Series: The Right Stuff - Part One
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
May 4, 2008
This morning we are beginning a new series from the letter of Paul to Titus. Our focus as we go through this letter is on the right stuff of Godly manhood.
Let me give you three statements. Not scientific statements with a whole lot of numbers - surveys and statistics. But, three statements coming from my own study, experience and observations - that if we were to look at all the surveys and statistic - I think what I’m about to say is pretty right on target. But, you see if you agree with me.
First Statement: 100% - if not the vast majority - of those in the homosexual lifestyle have had issues with their father - either having a father who wasn’t there - physically - emotionally - spiritually. Or if there was a father - or a pseudo father - someone in the male role - that relationship was abusive in some sense. Would you agree with that?
Second statement: The vast majority of kids who are in trouble with drugs and drinking and smoking and pregnancy - who are struggling in school - who are most likely to end up in gangs and jail - the kids who are in serious trouble - overwhelmingly every one of them has had issues with a father who wasn’t there physically - emotionally - spiritually. Or if the father - or someone in the male role - was there the relationship was abusive in some way. Agree or disagree?
One more statement: Without diminishing the role of the wife in marriage - meaning that it takes two to have a marriage - the weight of the success of a marriage - the weight of that success rests most heavily on the husband. For the marriage - the home - to be healthy - the man must fulfill his role of Godly headship - spiritual sacrificial leadership - in the way that God defines that headship in the Bible. Wives crave that quality of Godly manhood and are longing to respond favorably to it. Children long for father’s who will step up to the plate as a Godly father.
Are we tracking together? All that’s pretty intense.
The implications of the right stuff of Godly manhood go even farther. The spiritual compass of upcoming generations is directed according to the Godly character of the men who are going before us. We - our families - church - community - we’re desperate for Godly men who will mentor younger men to become Godly men. We’re desperate for Godly men to lead in our homes, church, and community.
You all remember Gus Portokalos? My Big Fat Greek Wedding? This is the scene where Toula asks her father, Gus, if she can take a computer class.
Is there any doubt that Gus Portokalos loves his wife and kids? He’s a good father who’s trying to provide for his family - financially - culturally - to guide them. He’s a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. A God fearing man wanting to do the right thing - the right stuff of being a man.
But, like so many men - Gus - like many of us - even though we’d never admit this - there are times when we feel about 3 steps behind - outmatched - confused - inadequate - struggling at the task of Godly manhood. We’re expected to be this super hero type of Christian. The reality - we know - isn’t so.
That’s the focus of where we’re going in our look at Titus. What does Godly manhood look like? How can we takes steps towards being who God has created us to be? How can the women in our lives - and our brothers in Christ - how can we help each other to be who God has created us to be? How do we live with the right stuff of Godly manhood.
Please turn with me to Titus - chapter 1 - starting at verse 1. Verses 1 to 4 are Paul’s Greeting. Say that with me, “Paul’s greeting.”
Titus 1 - verse 1. Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, to Titus, my true child in common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
There’s some background to Paul’s greeting that we need to know.
Paul was the one who led Titus to a saving relationship with Jesus. Then Paul mentored Titus. All of what Paul describes here in verses 1 to 4 - what Paul describes about his calling and ministry - is what Titus experienced first hand with Paul.
When Paul went to Jerusalem - to defend his sharing the gospel with Gentiles - Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem - Titus being one of those Gentiles - exhibit A in what God can do in the life even a Gentile. As Paul was there in Jerusalem defending his theology Titus had a front row seat and debriefing. Imagine what Titus learned being able to discuss Pauline theology with Paul.
Titus worked with Paul at Ephesus during Paul’s third missionary journey. Then after Ephesus - after this mentoring - Paul sent Titus to Corinth to help that church - a solo ministry opportunity - under Paul’s guidance.
Somewhere around 63 AD - after Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome - after Paul was released from prison - Paul and Titus served together in Crete. It was there - on Crete - that Paul left Titus to organize and mentor the believers there.
If you look at the map - you’ll see that Crete is way down in the southern part of Greece. It’s the largest of the Greek islands - 4th largest in the Mediterranean. This is a glimpse of what the island looks like. Pretty place. Nice beaches. An old place. Civilization there goes back maybe 6,000 years.
Titus is on Crete. Paul is on his way to this place - Nicopolis. On route Paul writes this letter to Titus - giving instructions for the church on Crete. Bottom line: Paul’s greeting is a reminder to Titus and the church on Crete of Paul’s special relationship with Titus.
Coming to verse 5 - verse 5 is Paul’s Purpose in writing to Titus. Say that with me, “Paul’s Purpose.”
Verse 5: For this reason - for this purpose - I left you - Titus - in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.
First: Set in order what remains to be set in order. Finish doing those things which will bring the church spiritually to the place where God will use it to share His gospel with others. Do those things so that church will be what God has created it to be - so that God’s purposes will be accomplished and that God will be glorified.
Second purpose - which really is foundational to the first purpose. Appoint Elders.
Let’s pause there and think together about what Paul means by “elders” and how this relates to us this morning.
The Greek word for elder is the word “presbuteros” which is the word we get what from? “Presbyter” or “Presbyterian.” The Presbyterian church is governed by elders.
Down in verse 7 Paul talks about “overseers.” The Greek word for “overseer” is “episkopos.” The word we get what from? “Episcopal.” Which can be translated “bishop” - someone who watches over or guards the church. The ministry of the Episcopal church is watched over by “bishops.”
All of which - elders and bishops and church government oh my - all of which could get really confusing really fast. Mostly because of the ways these words get used today.
Many people have the idea that Paul is talking about pastors, priests, bishops, or some kind of church governing structure with a professional clergy at the top - or seemingly at the top. The pastors are the overseers. But, in the New Testament there’s never a description of that kind of a professional top down leadership over a local church or over a lot of churches over widespread areas. This massive top down governing structure that some churches have fallen into just doesn’t exist in Scripture.
Stay with me.
Within the Hebrew nation the way one got to be an elder was generally because they got elderly. But, just getting older doesn’t necessarily mean getting wiser. True? So, there was more to it than just age. Someone who had been around the block chronologically also had to have walked with God as he made those laps around the block.
Elders were suppose to be the crème of the crop spiritually. They were spiritually mature men who had proven themselves over and over again - and so gained the respect to be called “elders.”
Grab this: Those identified as meeting the qualifications of “elder” were then worthy to be appointed to positions of “oversight” in the church - which was a recognized role of servant leadership - guiding - protecting - teaching - facilitating - within the church. Without Godly men overseeing the church - the church is in serious trouble.
Paul writes to Timothy - the letter we call 1 Timothy - chapter 3 - verse 1: It is a trustworthy statement - this is a truth that stands the test of time - you can depend on this - if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do - without question its a good thing he aspires to.
“Aspire” is the verb “orego” Think Oreo with a “g” It has the idea of stretching one’s arms out for something that one passionately desires. Extending - reaching - longing - grasping - even lusting after something. There’s passion in aspiring. Heart - soul - body - longing - in pursuit - of what it takes to be an overseer.
What does it take to be an overseer? Being an elder. Being a Godly a man. Do all elders become overseers? No. One doesn’t have to follow the other.
But - here’s the point - to aspire - to passionately pursue - to long to be - what qualifies one to be an overseer - to aspire to be a Godly man - is a good thing. It means becoming the kind of man that’s in the crucible - on the front lines - of what God is doing on earth. Being God’s man through whom the mind and will of the living God is brought into the lives of His people - into our families - our community. To aspire to be God’s man is never dull. It is the good - the noble - honorable - purposeful - Godly life.
Coming to verse 6 - verses 6 to 9 are Paul’s List. Say that with me, “Paul’s list.”
This is why Santa Claus has to be a man. Think about this. He’s got a list. He’s task orientated. It’s a clearly defined task. There’s no multi-tasking. Deliver stuff to the kids. Coal and toys. Just follow the list. Doesn’t even need to stop and ask for directions. That’s what Rudolph is for. Follow the glowing nose. The target area is the whole world. Hard to get lost.
Paul gives us a list. A task list - a to do list - that we men can get a grasp on. These are the qualifications - what Godly manhood looks like.
Wives - encourage your husbands - or if you’re training a potential husband - every time he acts like this - reward him. Give him a gift certificate to Slow Depot or something. Or, if you looking for a husband - this is what you need to look for in a man.
Titus 1 - verse 6: Namely, if a any man is above reproach
First - a Godly man is above reproach.
Do you remember who was the Teflon President? Ronald Reagan. They’d make all these accusations about him and they just slide off.
Stand up for God and you become a target. Above reproach means the accusation has no basis - it won’t stick. It doesn’t mean that a Godly man hasn’t ever done anything wrong. We’d all be trouble if that was true. But, it means that the sin has been dealt with honestly - openly - moving the man forward in the pursuit of godliness.
Second: The husband of one wife. He’s not an adulterer. Not a polygamist. Not someone who’s out flirting and playing the field - or going from marriage to marriage to marriage - swapping wives. But a one woman man - committed to one woman - in heart, mind and body - committed to his wife - whom he loves. Living what the Bible teaches is Godly marriage.
Third: Having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
Think the Prodigal Son. Dissipation meaning 24-7-365 “partay.” Rebellion meaning no limits. Anything goes.
Notice Paul doesn’t say that “all” his children are believers. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems in the home. There’ll always be children - sadly - despite their parents best efforts - children who will walk away from Jesus. Prodigals.
But - aside from the exceptions - are his children growing up to be Godly men and women?
At 1:00 in the morning - when your child asks you some question about evolution or creation - or what the difference is between Islam and what we believe - why God says that sex outside of marriage is sin - or some other question demanding a well thought out Biblical answer - at 1:00 a.m. you can’t call up the pastor for the answer. Well, you could.
But, the point is that a Godly father - or any Godly man mentoring children - he’s going to be consistently going deep in the word and allowing God to apply God’s word to the reality of his life.
We can’t teach what we don’t know. We can’t transfer what we haven’t internalized. Our children will reject what we say if we don’t do what we say. Godly men produce Godly children.
The bottom line of what Paul is getting at here is that children can spot a phony a mile away. Our children know us. They live with us day in and day out. They’re always listening - watching. The see us at our worst. They see us after we get all put together to show up at church. They know when we’re doggin’ it. True? If we ain’t living it - why should they?
Fourth: For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward.
A Godly man in the role of overseer is a steward - a manager of what belongs to God - the church. That role makes demands - requirements - on the character of the man. People need to look at him and say, “That’s a Godly man. I want to be like him.” Not, “That’s a Christian?”
What does that mean? Five negative examples and seven positive examples. First the negative.
First: He’s not self-willed. But, he’s got to be Jesus-centered.
Second: He’s not quick-tempered. But, he’s got a long fuse. He’s patient.
Third: He’s not addicted to wine - but controlled by the Holy Spirit. The legitimate needs of his heart are not met by illegitimate means - addictions. But those needs are met by God.
Fourth: He’s not pugnacious. Violent. Looking for trouble. Causing trouble. Quarrelsome. Physically violent. Maybe as result of being drunk. Maybe because he hasn’t learned patience - the freedom that comes as we learn to trust God with people and situations.
Fifth: He’s not fond of sordid - dishonest - gain.
How many of you cheated on your taxes? You don’t have to answer that.
It is really hard sometimes - to have all this pressure of providing for our families - and all the feelings of inadequacy that comes with that - and to not be distracted by the illegitimate pursuit of money. Tweaking the figures. Fleecing the brethren. Wheeling and dealing. A Godly man has his trust in God’s provision not his own financial cleverness.
Five negative examples. Now seven positive examples. Living with Godly character.
First: The Godly man is hospitable. Literally, “loving strangers.”
In the first century the inns of the time were immoral establishments - pagan atmosphere - food offered to idols. Not exactly Motel 6. Christians - when they traveled around - they stayed with other Christians. A Godly man is going to welcome others into his home.
Second: Loving what is good. What’s morally good. What’s beneficial to others. What’s acceptable to God - even the goodness of God poured out on His creation - us. The inner excellence and sense of well being that enters into our lives as we allow God to fill us with His presence. A Godly man is going to be pursuing all that - for himself and for others.
Third: He’s sensible. He’s in control of his mind and emotions. He knows when to keep his mouth shut and when to speak up. He doesn’t go off half cocked with some foolish knee jerk reaction. But, he’s learned to prayerfully think through each situation while seeking after God’s will.
Fourth: He’s just. Which means he conducts himself with moral excellence towards others.
Fifth: He’s devout. Literally - he’s holy. He’s given his life over to God. He’s striving to live pure before God.
Sixth: He’s self-controlled. Which literally has to do with control over our bodily appetites and passions. Have you noticed that they’ve changed the slogan of these buffet places - changed it from “All you can eat” to “All you want to eat.” What if all you want to eat is all you can eat? Gluttony is a passion. So is running up credit card debt for the latest toys we can’t afford to buy. Name your appetite.
A Godly man will be controlled by the Holy Spirit not his own passions.
Seventh - verse 9 - he’s holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that the word of God is the Sword of the Spirit - the weapon that comes to us directly from God. (Ephesians 6:17) Hebrews 4:12 says that “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any - what? two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the - what? thoughts and intensions of the heart.”
There is no way to live a Godly life - to fight victoriously in this life - without the word of God. A Godly man is going to cling to the word of God. He’s going to study it - digest it - take it in to his life - make it the authority over how he lives his life - seeking to learn from it about what’s right and what’s wrong.
A Godly man is known in the community - in the church - in his home - for a character that’s obvious and consistent - molded by God’s word.
That’s Paul’s list. Challenging. Isn’t it? In Sundays to come we’ll see more of how God can take us there.
Do you see what Paul is getting at here - about what it means to be the kind of man that God desires for us to be. God’s man has a relationship with God that’s deep and consistent. Its genuine. He’s the real deal - the same at home - at work - at church. He’s learning to trust God with his life - the deep issues of his heart - and with the circumstances of his life and the people he loves and cares about. His character - his heart - the core of who he is - is being molded by God’s word. He’s got a passion for the things of God and for seeing the reality of the living God touch the lives of the people around him.
There’s a challenge there for us. Isn’t there? What are you passionately pursing?
If we aim at nothing we’re likely to hit anything.
If we don’t know where we’re going we’ll probably end up someplace else.
Man of God - what are you focused on? What goal are you pursing in life? What are you aspiring to? What’s on your list?
otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New
American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962,
1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the
Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.