For the grace of God has appeared,
bringing salvation for all people,
training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions,
and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age
What motivates you to obey God? What reasons do you give your children or those you disciple for why to obey God?
In this section of Titus, a letter Paul wrote to a church planter, Paul tells us that grace changes us, grace trains us to renounce ungodliness. This seems unintuitive. For example, we can reason, if grace means our sins are forgiven, then wouldn't grace actually become a reason to keep on sinning? But this logic reveals a failure to understand grace and its experiential power to transform us. When we experience grace, God's grace, it doesn’t lead toward tolerating ungodliness in our lives. Why? Because we see how much it cost God to give us grace. It cost him his son. Second, when we experience God's grace, we see the beauty of God's goodness, which awakens in our hearts a desire to be like him—to be godly.
Here's a way in which grace is training me. Recently, I was becoming increasingly impatient with someone close to me. I knew that impatience is ungodliness, and I knew I had to grow in patience. So I confessed this to an elder, and asked for prayer. As I was praying, I started to reflect on God's grand patience with me. His patience with me is because of his grace and love toward me. As I remembered his patience with me, I was in awe. I remembered his goodness and his beauty, and I wanted to be more like him. My heart changed, I was motivated to extend patience toward another, as I had been shown patience.
In the past, maybe I would have shamed myself into being patient—good people are patient, I would say. Or maybe used fear of man to become patient—what will people think of me? Or I would have just increased in impatience, and self-justified my lack of patience. But in this instance, and thankfully increasingly with other godly virtues, I am learning to be trained by God's grace.
How is grace training you today?