We Ourselves Were Once So Foolish
It’s easy to be hard on the world, especially when the world is so hard on you. We live in difficult times, when paganism is gaining the upper hand, and pagans of influence are seeking to bring the weight of that hand down upon the Church and believers. It’s easy to get mad and be filled with righteous indignation.
But Paul tells Titus to remind his charges of something very important. First, they are to…well, just be good people: Obey the rulers and all authorities, be obedient and ready to do a good deed all the time, to mind their tongues, avoid quarrelling, and be gentle and courteous to everyone they meet. “But they’re so mean to us,” you say. “Yes,” says Paul: “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.” We were really that bad? Why, yes, we were. But something happened to us: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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 whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Yes, we were all that, but God saved us by His grace; there was frankly no other way for us to be saved. So we cannot look too harshly upon them—those of the world who hate us, for we used to be and would still be in the same position as they—hating and being hated. And what we have that makes us different from them—our salvation—we have through the work of Christ alone. We’ve no reason to boast at all, and if anyone will judge, we leave that to God.
And now being justified by His grace, we are heirs according to the hope of eternal life. We’ve gained everything and lost nothing. We are now free to love them, even though they persecute us in return. We look in their faces and wince when we see ourselves in them; we know the pain they feel inside, the wretched slavery to one’s passions, the emptiness of chasing sundry vanities. So we do them good, because Christ has done us good, and we hope will do them good as well. There is pity mixed in, but it is a good pity; for by it we hope that we may be used of the Lord to bring them to the same regenerating power and rebirth of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we were once so foolish. Let us never forget that.