“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14 ESV).
Twice a year I was particularly well behaved, in the days leading up to my birthday and Christmas. I had a hope for certain gifts; and as children do, I thought that my behavior would have an impact on whether or not I received said gifts. This attitude, that behavior led to blessings, carried on well into my adult years. I felt as though I had to earn the favor of those important to me.
As the days drew closer to those events, I built up a hope that I would indeed receive the gifts I wanted. I think most of the time I got what I desired, but I’m sure that it probably didn’t always happen. I’m also confident that my behavior had little to do with the outcome. As a parent, I’ve learned that we want our children to have good things.
Sometimes, I received gifts that inspired and required greater responsibility, like a BB gun. While I may have received these gifts as a result of being on my best behavior, I learned that some gifts come with an expectation of certain behaviors.
Yesterday I wrote about presents, and how all good and perfect gifts come from God. When I read our text from Titus I was reminded of this. Paul, speaking of Jesus, said that “the grace of God has appeared.” This grace, or gift, made it possible for all people to receive salvation and forgiveness of sins. Paul goes on to say that this salvation admits us to the school of discipleship, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” He said that it was God’s intent to “redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
I’ve said it before, and I will not cease saying it, we do not obtain salvation by earning it; it is a gift. But in the same manner that some gifts make us want to be better versions of ourselves, the gift of Jesus, and the salvation that came from that gift should provide motivation toward holiness.
Paul instructs Titus that the reason we work to be holy is “our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”, that glorious day of His return. In much the same manner as we clean house, prepare special meals and deserts, and perhaps dress nicely when we have house guests coming, we look out the window in expectation of seeing our guests, we should clean our spiritual houses in preparation for the appearing of Jesus. We purify ourselves not to obtain the gift, but because we have received the gift; and we carry an expectation of the completion of that gift of grace.
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