Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, butaccording to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Paul urges gentleness for the believers in these churches. He does not want the Christians to be quarrelsome but rather courteous to others. By the early churches example of such humble love and service, many were impressed with the new movement of Christians.
It didn’t mean they were pushovers. Just before this section Paul exhorts them to be bold in the truth, not letting anyone disregard them. They are to teach and rebuke with authority.
In today’s church, especially as it acts more publicly, do we find such a balance? Is it courteous and nice to the extent that we disregard ourselves and our own teachings, not wanting to offend anyone? Or are we so bold about the truth that we lose all humility and kindness?
Paul wants them to be both, and the humility I think is key. He reminds Titus, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” How can we treat those who do not know Jesus Christ and his gospel when we are no better ourselves, save for the mercy of God? We should treat others well in hopes of impressing the love of Christ upon them, rather than condemn them as though we were in a position to be the judge ourselves. We all need the mercy of God, and that should be central to the message we carry to others, and to each other in the church.