(1-4) Beloved, like the two letters to Timothy and one to Philemon, Paul addressed an individual rather than a local congregation of believers in Titus, yet as with the rest of Paul’s letters, there is much you can learn about following my Son from reading it. Let Paul’s words stir you to share the message of my goodness, grace, and peace that are revealed in my Son.
(5-6) Paul had left his protégé, Titus, in Crete to help establish the churches by appointing elders who were blameless and of good character. Character is often revealed in the home. If children are running headlong into self-destructive behaviors and seem to be unresponsive to parental influence, it would be better for parents to focus on the home instead. Your family is your first ministry.
(7-8) Potential leaders must not be arrogant, believing they are living out their faith perfectly. Such haughtiness hurts others. They must not be hot-headed, violent, abusive, or addicted. They must not be greedy for gain.
(9) Church leaders should also be students of my word and Spirit, able to instruct others in biblical truth and capable of rebuking those who are distorting my word, yet to do so with a welcoming character. Effectively balancing truth and love requires maturity.
(10-11) Paul was concerned about some who were stirring up division in the church, deceiving young believers with half-truths and wise-sounding words that amounted to nothing. Empty talkers are present in every generation and in order to able to respond with true wisdom, you must know what is true. False teachers stir up confusion and division, all so they can line their own pockets.
(12-14) The island of Crete, where Paul had left Titus, was notoriously evil. Even Crete’s own citizens understood that it was nothing for them to lie, cheat, and take advantage of others for their own satisfaction. Paul instructed Titus to directly confront their twisted understanding. People were turning away from the gospel to myths and lies.
(15-16) Living in the truth of your redemption in my Son protects you against alternative “truths.” When false beliefs guide you, even good things get twisted and misinterpreted. When you pour pure water into a dirty cup, the water becomes tainted. If you claim to know me, but you continue in your self-centered, warped thinking, your lifestyle will reveal the truth. Disobedience is unsuited to kingdom work.
(1) Teach what is true according to my word and my Spirit. Spend time wrestling with the text of scripture and bring it to my Holy Spirit for help in understanding. There are millions of ideas about what is true, even within the church. Approach my word with humility and be willing to ask yourself “Does what I believe about God accord with love?”
(2-3) A maturing faith deepens character and wisdom. As people approach their later years, I want them to live with dignity, not pulled this way and that by unchecked passions, but steady and grounded in love and faith. Model self-control and teach others to love well. Younger people are watching you for clues about how to live.
(4-6) The passions of youth burn like hot flames; they are bright, but they can be uncontrolled. As you mature, the flames die down, but glowing embers that retain heat in a controlled fashion remain. Live in that place where you are filled with my Spirit, but under control.
The best place to practice living a life of love is at home. Your family is your first mission field. As you love them, practice tempering your emotions—not suppressing them, but filtering them through my love. Seek love, purity, kindness, and other-centeredness, which are the traits that reflect my kingdom citizens.
(7-8) Live an integrated life reflecting my Son in every respect. Love well in all circumstances, not only when it is convenient. Speak with clarity and humility; do not just go shooting off your mouth. Rather, let the angry, impulsive words of another convict them. Their hateful speech will be self-condemnation and not an indictment of you. When you live with integrity, humility, and love, no one will believe the accusations brought against you.
(9-10) Paul encouraged slaves to be submissive, well-pleasing, and agreeable. In your day, you do not have slaves (which is due in part to the influence of the gospel upon culture), but the principles are important to keep in mind as you interact with those who have authority over you. For example, as you work for your employer, work as though you are working for me. All these things—dignity, kindness, humility, and love—testify to my goodness.
(11-14) In my Son, grace appeared magnificently, and he brought salvation for all people. Everyone is welcome in my kingdom. Citizenship invites you to a whole new way of living, no longer driven by worldly passions or unrighteousness. By my Spirit, you can live a self-controlled life. Because of my Spirit within you, you can live with holiness right now. Heaven has already started, even as you await in hope for my Son’s glorious return. He has redeemed you from lawlessness and purified you by his blood, but when he comes back, you will be fully present with him. Diligently pursue goodness and godliness.
(15) You know what constitutes the good life. Speak about it with conviction and do not be afraid to challenge evil. I have given you a voice for love and peace.
(1) Be willing to defer to those who hold leadership positions. When you work hard as if you were working for me, it will make your job smoother. Submission does not mean you must do something illegal or immoral, because your primary allegiance is still to me. Rather, it is a recognition that organizational roles serve an important function.
(2) Do not talk badly about anyone, even if you perceive them to be your enemy. Avoid quarreling disagreements that have no end in sight. As Brené Brown wrote, “Don’t puff up, don’t shrink back, stand your sacred ground.” Deal with disagreements in a healthy manner. Be gentle, showing courtesy and respect to every person you encounter, remembering that everyone bears my image.
(3) Just as everyone is an image bearer, every person has also been affected by sin. You are fully aware, beloved, of your own history. You have been foolish and disobedient. You have pursued passions down dangerous paths, becoming ensnared by sin along the way. You have behaved maliciously, driven by self-centeredness. When everyone operates from sin, it fosters a culture of hatred and division.
(4-7) When my Son appeared, he changed all of that. He came in goodness and lovingkindness—the very things for which I created you. He did not save you because of anything you said or did. Your “righteousness” did absolutely nothing to sweeten the deal. Life with me is grace and mercy, from top to bottom. Jesu saved you from every bit of unrighteousness, making you totally new and pure. Your ongoing renewal is upheld and energized by my Holy Spirit. You are a fellow heir in our eternal kingdom.
(8) Trust in the hope of my Son. Keep coming back to him; never forgetting your belovedness. As you have believed in my kingdom, so live as its citizen. Be the kind of person you want to be in eternity. Living consistent with your true self right now is good for your soul.
(9) Do not get mixed up in foolish disagreements, which are far too common among my followers. Do not get wound up about theological quarrels or arguments about lineage. Stop fighting about which denomination best aligns with my kingdom. Those types of disagreements completely miss the point and do nothing of benefit for my kingdom. They are not only unprofitable; they are often harmful.
(10-11) There are those in the church who like nothing better than to stir up controversy and disagreement. They seek neither truth nor love, but right and wrong, focusing on whom they believe is in and out, and completely miss my heart in the process. When a person invites you to judge others, tell them plainly that you will not be a part of it. If they persist, leave the conversation, for their twisted thinking does not glorify me. Stirring up division is condemnation enough for them.
(12-13) Paul concluded his letter to Titus by mentioning a few fellow ministers, which was one of his common practices. He sent the letter to Titus in the hands of Artemas and Tychicus but expressed his hope that Titus might find his way north to Nicopolis where Paul was planning to spend the winter. He also wanted Titus to send Zenas, a lawyer, and Apollos to continue sharing the good news, equipping them for their journey so that nothing would hold them back.
(14) Paul encouraged local congregations to live generously, knowing that generosity feeds fruitful growth.
(15) Greet others in the faith. You are all interconnected and touched by the grace of Jesus.
 Brene Brown, “The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage,” Sounds True, 2012, audiobook.