I was recently evaluating how easy it is to develop a “hard spirit” in the process of standing for truth and opposing evil.
As I was examining my own heart along those lines, I was reminded of a familiar passage of Scripture, one of Paul’s admonitions to his spiritual son Titus. Paul began by admonishing Titus to take a firm stand for truth and morality —“these then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you” (Titus 2:15). On the issues of “ungodliness and worldly passions” and on living “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:1,2), Titus was to be unyielding. But how does one do just that without developing a hard, judgmental spirit, especially towards those who are living wayward and sinful lives?
I believe the key lies in the next few verses. Paul wanted Titus, along with all of us, to “be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men”! (Titus 3:2) How can this be possible as we stand firmly for the truth? Paul’s next statement tells us exactly how. We must never forget that, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures…”! (Titus 3:3)
What saves us from a hard spirit in the process of defending the truth is to remember the pit from which we ourselves were dug! For example, when I reflect on my own life, I can never despair of any man! I am moved with compassion towards everyone, when I remember my own shortcomings and failures. And for our goodness, our boasting can never be in our own goodness, but in the goodness of Him who graciously redeemed us by His love. Consequently, Paul’s very next statement was: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done but because of His mercy…” (Titus 3:4-5).
This passage, Titus 2:11–3:8, really has answered the quest of my heart—how to be saved from developing a “hard spirit” in the process of standing up for the truth and opposing evil! “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, therefore, You are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4). Amen!