Titus 3:1. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work. . . . Titus 3:5. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.”
I’m always amazed at these seeming contradictions that I am asked to do in God’s Word. Here Paul tells Titus to be ready to do every good work he can think of, and then tells him that our relationship with God is not made of works of righteousness. Not only that, but we know that we obey governmental rulers only to a point. The Christian has no problem with most laws in society, but if asked to burn incense to Caesar he could not do it. But most laws we are “ready” to do. I have just come from a board meeting for a Christian college and seminary. The amount of busy work we are asked to do by the government is truly mountainous, and growing every year. But good men do it because it is obeying magistrates and therefore is a good work (until, of course, Caesar asks for the incense). On the board we have doctors, businessmen, and pastors who have the same problem. In most cases extra people must be hired (as a “compliance director”) just to take care of the paper work.
So why do we continue to do it? Well, because this Spring, a number of godly young people are going to graduate and go out into God’s vineyard. When I was a young man I was hired as an associate pastor and was told by the senior pastor, “everyone around here has a dirty job, and yours is to take care of the church buses.” I was learning that we do the undesirable jobs so that we can have the greater good—church. When I fell in love with the woman who became my wife, we thought marriage was all about holding hands and looking at each others’ eyes. But we found out that most of marriage is working a job, fixing broken sinks, painting walls, changing diapers, etc. But why do we do it? So we can hold hands and look at each others’ eyes! Sure, the time given to each seems inordinate. But it is worth it!
The danger, of course, is to get so swallowed up in the “dirty work” that we never get back to the reason for the work. In church, we make sure everyone has a job to do, a place to “serve”, but then we wonder why no one is in church! The main thing for all of us is to be in church. The main thing for a marriage is to hold hands. The main thing for a Bible college or seminary is to graduate seniors. God saved us by His grace. That is the main thing. But grace has work for us to do, even if it is for Caesar. Until he asks more of us than we can give, let us “speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness to all men” (vs. 2).