We’re All Influencers
Titus is just a tiny letter that a guy named Paul wrote. In the Biblical timeline, Jesus had already lived and was crucified and was resurrected from the dead and then ascended to heaven alive but just before he did, he said this to his followers: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Go into all the world, and make followers, disciples, learners, imitators, of Jesus. So he’s commissioning them; sending them out so be influencers in the world.
When we read Acts, the way that the disciples did this was to start local churches, and then invest heavily in those local churches. So the fulfillment of the commission of Jesus was healthy, local churches being started and growing. And churches are simply gatherings of followers of Jesus as they gather around the word preached and the sacraments, what you’re doing today.
And so this guy named Paul started a church on an island called Crete, and he left behind his best guy, Titus, to be the main leader there. And now Paul’s writing to Titus to help him to what Matthew 28 says. He left him behind to influence that church and make more disciples of Jesus. And God inspired Paul to write him and say, “Ok Titus, here’s how you do it.” Here’s how disciples are made, grown, matured, and empowered.
And look how chapter 2 verse 1 goes: “But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching.” And then look at verse 15, the last verse in this chapter: “Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” Chapter 2 is a proclamation sandwich. It starts out with Paul telling Titus to proclaim things that are sound, and ends with him saying, hey, the things I just told you, they’re sound. So Titus, proclaim the things that will lead to the health of this church as a whole, and the health of the individual members of this church. This is the way that discipleship happens.
This is how discipleship happens at your local church.
Look at verse 2: “Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance.” So the first thing that Paul wants Titus to proclaim to his church is how older men should live. How are disciples gonna be made in the church? Older men are gonna live in a beautiful, God-honoring way.
I think God inspired Paul to write this because the older men get, the more their tendency is to be grumpy, set in their ways, cynical, feeling like it’s their time to sit back and critique all that’s wrong. That kind of older man in the church is unhelpful at best, and unhealthy for the church at worst.
Instead, older men, keep going in the battle. You know what younger men need to see? Older men who are still fiery passionate about Jesus, serving him sacrificially. If all younger men see is older men just showing up, then those young men will grow into older men who just show up. If they see older men who complain and critique and who are cynical, they’ll grow up to complain, critique, and be cynical in the church. If they see older men who are discontent with young people in the church, and who end up leaving, then they’ll grow into older men who are discontent in the church and end up leaving.
Instead, like Paul writes here, younger men need to see…
…older men who don’t demand respect, but are worthy of it.
…older men who are sensible, They’re not driven by emotions, but are calm, collected, and thoughtful.
…older men who are sound in faith; their faith is healthy, it’s alive, you can see what they believe.
…older men who love others (not just scold younger people for their ethical or political views).
…older men who endure.
Man that’s what many of us need to see. We need to see older people finish the race well.
We need older men like this, and we need older women like verse 3 talks about: “In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered.” Next Paul tells Titus to proclaim how older women should live. How are disciples gonna be made in the church? Older women are gonna live in a beautiful, God-honoring way.
So, I think based on Paul’s encouragement to older women, the older women get the more they’re gonna be tempted to be irreverent, to cut others down, and probably do both of those things as they gather around too much wine from what Paul’s saying. Gathering to gossip about what other women in the church are doing, leaning toward being judgmental or all the way there. And that’s not at all healthy in the church.
Instead, older women, keep running the race. Younger women need to see older women who are living beautifully for Jesus.
Women who are reverent, which just means showing deep respect.
Women who are not slanderers, but who speak life and encourage each other.
Women who aren’t ruled by gathering to drink, but by gathering to worship Jesus.
Look at verse 6: “In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us.” Paul tells Titus to proclaim how young men should live. How are disciples gonna be made in the church? Young men and women are gonna live in a beautiful, God-honoring way.
Young men should be self-controlled. Self-control sums it up, but he’s already said how older men should be influencing younger men, so the goal is that they’re growing in all these things.
So younger people, seek out this advice, wisdom, discipleship. Don’t make it hard for older men or women to disciple you. Make it easy for them. Seek it out. Ask for it. Make time for it. You need it.
Look at verse 9: “Slaves are to submit to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back or stealing, but demonstrating utter faithfulness, so that they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything.” Paul tells Titus to proclaim how young employees should live. How are disciples gonna be made in the church? Employees are gonna live in a beautiful, God-honoring way.
Paul talks about employees being well-pleasing. That’s much more than just doing your tasks at work. That’s more than just showing up and doing what’s needed, right? He says instead to work in a way that adorns the teaching of God our Savior. There’s the teaching of Jesus, that should be communicated, and then there’s the way you go about your work that adorns that teaching. That’s influential.
So verses 2-10 are all about what it looks like to be influencers in your local church. That’s what God wants; it’s how discipleship happens.
How is it gonna happen? Paul says to everyone in verse 7: “set an example.” Open up your life. Connect with people. Invite them into your world so that they can see your example. Now, maybe that’s terrifying, because you know that you fail a lot and you’re actually not a great example. Listen, no one needs a perfect example out of you. They got that in Jesus. People need to see you fail, see you struggle, see you fear and doubt and cry. And they need to see how you take all that to Jesus. Because right now, people around you probably only see what’s best about you. And that can be tough to live up to, and isn’t very helpful in having an example to follow when life is a mess. So open up your life, your messy, sin-riddled life, for others to see an example of repentance and growth.
Sure, this mirage happen by you teaching the gospel through a study. Those kinds of things need to happen in the church. But most likely the most influential moments you’ll have with others in the church will happen by you just being around each other and seeing how you live your lives.
But, and this is massively important, this whole process, this life of influence, must grow out of a life-transformation. This will not happen, this kind of influence, unless your life has been transformed for you to be able to live this way.
A transformed life produces transforming influencers.
Because, after Paul lists how these relationships in the church should look, Look at verse 11: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works.” Verses 11-14 is the fuel for influencers. And verses 11-14 is the gospel. The gospel is the fuel for influencers. The gospel is the foundation of a life of influence.
THIS is what leads to a life of 2-10. This and only this. You miss this, you miss 2-10. That’s why we call ourselves a gospel-centered church. Because we’re only as effective influencers in so far as we get the gospel right, and are transformed by it.
So what’s the main takeaway from Titus 2 for our church? Here it is: THE LOCAL CHURCH IS A FAMILY OF GOSPEL INFLUENCE. God wants the local church to be a hotbed of influencers influencing each other. And it all happens in the context of the church family. That’s discipleship. It’s not courses, books, retreats, studies, but everyday life within the Christian family. And this happens across generational, ethnic, life-stage boundaries.
Invest in relationships. At our church those are formed through community groups, journey groups, and through joining us in covenant membership.
Submit to each other’s discipleship. In our church everyone submits to each other, as we all submit to God together through confession. Each week we confess to God: “I was wrong, you are right, I submit to you.” We submit to each other by showing up, not skipping out, making our relationships with each other a priority.
Give of your whole life. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” Give of your whole life to your church family. Care for the people God has brought into your life through your church.
And watch how God will grow them through you…
and you through them.