Weekly Devotional: Titus 3:3-7
Summers often remind me of the neighborhood friends I had in my childhood. On unbearably hot days, we would gather in the cool of our basements, racing Hot Wheels, building things out of Lego bricks and playing board games. They were wonderful times when being out of school meant the most we had to worry about was convincing our parents we’d done our chores well enough to be set free for the day. Those were long days of fun and exploration, of figuring out what it meant to be a person and a friend.
As fun as the board games were, they were sometimes tense because one of our friends couldn’t resist trying to cheat. If the game involved dice, he would try to turn them to a favorable number when he thought no one was looking. If it involved armies, he would try to sneak a few extra troops onto the board when the rest of us were distracted. If it involved money, he would cleverly count wrong in his favor. We knew his tricks and would often catch him at it, chastising him in the animated manner of boys. He would grudgingly confess, make right his wrongdoing and we would go on with the game, satisfied that justice had been upheld.
What I could never figure out back then was why my friend kept trying to cheat. We could all see the costs of getting caught—public humiliation, being hated by your friends, facing consequences if parents found out, the risk of being excluded from future games…. We also instinctively knew the cost of not getting caught—winning dishonestly was just not satisfying; who could savor such a hollow victory?
But try he did, and at the time I just didn’t get it. In hindsight, I better understand the sociological and family conditions that led to his compulsion. But beneath all that, there was an even more straightforward answer—my friend was a slave to sin. I only recognized this when, just a few years later, I discovered that I, too, was a slave to sin. Yes, his unique conditions made his sin manifest more obviously than the subtle lies and acts of pride I was trying to pull off, but our hearts had always been the same. We both were bound to do wrong, even knowing we were bound to get caught or that getting away with it made us feel empty instead of good.
Thank God for the gospel of Jesus Christ, which breaks the chains of sin! Instead of being bound to the shame and condemnation we deserve, we have been forgiven by a merciful Father, set free and washed clean through faith in Christ and repentance:
“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, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” —Titus 3:3-7
Just a few years after I realized I was a slave to sin and needed the free gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ to set me free, my cheating friend discovered the same thing. Today, the cheating friend of my childhood is my brother in the Lord. Praise God for the mercy he pours out on us! And it makes me wonder: What slave to sin in my life today will be my brother or sister in the Lord tomorrow?
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Romans 6:22-23