This Christmas text from Titus reminds us of the generosity of God and the freedom of God to bring salvation to a world that is hurting. How have you been transformed by the generosity of God? How might our generosity help transform our world?
Scripture: Titus 3:4-7
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.Read More
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Additional Background Information
In the Bible Background Video, I suggested that you take time to read verse three when preparing this session. I want to re-emphasize that here. Verse four begins with the word, “but”. Whenever a sentence or phrase begins with but, it means that there was some thing that came before. In today’s case, what came before matters a great deal.
To paraphrase, in verse 3 Paul is writing to Titus and says, ‘We were lost in our and selfishness and brokenness.’ This in verse 4, ‘BUT the love and grace and generosity of God changed all of that.’
This session falls on Christmas Day, but there may be ways this text feels like it needs to be studied during a revival or maybe during lent. However, it may be more appropriate at this time of year than first meets the eye. You see, this text is all about the generosity of God and how that love and generosity has the power to transform even the most selfish of us all. And what was a more generous act by God, than coming to earth as a flesh and blood baby? God chose to humble God’s self so that we all could see in a way we can understand what it means to live in the light and love of God.
During this Christmas season, I hope you have wonderful and meaningful time with your families, and I hope you are reminded again of the transforming love of God who came to earth as a baby over 2000 years ago.
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Nikki’s Video Script
Merry Christmas! We have journeyed through the season of Advent together and here we are, having arrived at the time for which we have been waiting and preparing. I hope you have had a wonderful time with your family, celebrating the gift of Christ to us.
Our session today helps us celebrate that very thing. Today we are in the little book of Titus 3:4-7. These are the verses that the lectionary has for us to read on this day, but I think it helps to back up and begin with verse 3. Take a look at it if you haven’t already. It’s always a good idea to read the verses surrounding a specified passage to see if they give us any clue about the actual text we are working with.
The book of Titus is reportedly written by Paul, though many believe it to be pseudonymous because it was likely written long after Paul had died. We have talked before about how writing in someone’s name in these early centuries was considered to be a compliment and not at all out of the ordinary. Either way, the book is written to Titus as the author is traveling and it covers topics about the Christian community and leadership in the early church. Today’s text is focused on articulating for us the salvation that God gives to us freely and generously.
If you back up to verse three, you hear the author remind his audience of a time when they were lost in their own sin and self absorption. Then in verse 4 he talks about how that is changed in the lives of humans. This turning point has been talked about from two different point of views in the Christian tradition. One way this turn around is talked about is when someone repents and believes. The focus is on the conversion of the human. In today’s passage, we have the other way this turning point is described — and that is, that salvation comes from God, is freely given by God, and God alone. This particular way of talking about this turning point places to the focus on the generosity of God and the freedom of God to bring salvation to a world that is hurting in any way God sees fit.
The passage talks about God’s goodness, mercy, and loving kindness. These are descriptor for God through out scripture. And as we read this text at Christmas time, we are reminder that, God is there, bringing salvation to a weary world — not because of ANYTHING we have done, but because of everything God is. In God’s generosity, we received the gift of God in human flesh, and that has made all the difference.
The challenge for us as Christians to day is to back up, read that 3rd verse, and remember that there are still days we struggle with what it say: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another.” But that God, in generosity and humility, gave up everything to be among us, and to show us how to live with generosity, humility, and love.
So as we are giving and receiving gifts in this season, may we also be mindful of the gift of God so that we may live with generosity, humility, and kindness.