22In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.
Titus played a significant role in Paul’s close and diverse team. We know that he was Greek and a Gentile (Galatians 2:3). He later settled in Crete and became the senior leader in the church there. But at this stage in his life he acted as messenger, postman and intermediary for Paul.
It isn’t just the words we say or write, but the tone in which they are delivered that makes so much difference. Maybe Titus was particularly sensitive in interpreting Paul, an intellectual Jew, to the earthy Gentile church in Corinth. Having delivered Paul’s ‘painful letter’ (see ch 7), Titus would deliver 2 Corinthians, a commission he eagerly accepted (v 17). He would probably read it aloud to the gathered church when he arrived, introducing his two companions who had been charged with overseeing the collection and ensuring that Paul cannot be accused of embezzling funds (v 20). Paul’s description of Titus as ‘my partner and fellow worker in your service’, and the distress he felt when separated from him (2:13), points to the high esteem in which he held him.
Sometimes, involving a ‘Titus’ – one who can relate to both parties – makes the restoration of a relationship easier.
Are you trying to sort out situations by yourself when God has provided someone to help or mediate? Or are you aware of a situation in which you could be a Titus?
Clearly Paul expects our pattern of giving to be carefully considered rather than poorly thought through. The collection for Jerusalem was to be as prudently administered as it was carefully planned. Here is a challenge for us: our Christian giving is too often impulsive, rather than regular and thoughtful. It is fine to give on the spur of the moment sometimes, but the Bible holds up for us a model of weekly, systematic giving to gospel work (1 Cor 16:2). How do our practices compare?
The snapshots we have of Paul’s companions give us pictures of what it means to be partners in the gospel. We see ‘enthusiasm’, a readiness to take ‘initiative’ (v 17) and godly zeal (v 22). Clearly, these are men of financial integrity, since they will be entrusted with a substantial sum. Here are ‘representatives’ who are truly an ‘honour to Christ’ (v 23). Sometimes people say, ‘It’s not what you do but who you are that counts’, but this is false. Of course, what we are is vital – the apostle is confident of the integrity and love of these men – but they are fellow workers: what they are is shown by what they do. They are ready to step out in faith and embark on a long and dangerous journey, with many potential pitfalls, to bring the collection safely to Jerusalem. They are men of action.
We are called to grow in knowledge and love of our Lord, so that we become all that he wants us to be, but we have failed to appreciate the practical thrust of the Scriptures if this does not impel us onward and outwards in acts of service. Character and conduct alike are important for the people of God.
Are we growing in character, as God’s word dwells in us and his Spirit fills us daily? (Col 3:16; Eph 5:18) Is this growth seen in acts of service, wherever God sends us?Rev Dr Peter Morden