Jesus did give us the great commission but he doesn't call everyone to go off to foreign lands and preach the gospel. Here Paul is telling us how to live out that commission in our communities, everyday in the world we live in. This is how the world will know we are followers of Jesus; through the way we handle ourselves every day.
Let's walk through the first 11 versus. Much of this is repeated from many of Paul's other letters so you may find these words familiar but means we should pay extra attention.
1-2 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
When I get wrapped up in political issues that get my blood boiling and are seemingly insurmountable, remember "we are in the world, but not of the world" and God is ultimately in control. This should give us peace in our body, mind and soul. If you're looking for a biblical basis for honoring god in an ungodly world turn back to the book of Daniel.
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
I've certainly gotten stuck in this trap and am still tempted to get mired in sinful passions giving in to envy and malice. What voices are whispering in your ear tempting you to these traps? Media, friends, family members? It might be time to implement disciplined boundaries.
4-7 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Pretty simple but easy to forget: you can't earn your salvation. It was given by grace, when I think of the magnitude of this gift, I just want to show my appreciation by loving my neighbor and leaning on the holy spirit for strength and guidance and not my own understanding. I've had to slow way down and change my timeline of expectations to start operating this way.
8-9 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Am I devoted to good works as an expression of my faith? Are my motivations to be submissive to the will of God within the gifts he has imbued in me or are my good works to please myself and gain the approval and attention of men, or worse am I just self-serving to make myself feel good? The proof is that your works bless others and the Lord as they are good for all.
Are we on guard as Followers of Christ to be above gossip and petty squabbling or are we allowing ourselves to be pulled into the culture war and wallowing in the mud with the lost.
10-11 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
Are we on guard to ensure we aren't sowing division and choosing the right hills to make our stand? Once we are disciplined then we establish biblical boundaries and enforce them within our own ranks and relationships.
Daily Battle Order:
Read through this entire chapter yourself today (should take you about 5min). What does the text say to you? Do any of these areas hit home for you and require more self-discipline and accountability or does it make you think of a fellow Saint who is in need of encouragement. Share your findings with a Brother and resolve to make the necessary corrections, provide the right encouragement or establish healthy boundaries within your relationships.