We do not hear very much about the letter which Paul wrote to Titus, probably because it contains few points of doctrine suitable for the usual controversy, but it makes extremely rewarding reading and offers extremely valuable advice.
Disguised in the A.V. by the unsuitable choice of words, there is in this epistle a strong appeal for soundness of mind, or sanity, as the C.V. expresses it, the Apostle using the expression no less than five times in one chapter, thus placing it in the forefront of those desirable features which should be found in one who would seek a position of responsibility in the assembly.
Unfortunately, the vagaries of the earlier translation have obscured Pauls insistence on this valuable asset to spiritual life, and consequently it has never appeared very prominently in the curriculum of any subsequent teacher. Nevertheless, when once it is realised that Paul lays a real and earnest stress on what he describes as "sanity of life" many will be conscious of the desirability of such a condition, and will appreciate how readily it fits in with the rest of Pauline teaching.
Stability is almost a key-word of Pauls writings, and to stability of faith and of expectation he adds, in this epistle, stability of mind, something which will result in a real sanity of outlook in the affairs of our present life, as well as in our spiritual concerns.
The lack of sanity among men is remarkable not so much for its individuality as for its universality. This is not to suggest that our fellow men and women are suffering from insanity according to the medical definition of the term, but it will surely be admitted that the general trends of the human mind are very largely contrary to the dictates of logic. There appears to be a lack of balance, an inability to decide true values, an artificiality of life and outlook which is contrary to nature.
Probably these conditions have always applied, but surely to a lesser degree. Indeed, it must be admitted that from the moment of becoming the possessor of a humanity which had been given its deathblow by sin, mankind commenced a course which has been consistently against nature, yet the development of modem conditions has had the effect of spreading the virus of intellectual contamination over a wider sphere than has ever before been known. Mass communication has become mass demoralisation.
The average man of the world would deny many of the implications of such a statement, and would point with pride to the achievements of science which have largely altered the life of man, but could he deny that these admitted advances in knowledge have resulted in complications so acute that the minds of statesmen are appalled at the potentialities of disaster inherent in them? Had the mental and spiritual development of man kept in time with the march of science the position would have been very different, but the consideration of scientific advances presents us with remarkable evidence of the lack of sanity with which mankind is afflicted.
It would be logic to suppose that the discoveries of the last century would have brought man closer to God, in wonder and praise at His wisdom and skill revealed by these new investigations into His creation, and the discovery of so many minute and marvelous evidences of His creative acts. On the contrary, however, men have failed to see any further than the thing before them, have entirely missed the significance which points to the Being behind it, and have actually attempted (by mental processes which would be ludicrous if they were not so sad) to use these very evidences of the Creator as arguments against His existence, and have twisted them into denials of His revelation.
Man loves to reason (and to argue) and usually builds his elaborate philosophy on a false assumption, whereas true sanity deals in logic (a very different thing) and refusing to be swayed by specious theories, takes as the fundamental premise of its deduction the very logical certainty that GOD IS.
To the mind unwarped by the tortuous devices of human reasonings the certainty of Gods Being is a logical necessity to account for the phenomenon of nature, and as a key to the mystery of life. The FACT of God, to the sound mind, is more "reasonable" than the reasonings of men.
Indeed, "the Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are vain." Those who have a sane mind will realise that it is more logical to listen to the instinctive conviction of the human heart that there is a God, than to the weary waste of words which make up the unproven theories of scientist and philosopher. It is only the fool who says in his heart " there is no God," and as for these super-intellects who deal in knowledge "falsely so called," says the Scripture, "professing themselves wise they become fools."
But Paul to Titus is not concerned about the world-- it is to the believer that he addresses his appeal for soundness of mind, and we may ask ourselves why it is that the Apostle is so insistent that every believer should possess a " sane mind."
Possibly because so many do not, and certainly because such a possession ensures a fuller spiritual understanding and a settled, steady habit of life. The mystery and magnificence of Gods revelation to the receptive mind is so incalculable in its result that these bodies of humiliation sometimes prove too weak to support it, its impact being such as to throw life out of proportion, producing all sorts of distorted results in the immature.
Religious fanaticism, with all its horrible accompaniments, is the result of unsound minds grasping partial truth, and its gross excesses would never be committed by those who preserve the balance of a sane mind. And although nowadays we do not burn people at the stake, the same intolerant unbalance leads to heartless persecution of those who fail to accept our particular creedal fancies, and some will go to appalling lengths for the sake of their religious ideas. The sane mind instinctively rejects such an attitude, for the logical appreciation of Divine revelation forbids it.
And what shall be said of those who encircle their small holding of spiritual truth with a fence of prohibitions-- touch not, taste not, handle not? Is there not a plain pathway marked out for the mature and sane mind which avoids both excesses and prohibitions? Certainly there is very little of the "thou shalt not" in Pauline teaching and a great deal of it among those who are called Christians, surely revealing a lack of balance and discrimination.
And then there are those who embrace peculiar" isms," indeed, in the face of revelation can any sort of sectarianism be described as otherwise than insane? We may substitute the
names of any teachers for those of Paul and Apollos in the Corinthian chapter, and those who say they are of this one or that one stigmatise themselves as being immature, and "of men." Neither he that plants or he that waters are anything, but God who gives the increase.
But the chief danger is the distorting of portions of truth by those who are" unlearned and unstable." The Scriptures like life, should be viewed steadily and viewed whole. There is in them sufficient to occupy to the fullest extent all our mental as well as our spiritual capabilities, if we are to have a mature, balanced and sane appreciation of Gods purpose, and this is where the Apostles plea sounds its clearest note. He is appealing for mental soundness and good judgement in all our affairs, both material and spiritual.
In regard to truth, sound mental processes will deliver us from much error, creedal systems of belief will stand revealed in their inadequacy and foolishness, and credulity will give place to a real and logical faith based on Gods declarations. We shall refuse to let ourselves be carried away on the waves of popular sentiment and emotion, and we shall exercise good judgement in all circumstances, if we have a clear mental conception of the solid basis laid down in the sacred Scriptures.
Let us remind ourselves of the Apostles injunction to Titus, for it applies to all of us, old and young, men and women, thus
"A supervisor must be unimpeachable as a steward of God. . . . fond of that which is good, SANE, just, benign, self-controlled: upholding the faithful word according to the teaching . . . ." (I : 7-9).
The aged men are to be sober, grave, SANE, sound in faith. . . The aged women similarly. . . (~ : 2-3).
The young wives . . . SANE, chaste, domestic . (2 : 4-6).
The younger men, similarly, be entreating to be SANE, in all things, tendering yourself a model of ideal acts, in teaching uncorruptness, gravity, sound uncensurable speech. . (2: 6-8)."
Here then, is a message for each of us which we should endeavour to apply to our daily lives. Why we should do so is made abundantly plain by the words in which Paul summarises the main import of this letter of his to Titus. This is what he says :--
"For the saving grace of God made its advent to all humanity, training us that, disowning irreverence and worldly desires, we should live SANELY and justly and devoutly in the present eon, anticipating the happy expectation and glorious advent of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ . .
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