For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you…
In verse 5, the apostle Paul turns from greeting Titus and begins to instruct him. Titus is a pastor on the island of Crete. What is he supposed to do? How does he fulfill his ministry?
Titus’s first job is to “set in order what remains.” So is yours.
The church is God’s field and God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9). Fields and buildings need constant work, constant tending. They need to be ordered, and the work is never done. Pastors are God’s workers, breaking up hard soil, planting, watering, weeding. They are God’s construction workers, laying foundations, putting up studs, finishing trim.
The work is never done.
Those whom God has called to preach His word He has appointed as masons in the building of His temple. In the same way He desires us to be busy, each in his own sphere… Even when God graciously allows His word to be purely preached to us, and even when some tolerable order prevails among us, let us remind ourselves that all is not perfect and that the work is never truly done. This should not dampen our spirits but should rather prod and prompt us to observe Paul’s injunction and to follow his advice.
If you relax in your work, the weeds start to grow and the paint starts to peel.
But the first things that needs to be set in order is ourselves.
Let each of us look to himself and carefully consider what it is he lacks. We will find that we are still subject to many faults, so that we completely fail to do our duty. Then too, we are so lazy that we do not do a hundredth part of what we should. We ought to turn our thoughts to the life of heaven and, as we pass through this world, to subdue all our evil desires so that they no longer hold us back. Instead, we can hardly even bring ourselves to think, however fleetingly, of heaven. In short, when it comes to looking to God and seeking the life to which He calls us, we are colder than ice. Meanwhile, we are carried away by a surge of feeling and desire. So when we see that we lack so many things in this world, let us be all the readier to correct ourselves, and having done that, to consider the world around us, where we see blasphemy on the one hand and on the other immorality, unruliness, indulgence and other scandals and infections. These things, I say, ought to wake us up, so that we are not so arrogant as to think ourselves so perfect that no further work is required.
Pastor, what do you lack? Where are you lazy? Where do you fail to do your duty?
Calvin says “we.” “We are so lazy that we do not do a hundredth part of what we should.” Anyone who knows Calvin’s constant labor as a pastor should blush to hear him lump himself with the lazy. If Calvin is lazy, then what am I?
If we fail to put ourselves in order, we will not put anything else in order, either. If we fail to save ourselves, how can we save those who hear us?
Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:15–16).