I was blogging last week about the importance of good works that are repeatedly found in the book of Titus. We saw several biblical passages that pertained to good works. As Paul closes his letter to Titus, he has one last statement that I think is very appropriate to discuss on my blog today. Paul says,” And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful,” (Titus 3:14 NASB). Jesus very much expressed in John 15 that He desires us to be fruitful Christians. We read, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so proved to be my disciples,” (John15:5,8 NASB). I highlighted the words – bear much fruit. Jesus’ great desire for us is that we be fruitful, and not a little fruitful. He wants us to stand before him with our baskets full of the good works that we have brought before Him to lay at His feet. Paul says to do good deeds to help people’s pressing needs. This Sunday we will be taking up a love offering for the flood victims in Houston and Florida. We will do so because people have pressing needs and we have been abundantly blessed. We desire as a church to bless those who are in crisis right now. Remember in the John passage that the fruitless branches are purged, but the good branches are pruned. Again, Paul is repeating in Titus the place of good works in our spiritual lives.
But that leads to a question in my mind – what are the hindrances to fruitfulness in our spiritual lives? First of all, I believe that our selfishness at times keeps us from doing the good works that God would have us to do. Serving in any ministry is generally inconvenient. It takes time and if it involves working with people, and people are messy. And it’s easier for us just to do our own thing and not be concerned about the needs of those around us. The denial of our own self-centered lives is one of the most important lessons any of us can ever learn in our Christian pilgrimage. Secondly, I believe that sometimes it’s the unfitness of the soil in our lives. Living in this day when we are surrounded by a culture of sinfulness, it’s effortless for our hearts to become hard and stony to the needs of others. Also, the fact that we are bombarded by so many needs all around us. Take the recent flooding in Texas and Florida as an example. We’ve been watching night after night the overwhelming destruction of property and people’s lives. We may think the task of helping so many is so overwhelming we won’t consider even giving a little because we believe that it’s not going to make a difference. But even as we take about love offering for the flood victims on Sunday we are reminded of the fact that any good that we do will make a difference.
It’s also very important to grasp the fact that when it comes to good works, we enter into the realm of spiritual warfare. Satan loves to blind us to the things that God would have us to do. He frequently does this by attacking us in the area of our inadequacies. He will send messages into our mind that were not qualified to serve or that you’re not any good at that ministry so why bother. We are in a spiritual battle, and it’s important we realize that Satan is going to resist us at every turn when we try to serve Christ. We must yield our lives to Jesus Christ and allow Him to direct our paths in serving Him. Finally, I think people at times neglect good works because of time allowances. We fill up our lives with so many activities that we don’t have the time to do good deeds in Jesus’ name to help others. These activities in and of themselves may be good things, but they take the place of the better things. I’ve even heard of some people who don’t come to church during the fall because it’s football season and they need to work on their fantasy football team. This is what Paul calls living “unproductive lives.”
Let us surrender ourselves to Jesus and to be wholly possessed and used by him to make a difference in good works and sound doctrine in the lives of those who are closest to us. Jesus did not come to make us happy; He came to give us the abundant life. We have seen that a critical component of knowing and walking with the Lord Jesus Christ is fruit bearing. Let us pursue the opportunities that God has set before us so that Jesus Christ may be glorified and honored in our lives. Paul’s challenge to Titus stresses the need for good works, not to earn our salvation but to serve others and to store up heavenly treasures. Opportunities abound for good, so let us grow in our faithfulness, fruitfulness, and service for the living God.
To God be the glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo