Household Rules

'These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.'

Titus 2.15

In discussions I’ve had with other pastors, every once in a while the question comes up of how well our churches “do” Titus 2. Paul wrote to Titus, who helped lead the church on the island of Crete, about how the church should care for one another. You could call chapter 2 Paul’s household rules for the church. Some of chapter 1 also includes instructions specifically to the elders within the church. He is giving this instruction because the church is a miraculous community that shouldn’t function like the world functions. Even in conversations with other pastors, I sometimes have had to remind them that we are not organized like a business or the government with the same sort of authority and accountability structures. There is authority and accountability, but it is according to the word of God and not the system of the most recent business model for the church.

So in Titus, Paul shows us how we should live with one another, and it is a worthy teaching. No one should disregard him here. This might take you aback some. Why is Titus 2 so important? How we live is important because of what Christ has done for us. Paul explains this at verse 11-14: ‘For the grace of God has appeared…’ We ought to live like Titus 2 because of what Christ has done for us, because we have put away all godlessness and worldly desires. Now we ought to live sensibly as a congregation as we look to the blessed hope and the appearing of our great God and savior, Christ Jesus.

So, church, don’t disregard Titus 2. Paul is showing us how we should respond to our salvation as a local church. These are the tangible things that we can do for one another. Paul mostly gives instructions to different age groups: older men, younger men, older women, younger women. That covers everyone in the church. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women are not to be gossips or malicious, but should encourage the younger women. Young men should be an example of good deeds and live in purity. Young women should learn from the old women to love their husbands and children and to be pure and sensible. The final category is slaves. Slaves should live in such a way that their lives adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

In some ways, we might expect that the church as the household of God would support one another with physical support. The hungry should be fed, and there is precedent for that. But here Paul teaches that central to the church’s response to the gospel is our relational commitment and investment in one another. We cannot be Christians alone. Or as some say, there is no lone ranger Christian. Or as Cyprian, the early church father, said even more strongly, there is no salvation outside the church. Now we would want to qualify this, but our life in the church is an essential response to our salvation. May we grow in our loving of one another as we seek to understand and apply Titus 2.

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