This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE
You don’t have to know me for very long before you realise that I tend to overthink things. One minute I’m resolving to not only live out my faith but be bolder in doing so, and the next I’m thoroughly bogged down, agonising over just how difficult it is to put this into practice.
I read Titus 2.1-10 and initially it seems simple: Teach (or learn) sound doctrine, live lives that reflect sound doctrine and the effect will be so compellingly attractive to others that it will actually ‘adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour’ (ESV) in the eyes of onlookers. Namely, even those who want to reject the teaching about God will have to concede that the fruit of accepting Christ into one’s life is beautiful.
Wow! Everything within me is saying ‘Yes God – I’m so on board with this! Please help me to live a life that honours you and your word and please help me to demonstrate your love and the beauty of your amazing grace to everyone I meet.’ So far, so good.
But wait, in verse 8 Paul acknowledges that there will be ‘opponents’ who will try to find ways to condemn what we say and point out perceived evil in our way of thinking. We only need to switch on the TV or venture onto social media to see what this looks like in our day and age.
Far from finding sound doctrine / biblical principles attractive, many think them intolerant, unloving, and backward and when they think of people expressing or promoting these values, they deem it as an abhorrent attack on their human rights.
Do people really connect pleasant interactions with Christians with their understanding of biblical principles? How do we make sure we’re not just adorning ourselves as ‘nice’ people in their eyes and instead truly ‘adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour’ by honouring Him and upholding it?
Here I am, thoroughly bogged down. How do I avoid damaging conflict without staying silent when I should speak? How do I gently help people to grapple with ‘hard teachings’ in the Bible so they get to a point where they can understand God’s heart in the matter? How do I make sure I don’t give people the impression that I don’t really believe the word of God by being defensive, apologetic or embarrassed when I shouldn’t be?
It’s at this point I notice how the focus of all my questions has been on myself and not God. If I had to get all the above right in my own strength, I’d be in big trouble! But thankfully that is not the case. I need to stop worrying about my inadequacies and start trusting in God’s power and sufficiency.
I really can simply concentrate on living for God and let his Holy Spirit work in the lives of the people I meet.
‘But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.’
2 Corinthians 2.14-16a (ESV)