Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6 (NLT).
I like to think of good leadership, sound teaching and right conduct as the three legs of a stool – take away any one of the three and the stool will fall over. A church can have good leadership and sound teaching, but if the conduct of the people isn’t right, then the church will fall.
Belief and behaviour must go together. For example, we can’t say we believe Christians should be self-controlled and then be known for losing our tempers.
If we divorce behaviour from belief, we’re left with hypocrisy. If our deeds don’t line up with our doctrine – the church is dead in the water.
So, how should Christians behave? Here are eight aspects of right conduct:
- We must submit to authority. “Remind your people to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good” Titus 3:1 (NLT). We must be good citizens without compromising our faith. We must be known as people who cooperate and participate readily and positively in community affairs. And we shouldn’t be known as whiners, complainers or people who have a bad attitude toward the government.
- We must speak well of everyone. “They must not speak evil of anyone” Titus 3:2a (NLT). We should never be slanderous. We should not be quarrelsome. And we should not put others down. Rather, we should be known for having attitudes of moderation and reasonableness.
- We must show gentleness to all. “They should be gentle and show true humility to everyone” Titus 3:2b (NLT). We should be meek. To be meek is not to be weak. Meekness is the ability to keep one’s power under control.
- We must spend our time doing good deeds. “These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time” Titus 3:8 (NLT). “For our people should not have unproductive lives. They must learn to do good by helping others who have urgent needs” Titus 3:14 (NLT). We must help our neighbours, serve in the community, assist people in need. Do we want to lift up the name of Christ? The best way to witness to the lost is to serve the lost. The best way to reach the young mother next door isn’t to give her a tract (even though they are useful tools) – it’s to give her a helping hand.
- We must steer away from quarrels. “Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These kinds of things are useless and a waste of time” Titus 3:9 (NLT). There will always be problem people in the church. How do we deal with them? We avoid them, i.e. we ignore them in a gracious way. When people want to argue about little issues and nit-pick on points of doctrine – steer clear of them and don’t get sucked in because they’re usually kicking up a fuss because of their insecurity or because of some sin in their life. So get out of their line of fire and ask the Holy Spirit to meet them at their point of need.
- We must sound the alarm with divisive people. “If anyone is causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with that person. For people like that have turned away from the truth. They are sinning, and they condemn themselves” Titus 3:10-11 (NLT). So there are problem people in the church because they are quarrelsome and secondly, there are problem people in the church who are divisive. Divisive people are people who go around the church undermining the leadership, undermining the values of the church, undermining the pastor and forcing people to take sides. This is not acceptable, and anyone who’s divisive should be warned at least twice and then rejected.
- We must see to the needs of those who vocationally serve the Lord. “I am planning to send either Artemas or Tychicus to you. As soon as one of them arrives, do your best to meet me at Nicopolis as quickly as you can, for I have decided to stay there for the winter. Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos with their trip. See that they are given everything they need” Titus 3:12-13 (NLT). Zenas was a lawyer who helped the Christians in their legal wrangles with the Jews and Apollos was a teacher/preacher/leader in the church. Vocational ministers of the gospel, such as pastors, teachers and missionaries, should be financially, prayerfully, and practically supported by the church (cf. 1 Timothy 5:17-18).
- We must stay connected. “Everybody here sends greetings. Please give my greetings to all of the believers who love us. May God’s grace be with you all” Titus 3:15 (NLT). Paul doesn’t finish his letter to Titus by saying, “Yours sincerely.” He finishes by saying, “Stay connected.” The Christian faith is not a solitary faith, it’s communal and we’re to be a people of community who work hard at relationships, look out for each other and go out of our way to love one another.