Our recent Journeys of Paul tour was full of highlights for me. But perhaps the most impactful locations we visited were on the island of Crete, where Paul left Titus to “set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1:5).
Shortly before our tour, I finished a several-month preaching series through the book of 2 Timothy. In the final chapter of that book, Paul again mentions Titus (4:10). It got me thinking about the ways in which Titus encouraged Paul. Right up to Paul’s final days and as he knew his martyrdom was near, he was mindful of Titus and refreshed by remembering him.
What about Titus made him that kind of encouragement to Paul? I think we find the answers in other mentions of Titus throughout Paul’s epistles. And through Titus’ example, we learn how we, too, can be a lifelong encourager of others.
Notice these three characteristics of consistent encouragers:
1. They Comfort Others
Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.—2 Corinthians 7:6–7
There are those whose very presence brings agitation to everyone around them. They are not at peace themselves and easily stir up controversy or division. Titus was not such a person.
After Paul wrote and sent 1 Corinthians to confront some of the errors in doctrine and practice of the church at Corinth, his burden for the Corinthian believers only grew. But when Titus came back from Corinth and shared with Paul how God was working in that church, it put Paul’s mind at ease.
Titus had the attribute of being a comforter of others and the ability to lift their spirits.
Question for Encouragers: When I interact with others, are they left comforted or agitated?
2. They Are Problem Solvers
But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.—2 Corinthians 8:16–17
Titus not only did what Paul had asked, but he went beyond what Paul had asked, traveling personally to Corinth to help solve the problems in that church.
Titus seems to have understood what many today miss—that there are some situations best resolved face-to-face. So rather than simply being part of a relay chain in Paul’s letter, Titus put forth the initiative to actually go to Corinth, roll up his sleeves, and help.
Sometimes we have the tendency to think that the problems around us are too great for us to make any difference. The truth is that a Spirit-filled Christian with the Word of God can help others one person at a time.
Question for Encouragers: Do I tend to create problems or take the initiative to solve them?
3. They Bring Order Where There Is Confusion
To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:—Titus 1:4–5
This aspect of Titus’ life brings us back to Crete. As we were there just days ago, I could picture the pockets of believers (perhaps initially reached with the gospel through some who had been present at Pentecost and brought the truth of Christ back to Crete) scattered throughout the island with little spiritual instruction or training. It was into this confusing situation that Titus came and brought order and clarity. Through preaching, training, discipling, and no doubt confronting error, Titus helped to firmly establish the churches on the island of Crete in truth and commitment to Christ.
In fact, Titus’ spiritual legacy was so strong, that nearly two centuries later, there were Cretan Christians still committed to Christ to the point of martyrdom. (I recently posted a video from the village of Agioi Deka where ten were martyred in 250 A.D.)
Question for Encouragers: Am I someone who causes confusion or brings peace? Do I stir others up or settle them down?
Sometimes we think of encouragement only as a passing comment or general spirit of helpfulness. But those who consistently encourage others recognize that this attribute runs much deeper. Becoming an encourager involves bringing joy and comfort to those around us, using God’s Word to help solve problems, and bringing order and peace where there is confusion.
Are you an encourager?