But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.”
– Titus 2:1-2
We are in the middle of a discussion on sound doctrine, and the first three pieces of advice were covered in my last post. Being sober, being grave, and being temperate mean that we are serious about bringing mercy and grace into another person’s life. It does not mean we can’t ever be light-hearted or make a well-placed joke or two that adds to our point. In fact, laughter is a help in getting the point across. But we must not get out of control with jokes, anecdotes, conspiracy theories, or anything that takes away from the gospel. Unfortunately, the church is going in all different directions, not just toward the cross anymore. These are serious times that demand serious answers. Being sober, grave, and temperate are ways to talk with sound doctrine to help us get through these difficult times. I have heard some call for an insurrection of our government for what they are doing now. I think the Romans were much worse in Jesus’ day, yet He never called for insurrection, but prayer and loyalty. Walk 2 miles, give him your cloak also, pray for your enemies. These are His commands. We must take on the humble attitude of sobriety, be grave in our conversation, and temperate in our attitude.
4. Sound in Faith. What exactly does that mean? Isn’t faith, faith? Isn’t it the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen? What does Paul mean when he says sound doctrine is sound in faith? I am not sure of the exact answer, but I know what it means to me. It means that we take the whole body of scripture as it applies to faith. I hear these name-it, claim-it preachers all the time. “Claim it – it’s yours. Claim your healing! Claim your prosperity! Claim your deliverance!” Never mind that I have asthma that is acting up, that my finances are shot and that I am steeped in debt. Claim it now! God owes it to you because His word says if you ask, you shall receive, and when two or three agree, He will do it, or if you have faith as a mustard seed, you can ask anything. He owes it to you now.
I think not. God does not owe me anything. Nothing. He has given me air in my lungs, hands to type this message, eyes to see the keyboard, ears to hear the phone ring if it does, and so much more day after day after day. He doesn’t owe me anything at all. If I ask, He will bring it about, but in His time, and that might not be the same as my time. And He might answer differently than what we think He will. The answer is not always what we think it is. Do you think Gideon wanted to fight the Midianites with only 300 men? Do you think Samson wanted to wait until he was blind to defeat the Philistines? Do you think Jonah wanted to be eaten by a big fish? God answers in mysterious ways, but His answer is always the right one, and His timing is always perfect. Be sound in your faith by trusting God to complete the work he started in you with each situation that comes into your life. Everything has a purpose if we let Him work it out.
5. Sound In Charity. We all know this word charity speaks of love. How to be sound in the doctrine of love is really simple. Just read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. This little portion of pure gold by Paul tells us more about the kind of love we should have than anything else in the whole Bible. The sound doctrine of love suffers long, is kind, does not envy, is not prideful, does not act unethically or immorally, doesn’t look out for itself before looking out for others, is not made angry easily, thinks no evil of anyone else, does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. If that is not enough, It bears all things that people may say or do because it believes all things will work out for the best, and it has high hopes that all will come out well so that it endures any hardship that might come. It never fails. Never fails.
I once asked someone how I could fulfill this definition of life, and he said that I could not in myself. It is only through Christ that I can come close to fulfilling this doctrine of love. This definition is the supreme height of love, and anything lower or lesser than this is not sound doctrine. Every day, I must weigh my decisions out based on these principles, because I am supposed to love my
neighbor as myself, and this is the kind of love I should have toward my neighbor and toward myself! This is being sound in love.
6. Sound in Patience. As I said in my last post, I love that Paul put this last, like the closing on a speech wraps up the thought. Sound doctrine must be drowned in patience. James tells us that when patience has its perfect work in us, we will be perfect and entire, wanting nothing! Patience perfects us through our trials, whether they be with other people with ourselves, with our government or our job or our children. But patience is one of our biggest stumbling blocks because we don’t want to wait on God. We want it when we think we need it. We want that person to change their ways to suit our timetable. We are an imperfect people, that’s for sure. Much of it is because we lack patience.
In the list of the fruit of the Spirit, we put a lot of stock in the first three things listed – love, joy, and peace. But have you noticed that patience (long-suffering) is fourth on the list and is probably one of the ones we least want to possess? That’s because we equate learning patience with trials, and we don’t want to go through trials. We don’t want to see others go through trials. We want them to find answers now. So we will pray that a miracle will happen or help them through a trial without seeking God about it. Sometimes those trials have to be gone through to build the faith and to perfect that person. Sound doctrine in patience helps us to see when we should help and when we should not. It helps us to wait on God to renew our strength so we can mount up with wings like eagles. This is being sound in patience.
This list of ways that we can speak sound doctrine is – well – sound doctrine. All of us should strive to maintain these traits in our own lies while speaking them to others. Don’t get carried away by the waves of deceit and lies that are swirling around you. Don’t take part in the dazzling array of end-time projections and doomsday reports for our country. Simply turn to God, and he will make all things right. He will make all things new. He will guide us through these rough and stormy times to a much brighter day ahead. Be sound in your doctrine, men!