In Titus, chapter 3 the Apostle Paul is going to remind Titus about the importance of “keeping Jesus at the center of our lives.” In verse 3 we see the word, “For” which is a literary word to explain why Jesus is so important, and it is because “We were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to lusts, and spending our life in hatred.”
I am guessing that most of us in the room don’t like to think of ourselves, or all of humanity, as foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to lusts, and spending our life in hatred”, but I think we just need to be a little more honest with ourselves.
How many times do we watch the news and say to ourselves, “That was stupid, why did that person do that?” How many times do we hear about a family member bucking authority (Parents, Teachers, Police) and say to ourselves, “Why are they making it so hard?”
How many times do we read about the decisions of the younger generation and say to ourselves, “Why can’t they stop playing video games?” How many times do we say about the older generation, “Why are they so grumpy and judgmental?” How many times do we scroll through our timelines on social media and think to ourselves, “Why are these people so hateful toward one another?”
We make those kinds of observations about humanity all the time, therefore, why do we think we can remove ourselves from humanity? What is that old illustration, “Every time you point the finger at someone, you have 3 fingers pointing back at you?” Are we so naïve to conclude that everyone else we see in life is foolish, but we are the ones who have figured it out?
No, if we are honest with ourselves we will see the outlook we have on humanity is dark, and it is because humanity, self-included, is layered in brokenness and darkness described in verse 3, but, in verse 4 the Apostle Paul writes, “But, when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us.”
This is why we want to keep Jesus at the center of our lives as a church family, because Jesus has come to save us from the layers of our brokenness and darkness in our life.
Titus 3:5, “5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,”
We would do well to memorize these words, because they are loaded, but just look at the phrase, “Not on the basis of deeds.”
I would guess that most of humanity is under the impression that the God of Scripture only makes movement towards humanity when humanity is doing “good deeds.” When something good comes into our lives we will hear people say, “You must be living right.” When our children are doing well in life we will say to ourselves, “I must have done something right.” Do you hear it? It is an error in our thinking connected to our deeds.
Culturally we refer to this mentality as Karma, so that if we do good deeds, we get good results, and if we do bad deeds, then we get bad results, but think about the torture of that belief system, because who gets to decide what is good, and what is bad? And how many good deeds outweigh the bad deeds? Is there are chart somewhere we can reference?
That’s what the Apostle Paul is drawing out in verse 5, “Not on the basis of deeds” therefore, God’s Work in our lives is “NOT according to our deeds,” but according to His mercy.
The word, “Mercy” means compassion, and the easiest way to understand mercy is, “Mercy is NOT getting what we DO deserve.” Grace is getting what we don’t deserve, but mercy is NOT getting what we DO deserve.
So when a police officer pulls you over for speeding, and doesn’t give you a ticket He is showing you mercy, because you deserve the ticket. If he reaches in his pocket and gives you $200 he is showing you grace.
In verse 5 the Apostle Paul is reminding us that all of humanity deserves to be cut off from the presence of the Lord for eternity, we need to remember verse 3, but the God of Scripture has come to save us, not on the basis of our deeds, not showing favoritism, not popularity, not even likeability or potential, but according to His mercy.
Titus 3:6, “6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,”
In verse 6 we see the word, “Richly.” The word, “richly” in verse 6 means “abundantly.” It is similar to what Jesus says in John 10:10, “… I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
When you connect verses 3-6 together we see that through faith in Jesus we are rescued, according to His mercy, and indwelled with the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit who is poured out partially? No, He pours out upon us richly!
I have noticed that sometimes we can think, “Well, maybe Jesus is going to find out what I am really like, and then one day Jesus is going to lose interest in us.” It is like we are walking on eggshells for the moment Jesus finally realizes how horrible we are, and moves on to someone else.
But, that would be “according to our deeds” and Scripture teaches us it is “according to His mercy” and Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit richly. It means the Holy Spirit isn’t bringing an overnight bag.
No, He takes up residence richly. It’s like there is a big 18 wheeler of God’s glory coming, and Jesus is just saying to the Holy Spirit, “Back it up, back it up, keep it coming” because He has come to pour out upon us richly.
This is why we want to keep Jesus at the center of our lives, because sometimes in the local church we can put so much emphasis on being with Jesus in heaven one day, and heaven is a glorious place, but Jesus has come to give us heaven on earth today, therefore,lets give some practical ways we can taste of the rich, beautiful, abundant life we have in Jesus today.
Local Church: The first way we keep Jesus at the center of our lives is that we commit to a local church. The local church is designed as a spiritual umbrella of protection, and when we are disconnected from the local church we are fighting through life on own, which is going to make it hard to taste of that rich, beautiful life we have in Jesus.
Scripture: The second way we can take a huge step in keeping Jesus at the center of our lives is to get into God’s Word every day. So many times people will say, “I don’t understand what I am reading in the Bible.” That’s okay, keep reading. God’s Word is like water to a plant. Psalm 1, “But He will be like a tree firmly planted by steams of water, which yield in its season.” Jesus has given you a rich, beautiful, abundant life that is fueled by His Word.
Community Group: The third way we can place Jesus at the center of our lives is committing to a community group, because we must invest in building strong relationships with one another as we remind one another of the rich, beautiful, abundant life we have in Jesus today.
Personal Preferences: The fourth way we can place Jesus at the center of our lives is to lay aside our preferences. It is what Jesus means when Jesus says, “Pick up your cross and follow Me.” It is what the Apostle Paul means when he writes, “19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
In our church family we use the Steven Covey Illustration of putting the big rocks in the jar first. Do you know this illustration? The big rock is Jesus and we want Jesus to be first, and if we put Jesus first we will have rich, beautiful, abundant capacity for the other things in life, but we have to put Jesus first.
In contrast, we fill the jar with job, hobbies, health, sleep, finances, family, and then the jar gets so full we don’t have room in the jar for what is most important, and if we’re not careful, we can go through decades of our lives with the God of Scripture being completely left out of the story.
Won’t you put Jesus first in all areas of your life? Won’t you surrender your life to Jesus at the center of your life? Perhaps some of us need to do that for the first time, but all of us have areas of our lives that we have yet to surrender to Jesus, and the promise is, the more we surrender to Him, the more we taste of the rich, abundant, beautiful life we have in Him.