…to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. —Titus 3:2–5 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul writes this book to one of his proteges, Titus. For many years, while Paul was sharing the gospel, Titus was following Paul, learning from him as he so vigorously lived out the Christian message. When Paul came to an island called Crete, Paul left Titus there to preach the gospel and help lead the church.
In today’s passage, Paul tells Titus to remind his congregation to be kind and gentle to others—‘toward all people’. And that includes the difficult people, too—you know, the kinds of people we were before we knew Christ! As Paul says, “For we ourselves were once foolish.” And then, verse 4: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…!” Paul tells Titus that Jesus saved them, not because they were great people but because the Lord is a good and kind God. In other words, God Himself provides the example of kindness to others that we ought to show ‘all people’.
The good news of God’s kindness to sinners is both a reminder of who we were apart from Christ as well as the kinds of people we ought to be in Christ. Consider those ‘hard to love’ people in your life. Family members? Church members? Neighbors? Students? A boss or work colleague? It doesn’t matter who they are or what category they fall into. Take Paul’s words to heart: “show perfect courtesy to all people.” Love others because God first loved us.