Paul knew that being a leader means standing fast to lead. A leader leads others into the grace of all that God is doing in His community, but they must also be able to receive God’s anointing to deal with any opposing situations in the community of Christ. A leader has to withstand those who oppose God’s will in the community of God. Paul knew that there would be some who would seek to subvert the households of faith through illegitimate teaching for their own dishonest gain. Leaders were to rebuke such individuals sharply that they may become sound in faith, or sound in their ability to hear God’s voice in their hearts. Titus was to speak the things that were proper for sound doctrine. He was to speak things that assist people to live with covenant-keeping character in life.
Titus 1:10-11 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
What does it look like when someone seeks to subvert a community for dishonest gain? I really don’t believe that there are many people who intentionally seek to subvert a church community. I have seen it happen on numerous occasions in ministry, but I don’t believe it starts out with overtly bad intentions. It happens more subtly than that. A subversive person usually thinks they are trying to do something for the community. They don’t recognize their actions as being for dishonest gain, because they believe in their hearts that their actions are somehow justified. Sometimes dishonest gain can come in a package of trying to get the finances or material resources of a ministry, but I think that most of the time it comes in the form of spiritual pride or spiritual witchcraft. The jealousy of others in ministry is often the cause. Like Cain who became jealous of the fact that Abel had the favor of God, they seek to destroy someone else in ministry thinking that the favor that is upon that person should be God’s favor upon them. These people often see others in ministry as a hindrance to who they believe they are called to be in ministry. They justify their destructive actions through the deception of jealousy. They are not being honest. They honestly delude themselves to believe they have a better gift and that if that other person was removed they would be the one that God’s favor would be upon. They usually blame some expression of authority in the church as a means of suppressing who they really are. Some like Balaam seek to trick some in the ministry to siding with them to advance themselves in some way in ministry. They justify their actions through the deception of valuing anointing, ministry, or some other thing above the life and purpose of a community. Some act like the sons of Korah in that they pride themselves in hearing God, even as the leaders of the community hear God. They fail to realize that hearing is not the same as properly discerning what is being heard through the authority of leadership. There is a different grace given for those in a leadership role than for those in a membership role. When someone prides themselves in their ability to hear God too, foolish things happen. If I want my finger to point I think the thought in my head and then communicate it through my body to my finger in order to accomplish the task. There are probably thousands of connections that take place between my brain and my finger in order for that simple task to be accomplished. I think now, even as I type these words, that there are thousands of connections in my body in order to type these words. In reality the sense of hearing passes through many members in my body in the task of pointing or in the task of typing. What if my elbow decided to accomplish the task, after all the word being transmitted is to point or to type? If my elbow should decide to point or make a useless attempt to type, it would cause the signal to stop short of the finger and the action would be one that is in a total different way and direction than was intended. This sends a wrong signal to the body and causes the testimony to be something different that was intended. I believe that subversive people in the church are sometimes like that. Actions of individuals sometimes oppose the life of God in the community because of insecure and subversive attitudes. Paul was not afraid to confront those who opposed the life of God in the community of God. He stood as a spiritual father to protect the environment of the community. He instructed Titus to do the same. He gave him instructions to not be afraid to deal with those who oppose the life of God in the community of Christ. We must follow this same example in our roles of responsibility to the community of God.
Titus 1:12-14 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.
Even though we live in a new covenant reality there are times when a leader must rebuke and even sharply rebuke those who oppose the life of Christ in the community. Foolish traditions and divisive teachings have no place in the community of life. A leader must protect the life of the community when necessary. This is an act of love to maintain an environment of faith. That is an environment where the voice of the Holy Spirit is heard within each heart for the individual testimony of each believer and for his or her part in any corporate purpose of the spiritual letter being written by the Spirit. A leader cannot allow the abominable, disobedient, or disqualified to have a voice in the community.
Titus 1:15-16 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
A leader leads others to believe God by standing fast in believing God in all things. The focus of a leader is upon all that God is doing. Their main objective is not to fight the enemy, but to promote God in all things. They remain pure in their thoughts and in the intentions of their hearts.
Food For Thought
Ted J. Hanson