Daily Update #157

Today’s Readings: Titus 2:1-14.      Psalm 37:3-5, 30-32.        Luke 17:7-10.

Titus was a Gentile convert whom Paul trusted as a capable and upright colleague. He is mentioned 13 times in the New Testament, but not in the book of Acts. Titus had worked in the churches at Ephesus and Corinth but perhaps his toughest assignment was to organise and support the new Christians on the Greek island of Crete, the fourth largest in the Mediterranean. Crete was famous for the moral failings of its inhabitants. As a result, Paul’s short letter to Titus stresses the importance of appointing leaders of good character and providing clear teaching about holy living and self-control to the young Cretan church. Titus 2:12 says “the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us to say ‘No to ungodliness and worldly passions.”

‘The Spectator’ in 2017 published an article by the senior Labour MP Frank Field who was MP for Birkenhead from 1979 until 2019. It was entitled “Brutish Britain’ and claimed that “Life in Britain has become much cruder, meaner and more spiteful practically everywhere. It can be seen in people’s behaviour on the street; in those abominable neighbours from hell; in companies piling up the profits with no care whatsoever for the degree to which they are sweating their workers on terms that, until quite recently, would have been unimaginable. The incivility of one to another can be seen most sharply and poignantly in the degree of cruelty to children which, at the beginning of my working life, would have had every alarm bell ringing wildly. Children have to be almost on the point of being murdered before they are taken into care. Outside that protection, some are subjected to brutal treatment by parents who are also brutal creatures. Being left to go to bed hungry and to take that hunger to school the next day is now par for the course for all too many children”. We may not agree with all these views, even if they are from an ex Minister for Welfare Reform and a respected member of General Synod. However, it could well be that our society is not much better, if it is better at all, than that of Crete in New Testament times.

Each generation of each society since Adam and Eve has fallen well short of God’s holy standards. Just like the psalmists with their heartfelt dismay at the prospering of wicked people, the Christian Church has always had to deal with the destructive and demoralising impact of human sinfulness. This is never simply an external threat. It is also an internal battle as individual Christians so often fall way short of the perfection of Jesus, our Lord. Psalm 37:1-4 says: “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37 also tells us 3 times not to fret about those who act badly (verses 1,7,8). Instead, the Psalmist (possibly King David) reminds us that: “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (v 39-40). So let’s not fret about all that is wrong with our society. That won’t improve it, or our morale. Instead, let us trust and delight in God, strive to do good, as led by the Holy Spirit, and pray diligently for each other and for all those in great need. As Paul tells Titus (2:11-14), let’s ”live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” In summary, DON’T FRET, DO GOOD.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:Thank You Father for the wonderful gifts of your Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit who makes Him real to us. Please help us to trust and delight in You in these sad and demanding times. Show us what good we can do for those around us and how to ease the burdens of those in need. We pray that your Church may fearlessly proclaim the good news of Jesus. May we be like salt and light to our communities, not fretting about what is wrong but doing what we can to bring your truth and your love into every situation. We ask all this in the precious name of Jesus our Lord. AMEN