Characteristics of a Godly Man, Part 6

“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance” – Titus 2:1-2

Continuing our study of these two verses we now come to find that a godly man is to be sound, and that soundness extends to three areas, faith, love and perseverance.  The most logical place to begin is to define the word “sound.”  Very simply “sound” means, as we described before, being healthy.  Grammatically, “sound” refers to faith, love and perseverance, not simply to faith.  The definite article (the) is used before each of the three nouns and therefore reads, “sound in the faith, in the hope, in the perseverance.”

The faith is a reference to the body of doctrine in which Paul had “raised” Titus (see 1:4, 13; 2:1).  The problem in the Church today is, to borrow a line from Strother Martin’s character “Captain” in “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we got here is…failure to communicate.”  The Church, led by the Elders/Pastors have failed to communicate that sound doctrine that Paul taught, that which God preserved as His message in holy writ.  Instead the Church, under the guidance of many of its most famous leaders (i.e., Schuller, Warren, Hybels, et.al.) has sought out the philosophies of men and pop-psychology for teaching its people, and business model’s for directing the organization of the Church.  What was left out of the mix was a firm commitment to sola-sciptura.  I do not write this to attack any individual.  I’m simply pointing out what has happened.  Here what I am saying (better yet, what Paul has said); the godly man is one who is healthy in his understanding of Bible doctrine.  Without the good healthy doctrine recorded in Paul’s writing’s there is no being a godly man.  The sooner we learn that and act appropriately the better off the Church of the living God will be.

NOTE: At least one commentator has determined that “sound in the faith” is in reference to the exercise of personal faith.  There is good argumentation in favor of this view, but there is not the time or space to discuss that here.  I will simply say this; it seems most logical to hold to the idea that “faith” refers to doctrine because one cannot exercise healthy personal faith without a proper understanding of the object of that faith.  Healthy doctrine leads to the exercising of healthy faith.  Whether this is what Paul is referring may be open to debate, but this is where I will stand. END NOTE.

We are also to be healthy in the love.  Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest describes the love as, “agape…, referring to that love produced in the heart of the yielded saint by the Holy Spirit.”  Agape has been defined as “love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard” (Louw-Nida).  This love is directed at both God and man.  Towards God as the godly man’s expression of the highest regard and appreciation for God as our Savior, Lord, and Sovereign Ruler of all things.  Towards man as we hold our wives and children in the highest regard, and towards other men as we do all within our power to live in peace with all men while sharing the truth of the gospel with those who need to hear.

Finally, the godly man must be sound in perseverance.  Perseverance is defined as the “capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances” (Louw-Nida).  This identifies the virtue of the Christian man who is able to continue to patiently endure trials in a way that honors God (Wuest).  I admit that this is an area in which I struggle.  The American Church has a general lack in this area.  For a generation or two we have been raised in a society in which children are taught to expect things to be handed to them, where parents attempt to remove every obstacle from their children’s path so that they don’t have to struggle, and the blame for my mistakes are passed on to the next guy.  This is a hard mindset to overcome once one becomes a Christian.  Yet it must be overcome for us to be strong, consistent men of God.  Thankfully God has given us His Spirit Who will empower us to overcome when we allow Him to have full control of our lives.  He will produce this fruit in us as we grow in the Word of God and determine to be obedient to what we learn from it.

Well, we have finally reached the end of our discussion of Paul’s teaching in this passage.  I’m sure that we can learn so much more from these two verses, but I have exhausted my knowledge (sad statement, but true).  I pray that this has been helpful.

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