On a Twitter account recently, someone posted the back cover of a book written to remind pastors of the dangers present in ministry. Three of the ministers who recommended the book are no longer in ministry. The advent of social media has made it easy to watch these happenings from a distance. As a pastor, I can tell you that falling away from the faith is not confined to celebrity pastors.
I’ve watched once faithful church members drift from church based on moral or ethical failings or just a pattern of lazy spirituality. These experiences can be disheartening. But let me draw a contrast.
The other day I had the privilege of sharing a meal with several older pastors. They reflected on their ministries and their ministry heroes. They are older ministers who remained faithful. We should all aspire to be older Christians.
Paul encourages the older men and women in Titus’ church to teach and train younger believers.
What is the difference between those who fall and those who are faithful? Paul writes, “and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech” (Titus 2:7-8). It seems to me that integrity in one’s teaching and conduct is what makes it possible to be faithful.
If you’re like me, you can already draw out inconsistencies between your life and your doctrine.
That’s why Paul grounds his command for integrity not in legalism, nor in our character, but in the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).
Paul is not demanding that we “do better.” He’s reminding us that we are not righteous, good and holy. But in Christ and in his gospel we’ve been made righteous, and we can be trained to be men and women of integrity.
Even when we fail, the gospel teaches us that God already knows our sin. We have grace so we must repent and return to Christ. Moreover, the grace that grounds our faith is also that grace that grows us in faithfulness and integrity.