So the first way we demonstrate that we’re Christians, according to Paul in Titus 3, is the way we interact with the government. What’s the second?
It’s the way we interact with unbelievers. Take a look at verse 2:
to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men (Ti 3.2).
One observation immediately. The word men here is the Greek anthropos, which is not gender-specific. (There’s a different word, andros, that refers to men as males.) So believers should show every consideration for all humans, including non-believers, and including women.
Hmm. Seems like that might include The Squad as well.
Now. What does Paul say specifically that “every consideration” should include?
First, “malign no one.” You might be surprised to hear that the Greek word translated “malign” is blasphemeo, to blaspheme. That simply means to say something about someone that isn’t true. We usually think of this word in relation to God—we wouldn’t tell a liar that he has “blasphemed” Mr. So-and-So—but in the New Testament culture it was used of any false speaking about anyone. These days we’d call that “slander.”
Don’t lie about people.
I’ve written on that before, but here I’d like to come down a little harder on the concept.
We all have a responsibility for our own words: we need to ensure that they’re truthful. That means doing some research before we say (or write) stuff. Sure, you’re free to pass on that meme; but before you do, you’d better go to the trouble of making sure it’s true, because the minute you hit the “Share” button, those words become your words, and if they’re not true, then you, my friend, have become a liar. You can’t avoid responsibility by saying, “I’m not sure if this is true or not; I just wanted to pass it along for what it’s worth.” They’re your words now; you’re responsible for them. If they’re false, you’re a liar.
You want to talk about the importance of personal responsibility? Then exercise some.
Don’t lie about anybody. “Malign no one.” God said that.
Next, Paul says, “be peaceable.” That’s amachos, or “not [given to] battle,” the way atheist means “not [believing in] God.” (And no, it doesn’t have any relation to the Spanish word macho, which comes from the Latin root behind masculine.)
Be more inclined to make peace than to fight. Jesus talked about that, didn’t he? “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he said, “for they shall be called offspring of God” (Mt 5.9). Which is precisely what Paul is saying here. People will know you’re a believer because, unlike them, you move situations toward peace rather than conflict.
I’m often not like that. Especially around lousy customer service. Or slow drivers in the left lane.
But peaceableness is a characteristic of God’s people, who have God’s Spirit living in them. They walk into tense situations and calm everybody down rather than riling them up.
Be peaceable. In your posts.
Can I confess something?
I have a lot of FB friends—again, on both sides—who pass on garbage. I don’t want to block them, because they’re friends, and not everything they pass on is garbage, and I want to know how they’re doing. But when the garbage has a distinct source—some political FB page, for example—I click on it and block that source. Forever. And that means that when that friend passes on that source’s material in the future, I won’t see it. But I’ll still see their posts about their kids. That makes me calmer. And that in turn helps make me more peaceable.
Third, be “gentle.” At the root of this Greek word is the idea of fairness, even-handedness, and thus reasonableness, kindness, gentleness, tolerance.
How about that. Tolerance isn’t just the byword of our admittedly troubled culture; it’s a biblical command.
Of course we’re not supposed to let sin go unchallenged, and we’re not supposed to call evil good (Isa 5.20). But we can treat those who disagree with us as if they’re actual human beings, in the image of God and thus of infinite value. We can acknowledge our disagreements with dignity and gentleness.
But we don’t, do we? Not often. That doesn’t get likes or shares.
Wouldn’t it be great if people who claim to be Christians routinely acted like it? Wouldn’t it be great if these 2 short verses by Paul didn’t condemn most of what we say in our most public forums?
Yeah, it sure would.