Our pastor was teaching from the book of Titus in a sermon, and while his focus was on another subject, the following passage made an interesting point:
Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
Titus 2:6-8 NASB
Certainly, this is sound advice, both for teachers and mentors who are leading others towards good living. However, notice why Paul is suggesting these teachings: so that those who oppose the truth won’t – in my own words – have anything negative to talk about with regards to our behavior.
Have you ever been so frustrated with someone that you just wanted to find something wrong with them? Maybe you wanted to prove that you were better than a rival, or wanted to get revenge. Maybe it was a friend, teacher, or pastor who told you a hard truth, but you didn’t want to accept it, so you reacted in anger until you cooled down and thought about it. Isn’t it maddening when you can’t think of anything wrong with someone, and can’t find any fault in what they said, and you’re stuck with the truth?
What if we could be people like that? Here, I don’t mean that we should make others angry, but what if we could be followers of Jesus about whom opponents of the truth can’t find anything to accuse us of?
Daniel was an example of someone in the Bible like this. His enemies tried to find fault in his behavior, but couldn’t. Their only option was to pit the [inferior] law of the land against Daniel’s [superior] faith.
Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.”
Daniel 6:4-5 NASB
Even Jesus, when presented with what His enemies thought was a no-win question, managed to answer without violating God’s law. In fact, in most (maybe all?) cases, He provided an answer that didn’t even violate civil law at the time. See Matthew 22:15-22, for instance. At His trial, his opponents had to bring false testimony against Him (see Matthew 26:59-61), since His life was blameless.
Paul’s directives at the beginning of this article are a tall order. None of us is perfect on our own, and even when we manage to be relatively faultless (by yielding to the direction of the Holy Spirit in our lives), others may still lie or otherwise attack us. However, if we keep our focus on Jesus (see Hebrews 12:1-2), our goal remains the same.
In the end, the results don’t just make us look better: they also give credit to Jesus, whose example we are following.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.