For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. – Titus 2:11-12
Many would call Titus 2:11-12 a conversation killer. I don’t know; try it out. Find a crowd of people – this may prove to be quite difficult. Be sure that everyone’s cutting up, making jokes, and in a rowdy mood. Now quote Titus 2:11-12. Please put it in your own words, so it sounds like it’s authentically you. Observe the response.
Don’t expect some slaps on your back and the crowd yelling, “Well said!” Somewhere during the development of our modern culture, three profound changes took place. These are:
- A belief that camaraderie can only be achieved while using crude language and delving into shallow, worldly topics.
- A disdain of the use of words that nuance more meaning than their simplified counterparts.
- A general disrespect for education and conversations that leverages the education for which we so dearly paid.
A Godly life may require more than what we usually consider. Let’s delve into these three points in more detail.
Instead of drilling into sociology or psychology, let me provide three anecdotal examples from my family.
My dad earned his Ph.D. in higher education and was a professor for most of his life. Our dinner table was always a moral debate with food on the side. We tackled all topics, and if no one had a topic, my dad or I would play devil’s advocate to stir up a debate.
These daily discussions helped to form my sister and me. How surprised we’ve been, now in later years, to hear my Mom or Dad speaking (figuratively) “from the grave!” Their words and beliefs continue to live in us and often pop out at the oddest times. It’s disconcerting, but it brings joy to us when we hear our parents again.
My sister and I learned to love the English language through these debates. We often used newly discovered words like trump cards in Euchre. And we became adept at steering our debates through myriad questions, and we learned the proper order for topics. Shallow debates are about people. Common debates are about things. And the best debates are about ideas.
We never achieved memorable debates if we chose topics like the Beatles’ haircuts or the hypothesis that the stock market rose or fell based on the hemlines of women’s dresses.
Disdain of useful words
Have you noticed that every movie and TV show uses the crudest language they can get away with, and usually paints professors and teachers that use “Scrabble®” words as villains or weirdos?
I don’t endorse speaking above our audience; that is birthed from pride. If we are asked to speak to our employer’s staff, we should not weave a tapestry of unassailable verbiage designed to demean the listeners while elevating ourselves; that’s not Christ-like.
Here is the flipside. If addressing a college graduating class, we are speaking to a cohort of newly minted graduates. It is disrespectful to say, “Let me say this simply.” We shouldn’t dumb-down our elucidations to people that have completed the mazes and hurdles that academia demands. Graduates are eager to use their newly acquired education. We should learn $5.00 words for more than Scrabble®. And we shouldn’t judge or cast aspersions upon people that wish to use their education.
Conversations can be rich and fulfilling when discussing classical literature, post-modern art, or the Early Church Fathers’ history. Somehow these have been inventoried and stored at the back of American’s vulgar (i.e., characteristic of or belonging to the masses; common.) vocal emanations.
Disrespect for the use of education
Early on in my career, I was a full-time instructor for our local community college. During my tenure, I told every new class that education was the only commodity that people were eager to pay for but didn’t want to receive. I went on to say that it was my job to discover how to transfer their paid-for education from that institution into their minds. I would find a way because I did not want to be found derelict in my duties.
On more than one campus, I’ve heard students speak of “cram dump.” Before a test, students try to cram into their brains the correct answers; after the test, they dump those facts in preparation for the next exam. I have come across many of these graduates in large corporations, but few in small companies; it’s hard to hide in a small company.
Commissioned for Christ
A Godly life may require more than what we think. We that abide in Jesus are commissioned (Matthew 28:19) to tell the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a winsome and transparent way. We are expected to comport ourselves as officials in His kingdom; many do not. Nevertheless, in our public servant roles, I have met many Christians whose lives are uncommon and challenge me to be better. Let’s all be in the “be better” group.
As we just read in Titus 2:11-12 we should continually train ourselves to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. Part of our training is to learn how to be cordial, be compassionate, and to be effective at presenting the Gospel at all time and in all situations. Our soul purpose in life is to tell the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people regardless of their culture, class, level of education, or station in life. We depend on the Holy Spirit but still God expects us to train.
So, “Rather train yourself for godliness… (1 Timothy 4:7)”
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