Saturday, December 9
Scripture: 1 Timothy 5-6, Titus 1-3
1 Timothy 5:7 Give them these instructions, so that no one will find fault with them.
1 Timothy 5:14 So I would prefer that the younger widows get married, have children, and take care of their homes, so as to give our enemies no chance of speaking evil of us.
1 Timothy 6:1 Those who are slaves must consider their masters worthy of all respect, so that no one will speak evil of the name of God and of our teaching.
Titus 2:5 …to be self-controlled and pure, and to be good housewives who submit themselves to their husbands, so that no one will speak evil of the message that comes from God.
Titus 2:9-10 Slaves are to submit themselves to their masters and please them in all things. They must not talk back to them or steal from them. Instead, they must show that they are always good and faithful, so as to bring credit to the teaching about God our Savior in all they do.
What do all these verses have in common? Paul was commanding socially acceptable behavior so that no one would speak evil of Christians or the gospel. He gives instructions for widows, slaves, and young wives—all of them in vulnerable positions. His clear purpose in these instructions is to advance the gospel. This raises two thoughts for me.
First, I wonder what Paul would have written today? Our cultural expectations are very different. Would Paul give us different advice, conforming to our cultural norms, for the purpose of advancing the gospel and protecting Christians’ reputations as bearers of the gospel? (If Christians had a bad reputation, it reflected on God’s reputation and the gospel.) If this is so, then the specific advice is less important than its spirit and intent—Paul’s concern is clearly for the gospel. “Behave this way…so that no one speaks evil of the gospel, so that you bring credit to the gospel.”
Second, I think Paul’s concern should also be our primary motivation. Our behavior should always have this “so that”: so that the gospel advances and is accepted. This is not an argument for people pleasing or cultural conformity—Paul rejects both of those in other places, and so must we. This is an argument to let God’s work and purposes be our primary concern and what motivates our behavior.
Does my behavior advance or impede the spread of the gospel? That’s what was most important to Paul and should be to us.
I’m praying and asking for God’s help on this. Today, I want this to be my motivation, my “so that.” I will live in such a way that I bring credit to the gospel.
Prayer: Lord, this requires some deep changes in my values and motivation. Holy Spirit, please do that work in me. Please make You and Your purposes my highest value…so that all I do brings credit to the gospel.