Spiritual Cosmetics

Posted: February 16, 2009 in Lessons

As expected, Sunday School was really good yesterday. Our text was the first ten verses of Titus 2, so let me shoot that out for you first:

1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

Teacher John said that the word translated “attractive” (the last word of our text) is the same word from which we get the word “cosmetic.” So, he said, Paul was telling slaves to act in such a way that will “put the best face on the Word of God.” He pointed out that the same principle is at the end of verse 5 (the instructions to the older women) and verse 8 (the instructions to the young men).

So the overall drift of this “list” of instructions to the various groups on Crete was to live in such a way that you “put the best face on the Word of God.”

Now, I think the hardest thing for people raised in traditions like mine to get past is seeing this list as a list of eternal instructions. As I’ve said before, it is so nice to be somewhere where older learned men are saying what I’ve been convinced of for a long time now: that these specific instructions were given to Titus on Crete, not Al in California. They were given to people living in their unique patriarchal society, trying to get them to incorporate the Kingdom ethic in that particular culture.

Teacher John read a letter to us from the American frontier in 1797. It was a letter to a church with a list of instructions including “no fiddling” (from whence we get the phrase, “quit fiddlin’ around!”), no gambling, and no “careless mirth” (in other words, quit having fun!). Now, we could either make fun of these instructions as being either outdated or non-scriptural or both; instead, they were probably a Christian attempt once upon a time at figuring out how to “put the best face on the Word of God” in their particular culture.

Which brings me to today.

Independent research (if not, common experience) tells us that Christianity doesn’t have such a stellar reputation among non-Christians. Often times, our attitude seems to be to blame the world for not liking us. Maybe we should begin to admit that we haven’t been putting such a good face on the Word of God.

Maybe we should start applying a little spiritual make-up.

  1. unicorntx says:

    You done quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’!!

  2. alsturgeon says:

    Yeah, that’s what we lawyers do! 🙂

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