In everything set them an example by doing what is good. Titus 2:7
When Singaporean runner Ashley Liew found himself at the head of the pack during a marathon at the Southeast Asian Games, he knew something was wrong. He quickly realized that the lead runners had taken a wrong turn and were now behind. Ashley could have taken advantage of their mistake, but a strong sense of sportsmanship told him it would not be a genuine victory. He wanted to win because he was faster—not because those ahead of him had made a mistake. Acting on his convictions, he slowed down to let them catch up.
In the end, Ashley lost the race and missed out on a medal. But he won the hearts of his countrymen—and an international award for his act of fair play. It spoke well of his faith as a Christian, and must have prompted some to ask, “What made him do that?”
Ashley’s act challenges me to share my faith through my actions. Little acts of thoughtfulness, kindness, or forgiveness can glorify God. As Paul put it simply, “Show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7–8).
Our positive actions toward others can show the world that we are able to live differently because of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. He will give us the grace to reject ungodliness and wrong passions, and to live upright lives that point people to God (vv. 11–12).
In our passage today, Paul writes to Titus, whom he left on the island of Crete to guide the new churches they had planted there. The citizens of Crete had earned an especially bad reputation, and Paul saw fit to remind Titus of that (see Titus 1:12–13). The need for diligence in their service to the believers there was especially vital.
As Paul gave Titus directions about wise living, he highlighted God’s grace. We may tend to think of grace as giving us freedom—and it does. But God’s grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit, also instills a holy discipline in us. “It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (2:12). Or, as Paul phrased it in Galatians, “The Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires” (5:17
The “secret” to living the Christian life isn’t to stress over not sinning; it’s to focus on the work of God’s grace in us.