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Titus 3:12-15

Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. (verse 14)


“Doing what is good.” Paul’s wording literally contains the phrase “good works” – these are the very things he is eager that we devote ourselves to doing.

“Good works.”

I grew up in a church tradition that didn’t focus on this phrase at all. Instead, we stressed (rightly, wonderfully) another aspect of Paul’s teaching, namely the liberating gospel truth that we are saved by grace through faith. Pure and simple. Truly glorious!

Eager to make clear that this salvation is always, purely a gift from God, Paul accentuated this truth by adding an additional phrase: salvation is “not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9).

“Not by works.”

Are “good works,” then, a bad thing? Not at all. Certainly, they can’t save us. “Good works” could never earn us our own salvation. We’re never to place faith in them, but rather only in Christ alone, receiving salvation by grace through faith from his nail-pierced hands.

But having received that salvation, we discover that we are God’s handiwork and have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). We are saved by grace, through faith, to do good works. That’s God’s plan.

Which is why Paul, in the closing verses of his letter, says to Titus so strongly, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to good works.”

Interestingly, Paul has emphasized this concept again and again throughout this short letter. Follow the trail with me from the very beginning (I’ll change the English text slightly to more clearly reflect Paul’s original wording):

(1) “Good works” are an expected sign of true belief in Christ. On the other hand, those who are “corrupted and do not believe” end up denying God by their very actions – they are “unfit for doing any good work” (Titus 1:16).

(2) Paul urges Titus to be an encouragement to young followers of Jesus, putting his finger on this very thing: he is to be “an example by doing good works” (Titus 2:7).

(3) Jesus redeemed us to himself (as his very own people) for this express purpose: that we might be “eager to do good works”(Titus 2:14).

(4) Titus is to remind believers to be “ready to do good works”(Titus 3:1), defined as being subject to authorities, being obedient, slandering no one, and being peaceable, considerate, and gentle toward everyone. (It’s an interesting list, with several things that might catch many of us up short!)

(5) This is to be our passionate commitment: “Those who have trusted in God (are to be) careful to devote themselves to good works” (Titus 3:8).

Paul then ends with this very same phrase: “Our people must learn to devote themselves to good works.” Clearly this is central to being a follower of Jesus. We’re to keep it constantly – day by day – in our line of sights, engaging with it passionately.

We are saved by grace through faith. We have been created for good works. Our Father wants us to walk in them. So, “find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). Step into these good works. Engage them, gladly. All for the glory of God.


Lord Jesus, you have redeemed me for this very purpose – that I would be eager to do good works. So, Lord, open my eyes to see. Strengthen my will to choose. Fill me with your Spirit, moment by moment, that I might step forward into all the good you have laid out before me. I am eager to do it all. For your glory.


Reflect: What “good works” has the Lord already placed before you this day? What steps do you need to take? How can you be increasingly attentive to whatever else he may have in mind?


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