Today’s readings are 2 Samuel 3 and Titus 1:10-2:2
Just like in 1 and 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul speaks directly about false teachers. Their motives and speech are called into question by Paul. He wants Titus to be concerned about them, the emptiness of their words and the greater concern that they can lead people astray. Who are they? They are the Jewish teachers, “those of the circumcision group”. They have strong networks, they spread myths, rumours, and they are doing this for “dishonest gain”. Added to that is the very character of the people as expressed in v12.
What action is required? The strongest! “They must be silenced” (v11) and they must be “rebuked” sharply (v13). Furthermore Titus is to “pay no attention to them” (v14). It is clear that Paul believes Titus should not even bother arguing with them. His view is that once the mind is corrupted, it is game over. They deny Christ and their behaviour affirms what their minds are convinced of. What in particular gets to Paul is that these false teachers are very subtle in their approach They give the appearance of knowing God, but in reality they are far from him. Hypocrisy was awful then, it is still one of the top 5 blockers today of people coming to church. As they say some things never change.
Elders and leaders have a strong role to play in ensuring right doctrine is preached. This is affirmed in chapter 2. “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine”.
Paul provides very practical advice on how older men in the first instance can do this. Now that I am an older man, the advice is not lost on me. We must show by our behaviour that our doctrine is true. Behaviour that is sound in faith, worthy of respect and a faith that can endure. These are very powerful combinations and ones that can and should be acted out every day.
Long gone are the days of being grumpy old men, here are the days of boldness and love. Amen to that.