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1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS
This is the key and central thought in this very practical epistle. It is not sufficient that we just DO good works. Even more important is that we be zealous about it-eager, enthusiastic-that this be our pleasure and consuming desire-that we never feel we have done enough for God and the Truth, but are always striving to do more.
That is "zealous of good works." If we do not manifest this characteristic, we are not Christ's peculiar people. We are just ordinary, self-pleasing people, like all the rest of the perishing world.
"Good works" means helping people-both temporarily and eternally, especially the latter, but by no means ignoring the former-labouring, doing something practical and constructive, comforting and encouraging.
If we are sorry for ourselves, full of self-pity, we are USELESS to God.
We cannot even begin to fulfil this requirement of good works. For if, having the glorious gift of Truth, we have not enough faith and appreciation to be eternally and joyfully thankful to God, we are blind indeed. We just do not know God: we have never found Him.
Let us test every activity by this expression "good works." Talking, arguing, discussing, contending, are "good works" ONLY if they perform constructive good for someone, only if they lead closer to practical godliness of life-only if they guide others in God's Way, or deepen and strengthen them in that Way.*
9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
The flesh has a hankering for crotchets...
Flesh prefers to avoid facing issues which have an uncomfortable practical bearing on its own conduct and character.
It would much rather argue about who was Cain's wife, or whether the Transfiguration was a vision, or whether Christ's temptation was "subjective" or "objective," than to think about the personal bearing of the command to love one's neighbour as one's-self, or about how it uses for its own gratification God's goods entrusted to it in stewardship, or the command to sell what it has and give to the poor.
These practical questions the flesh avoids, preferring the crotchets and speculations which do not interfere with its pleasures and self-will. But "zealous of good works" is still the clear distinguishing mark of the peculiar people of Christ.
They are too busy doing good for others to waste time and effort on barren contentions that have no practical value toward godliness. *
10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
This is the last command. A sad but necessary reminder that the way is narrow and against the flesh, that TRUTH IS important and must be faithfully defended, even to the point of separation when that becomes necessary.
May we, in God's love and mercy, be spared from such sad duties. But may be given the wisdom and courage to resolutely face and deal with such things when necessary-in infinite patience and kindness, but with firmness and faithfulness, realising the great and life-giving value of that Treasure which has been entrusted to our care.*
*Bro Growcott - Zealous of Good Works
11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
12 When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.
13 Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.
14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. (It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.)