This is the lightest reading day of our series. It only takes a few minutes to read all of the books of Titus and Philemon. Yesterday’s reading also make today’s reading easier, as Paul deals with similar issues in Titus as he did in Timothy.
The letter to Titus is a letter to a man who was responsible to lead the churches on the island of Crete. Titus was to appoint local leaders and to “straighten out what was left unfinished”. This probably was a fairly difficult and frustrating job. It is usually easier to establish something the right way over correcting things that have gone wrong. This may be similar to a person starting a new church as compared to assuming leadership of an already-established church.
Specifically, Paul instructs Titus about qualifications for Elders and leaders in the churches. Elders, take another look at 1:6-9. The ways these letters teach us about our relationships in the church is remarkable. There is no getting away from our responsibilities toward one another, no matter our status. The end of chapter 2 is an encouragement to godly living, in light of the soon-to-be-revealed “blessed hope” of the church – the appearing of Jesus Christ. I noticed another mention by Paul about avoiding foolish controversies. Obviously, he thought debating about endless topics was a huge waste of time for church leaders.
Philemon is a letter from a friend, to a friend. This book has a few characteristics not seen in any of Paul other letters. This is strictly personal, although principles learned certainly apply to everyone who reads it. Paul is a reconciler, trying to patch up a relationship between Philemon and Onesimus. The latter previously worked for the former and it did not end well. Since that time, Onesimus had spent time with Paul and had gotten his life together. Paul was representing him to Philemon and asking for grace and another chance. Since Onesimus was now a believer and brother in Christ, Paul was of the opinion that the relationship could and should be different. There is a lot to be learned about forgiveness, new beginnings and reconciliation. Paul is pretty quick to point out that he has spiritual authority over both of them but does not wish to force the issue. He also reminds Philemon of their relationship and how we hopes for compliance. We do not know how the story turned out but are sure of Paul’s wishes in the situation. The lessons for us are obvious. Forgive, accept, get over it.
On Wednesday, we will read Hebrews Chapter 1-7. I want to commend you for your reading on whatever level. If you are reading one verse per week, you are taking in life-giving Good News. If you are reading every word every day, you are loading up on blessing and benefits.