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.