October 21, 2009

Adoring the Gospel 
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor 

"… showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior." -- Titus 2:10, ESV

Which part of a diamond ring is more valuable: the diamond or the setting?

The diamond determines the price of the ring, but without a good setting, the stone won't look too special. A good setting props up the stone in such a way that it catches the light better, giving it that exquisite sparkle. The setting can't really add value to an intrinsically valuable gem, but it can determine whether that gem catches your eye or not.

As my pastor talked about "adoring the Gospel" recently, I found a new way of relating grace and works. We're saved by grace alone, and we can't add anything to the Gospel. At the same time, our Christian walk does what a good setting does for a gem - it displays the real beauty more fully. As Paul encouraged Titus and the church at Crete, how we live "adorns" the truth of Scripture. He packs a lot into Titus 2, but here are just a few examples of what "adorning" the Gospel looks like.

Be sound in love and steadfastness. We have the ultimate model of steadfast love in Christ, in the God who kept pursuing us through all our sin. What kind of love are we offering to those around us? Is it love that puts others ahead of ourselves, whether they are family or that certain unlovable someone? This kind of love impacts relationships closest to us, and how we serve those that we barely know.

Practice sound doctrine. "It is the normal state of the human heart to try to build its identity around something besides God," Soren Kierkegaard said. Similarly, we start to make God in our image, with our convictions (or lack thereof), leaving out the full biblical picture of who he is. Unless we're constantly studying the Word for ourselves, and sitting under solid teaching, our image of God warps to fit our whims. What does that do to our understanding of the Gospel?

Cultivate self-control. Titus mentions two examples in this area: excessive drinking and unbridled tongues. That's just the start of the list. Being self-controlled goes beyond the basic notion that "we probably don't gotta have what we think we gotta have." Keeping our desires in check and not letting them have free reign opens up a whole new realm. It gives us freedom to serve Christ, because those other things don't have so much of a hold over us.

Model good works. Again, we find the ultimate model in our Savior, who spent his time with sick, the needy, and the destitute. As others have written, we don't need a ministry degree to have a ministry. What needs has God pointed out to you? What household could use that hospitality? What child needs that mentor? What family needs that anonymous Christmas donation? We know that God has gifted each of us in different ways. Let's not waste the talents the Master has given us.

Speak in a way that "cannot be condemned." That's a high standard! As James so aptly points out, a small spark can set a whole forest ablaze. How are we guarding our tongues? Paul exhorted the Ephesian church to speak "only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29) Are we encouraging those around us, or breathing negativity into their space? Most importantly, are we ready to proclaim with our mouths that Jesus is Lord?

We can't add anything to the Gospel, but we can choose how we display it. Are you adorning the Gospel in a way that is attractive to others?

Further Reading

Philippians 2:14-15
Christian Cosmetology