The book of Titus is a set of instructions to Titus (and us) about developing leaders. It is a detailed blueprint regarding church discipleship. Christ desires that the church become a purified people for His own possession. He wants to make us zealous for good deeds. Titus 1:6-16 points out both positive and negative qualities that we ought to take note of. While it is clear that Titus 1 is describing male leaders in the position of elder, it also seems equally clear to me that every single believer regardless of age or gender should have these qualities as goals for themselves. Really, the function of elders is not so much to govern as it is to serve as role models, patterns for other believers to learn from. If Christians would live up to Biblical standards, very little government in the church would be necessary. The real issue is to become a purified people zealous for good deeds. Every Christian ought to be nearer to that ideal today than the day before. Every Christian ought to be striving to be closer to it tomorrow than today. 1 Timothy 4:15 tells us that the progress we are making ought to be evident to everyone around us. This begs a question. Are you making progress or simply getting older?
If you weren’t satisfied with your answer to the previous question, Titus 1:6-16 can help. I hope you will read it before reading the rest of this article. These verses tell us what to do and what not to do. Let’s look at the positives first. The first thing mentioned, and thus it seems to be the overarching principle, is that that Christians ought to be above reproach. Certainly, we will not be perfect, but we can make progress. Because others will be painfully aware that we are not perfect, we ought to make every effort to avoid hypocrisy. If we will simply admit to our failures, others will not feel the need to reproach us. Whether we admit to them or try to cover them up, God and those around us already know about our failures. So, first of all, it doesn’t make any sense to try to cover up our failures. Secondly, admitting our failures and asking forgiveness keeps others from having a reason to reproach us.
This passage goes on to describe some areas in which we ought to be above reproach. Christians ought to be absolutely committed to the sanctity of their marriages. If any person is going to be faithful to their spouse, it ought to be a Christian. Marriage is the Biblical illustration of union with Christ and the unbelieving world desperately needs to see faithfulness lived out in Christian marriages. Raising Christian children is another area in which we need to be above reproach. Having rebellious children is a reason to examine ourselves. However, it needs to be noted that children are free moral agents who have the ability to accept or reject the teaching and training of their parents no matter how good that training might have been.
Verse seven repeats the “above reproach” phrase for emphasis. Christians are to be above reproach as God’s steward. A mature Christian realizes that he owns nothing. God has retained ownership of everything. We simply manage what God has entrusted to us. We are God’s stewards acting on His behalf and for His interests. A mature Christian realizes that his reputation and God’s reputation are intertwined to the point of being inseparable. We are to be absolutely trustworthy and faithful in all of our dealings. About twenty years ago, my wife and I ate at a certain fast food franchise in another state. The cleanliness and service were totally unacceptable. To this day, she refuses to eat at any of those restaurants no matter what town we are in. To her, the reputation of each store is inseparably intertwined with all the others. It is of utmost importance that we as Christians realize that what we do greatly impacts God’s reputation and the reputations of other Christians. We are to be above reproach.