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Why Doing Good Matters So Much, Part 1

From the series Doing Good

When you think of doing good, what comes to mind? Letting someone change lanes in front of you? Holding the door? Picking up trash at the park? What does it mean to do good - and does it really matter? Chip begins this series with an explanation for why doing good matters so much.

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Message Transcript

Doing good is powerful. Doing good changes the course of people’s lives and as we do good to other people, I don’t know about you, but it does something inside of us as well. Doing good is positive, it’s powerful, it’s rewarding. And in fact, the Bible commands us to do good. But I think we’re living in a day where doing good has kind of fallen on hard times. There’s a couple extremes that keep us from doing good the way God wants us to.

People say, “Well, if it’s by grace that you’re saved, then why do good? God loves me anyway, right?” Then religious people get really upset about that for good reason. And so, they try and correct it with the other extreme. And the other extreme is then, “Well, if you really want God to love you,” then they make it conditional and you need to stop doing these five things and start doing these seven things.

And on these days you always have to do these thing and so you get legalism over here and you get sort of grace that doesn’t have any impact. And so, all the way back in the early Church, these two extremes were troubling and they began to discredit Christianity.

And so, there’s a whole book, are you ready? A whole book in the New Testament written just to help you and me understand what doing good looks like – the “why” of doing good, the “what” of doing good, and the “how” to do good. And what it does for us, what it does for God, and then what it does for other people.

I put some teaching notes, if you want to pull those out, I want to give you a little overview of what it means to do good and as we do, that’s one of those words that has a broad meaning. Webster says doing good is, “The opposite of bad or poor or evil; someone who is good has favorable character.” The word always has a sense of moral purity. And doing good or being good, some synonyms are: it’s productive, wholesome, it enhances, it blesses, it encourages, it helps, it improves, it provides. I mean, it’s good!

The Bible’s definition says: it’s acts designed specifically to benefit others. When we do good works, they are acts that are designed specifically to benefit other people and reveal the characteristics of God.

The apostle Paul, apparently, we don’t have lots of details but he and a young pastor were doing ministry on this island, the island of Crete. A number of people come to Christ and there were a number of smaller cities on this island. And then churches started popping up and there were followers, many of them probably just house churches and some of them were growing.

And so the churches begin to grow but, this island of Crete a couple thousand years ago. They were known for their moral laxness, they were known for their corruption.

And so, the church is beginning to get birthed and they’ve heard this amazing message about forgiveness and grace. But they’re getting pulled back into their old culture. At the same time, a group of people who say, “Hey, we can fix that.” They start making up a bunch of rules and false teachers come in.

And so, Paul writes a very brief letter, three short little chapters, to this young pastor. He says, “Now, we were there. Now I want you to go back and finish the job.” And then he writes an entire book on this issue of doing good, what it looks like, why do you do it?

Notice the three problems that were in the church. And as I read these, they seem to be the three problems in the Church today. Number one, believers’ lives don’t match their beliefs. Believers’ conduct is discrediting their message. And these false teachers are ruining families and destroying the church.

So if you were a non-Christian and you went to Crete and you met many of the Christians there, you would say, “They say they love God and He lived this holy life but, boy, they don’t.” Or they were saying, “You know, you should really investigate what it means to be a follower of Jesus, God has come to the planet, He has forgiven your sins, we’re following Him.” And they say, “Well, you know, when we read about Jesus and when we hear about Him and when we look at your life, this doesn’t add up.”

Sounds a little bit like America. In fact, we have the highest percentage of people ever in America, by the last Gallup report, who say, “I have no spiritual affiliation.” We have a generation of people that are disillusioned with the Church and organized religion, who say, “I’m not against God, I’m not even against Jesus but, tell you what, when I’ve been in church situations and I meet religious people and those who claim to profess being followers, the disconnect is so deep, I don’t trust it at all.”

I had good parents, but they weren’t Christians. I never opened this book until I was eighteen years old and so my parents did what their parents did, they went to a church like their parents took them to. And so I went to a church like that and by the time I was fifteen, what I saw was hypocrisy; people who didn’t take this seriously; they didn’t live it, they didn’t expect me to live it, they said one thing, lived a different way. So by the time I was about fifteen or sixteen I said, “I’m done with God, I’m done with church, I’m done…” I mean, we didn’t use the Bible much, but I thought it couldn’t be any good either. All because people’s lives didn’t reflect what the very words of Jesus taught.

And so, notice his assignment. This young pastor, I mean, I do not envy him, although in some ways I think I’ve kind of got the same job, straighten out the mess, teach sound doctrine, confront error, and transform cities by doing good.

He says, “When faith is real and legitimate and people live it out, the good that they do, they solve the biggest problems in people’s lives, they love people that no one cares about, and literally the gospel and the message is validated by the purity of people’s lives and the concern they have for others by doing good.”

And so, the issue then and the issue now is the same. If in fact we are completely forgiven, have a new standing with God, and are saved by grace, why does it really matter if you do good or not?

And since, I think it’s really fallen on hard times because I think in some ways, even those of us that are really seeking to walk with God, I think there’s sort of an unconscious, at least this is my confession, doing good is important but it’s kind of like icing on the cake. If you do good, you know, great job. But it’s really not required.

And what you’re going to see is, first, look at the structure of this book. Chapter 1 is about doing good in the church. Chapter 2 is about doing good in relationships and he’ll give five specific relationships and define what “good” looks like. Chapter 3 talks to all Christians and says, “When you go to work, when you go work out, when you coach the little league team, this is what it looks like in the everyday, workaday world, this is what it looks like to do good in the world.”

And so the entire book is about doing good and you’ll see that he gives Titus three specific assignments. Let’s just look at chapter 1. I just want to do an overview. Paul says he is an apostle, it’s the longest introduction to any of his epistles. He says, “I’m an apostle, I’m a bondservant, this is from the commandment of God.”

And he’s basically saying, “Look, all my authority is invested in this young guy, and what he has to say comes from God through me, so you better listen.”

And if you’ve been involved ever in a turnaround or a big problem in an organization, you know, a ball team, a franchise, or even a church, if things are going badly and you want to change them, where do you start? Everything rises and falls with leadership.

And so chapter 1 is about, “We’ve got to get good leaders in the church.” So notice in your notes, I just put a highlight, he says, “I want you to appoint elders, leaders in all these different little churches, and by the way, here is what a good leader is, he’s blameless in his marriage in family, blameless in character, hospitable, and then in case you missed it, lover of what is good.”

And then you get these moral qualities, “They are self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, theologically sound, and able to guard the truth.” And if you want to fix an organization, you can’t just get good leaders in place. What do you do? You’ve got to get rid of the bad ones!

So it says, “These false teachers, rebuke them! Confront them!” Look at the words. This is non-good. They are deceivers, mere talkers, ruining whole families. They are dishonest. They promote the values and the morality of Crete instead of Christ.

And this will come as a shock, are you ready? As we study this a little bit later, there are people actually using the name of Jesus and saying spiritual things to get rich. Is that shocking or what? I mean, there’s not even TV yet! And he says, “Address that.”

And then notice the summary, after he says, “You’ve got to deal with these false teachers,” he says, “they profess to know God,” their words, “but by their deeds, their actions, they deny Him.” He says, “They are detestable, they’re disobedient,” and look at that last line, “they are unfit for doing any,” here’s our word, “good thing.” So all I want you to know is he is going to address the issue of doing good with the leaders first.

Chapter 2 opens up and he says, “Okay, Titus, it’s one thing to deal with the leadership, now, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to teach people what good looks like in every relationship.

“And so here’s the start. Start with the people that should know the most. Tell the older men, ‘This is what good looks like in relationships,’ tell the older women, ‘This is what good looks like,’ tell the younger women, the younger men, in fact, tell the slaves.”

Because every relationship is a reflection of Christ and the validity of who He is and what He said. Or it discredits Him.

And then after he gives this, right in the center, the second assignment of teaching what is good, we get a theology of doing good.

He says, “For the grace of God that appeared, and that offers salvation to all people, it, this same grace that saves you, it teaches us to say ‘No’ to all ungodliness and worldly passions,” negative, and positive, “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.”

And then this clause that gives perspective, “While we are waiting for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” and then this qualifying clause, not only is Jesus called “God” here, and our great Savior, but he gives His mission, “who gave Himself to redeem us from,” or out of, “all wickedness to becoming His very own people,” and then notice what kind of people we are, “eager,” or zealous, “to do what is good.” And so the summary is: These are the things that you have to teach.

The third area in this entire book is, “So what’s it look like to do good in the world?” And I hope you’re getting the idea that doing good is more than a little list of good little deeds, “I’m trying to be a nice, little good person.” It’s talking about a mindset and a thought life and a relational aspect where you are literally allowing the Spirit of God to produce a life of Christ and it begins to play out in how you live, how you think, and how you relate inside the Church and outside the Church.

And so doing good out in the world he says, “Remind God’s people to,” here’s what good looks like, “submit to authorities, be ready to do whatever is good, slander no one, be peaceable and considerate, show true humility to all men.” Ooh.

And then he gives the reason that we’re to do good to all and we’ll explore that a bit more when we get to that chapter. And then he gives a theology of not doing good but becoming good.
Because he doesn’t want them confused. He says, “I want you, hey, you do not get saved by good works.” But what he’s going to say is, “It’s by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Spirit; it’s by God’s mercies that you are saved,” and he’s going to make this big point, “doing good doesn’t get you right with God but those who are right with God always end up doing good because of who lives inside of them.”

With that, if you still have your Bibles open, the other thing I did is I started to trace some themes through the book because I want you to get this idea that good has to do with who you are, sort of a godliness and a moral capacity. And look at chapter 1 and I’ll just, I’m just zooming so you don’t have to follow too closely.

Almost lean back and listen to all these words that are repeated about, “So this is what good looks like.” Verse 1, “It’s a knowledge of the truth,” speaking of salvation, “that leads to godliness.” You might circle that word. It’s about being godly or god-like.

And then when he talks to the leaders, listen to these words about what it means to be good in terms of your character. “Be blameless,” verse 5. Skip down two lines, “Be blameless; don’t be overbearing; don’t be quick tempered; don’t be given to much wine; don’t be violent; don’t be pursuing dishonest gain.”

All those are the opposite of being good. And then the opposite of being good are these Cretans, they are liars and evil brutes and lazy gluttons. Nothing is pure.

By contrast, notice, leaders are to love what is good and it’s just the opposite at the end of the chapter, false teachers are unfit for doing anything good.

All I want you to see is he is pounding this home. In chapter 2 you get these same character qualities. Notice an older man is to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, sound in faith, endurance. Those are all character issues.

And then to be reverent. And then to not slander, to not be addicted to much wine, when he speaks of the older women. And then character issues, teach the young women to be self-controlled and pure and to be kind. He says, “Then slaves, don’t talk back, don’t steal, show respect, be trusted, don’t be ungodly.”

And then as you look here, he goes all the way through and says, “Teach them what is good. Be an example,” verse 6, “by doing what is good. A people,” last verse in the chapter, “that are eager to do what is good.”

And then finally we get to chapter 3 and he says that they are to be people who are ready, can you imagine this? It’s like right on the tip of eager and ready to do whatever is good in every circumstance with every person, with every event. This, what he says, is what we need to teach all of God’s people to do.

By contrast, they are not argumentative, they don’t quarrel, they don’t slander, they’re obedient. Have you got the idea that maybe doing good is more than just icing on the cake and trying hard to be a little bit better moral person?

It has to do with your relationship with yourself and integrity; it has to do with how you relate to every person in your home, a roommate, your family, your kids, your neighborhood, and where you work; and it has everything to do, then, with your specific actions that become an agent like Christ that solve the deepest relational and hurting and needs of people around you.

This book is about doing good. And it describes what happens when Christians live like Christians. The transformation that happens through us and the transformation that happens deep inside of us.

Now with that, here’s what I want to do. You’ll notice that there are three assignments, there’s one about the leaders, there’s one to teach about relationships, and the third one here is about God’s people.

But the question, “Why does good really, really matter?” The thesis of his argument is chapter 2, verses 11 through 14. Not uncommon in ancient literature where you have “bookends” and you talk about issues here, you talk about issues here, and often the core of what you want to say is right in the middle of the book.

And so, I want to take the remainder of our time and build the case from what he says, chapter 2:11 through 14, of why doing good matters so much. So I’m on the back page. You ready? If you have a pen you might pull it out because I’m going to give you a little work to do. And here, what you’re going to find, is there are four specific reasons why doing good doesn’t just matter. It matters so much.

Reason number one, doing good reveals God’s passion for people. In fact, you might even put above “passion”, His grace-filled passion, His loving passion is the idea. But Verse 11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” When he says, “The grace of God has appeared,” that word “appeared,” we get our word for “epiphany.” And the grace of God, the reference here, is to His incarnation, His perfect life, His love, His resurrection, all that Jesus is and all that Jesus did.

And so what the apostle Paul is saying is, “Look you Cretans! Are you, like, kidding me? The world was dark and the world was without hope. And light burst and the light that came was the very Son of God, fully man, fully God, born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life, He offered His life, He rose from the dead, and there is hope! The grace of God, the hope of all mankind has come, and He offers the forgiveness of sin and salvation and right relationship.”

And what he’s telling them is that your good works either affirm that or deny that. What you do, what I do, the reason that I turned away from Christianity and the Bible and all religion was what I experienced in church. Shining brightly is what God calls us to do.

He says, “You need and I need, in order to shine the light on what is true, let your light so shine, your actions, your good works, let it so illuminate that people could see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”