I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel …
In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honour to Christ. (verses 16-18, 22-23)
Back in Psalm 133, David says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Paul would heartily agree. Indeed, I think he’d say the goodness is doubled and re-doubled when that unity spills over into eager, working engagement in the purposes of the Gospel together. He saw that engagement and rejoiced.
Titus was one of those who enthusiastically plunged into ministry alongside Paul. He hadn’t come from a Jewish background, being Greek, but was soundly converted to faith in Christ through Paul’s own ministry – indeed Paul called him “my true son in our common faith”(Titus 1:4). Titus was an active co-worker with his mentor, accompanying him to Jerusalem amid the debate over circumcision (not having been circumcised himself, as a non-Jew), and subsequently acting as Paul’s representative in a number of churches (doing this in at least Corinth and Crete, and perhaps elsewhere).
There was a unity of heart between these two men when it came to ministry. Paul saw this for what it was, the very work of God himself, identifying the Lord as the one who had “put into the heart of Titus the same concern” which Paul himself felt for the Corinthians. He didn’t have to twist Titus’ arm – Titus fully engaged with his own enthusiasm and initiative, without any prodding. What joy for the Apostle. How good and pleasant!
But there were others, too. Paul speaks of two “brothers,” without giving their names, who are actively involved in carrying the ministry forward with the Corinthians. One is well-known among the churches “for his service to the gospel.” The other “has often proved … in many ways that he is zealous.” Together, they are said to be “an honour to Christ.”
This is just a small sampling of the united band of co-workers with whom Paul laboured. Indeed, this letter itself is sent from Paul together with Timothy, one of his closest associates, a man he likewise called “my true son” (1 Timothy 1:2).
Paul was a powerful hero of faith, a champion of the gospel. But he wasn’t a lone ranger. He rejoiced in those the Lord had placed alongside him. He knew his own gifts, but valued theirs, knowing the Lord was working through all of them together, furthering his purposes. He had eyes to see what God was doing.
So, take a look at yourself. The Lord has equipped you, also, for ministry in his Kingdom. Have you engaged with enthusiasm, initiative, and zeal, serving the gospel and honouring the Lord, as did these co-workers of Paul?
Take a look around. Who has the Lord placed alongside you? Whether strong or weak, can you see their gifts and discern how the Lord is using them? Do you value those the Lord has given?
“I thank God,” Paul says. May it be so with us.
Lord, thank you for gifting us, each one, in the ministry of the gospel. Thank you for those you have given alongside. Thank you for your purposes. Work among us all to your glory. Amen.
Reflect: How is the Lord using you to further the gospel? What steps can you take to further engage? Who has he placed alongside you? How can you better express to them their value in the Lord?