what is appropriate

Read Titus 2:1-10.

“You … must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.” (vs.1)

I assure you that it is not the sound of an axe you hear being ground in the background, but simply the rattle and clatter of a few of my marbles upstairs. For you see what caught my eye upon reading this text this time was the word “appropriate” and the phrase “sound doctrine.”

Now at times through the years in my preaching I’ve been taken aside by someone and they’ve said something like this: “When am I going to hear a good, old fashioned sermon on ______.” Fill in the blank with the “doctrinal” teaching of your choice so long as it is one for which Churches of Christ are best known for and most other Christian groups are not). Looking back, I cannot recall a time when this has happened that it did not come on the heels of a sermon that I had just preached that I felt like the congregation especially needed to hear, particularly in terms of either getting along with each other or the living out of basic Christian values in our personal walk.

All of that strikes me as a bit funny right now for here is a passage where one Christian (the apostle Paul) takes, as it were, a preacher aside and says, in effect, “I want to hear some healthy teaching come out of you and here is what I’m talking about, ____.” The humor to me in that is that in all that follows there is mention only of matters pertaining to how Christians should live their daily lives and get along with each other.

While churches may on occasion need a “doctrinal” sermon on “distinctive” matters of faith, the apostle Paul, when thinking of the sort of lessons of “sound doctrine” that churches need to hear thought of sermons dealing with things such as living a life that generates respect, developing self-control, learning to speak in ways healthy to the development of relationships, the keeping and strengthening of marriage vows, to continue on with perseverance in faith, etc.

Three questions rattle around in my mind with the consideration of these things.

  • How can we consider ourselves “sound in the faith” if we major in “doctrinal” studies and give such little respect to instruction on the matters which occupy the vast majority of our life, everyday Christian living?
  • Could it be that Satan prompts us to divert our attention from what we truly need to hear, and is being declared, and therefore tempts us to stifle that message by attempting to change the subject?
  • Are we interested in striving to live a daily life that is distinctively Christian or just merely interested in being different from others churches?

Food for thought.

Heavenly Father, ever guide me to the healthy food of your word that needs to be served up at every given time for the good of all your people and always steer me clear of the devil and his wiles. Amen.