For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
– Titus 3:3 (ESV)
Yes, I remember those days well. And I don’t claim to be completely out of their grip. The “old man” rears his ugly head often. But I am now free to live, away from the pain and sin of my past described here.
I remember it well.
I was foolish, disbelieving in God, disobedient to Him, led astray by my own faulty judgment and crooked dreams. I was living to stimulate my nerve endings and my passions. I was envying others, I was unhappy, and I entertained terrible thoughts about myself and those around me.
I live in freedom now. But not because of anything I’ve done. I didn’t do a single thing to earn this freedom. I was not freed because I had met anyone’s expectations, or because I had lived up to any standard.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy . . .
– Titus 3:4-5a
It’s easy to picture God as a cruel taskmaster; as a perfect patriarch who is impossible to please. Many Christians (including me) do, at least some of the time. But is He presented in scripture this way? Descriptions of God throughout both Testaments are rife with terms like “loving-kindness”, “mercy”, “loyal love”, “steadfast love”. And that’s what He is. His nature is one rich in mercy, love and kindness toward His fallen creation. I know this because He went to the cross for me, rose again, and has forgiven me and given me His Holy Spirit.
. . . by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
– Titus 3:5b-7
Such grace! Washing and renewal, poured out on us richly! Imagine that! Justified by His grace so that we might become heirs of the King of the universe!
But doesn’t God have a standard? Absolutely. Was I ever able to keep it? Never. Without His loyal love and mercy, I’m without hope. But because of His mercy, I’m free. Free now to be who He’s created me to be, to do the good works I was never able to do before. As Titus 3:8 states:
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
I’m so blessed to be free. Free to pursue the excellent and profitable actions the Lord has ordained for me to do.
May I now, in freedom, do them.