“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching, show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8)
This passage is at the end of a series of commands directed to men and women, both young and old, in the church. Paul is writing these words to Timothy, a young man whom he views as a son who is now serving as a pastor. It has always fascinated me how verse 8 ends: that an opponent would have “nothing evil to say about us.” Opponents to the gospel have plenty of evil things to say about us; we hear it when we simply turn on the news. They think we are narrow-minded, they don’t like the idea of an absolute truth, they say we are stuck in the past, and the list could go on and on. How would it happen that they would have nothing bad to say about us? What does this mean?
In our Sunday School class, we are going through a video series by Pastor Matt Chandler on biblical manhood and womanhood entitled “A Beautiful Design”. In this last session we viewed, Chandler used this passage in Titus in connection with God’s design for men and women. He was talking about God’s plan in the unique leadership role of men in the home and the calling of wives to be submissive. Chandler expounded on the beauty that is seen when those roles are played out biblically: The husband is a man who is committed to his wife, sacrificially loves her and values her input, and leads his wife and children with a servant’s heart. The wife in this relationship feels completely safe, cared for, and appreciated, and in that environment gladly respects and submits to her husband. Of course, we are still in daily need of grace and even on the best day we don’t do this perfectly. But for believing couples, there should be a pattern of growth in this. Chandler rightly points out that the world hates this idea of leadership and submission. They find it “archaic” and have plenty of evil things to say about it. But this pattern of marriage works! Chandler points out that the world may hate the idea of it, but they can’t say anything against it when they see it played out rightly. If they come to our house for dinner and see our family flourishing under these biblical guidelines, they will be the ones “put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
I have thought about this often since we started this series as Matt Chandler repeats it again and again: Human flourishing happens when we live according to God’s design. And the world cannot say anything against it, because they see that it works. Again, they might not like it, but they can’t deny that flourishing happens when God’s designs are followed. I think of young adults that I knew as children who are now in their 20s and living “in the world.” I am incredibly saddened when I see their posts on Facebook, because it is so obvious, that they are not flourishing. I want to say, “Don’t you see? It’s not working. That is not the way God designed life to go.” They know the Word, but they threw it off when they left home to live the way they wanted to live. They are raising fatherless children, going from boyfriend to boyfriend, and are not happy. Even those young adults, the ones who didn’t like what the Bible taught, would be hard-pressed to say that their way of life works better. Human flourishing happens when we live according to God’s design, and the world will be “put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us”. Are we showing them the beauty of God’s design, not just in marriage, but in all of God’s commands? Do they see in our lives that it “works”?
I read this portion of a prayer yesterday in Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers: “Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until thou alone art seen in me, thy beauty golden like summer harvest, thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.” God is beautiful; His design in perfect. May the world see those truths in the lives of Christ’s followers.