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Titus: Day 3

Above reproach

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Today's Text: Titus 1:5-16

Text: Titus 1:5-16

There were times, after attending a Christian university where there were well-intentioned rules for everything, I tried to walk a tightrope of moral righteousness and totally missed out on the idea of the Gospel. I didn’t preach the Gospel to myself every day or pursue sanctification from the position of my own lack, desperately needing Jesus. I mostly just tried to do things right on my own terms and in my own strength. My striving to be above reproach started to look more like striving for God-approval, devoid of the Gospel of grace.

I pranced around like a tiny Pharisee, measuring just how far above reproach other people were. I was the picture of leadership, naturally playing the good girl and brushing over my propensity for self-importance. I appeared tidy and shiny and above reproach on the outside, but my heart was hard and prideful. I understood very little about what Jesus’ work actually meant.

Jesus’ death (and resurrection!) means that while we abide in the Lord, His Spirit will sanctify us making us more like Him. It means that I shouldn’t spend more effort avoiding doing wrong than I do getting to know my Father. It means that my striving to be above reproach should not come before my striving to be in communion with the Lord. If I abide in the Father, the work is already done.

Appearing to be above reproach is not enough. If there is pride hiding in your heart, it matters not that you look like a fine, upstanding citizen. If you’ve got anger holding the court of your emotions, you need to do work with the Lord. Being above reproach in light of the Gospel is more than not doing the visibly bad things. It is about yielding your heart to God and letting Him excise all the things that are more of this world than of Him.

There are things we can mess up if we put them in the wrong order. If we misunderstand our identity and position in Christ, we will forever be striving to be good enough, far enough above reproach. That’s an exhausting way to live. If we stay tenderhearted and open to God’s refinement, always listening for the Spirit, we will become more like Jesus. We will be above reproach because we are hidden in Him, not because we are operating on our own strength or our own terms.

Let us seek first to know our Father, then abide in Him and be sanctified. This is the only way to be above reproach.

3

  • This is my story. I am still (not a young girl any longer) struggling with this. It doesn’t rule my days anymore but it is certainly still there.

  • “It means that my striving to be above reproach should not come before my striving to be in communion with the Lord.”

    These words struck me while reading this study today. As a long-time believer, I feel like I spend most of my time trying to “catch-up” with what I know my identity is in Christ: a pure and holy daughter of God. Often having the warped understanding that this is something I have to achieve as opposed to something I can rest in, I often focus on being good as opposed to fellowshipping with God. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Steph

      This is me exactly. Thank you for putting this into words! I understand all of it!

  • Being a girl still struggling with the idea that I don’t have to live perfectly to be enough for God, this lesson was another breathe of fresh air. Another reminder of how powerful the love and strength of the Lord is; to meet me in this place with arms wide open. It still blows my mind that He craves a relationship with every single one of us! Every single person on this earth is desired by the Lord! Remembering that throughout my day is a great encouragement. Thank you for this beautiful lesson on the dangers of relying on our own strength to try to please the people, rather than reveling in the mercy of our great God who offers us rest in the shelter beneath His wings of love!

  • DaisyMae

    This was a great reminder! Oh to give up striving and REST in His grace!!! His grace is enough for me!!! I pray that rings true in my heart today!

  • Great song!! And great reminder today that our behavior flows out of our identity!! Who we are in Christ!!! Sweet abiding!!

  • Jesus we are resting in The joy if what thou art. Finding out the greatness of thy loving heart -Trisha Brock.

  • A year ago someone gave me a little rock and told me to write what I’m struggling with in my life. Then after I felt like of had overcome it, I was supposed to throw the rock somewhere. I wrote “being good enough” on my rock. I still have my rock. I feel like I need to be good enough to attend my christian college, to maintain my friendships, to love my family, to teach Sunday school, to work my job. Whatever it might be I just never feel like I’m actually good enough. I struggle a lot. I seek the love of people over the love of God. But what I just learned in Hosea is that He still loves me. So I’m going to seek my relationship with Him and the rest should come pretty naturally.

  • Lately I have been so distant from where God would like me to be. I’m feeling sluggish, sleepy, lazy, unmotivated, and just plain self consumed. I’ve been feeling emotionally dead many days, putting God and his word on the back burner. I have six beautiful children, and often lately feel run down by house work and child rearing. I used to have so much drive and energy, but these days I’m not that person. My spiritual life is being reflected in my physical life, I’ve not been communing with God daily like I used to. I’ve put other things in its place, like Instagram and scrolling my iPhone for entertainment. It’s been going on for months (when homeschool let out for the summer, I checked out too). This study the last few days has been uplifting and I’m feeling the wheels of change and hope turning. I’ve felt uplifted for the first time in months.

  • Michelle Myers

    Being above reproach in light of the Gospel is more than not doing the visibly bad things. It is about yielding your heart to God — Amen! So many youth groups just teach behavior modifications that make you a Christian, but never address the heart issues. Spot on!

  • Jennifer

    I have been striving to act and obey as I should but all the while have been doing so on my own strength what I should of been doing is abiding in Gods presence and his word and change. And transformation would’ve come thank you srt I needed to hear this today !!

  • Montana Moxie

    In a world where I feel like I don’t measure up (either “too much” or “not enough”), it sure is comforting to know that, through Christ, I stand before God approved. Thanks for the reminder today, SRT!

  • Amen sister! Amen!

  • I am struggling to make sense of this devotional today. I do understand it in general terms. Yes, we should not put more emphasis on trying to be blameless, but rather have the relationship with God as our primary goal. Does that mean that if we tend to our relationship with God, our wrongdoings do not matter anymore? I understand that once we start learning the word of God and uncovering the principles by which we must live our attitudes change and, to speak in basic terms, we sin less. But still…we do have human nature, sin seems to be our thing, we turn our back on God every so often just to prove we are human. So how does that fit into this? The fact that we have been saved through Jesus seems like a free pass a little. Doesn't "abide in Father" mean that we should try to avoid reproach? I know I am missing something, please help me make sense of it!

    • Aubri Marie Foster

      Hi Mukasha, I have been thinking about this a lot lately, too. My heart for doing good, and being above reproach, isn’t always selfless. This devotional is addressing this issue. The idea isn’t to completely stop trying to do good and be above reproach, it is to take a deeper look at your motives for your actions. Am I doing good or avoiding sin just so that others will look at me and say: “Great Job!” Or am I just doing it because that is what I am told to do? The REAL reason for me making good choices and acting like Jesus should be that I am living my life as a sacrifice and gift to The Lord, a life lived in response to the love relationship that I have with my savior, a life full of actions done as a way of showing my gratefulness for Jesus in hopes that others might be drawn to Him. The ONLY way that my motivations can stay centered on this is to remain constantly connected to the vine, to ABIDE in the Father as he is in me. This devotional isn’t saying that we should stop striving to do good or stop running from sin, it is simply asking us to take inventory of our motivations. Paul is asking Titus to take inventory of the motivations (and fruit) of those he chooses to put in charge of the local body. Those who are leading should not just look good on the outside, like white-washed tombs, rather their lives should show genuine humility and daily striving to serve as a love response to the Gospel. THIS life is a beautifully effective tool that God uses for His Glory. — I don’t, and probably won’t, know if this response to your thoughts makes sense or has helped you, but my prayer for you and I is that, as we go through this study, we would be challenged to ask questions and be drawn closer to the King as we dig deeper to understand His words. I don’t want to just have pat answers to tough questions, I want to be challenged! Thank you for your questions! :)

  • ruledby1

    This is exactly how i have been most of my christian life, this has help open my eyes. Thank you!

  • Actions truly speak louder than words. This is such a good reminder.

  • You have literally summed up my life in Christ so far. I started out much the same as you… striving to do everything right, to be above reproach, focusing on what NOT to do. Every single day, every single moment, I am thankful that the Father has shown me a richer, deeper, free-er way to live and grow in Him. Relaxing into His goodness and grace, but also into the struggles and trials of life has brought more peace than I ever imagined was possible.
    Thank you for this post. It has resonated so, so deeply.

  • So – This is a compilation of the last few days- But I feel like I am hitting a theme with Titus. And it is to "be a branch". Day 1: I felt like the Lord really highlighted that Titus' dedication to the gospel, looked like comfort. What a great reminder that my dedication to the gospel is going to look different in each season, and not always in a way that screams ministry. When I am tapped into the gospel, which is Jesus, then the gospel is activated through the simple things I do – even like comforting. Day 2: "We receive our faith as a gift from God, and he is the tie that binds us together." "We are all living one life – HIS!" The key points of this being that it is all resting on him – Do I have to make the effort to stay connected? Absolutely! But its HIS life and HIS being that ties us together. My success, my calling, my…anything, is MUCH more relient on him then it is on me…and the cool thing about that is he is EXTREMELY reliable. Day 3:"We will be above reproach because we are hidden in him". "If I abide in the Father, the work is already done." All he is asking is for us to be the branch. It reminds me of a song we used to sing in kids church. "I wanna be like a tree, planted by the water, trusting in the Father to help me grow" – Or something like that. :P Anyway – My goal is to rest in being a branch with this study. :)

  • Helen Marie

    I know this is random, but whose photos are these? Are they on instagram! I'd love to follow – @helenmariebowerman

  • Steph_Lilac

    This post is some yummy good fruit that fills my spiritual belly right up!!! I have to be fully committed to living for God's approval and not that of man. If I abide in Him the Spirit will direct me on living above reproach. *walks off mumbling* "Just abide abide abide abide abide abide…"

  • bethanyknaus

    I am reminded of John 15:4-5:
    "“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
    I am to abide in Him and he will produce the fruit. Nothing I do – or try to do- of my own accord will produce the fruit He desires.
    How gracious is our God!

    • Libby

      Ah! Yes! This is the verse I was looking for. EXACTLY what has been standing out to me too Bethany!

  • Jenna Hermle

    "It means that I shouldn’t spend more effort avoiding doing wrong than I do getting to know my Father. It means that my striving to be above reproach should not come before my striving to be in communion with the Lord. If I abide in the Father, the work is already done."

    What an absolutely freeing and comforting truth! This is the sustaining truth of the Gospel ~ that we do not work our way to Heaven through our own accomplishments, but that we turn our backs on everything we once were and turn instead to Christ whose perfect work has accomplished it all.

    What an encouragement!

  • This spoke so deeply to my heart today! I read a passage like this one in Titus and it makes me feel all nervous because I don't know how to measure up to that kind of living–a kind of life that others would want to imitate, as my Bible commentary says. Hearing those words activates that voice that has been so strong in my head for far too long that I need to strive to be good enough, that my actions earn God's approval. Only recently have I really been able to trace that train of thought and see how deeply it is has influenced my life and my relationship with God over the years. I want to live a life that is above approach, but one that also has an accurate understanding of God's grace as I do so.

    So I cringed a little when I read this passage today. And then I read these words that went along with it and they were like soothing water to the soul. It is not about me being good enough because God is good enough. I just have to remain in Him!

  • Today's post and comments were so relevant to questions I've had lately about how to balance pleasing the Lord and living in freedom with pleasing other people. Hayley's words taught me that it's not a matter of a venn diagram–where there's a perfect happy middle that contains both of these. Instead, it's an if/then relationship. IF we commune with God, THEN we don't have to worry about outward appearances. A blameless reputation will be a natural outflow of pure, sincere commitment to Christ. In the event that someone does speak against you, your conscience will still be clear because you know you are striving towards the Lord.

  • Sometimes I feel like the people in verse 16a, "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him." (NIV) I say (and am) a Christian, but I certainly don't always act like it. I have definitely had 'holier than thou' moments, where I was judge others as inadequate, and those moments where I felt that I was the one who was inadequate because I didn't do X, Y, or Z. But thankfully God does not care. He wants me to follow Him, and He wants me to try. He knows that I cannot be perfect, that is why He sacrificed His Son. But He wants me to try. And starting today, I am going to be intentional about trying.

    Have a wonderful Wednesday sisters!

  • "Let us seek first to know our Father, then abide in Him and be sanctified. This is the only way to be above reproach"
    Love this, need to remember this:)

  • Gema Muniz

    So thankful for todays study. Many times I have fallen into this mistake of questioning every step I take and wondering if this is really what God wants me to do. Lately I have learned that living through faith is about living through God's word. We already know the good from the bad, so why do we need to question ourselves so many times if what we're doing is right.

    If it feels right in your heart and it applies with the scriptures then go for it. Even if you make a mistake know that God is there with you. He will be there to place you on the right track. The point is to live a life in which we try to please him in everything we do, but knowing that we are not perfect and that we will make mistakes, but as long as we are seeking him and doing what we believe to be right in his eyes basing it on the scripturs than know that we have already won the race.

    When in doubt seek his word

  • Very important lesson today. I was listening to a speaker the other day and she was talking about her husbands miraculous recovery from leukemia. To make a long story short, he had a successful bone marrow transplant with marrow given from his sister. His bloods DNA is 100% his sisters DNA. Yet, if you swabbed the inside of his cheek those cells would be HIS DNA. Pretty amazing huh? This is what Christ does for us. We are completely justified in Christ. He gives us Himself; 100% of Himself. Nothing we did or do can make us any more or less than that 100%.

  • HealingMatthew

    There is a lot to think about here. I feel that I have swayed too far to one side or the other; being high and mighty and preachy, to being so quiet in my faith, so afraid to appear preachy that I fear I appear worldly and unfaithful. I've let the waves of life move me from here to there for a long time, all the while I'm constantly looking for Jesus in the boat.. but never really putting forth enough effort to climb into the boat. I'm tired of being tossed about. I pray that I can stay in the boat, stay close to Jesus, immersed in the Word, strengthened by God to complete the simple day to day tasks in Grace, with hospitality and patience. More than anything, I want to be the elder described here for my children. I want to be a godly example to them of love, patience, faith, and grace. I am so lacking! It definitely can't be done of my own strength.

  • World Harvest Mission, now known as Serge had a Bible Study called Sonship. During this study my husband and I saw our sonship differently. One of us acted as an orphan, undeserving of the Gift and never embracing the truth; the other was a Pharisee, doing what was right and expecting all that we deserved. Since doing this study, we have become parents, adoptive and birth. The one important constant is relationship. This relationship is far beyond their actions. As we strive to have relationship with our children I can see the beauty of the Lord's relationship with me. With His relationship I can accept His correction, direction love. I am growing to grasp that my attempted perfection means nothing to Him but my relationship means everything.

  • @Tina: your testimony got to me. Thank you :).

  • I was just thinking about how I tend to fall into living for the audience of everyone instead of the audience of One. It's a thought process of "it's good enough to look good enough"… as long as I looked like I was walking the part, I was golden.
    Shame on me for getting in my own way of my relationship with my Savior… but how great of a God do we serve that He loves us and gives us grace continually!

    • Steph_Lilac

      Giiiirl! I have a similar story of looking great on the outside but behind closed doors and inside it was filthy. Praise be to God who gives us the strength to be authentically righteous in Him.

    • AnnaLee

      Amen, Mira and Steph! How often we get in the way of our own relationships with Christ! Whenever I start getting content and feeling like I've been really "good" or done something in a morally right manner, I feel the small sense of pride start to grow in me. But what is the point of looking "right" if we don't have a true relationship with Christ?? The question to it all is, "Do I want to fall in love with and pursue Christ with all of me?" if the answer is yes, as Tina said, we need to be honest with ourselves and Christ, living examined lives in the light of His sacrifice. Father, help me, us, to live in the light of your sacrifice, knowing we can never be or do anything of You without You and Your grace. Let us live in grace, not in comparison. Praise you, Father.

  • Liane Michelle

    With our faith should come the overwhelming desire to please God through our words and actions. We can profess to have faith in God, but if we keep in a little box inside our hearts and don't actively live for Him and as if he is inside of us, then we have missed the point completely! And let's remember: we are only human. We are far from perfect. We will stumble, take a wrong turn, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, but thankfully, our God loves us no matter what and he will always be there to pick us up, dust us off, and set us back on His path.

    • AnnaLee

      Thank you for this, Liane! I just randomly read your comment as I got on here after watching a sermon from a local church on hearing and discerning the voice of God in our lives. I definitely do feel that I need to go out more and live for Jesus (since I have really nothing going on I've kept inside a lot, and have almost been scared to meet with others for fear of it wrecking my "routine"… so not cool!). This involves me getting into a church, being in more of a community of believers my age, and stuff like that. We are far from perfect, and that reminder that His grace truly does cover all is really comforting and encouraging. Lord, let me live for and in You each day because of my love for you (truly, because of Your love for me) and not because it is "routine" or, as a sister said above, head obedience. Thank you Jesus.

      Praise God for you, Liane. Your comments have been insightful and wonderful to read! Have a sweet day. Praying a blessing over you, that the Lord would open your eyes, ears, mind and heart to how He'd have you live more actively for Him. Have a great evening/night. :)

      • Liane Michelle

        Thank you so much for this AnnaLee!! I too tend to keep to myself more than I should. I sometimes feel like I am just going through the motions of what a "good Christian" should do. I go to church (two actually! Long story, but I am blessed to have two church homes), I serve at both of those churches in different capacities, I read my Bible (not daily like I should, but I am working on that), I have a LifeGroup, and I mentor senior high youth. When it comes down to it, I love all of these things, I just struggle with keeping that fire and passion for it all going. It's important to remember that we are not alone — like yesterday's message pointed out, it's all about unity!

        I pray that God will lead you to a wonderful church community where you can pour out your love on those around you. I pray that he will surround you with women who will help build you up and that you can do life with. Your words definitely touched my heart this morning and I am extremely grateful :)

  • Liane Michelle

    Being a Christian isn't always easy. We are called to a higher standard of living compared to worldy standards. BUT, when you are truly in Christ and seeking God daily with all of your heart and soul, those Christian standards come so naturally that it isn't work at all! And I don't believe that God wants it to be "work". He wants us to do those things because it bring us joy and peace — and with that will come satisifaction. When our hearts our truly filled with God, his spirit works through us in our words and actions. No, we can't go to heaven based on our good deeds alone, but James 2:26 tells us that "faith without deeds is dead". We can do all the "good" things in the world we want, but if we don't have faith, it means nothing.

  • It is about yielding my heart to God and letting Him excise all the things that are more of this world than of Him.
    Yes.
    Sisters, I would really appreciate your prayers in this. My son age 23 is recovering from alcohol and drug addiction since last October. God is with us and His faithfulness is sure.
    God is using this to really grow me and burn off the dross. Being in the world of sobriety really opens your eyes to the huge influence alcohol has on society…including me. So pride? Yeah. I am struggling here…hard heart…above reproach…yep.
    I have never held more tightly to God in my entire life…and He is so faithful..but it gets very exhausting at times, frustrating at times, and just plain hard. My social life structure is changing and there is fear that even my siblings will choose alcohol over me and my family. I keep thinking of the verse where it says you must leave your father, mother ,sister ,brother….to follow Christ…and I'm there. And I along with my son am seeking new relationships and trying to figure out how we fit into our old ones. So, I ask for prayer . Thanks!

    • Erin

      It sounds like your head and heart are in the right place during this time for your son, with Jesus. Praying for you and your family.

    • Heidi

      People don't realize just how damaging alcohol can be, especially in a society that idolizes it so much. Addiction is one of the toughest things to overcome, but Jesus has overcome death! Have faith! Praying for you and your family!

      • Leslie

        Thank you! I really felt your prayers yesterday! Our God is an awesome God!

    • Liz S

      Lejewa, I'm praying for you. Jesus has overcome the world, and He will help you to do the same. This is a tough place for you and your son. Hold on to His hand tightly and fully rely on His strength alone. We all love you…and thanks for sharing.

      • Leslie

        Thank You so much…this community is amazing…I am truly blessed to be a part!

    • Taime'

      Lejawa, "How beautiful are the feet of the one who carries the good news," when I read your post, I saw your beautiful feet! This may not resonate with you however, I feel lead to share with you a short thought from the Passover supper. Christ had shared the bread and the cup (wine) with his disciples as we all recall. Then Christ makes a statement that I had always overlooked until recently, "For I say to you, that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine at all until the kingdom of God comes." It is clear to me in previous verses, Christ is not opposed to drinking wine, nor is he opposed to abstaining from wine. Both are presented as secondary acts dependent on your personal walk with Christ and the Holy Spirit.

      Lejawa, this is the part I want you to "sip slowly", "For I say to you, that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine at all until the kingdom of God comes." Christ chose not to drink for a specific future kingdom purpose! Rest assured that even in this difficult decision your Savior has laid at the table alongside you and will be there with you @ the "dry for a purpose" table, even if family & friends leave you alone.

      • Leslie

        Thank you thank you thank you! Your words are so encouraging, I appreciate you for taking the time to respond! I am so blessed to have this sisterhood! God Bless you Taime'

    • Steph_Lilac

      For you and your son it was alcohol, for me it was marijuana. I never thought I could give it up, BUT GOD! Sis, it's tough because you have to disassociate yourself with people and places that will threaten your sobriety but hold on and He will pull you through. I will be praying earnestly for you and your son. Just take it one day or minute or second at a time.

      • Leslie

        Thanks Steph,
        Wow it is a tough road at times…some tougher than others…I will pray for you too! Living one day at a a time, one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that God will make all things right when I surrender to His will;so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen. …the rest of the Serenity Prayer…by Reinhold Niebuhr

      • Latesia Brown

        Same here for me, My addiction is still Marijuana and cigarettes. Please keep me in your prayers as well. I’m struggling witg those two addictions, but I know God will give me the strength to stop soon. I want to live a life of sobriety in this upcoming New Year 2016, Staying Prayerful. Goodnight my Sisters in Christ Jesus!!!

  • It's incredible how the root of many issues lie within our hearts. We strive for outward perfection and to make sense of things by taking them into our own hands, while all the while there is an underlying heart issue that only God can work on. I spent some time reflecting on this last night and it amazed me at how God revealed to me that, while there are things within my heart that need changing, He is willing to work on them for me. According to Ephesians 3:20, He is more than able to change me. He is exceedingly, abundantly, beyond able to do anything that we could ask or imagine. Instead of looking down and trying to make sense of things on my own, I want to look upward with confidence that He will do what he promises to do.

    • Gema Muniz

      Amen! This is so true; I have been in dark place for the past two months. Dealing with extremely emotional situations feeling angry and doubtful towards God, but never did I stop seeking him and never did I forget his promises. Instead within in my sorrow, my flaws, and my lack of faith I prayed and was confident that no matter how dark the tunnel was he will guide me to the light.

      I worshiped him every chance I had in order to replace the negative thoughts with his positive thoughts and God of course did what he could only do, he gave me peace and joy within the storm. Now I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I must say is like a breath of fresh air. I am way more thankful today to see these blessings after the storm then I could have seen them during a sunny day. The joy that comes with it so much greater, his plan is truly greater than mine. His plan is perfect.

      God allows us to go through these storms to show us his power, his grace, and his love towards us. So thankful for this experience and teaching sent from God. I praise him in the storm, knowing that he has something amazing for me after all of it is done.

      • Kyla F

        This is really inspiring Gema and I can definitely relate from a storm I went through earlier in the year with a back injury and subsequent surgery. God can truly use every bit of our life, both good and bad, to teach us and grow us in our faith. :)

  • “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” I see this as the pure being those who are able to fully allow the truth of the grace he freely offers us to cover all facets of our lives, so we’re able to do life from a pure place. Rooted and grounded in grace and grace alone. Corruption and decay set in when we have foundational layers of striving, attempting to earn our place in eternity with Him by laboring and fighting our way through our lives when all we have to do is stay nestled in His arms, let His grace pour over us and let the beauty of that incomparable gift motivate us to see, taste, and take hold of the life that is truly life!

  • The truth of God is what transforms us. The truth about us is hard to hear and when we hear it sometimes we have to walk away because its too powerful. ..but it will do its work.we might sulk….or hurt….but that truth rolls around in our heart… It will make our faith sound, truer..deeper..honest. this work is done in me in us…by truth. Not of our own doing so that we do not boast. But so we can boast in christ and his work on the cross.

  • Hayley–now this is why we love the SRT team of writers. God works through you to move our hearts into action. Daily devotionals are the cherry on top of our Bible and prayer time, and when we come across one like today–it's an amen and thank you Lord!

    I have a ring that I wear on my right ring-finger. Inscribed on it is the word GRACE. I wear it so that the word faces me. It is my constant daily reminder that much grace was given to me, and that I must extend much to others.

    I am am so convicted of my pride of needing to "be right" especially with my family. This needs to be rooted out — I need to be a soft landing place where they feel comfortable — I pray my heart would yield to the Father as He refines me of this ugly quality, that I would sin less and less in this area.

  • EssieJean

    v. 9 was a little intimidating to me, as I've never been really sure I would be able to refute those who contradict the word. So much of my faith and trust in His infallible word comes from His Spirit within me, that sometimes I just have to say "I know it because I just know it to be true from experience and learning" or something like that, and pray that the Spirit will give wisdom to that person as He has given it to me. I have never studied much in apologetics, and maybe I should, but then I noticed that these guidelines are for bishops, so what does this mean for me?
    Does it mean that I am okay as long as I know where I stand, and am in communication with the Spirit, and connected to those who are authorities in the church, and more capable of defense (from a strictly earthly standpoint) than me? What do you ladies think?

    • Rebekah Mann

      I was always taught to know why you believe what you believe so that you can defend God’s word from those who attack God’s word. Yes, I think you should study apologetics and doctrine ( maybe even Church History). What if what you learn helps some one cone to Christ?

  • Lakeisha

    This devotional really hit home for me. Striving to be above reproach!!!!!! Awesome words of exhortation to us this morning!

  • JessicaLoves___

    The verse that struck me this morning was 16: They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.
    I know no one is perfect, but I pray that my works will align with my faith more and more – not so I can claim righteousness, but so that my actions (and not just my words) profess my belief in God and don't cause others to discredit him because of me.

    • EssieJean

      Oh, what a frightening thought – causing others to discredit Him. Aren't you grateful that, as long as we fix our eyes on Him, and truly develop our relationship with Him, we can rest a little more easy, knowing that He will never guide us into a situation other than one that will give him glory?! Praise the Lord!

  • Jesus’ death (and resurrection!) means that while we abide in the Lord, His Spirit will sanctify us making us more like Him. It means that I shouldn’t spend more effort avoiding doing wrong than I do getting to know my Father. It means that my striving to be above reproach should not come before my striving to be in communion with the Lord. If I abide in the Father, the work is already done.

    Glory be to God for these verses, they jumped at me. Lord thank you for this reminder for I needed it. Father I pray that I may not be self righteous and in my strive to be above reproach let it come from being in cimmunion with you, for once I abide in you, the work is already done. Let me strive to know you, for in so doing I will avoid doing wrong. Thank You Jesus.
    God bless you Halyey Morgan and the entire SRT family.

  • So I'm not the only one who "pranced around like a little Pharisee?" :)

    I had to laugh because man, have I been there. My haughtiness went before a fall — a big one — that was so necessary.

    Our conduct speaks to our beliefs. What does my conduct say about my faith in Jesus and belief in the Gospel?

    Much here for thought and instrospection today.

    • Taime'

      I'm with Drasch and Hayley…Previous Pharisee Prancers Anonymous chapter President right here!

    • Kaitlin

      You're definitely not the only one who pranced around like a Pharisee! I've definitely been there too. Thanks for sharing, we love having you here!

  • Candacejo

    If I abide in the Father…the work is already done! Amen!

    It's all about Grace anyway. We cannot do anything to make Him love us more…or less. And our works do NOT save us. They are a RESULT of our salvation! Praise God.

  • Wow! This passage left a lot in my heart to think about this morning… I have actually never read through the book of Titus, only flipping through to pick out a scripture here and there, wow what I am learning! Thanks for this great study this morning!

    • EssieJean

      I'm in the same boat as you, Colleen, and am so excited to study something with SRT that is completely new to me!

  • Thank you, Hayley. Absolutely beautiful! I love vs. 15-16, "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but bot their mind and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed."

    To be free to count all things pure . . . . I am not bound by man made rules or expectations. No amount of rule following or people pleasing can give me the salvation and redemption my weary soul so desperately needs. Today I'm holding fast to the Word, asking God to pierce those areas of darkness in my heart and to produce the fruit of hospitality, the of of what is good, sensibility, justice, devoutness, self-control, and LOVE and DESIRE for His Word and Truth. Praying the same for our community. Amen.

  • stinav96

    So I'm reading that the traits described in the first five verses are cultivated from an inward pursuit of God, rather than the individual's Herculean effort to appear to possess those traits. In fact, Paul seems to be contrasting those called to be leaders in the Gospel to those who (maybe) have elevated themselves as leaders ("insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers"), who are forbidding physical acts or participations (meat offered to idols, for instance) and requiring circumcision in addition to the free gift of grace ("upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach"). According to a quick commentary look-up, verse 15 refers to those who are inwardly pure ("to the pure all things are pure"). In other words, For those who are seeking cleansing of the inside of the cup, not simply seeking to appear clean by their own efforts, anything physical/external is permissible. It is not inherently sinful. We sin when we approach neutral acts and physical things with an impure heart and motives. But oh, how scary verse 16 is! This group of people with a profession of faith in Christ actually deny Him! They do not have an experiential faith in Christ. "They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work." Father, please give me that experiential faith. Cleanse me from the inside. Let my life not be unfit for your kingdom. Help me today as I face the work you've given me to do, especially with my children, that I do not disqualify myself from your service. That I approach that great calling with the pure traits you describe in the first several verses of today's passage. In Jesus' Name.

    • Morgan

      YES!!! I noted that contrast, too! And I love the notes on vs 15/16. LOVE your study method and the insight you shared….thank you!

    • EssieJean

      Thank you so much for sharing your in-depth studies, stinav96! I literally started reading the comments, hoping someone would have something helpful to say about v.15, and you had exactly what I needed. Praise God for His guidance of your comment this morning!

      • stinav96

        So thankful the Lord spoke to you, EssieJean! He certainly spoke to me, as well! It's hard not to share that! :)

    • Rm

      What commentary do you prefer to use. Really enjoyed your response.

      • stinav96

        Good morning! I'm thankful for the Lord's guidance in answering my own questions this morning. I really don't have any one commentary I go to, because I prefer not to use them most of the time. I do like biblestudytools.com, though. I often like to check out the Strong's words there. This morning, I looked at Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible from that site. It was minimal in opinion and gave good references to other Scripture related to this passage.

    • Gema Muniz

      (Matthew 23:25) "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy–full of greed and self-indulgence!I love the fact that you brought up this verse. It basically sums up the teaching for today. Thank you for sharing sister.

    • Diane Stesrud

      Yes, I so agree! I have prayed verses 6-9 over my husband for many years. This is how God sees him, and I sometimes have trouble viewing him that way. But as the Spirit applied the Scripture to me more personally, I highlighted verse 15. Lord, wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Ps. 51:10). Thank You, Lord!
      And thank you, stinav, for sharing. :)

    • Libby

      This is so good! Especially the comparison between the people who have the inward heart happening versus those who have the appearance.

    • Mukasha

      Dear Stina, I have spent over 4 days on this devotional trying to make sense of it and I feel like your comment has contributed the most towards the clarity. I only would like to ask you if you could explain the following : "For those who are seeking cleansing of the inside of the cup…anything physical/external is permissible." Do you mean that if a person is pure inside, his/her sin is automatically forgiven? I think I am not understanding it correctly, because it seems like a free pass to me and I just know there is more to it. Thank you for your insightful comments! Be blessed sister!

      • stinav96

        Good morning, Mukasha! I see how you might come to that conclusion, actually, but I promise, I'm not promoting a free pass on all our sin! For one thing, Scripture tells us that if we have come to experience the grace of God through salvation, we will not desire to go on sinning. Anyone who does, has not really experienced God. This is a huge paraphrase, and I cannot remember at this point if I read this in 1 John or one of Paul's Epistles. The concept of things being permissible is rooted in the religious culture of the time, but also translates to rules we sometimes follow today. There was a group of people who could not leave the requirements of the Law behind them. It is as if they could not accept that Jesus had fulfilled the Law on the behalf of anyone who would believe in Him and trust Him for their salvation. They were adding to the gospel, basically saying that you had to believe in Jesus AND be circumcised, or you had to believe in Jesus AND you could never eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols (Paul did caution that if someone up and informed you that the meat they were serving had been served to idols first, that you should not eat it for that individual's conscience's sake). However, if you were offered meat to eat, and nothing was mentioned about it otherwise, you could eat it with thankfulness and not have to seek out the origin of it for your own conscience's sake. So items like meat, procedures like circumcision, and other things (like wine, TV, food, clothing, etc.) are all neutral. They cannot sin. They are neither good nor bad. It is our approach to all these things that is either sinful or pure. If the Lord has laid on one person's heart not to watch TV for a time, or to not drink soda for a time, or to only wear a certain type of clothing for a time, it would be sin for that person to participate in any of these things, only because the Lord had a purpose for their abstinence of those things. That does not mean that for me to watch TV or drink a soda is wrong. And none of these actions or lack thereof earn my salvation. They simply flow out of a heart of obedience and love to the God who saved me. I didn't go back and re-read this passage before posting this, but if I remember correctly, the people who were causing such a stir in this instance were more concerned with the appearances of abstaining from or participating in certain things, rather than the heart behind participating in or abstaining from those things. They wanted to look good without necessarily being right with God by faith. I hope this helps, and doesn't make the statement muddier rather than clearer! :) Have a blessed day, sister!

        • Mukasha

          Oh wow, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a complete answer, my dear sister!! This gives me so much food for thought and opens my eyes to things I have not even considered. The idea of things being neither good nor bad but out attitude towards them completely blows my mind! I have so much more to study now. Thank you for making the word of God so clear to me and pointing to the way I should continue my study. May our Father bless you and this community for your constant support and encouragement!!

          • stinav96

            Oh, sweet sister, God is so very good, is He not? I cannot even take the first bit of credit for what God has shown me. I thank God for my husband's spiritual guidance quite often. It is one of the reasons I married him! God has taught me so much through him. I'm just thankful to be able to use it in this forum! I also wanted to emphasize one thing that came to mind last night as I read back through this thread and re-evaluated my own response. Obviously, anything God renounces as sin in the Bible is, in fact, sin. I would not tell anyone that if they're conscience did not pierce them over gossip or drunkenness or constant gluttony, etc., that those acts are neutral and must not be sin for them. What God calls sin is, in fact, sin. I think you probably know that, but please don't hear me making light of that for which God has given us specific rules. Have a supremely blessed day, Mukasha!

  • sweetdes2014

    "Appearing to be above reproach is not enough." As children of God we must be careful not to just appear to be a child of God. We must have a relationship with our Daddy and know that we are His children. That really means something and calls us to some responsibility. Being a child of God is not just looking good when you are out in public. It requires some time with the Father so we will know how to behave in public. I like what my SRT sister said above, this is costly, but because of the cost that was paid for me….I'm willing to deny my desires and wants for the one who loved me so much that He paid the ultimate price for me. Thank you Lord for revealing again to me again that this walk is about my relationship with you and if that is right everything else will fall in place.

    • Kimone

      Anen sister. If my relationship is right with you, everything else will fall into place. God bless you.

    • AnnaLee

      Isn't it just that simple? It's relationship. We complicate it because of it's high "cost:" the complication feels less costly, because it only affects our heads and not our hearts. But turning that concept around, walking with Christ is not costly to Us, to ourselves in Christ; it's costly to our flesh. It almost makes me feel ashamed to say it's costly– how is it costly to fall in love with Christ? How is it costly to let Him lead me to higher places than I could ever go in and of myself? My flesh hates to leave so much behind, to be denied so that my soul can be closer to Jesus– I feel the bitterness, the shallow pain, the loss of it right now. But do I love this world's indulgences more than I love my Abba's close, abiding presence? He's so sweet to me. How could I ever call His love costly to anyone but Himself? I could never leave Him, I could never turn away His love, but I do.

      Jesus, help me to see you in this beautiful light more and more, like I do now. Help me to stop striving and to remember your sweetness. How could I resist you when I get a hint of your warmth? I need you. Forgive me.

  • Ruth Rouchard

    “It means that I shouldn’t spend more effort avoiding doing wrong than I do getting to know my Father.”

    What a really powerful, and practical way explaining the difference between heart obedience and head obedience.

    Our good works should come from an overflow of seeking God in our daily lives. Not because we are working meticulously on external obedience. Our striving is to abide in Christ. Then he alone then produces good fruit in our lives. So good. Thankful for this word today. Thankful for SRT.

    • EssieJean

      Yes! Your last paragraph is exactly what I'm always telling people, and, unfortunately never doing. This definitely needs to change in my life!

    • AnnaLee

      "…the difference between head obedience and heart obedience." Wow. I never looked at it that way, though I've felt the difference between the two. Forgive me, Lord, for forsaking time with you to "be good." If I'm not falling in love with You, what's the point? Praise God for your insight, Ruth. Bless you.

  • joanne sher

    What a powerful, important, and amazing reminder. Lord, let my striving be primarily not to be good, but to know You. I want to fe above Your reproach most of all.

  • sarafalcoeiras

    thanks for the love you put in these eye-opening reflections. yes, we are only enough because of Jesus and that is so comforting!

  • Kimmie47

    " It means that I shouldn’t spend more effort avoiding doing wrong than I do getting to know my Father." This thought stood out to me today. It is so true. Sometimes, I get so caught up in whether or not it is "right" to be doing this or that, I lose sight of the bigger picture…my daily relationship and walk with Him. Getting to know Him will bring all that I need to know to light.

    • EssieJean

      So true. This part jumped out to me too, because it's totally what I do with my own life!

    • AnnaLee

      Me too, Kimmie and EssieJean… this whole life is about learning to walk with and get closer to Him. In light of that, what does constantly evaluating the morality of something going to do for me if I haven't walked with God in a deeper, more personal way? Such conviction. Forgive me, Lord.

  • This reminds me of a time, when I was a baby Christian, as it were, going to a Holy Spirit day , which was part of the Alpha course……as it was all day, I needed to put a lot of money in the parking…..as I approached the door to the conference, I met a young man who said hello to me, I responded, and immediately followed it with…." this finding God thing is costly….." we chatted a bit longer and sat done to the day….. The afternoon session, was introduced, and up stood the young man I had spoken to earlier ….He began his talk…."someone recently said that this finding God thing is costly…..and it is… " I have thought about that day and the impact it had on me, often…as a newish Christian you want to wear the badge, the halo, the coat of many colours, you want to be the perfect person, the One that would make a difference, not just in your community, but the world…..you want people to recognize the change, because in YOU there has been a change…..but after a while, when the high has been deflated by a family circumstance, or someone harms you, or life takes a turn you weren't prepared for….the effect can be costly… But God….if you can hold on, even by the skin of your teeth, will one day at a time, lovingly mould you, gracefully shape you, all the while mercifully trusting you to be that person He so knows you can be….
    It is costly ….this finding God thing….but not as costly as the price that was paid for me, for us, for our sins…..costly is not word to be put alongside such a sacrifice….no sir….for our sanctification, for us to commune with the Lord, for us to walk humbly with our God…
    As Nelson Mandela wrote….it has been a long road…..but one step, one day at a time, yielding one's heart to the Lord ……is a good start…..

    I don't even know why I began this, it's a tad off course, but I felt so strongly to share…..hope that's ok….Thank you in advance….

    Always with love and thanks to . God for you all…….Blessings.x x. Xxx

    • Candacejo

      As my husband would say, "That will preach!" Thank you for sharing such a personal "food for thought" story, Tina. Blessings!

    • Morgan

      Beautiful, Tina. Love that, "It is costly…this finding God thing." Costly of our time, our "rights," our lives. Encouraged by your words this morning and needed them.

    • EssieJean

      Thank you for a new idea to mull over this morning, Tina! God mercifully trusts us – what a wonderful thought!

      • tina

        Essiejean, Thank you for commenting a. nd encouraging me in my 'off the beaten track' comments….today….Blessings and Love my sister….x xxx

    • Lily

      Wow! Tina, I'm so glad you shared! That was amazing! I want to print it so I can refer back to it. Thank you so much!

      • tina

        Lily, so glad my off the wall comment touched you…..to the point of saving it for future reference….it is always good when listening to God, and feeling so strongly that what He may want you to say is not what is expected, but none the less will be heard by those who need to hear it….AMEN and thank you Lily…..Love, Tina…x

    • Diane

      Ilove the randomness of this post; not off course at all,As a new follower of Jesus,when i was 27 with 4 young daughters,I was overthinking every step I took,almost O.C. one day,I was doing this while buying groceries and He,God said,clear as day, Just live in me.
      Because He lives,I have this wonderful freedm to be all He wants me to be.

      • AnnaLee

        That's really needed, Diane. Thank you. I've been bumbling around, sometimes doing the same thing… I need to live in Christ more. I need to remember and understand what this means again. Thank you. Praying that we'd learn what it is to abide in Christ alone.

        • tina

          AnnaLee, hey, praying alongside you, that we learn what it is to abide in Him alone…..
          Reminds me of the song…"In Christ online my hope is found…He is my light, my strength, my song…..what else do we need???' Big hug and love dear heart….x x

      • tina

        AMEN Diane…..because He lives we do have this great and wonderful freedom to be all He wants us to be….what a God….Blessings to you and yours Diane…xxx

    • Hayley

      Thank you for these words, lying in bed on this cold dark morning and I need motivation to get up and get going, I'm feeling a little like a failure lately because life is getting the better of me- and I'm ashamed that I don't remember at times like this who I am in Christ. This lovely post by Hayley, and the replies are speaking to my heart x

      • tina

        Hayley, good morning! Praying your day is a great and God blessed one….that today, life will take a back seat, and in will walk the love of Christ, to remind you that whilst He has the whole world in His hands…we none of us are failures…..God be with you dear heart…and thank you for stopping by to comment…x xxx

    • Steph_Lilac

      Hallelujah! Tina you hit it right on the head Sis!

      • tina

        AMEN Steph….Thank you so very much for your encouragement, dear sis….it seemed like such a random thing, and yet I knew I had to write it out….what a blessing…..x x x

    • Libby

      Tina – Amazing take away from this. No, it didn't feel like the natural flow that I would get from this scripture, but I think revelation comes from the Word whether it "fits" or not. Thanks for sharing

  • thisgalsjourney

    Man….two little phrases in the Scrioture jumped out at me: not overbearing, not quick-tempered. Ouch. I need His grace and transformation in my parenting – big time. I'm exhausted. I'm tired of striving. I think it's time to abide for awhile.

    • LaurieEW

      Right there with you. What conviction these words brought this morning.

    • abellimentoviolin

      Oh, goodness, me too. Thank God for these beautiful words… "It means that my striving to be above reproach should not come before my striving to be in communion with the Lord. If I abide in the Father, the work is already done." Such a good reminder of salvation. Praying for you, friend!

    • Bethany

      It's so fitting you say that, because as I thought about the point of this devotional (that we cannot possibly meet the requirements laid out by Paul if we are not inconstant pursuit of God!), I thought of the "Proverbs 31 Wife." I feel so much pressure to be her! Hard working, never lazy, smart,efficient, multi-talented, fearless…. I get tired just reading that passage! But of course he same passage applies! We cannot be the wife, mother, woman that God intends us to be if we are apart from Him. Only through pursuit of Him can we ever hope to fulfill these requirements. And how much more joy will we have if we are not putting impossible pressures on ourselves!

    • triciae

      its about relationship! keep seeking relationship with your kids……no matter what ages!

    • AnnaLee

      Ah, that totally resonated with me too, sis… I feel myself definitely striving to "be right" and "without reproach" in my own self today. Father, forgive me. I repent of doing a laundry-list of righteous acts instead of just wanting to sit back and enjoy you. Forgive me, father… let me spend the rest of this day resting in your truth and your presence. Amen. Praying for all of us, that the Lord would make us quit our self-righteous habits/acts and that he'd replace it with more authenticity as we journey together.

    • Kat

      That's exactly what jumped out at me, though not with kids, but in my marriage. I'm praying that the Lord help me to remember how it makes such a big difference to not be overbearing and not quick tempered. I had an awful quick-tempered moment last night MINUTES before I read this scripture. God's definitely answering the prayer of "search my heart" and reveal to me what I need to change!

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