by Emily Conrad
Truth is a beautiful thing, and it seems like I’ve been a Christian for long enough that, by now, I ought to have it down. I ought to be able to spot the truth, no matter what others are saying to or about me–or what I’m saying to myself!–and I ought to know the right way to respond.
But lies produce a particularly thick fog, clouding even answers to basic questions like, What did I do and why? How should I proceed? What do I believe? Where is God in this?
To some extent or another, at one time or another, I bet you’ve experienced that fog yourself because the devil is the father of lies, as Jesus says in John 8:44, and so lies have been causing confusion and pain since the garden.
According to Titus 1:10-16, Titus and the people he’s leading are up against some damaging deceivers. To deal with the conflict, Paul wastes no time in weaving the theme of truth and lies into his letter.
In verse 1:1, Paul says he’s writing “to further the faith of God’s chosen ones and the knowledge of the truth” (NET, italics mine). In verse 2, he specifies that God doesn’t lie. In verse 4, he calls Titus his “genuine son in a common faith” (NET–you guessed it, italics mine).
I can only imagine how refreshing Paul’s letter was to Titus and those under his guidance. Right off the bat, the reader can tell they’re about to get a good, healthy dose of truth.
And this healthy dose of truth holds strategies we can use still today when the way gets foggy.
1. Remember who God is. Just from Paul’s opening, we see a God who loves people enough to reach out to us with the message that promises eternal life. We’re assured of God’s faithfulness. We’re reminded that His timing is perfect. No wonder Paul started there, and we ought to, too. Everything else flows from God and who He is.
2. Remember the mission. After his greeting, Paul reminds Titus in no uncertain terms why he’s in Crete (v. 5). There’s a reason we are where we are, too. Let’s remember that our allegiance isn’t to people or jobs or positions, but rather to God and to the work He’s assigned. How are we to know and serve Him where He’s placed us?
3. Go back to the basics. Much of Titus focuses on how believers ought to behave. The Bible brims with unchanging truths about what God wants for and from His people. Those basics are there for us to study in good times and cling to in bad times; they contain the answers to the question raised in point 1. And one of those basics, by the way, is the importance of prayer.
4. Seek counsel from trustworthy mentors. I wonder what kind of SOS Paul received from Titus, prompting the letter that’s preserved for us today. Who knows. Maybe Titus didn’t report the problem himself and word of it reached Paul another way. Whatever the case, I find it comforting that I’m not the only one who sometimes needs a dose of simple truth to sort everything out. As I wrote above, God’s Word is important for this, but it can also really help to talk to someone outside the situation who is firmly grounded in Christ.
I think these strategies can help, no matter where we are in our walk with Christ or where the lies we face originate–from others, from our own minds.
Titus knew the ropes of ministry. He was experienced and capable, or Paul wouldn’t have assigned him to Crete in the first place.
Yet, this letter was written to Titus, suggesting to me that in these kinds of conflict, we need all the truth we can get, no matter who we are.
Thankfully, we can trust God for truth. As Paul wrote to Titus, He never lies, and as Jesus assured us, the truth will set us free.
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