The world is watching and waiting. Watching the way in which those of us who are followers of Christ behave and waiting for the first indication that the way we behave does not line up with what we preach. Those who do not share our beliefs are looking to see if we “practice what we preach.” They are looking to see if the ideals and the values we say that we have are reflected in the way in which we live. At the first sign that our behavior does not agree with the doctrine that we teach, the world is quick to pounce and look at us as hypocrites.
This is nothing new. In Titus 2:1, the apostle Paul wrote, “But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching.” In other words, the behavior of a believer must be consistent with sound doctrine. In the verses that follow in Titus, chapter 2, Paul goes on to list behaviors that are consistent with sound doctrine, first addressing the behaviors of older men, then older women. He moves on to younger women, younger men, and, finally, slaves. He mentions avoiding slander, excessive drinking, and stealing. He points to behaviors such as being temperate, dignified, sound in the faith, and loving our children. But there is one behavior that Paul mentions several times, self-control. We must all live lives that are self-controlled. (Titus 2:2-10)
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It is a character trait that should mark the lives of all believers. As we wait for the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are called to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. We are called to reject godless ways. But this is not something that comes easily to us. It requires the grace of God, the grace that brings salvation. Jesus gave Himself for us so that we can be freed from sin and from the lawlessness that comes as a result of our sinful nature. He gave Himself so that, when we accept Him as Lord and Savior and follow His ways, we can be a people who are purified, a people who truly belong to Him, a people who are eager to do good. (Titus 2:11-14)
We must seek to live lives that line up with the doctrine that we believe and teach, lives that are rooted in self-control. And that means relying on the grace of God and the help of His Holy Spirit.
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from The NET Bible® Copyright © 2005 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. www.bible.org All rights reserved.