“Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.”
– Titus 3:14
An aged Paul writes to a young Greek leader in the church of Crete, named Titus. Crete, an island just south of Greece in the Mediterranean Sea, was notorious for philandering, quarreling and laziness.
Paul knew the power of good works demonstrated by devoted followers of Christ . . . shifting from harmful injustice to profitable influence. He writes to Titus, “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” (Titus 3:8) Paul gives Titus a mandate and mission.
Instruct. Learning to “engage in good works” is something that doesn’t come naturally. McGee writes, “We must ‘learn’ to maintain good works. It’s something that must be worked at. A great many people think it is easy; we need to know what God considers good works, and we need to learn how to do them.” Paul instructed the believers in Rome, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Rom 12:13)
Initiate. We are to “engage” to “meet pressing needs”. Luther calls these, the “urgent necessities”, “the indispensable wants”. In Classical Greek, they are called the “necessaries of life.” Paul encourages Titus to “make the first move” in meeting the most immediate and fundamental needs. We are not to wait . . . but to initiate. Paul reminded the elders from Ephesus, “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
Intentional. It’s insightful that Paul used a “double negative” by writing “so that they will not be unfruitful”. In Classical Greek, the use of a double negative communicates purposeful intention. It is the “driving force” of a thought or idea. Kingdom living is intent on being fruitful. To the Christ-followers in Galatia, he wrote, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:22-24) Responding as a result of the Spirit and by the Spirit unleashes His passion and desire. Producing God’s fruit becomes our purpose.
Newsong recorded the following lyrics,
“Give yourself away, be the hands and feet of Jesus
Give yourself away, go out and make a world of difference
Let this be the day you see how far that His love reaches
The greatest sacrifice of all is to give yourself away”
Give yourself away . . . Good deeds . . . Giving glory to God. That’s some good fruit.