Unpleasant tasks are often made easier by the knowledge of a coming reward. For instance, visions of a diaper-free life can motivate a young mother in the midst of the difficult and often discouraging days of potty training. Families who are working diligently to get out of debt can make all kinds of painful sacrifices as they envision a future free of payments and financial stress. Work hours at the office seem to go by quicker as the diligent employee remembers the exciting vacation he has planned and worked so hard for.
Yes, anticipation can be a great motivator; even the anticipation of something as simple as a morning cup of coffee. Every night I set my coffee machine in preparation for the coming morning. As my alarm clock goes off–or as is more often the case, when one of my children wakes me up–the knowledge that a warm cup of coffee with hazelnut flavored cream awaits me, makes the unpleasant thought of leaving my soft and cozy bed drastically more appealing. The anticipation of a sweet mug of caffeine motivates me to tear the blankets away and begin my day.
Yet, none of the incentives I have written of thus far hold a candle to the reward we have coming to us as the redeemed bride of Christ. The anticipation of our heavenly bridegroom’s return is the ultimate motivator–far superior to a diaper-free existence, a debt-free life, a restful vacation or a cup of coffee!
As we’ve contemplated the glorious gospel message found in Titus 2, we’ve seen that [intlink id="12441" type="post"]our salvation from the penalty and reign of sin frees us to obey the Lord and seek after righteousness[/intlink]. We’ve also marveled at how [intlink id="12545" type="post"]it is the Lord himself who then stoops down to train our souls in the ways of righteousness[/intlink]. Today, we are going to take a moment to focus on the incredible future we anticipate and how it motivates us in our pursuit of righteousness. Let’s read Titus 2:11-14 once more and pay close attention to verses 13 and 14:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14, ESV)
Here in verses 13 and 14 we see that not only are we free to pursue holiness, not only is our God working within us to produce holiness, but we also have the incomprehensible joy of knowing that one day Christ will return in magnificent splendor to complete the work he has begun in us. What joy there is for those who are saved by the blood of Christ!
Do you remember what it is that God is presently training our souls to do? Our text says he is training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. These are lofty goals aren’t they? They easily encompass the commands we find earlier in the chapter–those virtues that we are called to pursue as Titus 2 Women. He is diligently training us to be women who bring glory and honor to the word of God (Titus 2:5) through the way we love our husbands and children, and are self-controlled, workers at home, kind, pure and submissive to our husbands.
As the Lord does this work within us, it is not without effort on our part. We must be trained by the Holy Spirit to obey God and resist sin precisely because it is a struggle. There is a war to be fought against our old, sinful flesh each and every day as we seek to put it to death and simultaneously cling to the new life we have in Christ Jesus. As D.A. Carson so wonderfully put it: “People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.”
The woman who has been and is currently being transformed by the gospel is a woman who is doing battle with her sin. This means that as we seek to serve our communities and families in the selfless and righteous ways that Titus 2 spells out for us, we will often find ourselves crying out in a similar manner as Paul:
…I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:21-24, ESV)
Though we want to love our husbands, it is easy to love ourselves more.
Though we seek to be pure in our thoughts and actions, we can quickly fall into impurity.
Though we try earnestly to practice self-control, we all too often find ourselves giving in to self-gratification instead.
Wretched women that we are! Who will deliver us from our bodies of death?
Yes, as we continually engage the enemy within our very flesh, we are tempted to become discouraged at the sheer amount of effort it takes and the seemingly tiny steps of progress being made. Though God has supplied freedom from sin and the grace to fight against it, we can still become tired from the battle and be tempted to lose hope. It is hard and at times very unpleasant.
But sisters, there is a day to look forward to. There is a day when all our striving will be rewarded. When we see our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, in all his glory our burden will be lifted and we will forever rest from the toil of battle. For as 1 John 3:2 says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” Christ’s saving work will not be left unfinished. He has promised to completely cleanse us from the stain of sin and “to purify for himself a people for his own possession.”
The anticipation of this coming day of his appearing motivates us to keep fighting with all our might and to daily live in the grace he has supplied through his wondrous cross. He has saved us, is sanctifying us, and will one day present us completely and utterly holy for the praise of his great and glorious name. Come quickly Lord Jesus!
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9-10, ESV)