Concerned that your congregation isn’t mindful enough to do things that help people? Paul gave Titus The Formula for motivating Christians to good works: “Speak these things“.
What are these things?
First, here’s the formula in Titus 3:8 (NASB):
“This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”
And the ESV is even more clear:
“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
So the answer is to insist on these things – but what are these things that are supposed to be so excellent and profitable for people? What are the things that leaders in the church should insist on, so that the congregation will be motivated to good works?
In the preceding four verses, we find these things.
“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.”
For comparison, here is the New Living Translation:
But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”
So, in short, if we want the congregation to do good works, then let’s tell them what God has done for them – freely done for them in Christ. Let’s get them to know that and to believe that and to depend on that.
But first, dear Christian teacher, do you notice the irony? To get Christians motivated for good works, you need to teach them about how God saved them according to his mercy and not based on good works.
Let’s preach the Good News! If it doesn’t sound “good“, it may not be the gospel!