In the first Chapter of Titus, Paul instructs his young disciple regarding false teachers who attempt to add some particular deed, practice or ritual to the saving message of Jesus Christ. He calls these false teachers “dangerous dogs” and says they must be silenced in the church because of the damage they do to whole households and to the faith of individual believers. Then in verse 13 he commands Titus to “rebuke them as sternly as necessary.” This phrase is a present imperative and could be rendered: “keep on rebuking them sharply.” The severity of the danger calls for the severity of action. But as sharp and as harsh as this may sound the intent was restorative, not punitive or vindictive. Paul follows these apparently harsh words with a gracious purpose clause—“so that they will be sound in the faith.”

This is most convicting to me. Paul is instructing Titus, and me, of the importance of caring for those who oppose us and the gospel. We will encounter opposition both within the church and outside the church, yet, to love the Gospel and follow in the Lord’s footsteps is to love our enemies and present the gospel truths that may capture the hears of our enemies. That’s what makes Christians different. There is no greater instrument for change in the lives of others than for them to realize we are legitimately concerned for their welfare.

Kent Hughes speaks my mind in his commentary on this passage. He writes, “I confess that I find this hard when people are attacking me, are saying what I believe is wrong, and are opposing the gospel as I understand it. I cannot contend that gracious living is easy, only that it is necessary if I am to understand how my God treats me. I am one who is also not always true to the gospel in thought, word, and deed, and yet God acts graciously toward me.” We should pray that the church would be filled with those who understand the same about themselves and that as a result such words and deeds of grace will flow from them that the church will be forged into a mighty, united force for the gospel.

“But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven…” Matthew 5:44-45