Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Are You A Titus?

Recently, I was reading through 2 Corinthians and wondered what it was about Titus that Paul could say, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia” (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). Why is it that Paul had no peace since he couldn’t find Titus? What was it about Titus?

Paul had sent Titus to Corinth to find out how the assembly there responded to his first letter to them and Paul was waiting Titus’s report. His intense concern for the Corinthian Christians raise troubling questions in his mind and this could have been the cause of his restlessness. Notice in 2 Corinthians 7:5, Paul describes his restless as being “…troubled on every side. Outside there were conflicts. Inside were fears.” In chapter 2:13 he said, “I had no rest in my spirit,” in chapter 7:5 he said, “..our bodies had no rest.” Paul was spiritually drained. In 2 Corinthian 11:28 he mentions that the daily cares for all the assemblies was upon him. The apostle Paul seems to have been depressed, but he did not quit. He was “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing” (4:8). He was discouraged but not defeated, and still held on to hope for a good report when he met up with Titus. 

But perhaps there is more to it than that. Perhaps it is much more personal than that. This is actually the first time Titus is mentioned by name in the New Testament. Paul calls him “my true child” in Titus 1:4. In 2 Corinthians 2:13 he calls him “my brother.” His name means “nurse” or “a rearer,” one who helps care for others. In 2 Corinthians 7:5-6 we see how Paul felt when Titus arrived, “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.” The coming of Titus brought joy to Paul, not only because of the report he brought, but also because of who and what Titus was! He was one who lived up to his name and allowed the God of all comfort to use him as a channel for HIS comfort to flow through!

Let’s think for a moment about this idea of being a Titus, being one who comforts others. A simple definition of being a comforter is “to go through the tough times together.” We are instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to “comfort each other and edify one another.” So let’s look at it a little closer. The word comfort is parakaleo in the Greek. It means “to call to one's side, call for, summon” It could be either "an exhortation, or consolation, encourage or comfort.” Paul uses this word 29 times in 2 Corinthians, 11 times as a noun and 18 times as verb. The picture is one where someone walks alongside of another providing comfort, even exhortation. What are some Sources of Comfort or where does this comfort come from?

1. Each member of the Godhead is a source of comfort
a. The God of all comfort - 2Co 1:3; Ro 15:5
b. The Lord Jesus Christ - 2Th 2:16-17
c. The Holy Spirit - Ac 9:31

2. The Word of God is a source of comfort
a. Such as the Old Testament writings - Ro 15:4
b. As well as New Testament promises - 1Th 4:18

3. Our brethren are to be a source of comfort - 1Th 4:18; 5:11
a. As Paul expected Tychicus to do for both the Ephesians and the Colossians - Ep 6:21-22; Col 4:7-8
b. As others had done for Paul - Col 4:10-11

We are blessed to have so many different sources of comfort available to us!

The question comes then how do we receive this comfort that God intends for us to enjoy? First we must be in a right relationship with the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Then we will experience His comfort and that will flow through us into the lives of others. If our focus is on ourselves or on our own circumstance we will miss out and those around us will miss out. God intends for us to receive comfort from two angles: Horizontally, through our relationship with Him and vertically, through our relationship with one another in local assembly!

The Lord is looking for Titus’ today? Those whom He can use to comfort the downcast, will you be one?

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