“As God’s manager,… be… hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:7-9, HCSB).
“Self-controlled.” How can we be “self-controlled” and yet completely submit ourselves to God’s control? Even when we are centered in Christ, we are still very much conscious of our human nature. We CHOOSE our response in every situation by choosing whether or not we respond in a manner as would Jesus.
When you’re driving in traffic and someone cuts in front of you, you decide whether to let it go or to react as foolishly as the driver whom you just allowed to upset you. And did you catch that word “allowed?” Part of making those mature Christ-like choices is deciding what we will allow to bend us out of shape.
Several years ago I underwent jaw surgery. It wasn’t fun, but it had to be done. Sure, I could regale you with tales of what an ordeal it was, but you know what? I look around me and see that, in the big picture, ALL my problems are so very small. I have two friends on hospice care as I write this and so many others I could name who are going through all sorts of serious difficulties right now. Compared to a jillion other people, I am teetotally blessed.
Being “self-controlled” means we can speak positively and refuse to dwell on negative topics or aspects even when, if we get honest, our human nature prefers to home in on unpleasantness. There are more than enough party poopers around without us adding to the numbers. We aren’t the People of the News nor the People of the Bad News – we’re the People of the Good News, and we need to sound like it!
We are also to “[hold] to the faithful message as taught.” Paul delivered to Titus the Gospel Truth. We are to do likewise. We are to know the Word so we can share the Word. Problem is, if most Christians’ knowledge of the Scriptures was their only ammunition, they’d be hard-pressed to ward off an assault by a kid shooting BBs!
Is the Word really our ammunition? Could it be that our lack of Scripture knowledge is the reason we find ourselves getting clobbered in so many skirmishes against the enemy? Read the temptations of Christ (see Luke 4:1-13) and you’ll see that Jesus used the same weapon in every battle: the Word.
Yes, Christ has already won the war, but we, IN THE POWER OF CHRIST, still have to fight daily battles. Know the Word and suit up for battle (see Ephesians 6:10-18).