Affirm It Constantly
A while ago, a dear sister and fellow Gospelblogger invited me to participate in a study of Titus.
Titus is a teeny tiny book jam-packed with big advice, particularly for us ladyfolk (chapter 2 verses 3 to 5).
I don't know about you, but sometimes I do one little good thing, and then I pat myself on the back and think I'm all of a sudden really spiritual.
Here's an imagined but totally plausible dialogue between God and me.
God: Hey, a while ago you asked me for strength and wisdom to mentor that young girl in your branch. How's that going?
Me: Good. I've been talking with her.
Me: Well, we mostly just text. You know kids and their phones...
God: So how often have you reached out to her?
Me: Um, well, the one time was about two weeks ago.
God: The one time?? Com'on, Michelle. Be real with me.
As I've matured, I realize that I can't say, "I read God's word" if I only crack open my books on Sunday. I can't say, "I attend church" if I only go when I feel like it, and I can't say, "I support the MBA" if I'm only at one meeting in a blue moon.
So, when these tiny phrases from Titus leapt off the page, I latched on.
In chapter 2, Paul tells Titus how the people of God should behave. The older guys need to be sober, grave, temperate, and sound in faith, charity, and patience. The older gals need to be holy, not false accusers, not heavy wine-drinkers, and teachers of good.
And then Paul says, "in all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works." Pattern means over and over again. It means that I've done or thought something multiple times with regular consistency.
The repetitive over-and-over nature of the word "pattern" implies discipline — spiritual discipline to keep God's commandments. When this self-discipline is fueled by a thirst for Jesus (and not just brainless routine), I believe it can grow into something awesomely powerful.
I want to have enough spiritual self-discipline to take those good things that I only do every once in a while and turn them into life patterns. For me, it's about raising the bar and seeking something more out of my relationship with God.
In the next chapter, Paul lays out a moving depiction of grace — we mess up, but we become renewed through Christ's blood and not our own righteous actions — but then he immediately follows that up with this: "these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."
So, even though my good works can't save me, they're still necessary (i.e. not optional). The purpose for my pattern of good works isn't so that I can earn salvation or look like a real holy roller in Ladies' Circle. Those good works help point others to Christ so they can find the same soul-saving grace that I can't live without.
When I'm following God half-heartedly and my service has grown stale, I'm moving toward isolation from the Lord, and nobody can see Him in me. When I'm striving to pattern my life after Jesus, and when I'm constantly affirming my need for grace (by admitting my sin), then I'm moving closer to Him and my light can grow brighter and brighter.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.