Whose children believe,” literally that they are faithful. And the word for “children” is from smaller children, probably up into maybe the middle teen years.
And basically he says that your children, they’re not cookie cutters, they don’t have it all together, they don’t ever not mess up, but they are disciplined, there’s a sense of propriety, there is order, they are respectful. Basically what he says is, “If you’re not investing in your kids and loving your kids and discipling your kids, not that they’re perfect, but they are following you. If you can’t lead your home, you can’t lead the Church.”
And so first and foremost, a blameless leader or a blameless Christian, if who we are is a prerequisite for what we do, it starts in our home.
Notice he moves from the home, and he moves from there to our relationships. And relationally he says, “You need to be emotionally mature.” When you look at the next four phrases it’s, “Not, not, not, not.” Four things you’re not to do.
And when you dig a little bit behind them, and what you realize is what he’s really looking at is someone in their relationships who has emotional maturity. And so the first one he says is that you’re not addicted to power.
Literally he says, “You’re not self-willed. You’re not overbearing.” The word means “to be selfish, arrogant, disregarding the interests or opinions of others.” This is people that are intolerant. These are people that when you talk to them, they glaze over and say, “Look, it’s my way or the highway. And by the way, it’s my way.”
He says, “That’s emotional immaturity. That’s insecurity. That’s being threatened. You can’t be overbearing.” You need to listen to people. You need to be gentle, would be the opposite of that.
Second, you can’t be addicted to anger. He says, “You can’t be quick tempered.” And this is a very interesting word. In Greek, there are two words for anger. One has the idea of something happens and you blow up like a flame. And the other is like a smoldering coal that you hang on to.
And he says, “When something – there are always crises and anger is an emotion and it’s neither bad nor good, but we have anger. He says it needs to be controlled. But this isn’t the quick blow up anger. He said, “That’s pretty obvious.” This is that kind of anger that gets down in people’s soul.
Have you ever been around people that something – they are just sort of negative? I mean, the most wonderful thing, they’re kind of negative. Sarcastic. No matter what is happening, they have these little sarcastic barbs.
Not only negative and sarcastic but they’re always critical. “Doesn’t measure up, doesn’t measure up.” Down behind that is an angry person. They are either angry at God, or angry at themselves, or angry with others and he says, “That’s not emotional maturity.” It’s not healthy. It’s not how a leader is in the Church. Doing good doesn’t flow out of anger.
The third emotionally mature response, it’s is not dependent on substances. He says, literally, it’s not given to much wine. The literal phrasing is, “Not sitting long over wine.”
And that was the drug of choice in that day. And the Bible is very, very clear. Jesus, when they took the Lord’s Supper, used wine. The Bible does not teach abstinence from alcohol. The Bible teaches drunkenness is wrong. But the core behind this is any substance that controls you. In our day, he could say, “prescription drugs,” he could say, “the internet,” he could say, “TV,” he could say, “food.”
But this issue of alcohol, both then and now, it’s a big one. And you have some people that have freedom to drink moderately and wisely and other people, we were in South America and we actually took the Lord’s Supper. And one of the leaders from our church was there and his background is alcoholism. He’s come out of alcoholism.
And he said, “When I drink alcohol,” I’ve never heard this, he said, “I’m allergic to it!” In other words, “I have a response to alcohol like few other people. It makes my mind do certain things, it takes me into places and behaviors that are destructive. I can’t. I must abstain.”
And so all of us need to understand that you need to be wise about, whether you be a leader or not, how do you view and how do you use alcohol? And so it becomes a wisdom issues. What we know from the research is that if there’s alcoholism in your family, like in mine, or like in my wife’s, you are four times more likely to be an alcoholic.
And then you have this teaching of Scripture where it’s not about, “My rights, and I can do whatever I want.” Paul says the kingdom of God, or loving people, isn’t about eating or drinking. It’s about love and joy and the power of the Holy Spirit.
And so different people come to different conclusions and so for some, like me, I didn’t have any alcohol in our home. I mean, I spent as a little kid, I was pouring out bottles of liquor and beer when my dad would get up to go to the bathroom. I have an addictive personality. I can’t do certain things.
For other people, I know they have said, “I don’t have any problem with that. At a business meeting or at a dinner I may have a glass of wine but we don’t have that in our home.”
For other people, they say, “This is a part of our history and our culture and we’ve never had a problem and we may have a glass of wine at home but I’m going to educate my children.” You need to understand that you need to figure out, it’s easy to have rules, “Never, never, never!” Or, “All, all, all!”
God says I am not to cause anyone to stumble, I am to be very sober, no pun intended, about my ability to handle this because it’s dangerous. And then I want to do things in a way that are wise with regard to my family and those around me, exercise my freedom before God, but exercise it in a way where it communicates love to other people.
And he says, “As a leader,” he says, “being addicted to any substance is disqualification.” I mean, how many people have you known or I have known that they claim the name of Christ but some addiction to some substance just makes you go, “Boy, I just, hm.”
When people are addicted to things, by the way, it usually has very little to do with the alcohol. Right? There’s a reason I put, “Emotional maturity.” Whether people take pills or go to the refrigerator and eat too much, it’s about unresolved issues in their heart. It’s about filling gaps and holes. And God says, “I want you to be leading from a healthy soul.”
The final one is not violent and not pursuing dishonest gain. And so it’s not leading with coercion. The phrase here, “Not violent,” it literally means, “Don’t strike a person, physically.” It came to mean even broader, verbal intimidation, loud, angry, coercing people.
There’s an old, old book written in the early centuries called The Apostolic Commons, and in it it gives a word. It says, “If a bishop strikes a person in an effort to redirect a fellow believer’s life, he should be dismissed from his role.”
Well, the only reason you put rules like that in an Apostolic Commons is because apparently it was happening. And I’ve actually been in Africa in places where, in the name of Church discipline, I have literally seen someone on the floor and leaders kicking someone, trying to deal with demonic spirits or behavior or whatever. It’s bizarre.
But God says, “You can’t coerce people. You lead from love and gentleness, there may be boundaries and discipline.” And then the other way you coerce people is by dishonest gain.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I watch TV sometimes, I can’t stay there very long. They manipulate people. And they’re trying to get people’s behavior… This “dishonest gain” comes up twice. Have you ever watched TV… sometimes you just are, like, in amazement. Am I really hearing this?
And some guy comes on, “I want you to know, if you’re in debt, send all your bills to me. Bring all your bills and put them in the mail and I will burn them on the stage and God will make them go away.” And I’m thinking, “Are you nuts, dude? Or are the people who send their bills to you crazy?”
Or the other one, when I just want to scream at the TV, “If you’re struggling, if you have debt, if you have difficulty, you need to plant a seed. Send me a thousand dollars and God will send you ten thousand!”
But one of the hardest things for us as followers of Christ, a lot of people that you work with, their view of Christianity is those handful of channels up near the top and they shake their head and they laugh out loud.
We make a difference, we live differently, we live above reproach, we live it out in our families, we have emotional maturity.
Notice he goes on from emotional maturity to a ministry mindset. See, it’s not enough about not doing certain things or having certain maturity. There is an outward focus here. He says, “Be hospitable,” and it’s one who loves what is good.
Hospitable literally means “a lover of strangers”. A lover of strangers. It has the idea of a concern for others. Built into it is generosity. It’s seeing needs and meeting the needs.
In other words, think of the word, “shows hospitality”, can anyone think of a word that we might have gotten from this? I’ll give you just a minute here. Hospital. What do we do at a hospital? Hurting, sick, injured people go to a hospital where skilled, loving, caring people heal them! That’s what we do!
Being a Christian who lives like a Christian isn’t about some little moral code inside my little bubble. It’s about caring and flowing out of that relationship.
Literally, devoted to kindness. The word “devoted” here and “good” has to do with being devoted to not just what is good for people, but for good things. It’s very similar to what Paul said when he talks to believers and says, “Set your mind on the things that are good, that are noble, that are right, that are winsome, that are beautiful, that are praiseworthy. I mean, set your mind on that which is beautiful, and, you know, creation and sunsets and love and intimacy and care.”
And when you fill you mind with those kind of things, your soul, then you have this reaction. It’s positive. It’s not you making a little list, “Oh, I’m going to try and be good, I’m going to try and be good.” It’s the Christ in you allowing your eyes to see the way He sees and He sees needs.
And it’s not only seeing and loving what is good, the opposite of loving what is good is not loving what is bad.
About a year ago I was in another city and I was invited over to a leader’s home, a Christian leader’s home. And we were going to have dinner and they had a nice, family room and he said, “I really, really like movies,” and I said, “Great,” and he had a TV with, like, fifteen thousand speakers. And I’m exaggerating, of course.
But it was really nice, and I thought, “This is really neat.” And so he went up to get ready or something like that and he had one of these stands or two or three of them that swirled. And he had, like, two or three hundred movies.
And I didn’t know him but, you know, I’m nosey. I mean, wouldn’t you? I mean, you know. And I started looking at the movies. And they’re good, good, good, whoo, good, good…he didn’t love what was good. He loved what was violent. He put things in his mind that I’m sure was entertaining and probably he was, “I’m just disengaging and I’m…”
But see, you’re a product of your thought life. And we need to love, there’s something that happens in your soul that produces dis-ease and makes you want to eat things or makes you want to take the third or fourth glass of wine when you have dis-ease when you know these things are true but you put these kind of things in your mind.
You’ve got to understand something. Evil isn’t neutral. Evil comes in an angel of light. Evil is a lure. And somehow we think, “If I’m not doing bad things,” my question is, “Are you a lover of good” Because when you are a lover of good and you focus on what is good, I will tell you, good will come out of your life.
And if you’re a lover of bad privately or secretly, I will tell you, what will come out of your mouth and out of your thoughts and out of your relationships are things that are bad. Because as a man or a woman thinks in your heart, so you become.
The final aspect that he talks about here is he talks about not just our mindset but our private world and our motives and our methods. And in our private world he gives us four very specific words. Talking about what no one else sees. He says, “Self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” In your private world, integrity.
All those things have to do with not just honesty, but integrity means an integration. There’s an alignment of: what people see is what they get. Who you are alone before God, who you are alone in front of a screen, who you are when you’re out of town, who you are with one of your kids – there is an alignment of the self, with others, and with God. And so he gives us these four very clear words.
The first is “self-control.” It means to be a master of your mind and your emotions. Very key word in the New Testament. Has the idea of you’re not driven by your passions; they are under control.
The next word, upright, we get our word “righteousness” for, it means “to be fair,” it means “to be right”, it means “to do what is right”. The word “holy” means reverence for God. It has to do with personal piety. The opposite of being conformed to the world is to be separate from the world, to be set apart. It’s not “holy” like in weird, like, you’ve got to put a fish on your card and a “Praise the Lord!” here and a big, black Bible and act weird.
That’s not holy. That’s weird. Holy is having loving, winsome, godlike thoughts. Holy is fearing what God thinks more than what anybody else thinks. And so you live according to the Scriptures.
And “holy,” the roots of it, are “bring wholeness” or in Hebrew, the “shalom” of God. And it’s not just emotional peace, it’s the peace and the wellbeing of a life well lived, of relationships and place, living with an open and sincere conscience and to be free. That’s what he’s talking about. And it’s private and it’s who you really are.
And the final word here is “discipline”. It’s the inner strength to control. It’s a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. It’s the discipline that when you don’t feel like getting up that that discipline allows you to get up and you don’t always feel like praying, you don’t always feel like coming to church, you don’t always feel like reading the Bible.
And it’s not trying to gain God’s favor, but it is choosing to do what you know will position you to allow God to work in and through your life.
And then finally he says, “All those things are very, very important.” But he then contrasts it with the bad leaders, if you will, and he talks about motives and methods the bad leaders were rebellious, the opposite of submissive. They are mere talkers. And they were deceivers and they were for dishonest gain. And so he says, “The motives and the methods need to be pure and teachable but courageous.” Doing good flows out of being courageous.
I think, if we could hear the mind and the spirit of Paul, as he is writing this letter, it’s to a very young man and to a very godless culture. And look at verses 10 through 16, kind of glance, then he goes, “This is who these guys are. They claim to know God. They are taking people down bad paths.”
Look at some of the words he says, “Silence them!” “Me?” “Rebuke them! Be able to stand and teach sound doctrine. Encourage them.” And so part of being the “who” that good works flow out of is being above reproach and that starts in your home, it means there’s emotional maturity in issues that probably all of us struggle with, one or two or maybe more of those.
It has to do with the mindset we have that is outwardly focused. It means that there is an inner world of control and Spirit-led, not a legalism, but a control and a Spirit-led, of doing the right thing at the right time in the right way with integrity.
And the motive isn’t to impress people. And the motive isn’t to get rich. And it’s a humility and a teachability and a courage that when everyone in the office or everyone at the jobsite and everything is flowing this way and God is looking for a Christian to live like a Christian and step up lovingly, kindly, without malice, and without their voice raised, and without defending to step up and say, “You know, I’m not really so sure that that is good. And I really respect you all. But, you know, for a couple thousand years, the track record on that particular issue goes this direction and, I’ve done a little reading and the consequences of those kind of behaviors and those situations, this is what it does to women. This is what it does and creates poverty. This is what it does and hurts kids. So, I know it’s not politically correct, but I just would say to you, because I know you all want to be tolerant, I think there’s another opinion that we ought to consider.”
And when people meet Christians like that, doing good, by your words, by your thoughts, and by your deeds, the poor get fed, the destitute get rescued, the orphan gets loved, the single mom or the single dad gets encouraged, and your workplaces get transformed. That’s why doing good matters, but it begins not with what you do. It begins with who you are.