What will be your legacy? A legacy is what we leave behind for the benefit of others. There are many legacies in the Bible. Abraham has left a legacy of faith for the entire community of believers throughout history. King Solomon has left a legacy of wisdom in the OT books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. King David has left a legacy of faithfulness to the Lord. The woman who poured perfume on Jesus was promised a legacy when Jesus said of her, “Wherever the Gospel is preached in the world what she has done will be told”. A legacy of sacrificial worship.
What will be our legacy? What is going to continue on because of us after we’re gone? What about us do we want to continue on after we’ve gone on? How do we want our life to keep making a difference after our time is over? How do I want my life to live on in the lives of others? How do I want my life to outlive me in the people I leave behind?
Similarly, I want us to look at our legacy as a church. A good church leaves a good legacy. The last verses in Titus reveal key elements for a local church’s legacy.
A Legacy of Solid Church Leadership (12)
First there is the legacy of solid church leadership. Notice verse 12, “…” Paul was going to winter in Nicopolis, which was in the region of Macedonia. He hoped to have Titus join him there before winter, which means Titus probably had less than a year to do his job at Crete.
But even if Cretian believers had a long way to go it wasn’t for lack of solid leadership. Starting with Paul Crete had great leadership. After Paul they had Titus. Then after Titus they were going to have one of two men: either Tychicus or Artemis. With this string of A-Team leaders the churches there had every advantage available to them to prosper in their faith.
We know absolutely nothing about Artemis except that he is mentioned here. But frankly, that says a lot. Paul obviously considered him a worthy replacement to Titus. And Artemis must have instilled as much confidence in Paul as Tychicus, since Paul was still figuring out which of the two would go replace Titus. That says a lot about him as well – if you know Tychicus.
Tychicus was part of Paul’s missionary A-team. Often he was sent as Paul’s Apostolic representative to local churches. Paul said in Colossians 4:7-8, “Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.”
Application #1: Solid Church leadership prevents spiritual atrophy in the Body of Christ. Remember false teachers in chapter 1:11 were “ruining whole households with their teachings…” Second Timothy Cretan believers were getting misled, exploited, and confused because they were exposed to the wrong teachers. Lots of people today want drive through preaching when what they need are well-balanced, sit down around the table home-cooked sermons. They need all the nutrition of God’s Word permeating their lives.
Illustration: Infuser Water Bottle. Annie has a cool water bottle that has an “infuser”. She can take healthy foods like fruit and put it inside that infuser and then fill the bottle up with water. Whatever she puts in there gets soaked by the water but the water gets both the flavor and nutrients from the fruits. Solid Church leaders are like infusers with the fruit of God’s Word in them. As believers get soaked by their teaching they become enriched with the nutrients of God’s truth.
Application #2: No one is indispensable. Paul wasn’t absolutely necessary for the Cretian believers to succeed in their faith. Neither was Titus. Notice the string of leaders who came through. I love in Exodus 4 where God almost killed Moses because he didn’t circumcise his son but his wife saved him at the last moment by doing it herself. God already had plans to use Moses to lead Israel, but, He could change those plans, kill Moses, and use someone else of His choosing. No one is indispensable. There are many gifted men in the Body of Christ whom God uses for building believers up. The only One who is indispensable to our faith is God Himself. He is All-Sufficient.
A church’s legacy includes a commitment to solid church leadership.
A Legacy of Supporting Workers of the Gospel (v13)
Next we see a legacy involves continuous support of faithful Gospel workers. Notice verse 13, “….” Those who preach the word of God faithfully should be supported in every way possible. Sharing in their ministry means we get credit for their ministry along with them. How? By supporting them in their practical needs they are able to continue on with their work. This is a principle that characterized Paul’s ministry. He was supported by believers to keep travelling and preaching, and, he taught churches to do that.
Here Paul mentions two guys that any local church would jump at to help: Zenas and Apollos. Have you ever heard of these guys before? You’re going to like them.
Zenas was a guy we don’t know very well, except that he is a lawyer. He was either a Roman litigator or a Jew who was an expert in the Mosaic Law. Eithe way, he was probably a good teacher and a good debater. And that would be necessary if he was a travelling preacher with Apollos. Apollos was described as a powerful debater, and he was so loved by Christians in Corinth that Paul had to rebuke them for being divisive over their little “we love Apollos” clique. Zenas and Apollos were kindred spirits with Paul, who himself was formerly a lawyer as a Pharisee. Their ministry, like Paul’s, would be going into synagogues to preach Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, which meant a debate always followed. Turn with me to Acts 18:24-28
I notice a pattern on the island of Crete. It was a very difficult place to minister. Remember in Titus 1:12 when Paul said, “Even one of their own prophets has said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply so that they will be sound in the faith.” Leading the believers in Crete was not for the faint of heart or the feeble minded. That’s why Paul sent Titus – who is generally regarded by commentators as a tough man. Very few men had the Apostle Paul’s backbone. Apollos was a fierce adversary to Pharisees in public debate. Zenas, as a lawyer, we can safely assume ranked with all these men in spiritual grit.
Illustration: Predator Pit. A predator pit is a geographical area where animal predators are so prevalent that the prey population is reduced to the point that it cannot recover. Too many wolves in an area can kill so many deer that the deer can’t recover their numbers. The only hope for the prey population to rebound is if the predators are dealt with. Satan loves predator pits. He has used them throughout the Church’s history and time and time again successfully killed off the ministries of local churches. You see this in the book of Revelation. Jesus warned the 7 churches that they each had certain things to repent of. If they did not their lamp would be snuffed out – meaning they would cease to exist as churches.
Satan was active among those churches, setting up predator pits in those areas. Predators such as false teachers, false apostles were sent in and ravaged these churches until Jesus’ threats came true: none of these churches lasted long in history.
The success of faithful Gospel workers, both missionaries and solid local church pastors, will keep the predators under control and protect the Church. But the success of faithful Gospel workers depends on the support they receive from local churches. A local church needs to realize that it is investing in its own future, its own spiritual health, its own survival and vitality when it supports faithful Gospel workers. Titus teaches us that part of a church’s legacy is a commitment to support faithful Gospel workers.
A Legacy of Service to Each Other (v14)
Thirdly, leave a legacy of service to each other. Notice verse 14, “…” This letter is crammed tight with this theme of good works. Earlier, in verse 8 he said, “…”. Before that, in 2:14 he said, “…”
Why are good works important? Because they are an outward, visible expression of our love for each other.
Illustration: Warm Spots. Don’t you love the warm spot on the couch after someone gets up from it? It’s the best during the winter. And don’t you love it when you suffer through the cold leather to get the spot all nice and warm, then get up to go to the kitchen and come back only to find someone you’re married to sitting in your spot? The spot you worked hard to make warm? It’s your warmth! Now you can react one of two ways in that moment. You can either smile and out of sacrificial love sit down in the icy spot way down on the other end, or, you can tell her she’s not pregnant anymore and you would like her to move. It’s an opportunity to visibly show the warm love you have for the other person. So I asked her to show me love and move.
Good works also are the means by which we show love to each other. And build each other up. Remember there is a mutual dependency we have with each other as believers.
Illustration: I remember awhile back sitting at the table working at my computer while the kids were having lunch. Evan had a mouthful of PB&J sandwich when he asked me if I knew about the red rock crab (they love to watch kid science shows). I was busy typing and not really paying attention and said, “No, I have never heard of the red rock crab.”
So he chewed his bite and decided to inform me, “The red rock crab eats gunk off of the Marine Iguana and the Marine iguana protects the red rock crab from predators.”
Still not really paying attention I said, “Oh, is that so?”
He said, “Yeah, do you know what that’s called?”
“It’s called: Symbiosis.”
I looked up from my computer at him, interested that word just came out of his mouth. “What?”
He said, “Yeah, symbiosis is when two creatures help each other out and do something for the other that they can’t do for themselves.”
I looked at him for a moment. Then I said, “Yeah I knew that. Go outside and play.”
All believers in the Body of Christ have a symbiotic relationship with each other. We are all “new” creatures designed to help each other with the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us, to do for each other what we can’t do all by ourselves. Mutual dependency. We are designed for mutual dependency on each other. I need you to serve me and you need me to serve you, as expressions of our love for each other, and for our mutual edification. Let us leave a legacy of service to each other.
A Legacy of Sincere Affection for the Body of Christ (v15)
Lastly, we learn that a local church should leave a legacy of Sincere Affection for the Body of Christ. Notice verse 15, “…” Can you see the affection conveyed by believers from other churches? They may have been separated by various distances but they were all together in the Body of Christ.
I love 1 Peter 1:22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.”
Illustration: It’s a Jeep Thing. You’ve probably seen Jeeps on the road with the sticker in their windshield that says: It’s a jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand. It’s like, unless you have a Jeep, you don’t know what it’s like. Life is different with a Jeep. And only those who own them can understand each other.
The same is true for Christians: It’s a Christian thing, and you wouldn’t understand unless you are one. There is a special affection believers have for one another. By your love they will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). That love for each other comes from knowing you have Christ in common with each other. You know you’re loved by Christ, and, you know your brothers and sisters are loved by Him too. Knowing that makes you love them as well. If you don’t have the love of Christ you don’t love like Christ.
Illustration: Renting vs. Owning. It’s the difference between renting and owning. Typically people care more about their property if they own it than if they rent it. Perhaps there are people in church today who are more like renters. They don’t have the “pride” of ownership when it comes to their faith. Perhaps they “rent” but haven’t yet bought in. Maybe outwardly they practice Christianity, but inwardly they don’t possess the reality of it. They don’t know what it’s like to belong to the Body of Christ and that the Body of Christ belongs to them. They go through the motions and “live” there, but, they are renting and don’t yet own it. If you don’t have the love of Christ you won’t love like Him. You won’t love those people He loves: Christians. Let us leave a legacy of sincere affection for the Body of Christ.
Spurgeon said, “Carve your legacy not on marble, but, on hearts.” He could have been picking up on the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthian Church, “You yourselves are our letter…” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). What will our legacy be? Our as EFC will be determined by what the individuals of EFC leave behind. What will you leave? Leave a legacy of commitment to solid church leadership, faithful support of Gospel workers, service to one another, and sincere affection for believers. If we do that, EFC’s lamp will burn all the way til the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.