Titus 2:1-15.
 Minister with a Godly Lifestyle 

        American Journal of Biblical Theology     Copyright 2004, J.W. Carter
 www.biblicaltheology.com          Scripture quotes from KJV


What is the most significant issue facing the church today?  Certainly, if asked of 100 church members, one would hear hundreds of answers.  Some might cite budget woes that limit ministry.  Some might cite the growing cloud of apathy that has dulled interest in ministerial and evangelical efforts.  Some may argue that the church is no longer relevant in today's society.  As we compile a list of perceived problems, we recognize two important issues:  (1) Those who an provide criticism are, most likely, part of the issues themselves, and (2) all of the issues raised have a common thread woven through them:  they will all point to a basic lack of submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Society today wants a "politically correct" church.  "Politically Correct" is simply a euphemism for any doctrine that compromises truth for public acceptance.  Church leadership is very concerned with their acceptance by the community, both outside the membership of the church and within.  The "feel-good" messages that come from the pulpits of the modern church may provide a fuzzy feeling of peace and spiritual security, but does nothing to challenge people to obedience to Jesus Christ, the Lord of all that is peaceful and spiritual.  

What has been the impact of social compromise by the church?  Statistically, we see very little difference in lifestyle demographics within the church and without.  Divorce rates, suicide rates, crime rates, unwed pregnancy rates, and other measurements of social degradation are similar on both sides of the line of church membership.   

Social compromise comes from a desire to be accepted by the culture in hopes of attracting it into membership.  Has it worked?  During this time of the "politically correct" church, its membership has declined.  My own denomination that is extremely evangelical in its doctrine and purpose, Biblically based in its teachings, and known for its missionary prowess has declined from 15 million members to 13 million members in the last 20 years.  With church "growth" as the most important commission of the church, it is falling into decline.  While the church sleeps, other religious groups demonstrate the zealousness that comes from an obedience to their own teachings, and these groups grow in number.  Successful religious groups, though leading people away from the gospel, are successful because of their adherence to their basic tenets.  

The churches in first-century Crete suffered from a similar worldliness, though the background cause was different.  Rather than trying to find acceptance in the culture as today's church is doing, the Cretian church was already a part of that culture.  Started by various Jewish converts to Christianity who were dispersed from Israel, the knowledge of the gospel represented by its initial leadership was not strong.  As new church groups formed, they were led by people who did not know Christ, did not know the gospel, but were successful in leading others.  Unlike the church today, the first-century church was starving for true doctrine, so their excuse for ignorance is well defended.  However, today we have no such excuse.  We have both the Old and New Testaments of scripture in a form that is accurate enough and clear enough that such ignorance is unnecessary.  It is when we choose to ignore the truth, rationalizing away its relevance, the church wanders from the gospel and its members fall back into the lifestyle of this sin-filled world.  

As Paul writes to Titus, the church is simply a social club with a religious theme.  Its members are indistinguishable from the world.  Its members take part in the worldly lifestyle of self-gratification and sin, gaining much for their own base desires, but nothing for the Kingdom of God.  In the second chapter of this letter, Paul, after exposing the error, provides corrective teaching.  Paul becomes very specific as he provides advice to Titus of what he can do to bring the church back to the truth.

Titus 2:1.

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 

What the church needs first is sound doctrine.  When one accepts leadership in the community of faith, what one says and teaches has an impact on those who are submitted to it.  Congregants tend to trust those who preach to them and teach them.    God did not call leaders and teachers to positions of authority and power in the Christian church, but to positions of servanthood, a servanthood that is sensitive to and obedient to the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ, the Lord.  Preachers and teachers do not have the option of teaching falsehood.  They do not have the privilege of adapting the gospel to their own interpretation or to their own agenda.  

Paul directs Titus to focus his teaching on sound doctrine.  Since this letter was written to the churches in Crete as well as to Titus, it is also a message to the leadership to do the same.  How does one teach and preach the gospel without using it to promote their own agenda?  How does one do so without watering down the truth to make it palatable to a sinful world?  There are a few characteristics of sound doctrine that make it possible:

1.  Sound doctrine is found only in God's Word.  God's Word is contained in the Holy Scriptures, and is the expression of God's power and work in the universe.  God is its author, and as such, His Word is the only source of spiritual authority in the universe.  The church does not have that authority.  A Bible teacher or preacher does not have that authority.  Simply stated, God's Word is the only source of spiritual truth and authority.  This is the basic premise of "biblical theology," a position that argues that the Bible is the only source of authoritative  theological teaching.

2.  Sound doctrine is found only in the application that God intended.  How much damage has been done through the years by the misapplication of scripture?  When one studies scripture, one must spend some time understanding it historical setting and context.  Scripture reveals its true purpose when the context is understood.  We are removed by 2000 years of cultural change and several levels of language translation and change from the original writers.  So, determination of what the original writer was communicating is essential.  When the writer's purpose and context in writing is ignored any amount of misinterpretation and misleading is possible.

Note that Paul's imperative to the teaching of sound doctrine is punctuated with a colon.  That is, the grammar used implies that the words to follow will close the thought.  What is the sound doctrine that Titus is to teach?  We find that in the remainder of the chapter.

Titus 2:2.

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 

Paul first speaks to character issues related to the aged men in the church.  Why is this so important?   Probably more so in ancient culture than today, aged men were venerated and respected for their life knowledge and wisdom.  Ancient education came from experience rather than from the universities.  When one sought knowledge, they would turn to the elders.  Consequently, the elders have a tremendous influence on the definition, direction, and disposition of the church.  The same is still true today.  If one is to examine many of the small, stagnant, churches around the world they will find congregations that are run by one or more elders who set the definition, direction, and disposition of the church.  Their influence is far greater than they might realize, and when taken across the entire church, their collective influence can bring the bulk of the entire church under the control of people rather than the control of the Lord, Jesus Christ.   The responsibility held by the aged men in the church is immeasurable.  So, Paul starts here as he describes the model of character that is appropriate for a Christian elder.

Sober.  Also translated, "clear headed,": this manner of sobriety refers to one's being in self-possession.  That is, they are not influenced by outside control whether it be to the intoxicants of alcohol or drugs, or the intoxicants of personal power and pride.  For many elders in the church, the issue of sobriety is not related as much to the former as it is to the latter.  Many elders use the church as a platform to express their need for personal gratification of a desire for power.  When the church allows this expression, the results can be devastating to the spiritual growth of the church community and to the overall evangelical and discipleship mission of the church.  Church leaders should pause and note whether their purpose for leading is to serve God in obedience to Jesus Christ, or to serve their own need for power.  The intoxicant of power is more deadly to the Spirit's work than the intoxicants of the body.

Grave.  The elder should be worthy of respect, demonstrating personal dignity, and focused in purpose.   A dictator can demand respect by threatening those who would disagree with them.  This is not the form of respect used here.  Gravity is a form of respect that people choose to place in those who have demonstrated personal integrity, and lived a life that is focused on, again, the Lordship of Jesus Christ.   The church does not follow "Fred" because "Fred" wants it that way.  The church will follow "Fred" because "Fred" leads with a pure heart, a heart humbled to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and a heart that loves the congregation.  (Obviously, "Fred" is a euphemistic name, so if you are named Fred, or know one, this is not any reference to an individual!)

Temperate.  Related to sobriety, temperance is self-control.  Where the sobriety of the first adjective relates to a freedom from external intoxicants, temperance represents a freedom from internal chaos.  One who is temperate has mastered his/her own thoughts and judgment, bringing them under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  

Sound in faith, love, and endurance.  "Sound" is the translation of a word that refers to the application of truth in integrity.  Paul uses it to describe doctrine that is not mixed with impurity.  Used here, Paul refers to a faith, a love, and an endurance that is pure.  A pure faith is not characterized by continual doubting.  A pure love is not characterized by unloving attitudes and actions.  A pure endurance is one that holds on, trusting in God alone.

Paul's advice to Titus and to the elders of the Cretian church are still relevant today.  Paul's words were to be shared with the elders of the Cretian church.  Today, elders can examine their own motives and actions, comparing them to the "sound doctrine" defined by Paul.  It may be possible that some manner of repentance is in order, and an elder who influences the congregation may find an opportunity to confess their sin before the congregation and start afresh, leading the church in the Spirit of Truth.

Titus 2:3.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 

Paul then moves on to discuss the characteristics of a mature Christian female elder.  We find in every circumstance of scripture that God intends a respect for women equal to that of men.  Disrespect for women is a worldly invention that has been adopted by many world cultures, and consequently, evident in the church.  However, the teachings of scripture never disrespect women, and Paul's respect for them (as was Jesus' respect for women) was an extremely radical concept in first-century culture.  Where women have had to fight for "equal rights" in our contemporary times, sound church doctrine provides for complete equality for women, equality of respect, and equality of responsibility.  Though their influence in the church was not as autocratic as those of their male counterparts, elderly women have had tremendous influence, as they still do, in the nature and mission of the local church.  In some settings, women serve in leadership in the place of men who disdain the faith.  In others, they are given influence in the congregation because of their testimony of faithfulness.  It is through this last means that Paul focuses the characteristics of a mature female elder.

Likewise.  As the influence enjoyed by the aged women is similar to that of the men, they also share the responsibility to maintain sound doctrine in their lives.

Becometh Holiness.  The elderly women are to express a reverent character.  This reverence is specifically towards God's purpose for them.  Holiness refers to the character of one who is separated from the culture of this sinful world, separated out to be used of God, and Him alone.  If a woman is characterized by holiness, the remainder of Paul's list becomes rather moot.

Not false accusers.  Ancient culture demanded that men often be engaged in their work for most of their time.  Women, on the other hand, tended to stay at home, nurturing the family, and spending time with other women.  In such an environment, it is not a surprise that a problem with gossip would arise.  Bored and starving for stimulation, women became engaged in verbal behaviors that are unholy and worldly.  A mature Christian woman is not going to want be engaged in this type of behavior, so she is not characterized by it.

Given to much wine.  This is a recurring theme in New Testament doctrine.  Wine was the predominant beverage because of its purity and storability.  However, along with its benefits came the problems associated with its abuse.  The first century Greeks were famous for their drunken orgies, as they abused alcohol and used it as the fuel for their debauchery.  One who is mature in the faith is simply going to choose not to use alcohol in this way.  The mature Christian woman has no desire for the influence that alcohol abuse has on her or her testimony.

Teachers of good things.  First-century women were the school teachers of their culture.  With a lack of formal education that is prevalent today, children and youth learned about life from their mothers and learned about career from their fathers.  The mature Christian woman will understand the responsibility that comes from such nurturing, and will serve to teach that which is godly.  Through her words and her actions, she will be teaching her children how to live a godly life, one that is separated from the evil and self-deprecating ways of the contemporary culture.  Just as women were the teachers of children and youth, elderly women were the teachers of young women.

Titus 2:4-5.

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 

The only education that was available to first -century women took place in the home.   Consequently, it was the responsibility of the elderly women to teach the younger ones to follow in their paths of holiness.  Paul specifically mentions several points of "sound doctrine" that should be imparted on the younger women by the older.

Sober.  This is the same form of self-control that is characteristic of the Christian elderly male.

Love their husbands and children.  The word used here goes beyond a simple hugs-and-kisses love, and refers to a complete devotion.  Any pagan woman can express love for her husband and children, and one who does not is considered deviant.  However, the word used here goes beyond the phileo and eros of worldly affection, referring to the deep, sacrificial, love that only God can provide.  It is the love of 1 Cor. 13 that Paul refers to:  a love that is patient, kind, sacrificial, and enduring, a love that comes from a source greater than one's self.

Discrete.  Related to sobriety, this word refers to self-control.  The application of discretion in one's life is a form of self-control.  A discrete woman will use wise judgment in her response to things around her.

Chaste.  A godly Christian young women will be characterized by purity.  This refers to a purity in the mind, body, soul, and conduct.  Certainly, sexual purity often comes to mind first when one considers chastity.  However, this form of purity both includes sexual purity and goes beyond it.  Purity refers to a lack of impurity.  There will be nothing impure in the character of this young woman.

Keepers at home.  This single Greek word refers to the busy activity that takes place in the home.  First century culture placed the woman as the keeper of the home.  As such, she was extremely busy keeping up with all of the "duties" that befall the one adult who has the responsibility for managing the home and family.  She will not be lazy or laggard, but will be known for her industriousness.

Good.  The Christian young woman is not going to be characterized by ungodly attitudes and actions, but rather by being a voice for that which is good and godly.  She knows godliness (if she is taught by the elder women), and will at some point in her life teach that same manner of godliness to other, younger, women.

Obedient to their own husbands.  If we understand Paul's position on submission in marriage, we see that his understanding is that the submission is mutual.  (Eph. 5:21).  Christian men are not the Lord of their wives, nor vice-versa.  So, if this is true, we may need to examine the word that is used for "obedient" here.  The word used refers to a voluntary submission of one equal to another.  It is a military term that describes the choices of rank of a newly-formed army.  The individuals who select the grades of Captain and Lieutenant are equals in every way, equals in value, equals in respect.  However, in an effort to maintain order, they choose levels of submission, one to another.  The one who chooses the "lower" level of submission enjoys the care and nurture of the "higher".  The one who chooses the "higher" takes on the responsibility that comes with the choice, a responsibility to provide care and nurture for the "lower."  This is the application of the Greek term, hypotasso.  This term does not refer to a blind obedience to another, but rather to the choice of surrendering some measure of control to the other to maintain order and assign responsibility.  It is a submission by choice, not by design.  No woman is expected to blindly obey the selfish demands of a sinful man, for doing so is not hypotasso.  The submission is mutual, and the man is responsible for holding up his end of the bargain.

Blasphemed.  All of these characteristics that are to be taught to the younger women are those of sound and true doctrine.  To teach otherwise is to teach error, to follow the pagan teachings of this sinful world.  To brand such pagan teachings with the label of "Christian" is simply blasphemy:  attributing to God that which is not of God.  That is, the teaching of sound doctrine should remain sound, and not doped by the impurities of pagan and worldly lies.

Titus 2:6-7.

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 

Paul now turns to "sound doctrine" as applied to the characteristics of the lifestyle of young men.  The young men will be the leaders of the future.  The foundation of the church rests on the shoulders of its young men, so Paul is uncompromising as he identifies the need for these to exhibit godly living.

Sober minded.  Paul returns to this simple, but important characteristic of a mature Christian.  No individual has a corner on sobriety, nor is any individual exempt from it.  Such sobriety is probably more difficult for the young man than any other member of the church.  Young men are all engaged in self-determination, identifying who they are, and who they will be for the remainder of their lives.  Considering this, the importance of such self-control in a world that would inspire unbounded debauchery and gratification is paramount.   Note that the command of the teacher is to "exhort" or to encourage the young to attain this characteristic.  This is good advice as one attempts to guide the will of the impetuous youth without breaking the spirit that drives them.  Young men are guided with encouragement, not with a rod (though a rod may be needed for discipline on occasion!)

Pattern of good works.  It is important to note that as we look at all of these characteristics of godly living, these are still characteristics expected of imperfect people.  No person can live up the entire list of Paul's words.  These are not a list of rules or law, but simply characteristics that already are part of one who is godly, and characteristics that all who seek godliness should attain to.  However, all people fall.  Consequently, the word used for "pattern" is of grave importance.  Though one may fall, such a failure is uncharacteristic of one who Paul describes, giving that person the opportunity to repent, find forgiveness, and return to a pattern of godliness.  Paul is describing here a general pattern of behavior that one is known for.  To step outside of that norm is possible, and even likely, but as long as such behaviors or actions are out of character for that person, their pattern of good works is still maintained. This may be very encouraging for those who struggle with a specific sin.  Note that Paul also refers specifically to Titus who is to set an example, implying that at least in Paul's assessment, Titus is a young man.

Uncorruptness of doctrine.  It is the young men who will carry the faith to the next generation.  Consequently, it is imperative that the sound doctrine that characterizes their lives be pure and not subject to corruption.  The concept here is that the individual (1) knows the truth, and (2) will not compromise that truth even when it is bombarded by the teachings of the world culture.  Such an individual has no thought of changing the "truth" in order to adapt it to the pagan world system of culture.  His doctrine is not "politically correct."  When it comes to doctrine, he simply will not compromise what he understands to be the truth.

Gravity.  When one considers another who is worthy of respect, that respect is often afforded to the elderly, as discussed earlier in this chapter.  In first century culture, respect was afforded quickly based on age.  However, respect knows no age limits.  One who is young gains the respect of others in the same manner as those who are elderly.  Respect, as Paul refers, is gained by the consistent testimony of a godly lifestyle that is simply the fruit of a life dedicated to God, a life that is obedient to the Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Sincerity.  Literally, "without wax."  Cheap, ancient pottery could be made to look like fine specimens by applying and rubbing wax on it.  However, when the wax dries, cracks open, and the pottery fails.  Fine pottery sometimes had the term, "without wax" imprinted upon its bottom in order to reveal its true value.  Used to describe integrity, the young man is to be taught to live a life that is "without wax."  What you see is truly him, without pretension or hypocrisy.  You see his warts along with his wisdom.  His concern for others and his desire to be obedient to Christ overshadow any desire to put on a false front.

Titus 2:8.

Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Paul recognizes and acknowledges the importance of what the young man says, for what comes out of the mouth reveals the true person.  Paul again uses the word, "sound" to describe the speech of the young man.  The young man who is faithful and godly will not be characterized by prattling, by gossip, or by false teaching, but rather by the sound and sober expression of truth.  When one only speaks the truth, they cannot be condemned by God, the condemnation that Paul refers to.  Godly speech will usually be condemned by the pagan world system which is itself condemned by it.  Truth reveals truth, and God's Word does not return void.  It is God's Word that has power, just as light overpowers darkness.  Truth will but the ungodly to shame, and the truly godly testimony of the one sharing it cannot be criticized.  It is when godly people act as ungodly pagans that the pagan culture is empowered to criticize.  Contemporary history is replete with examples of Christian leaders who have caused considerable damage to the gospel by opening the door of criticism by their ungodly and impure behavior.  Paul reminds Titus to maintain integrity in his life that he would not be subject to such criticism as he is also to teach the other young men to do the same.

Titus 2:9-10.

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Paul closes his discussion of sound doctrine for godly living by referring to the state of servants, or slaves.  No attempt is made by Paul to give support or condemnation to the practice of slavery, but simply recognizes that it is a part of society within which Christians must live and work.  Consequently, the way Christians relate to slaves, and the way Christian slaves relate to their masters is of great importance as those relationships reveal the true heart of the person.  

Paul uses the same form of "encourage" and "submission" when he describes the relationship between a Christian slave and master as he does in other situations concerning submission.  Paul teaches Titus, and the church, to encourage the servants, to exhort in a positive way.   Just as the youth to whom Paul advised exhortation because of their submission to their parents, slaves are to be exhorted so that their will is brought into obedience to Christ without breaking their spirit.  Furthermore, the exhortation is intended to allow the slave to see their state in a different way than the world does.  The form of their submission to the master changes when they come to know the Lord, and particularly when the master is also a Christian.  We see in Paul's letter to Philemon how he sees a Christian slave and Christian slave owner as brothers in Christ with an equality at the foot of the cross that is identical.  Consequently, it is now up to the slave to see his own state as a voluntary submission, the form of hypotasso, that describes a submission of choice that benefits both.  Obviously, rebellion of the slave would not edify the kingdom of God, nor would it improve the state of the slave.  However, if his viewpoint of his state changes, and he sees his duty to his master as his godly testimony, everything changes.  Before Christ, he served to please the master only to save his own state.  After Christ, he serves well in all things because of his love for Christ, and his newfound agape love for his master.  

Titus 2:11.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Related to the issue of slavery, Paul notes that the grace of God is given to all people, without regard to their social state, for social state is defined by this pagan worldly culture, but one's true value and spiritual state is given by God, and is given to all.  The world despises the slave and elevates the wealthy.  God considers them both the same:  a sinner in need of a Savior, or one who is saved who is in continued need of His grace and mercy.  It is inappropriate for a Christian to despise any man, for desposition is not an act of agape love, but an act of self-centered pride.  Paul expressed the same love for the slave Onesimus (Philemon) that he does for Titus.  This is a lesson that all Christendom needs to learn, as pagan prejudice is so widely practiced in the church.

Titus 2:12.

Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 

Now that Paul has tackled the sound doctrine of godly living for elder men, elder women, young women, and young men, he closes by identifying the unifying truth that these characteristics of the faith apply to all.  Though he gave some details that attest to the social state of each of the four groups, living a life of godliness, a life that abstains from worldly lusts, a life that is sober, righteous and godly, is required of all Christians, setting themselves apart from this present world.  One does not need to examine the exposition of each word that Paul uses here, as he has simply applied the same principles that he shared with each social group to all as a whole.  Consequently, there is no "loophole" for the Christian.  One either lives a godly lifestyle, or one does not.  One is either in submission to God, or one is not.  Jesus is your Lord, or Jesus is not.  There is no middle ground.  Where many Christians choose to keep one foot planted in the church and the other in the pagan culture, there is no grace found in such a decision.  One will continue to suffer the consequences of this sin, and the damage to the kingdom of God will continue.  It may be hard to swing one's life completely over to the uncompromised Lordship of Jesus Christ, as one has to turn away from this "present world" to do so.  However, in order to live a life "without wax" a Christian has no ultimate choice in the matter.

Titus 2:13-14.

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

What is the motivation for the Christian to live a godly life?  Why would one give up the self-gratification that comes from immersion in this sinful and pagan world?  Ungodly living is not only the character of pagan society, but it feeds the base desires of natural man.  It is also the sin that separates one from God, and a Christian understands this, for there is a purpose and reward for obedience in a world that would draw people away from God.

Unlike the lost of this world who have no hope, who live a riotous life because they think that this is all there is, Christians have the hope of an eternity in the blessed presence of God, rather than an eternity separated from Him.  This is heaven and hell.  Christians know that Jesus will return at the end of the age, and at His coming all of those who accepted His Lordship, have a hope and peace that none other can find.  Why do Christian's serve?  For many it is simply the expression of the love and appreciation that they feel for what Jesus has done, for others it is out of a love for others as they seek to present to the lost that same opportunity for hope that they realize.  For many it is a combination of these and many more reasons that result in a spontaneity of good works that come, not from keeping a law, but from a simple freedom of the expression of faith.

Titus 2:15.

These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. 

Though an open letter to the church, this is still a letter to Titus.  From this and other writings, we know that Titus is a relatively young man.  That is, he is not an elder, and it is the elders that their culture look to for wisdom and guidance.  Paul admonishes Titus to remain true to his calling to teach these things to a church that is in chaos.  He is to teach things things consistently and clearly, in a way that encourages and lifts up his hearers while at the same time providing correction.  When Titus brings this correction, or rebuke, he does so with the complete authority of God's Word, as what he is speaking is the truth of God, just as true and authoritative as those words expressed by the Old Testament prophets.  When one speaks of a pagan doctrine, he speaks only with his own authority.  When one speaks of the Word of God in submission to the Holy Spirit and in its truth, he speaks with the very authority of God's Word.   The church leaders saw this in Jesus when they were astonished at his teaching when he "taught with authority, not as one of the scribes."  (Mark. 1:22, Matthew 7:29)

So, how does one "Let no man despise thee.?  Nobody has power over another's attitude.  If I am despised for my words, whether from outside of the church, or within, the attitude of that individual will not change.  However, my response to that scenario can.   Paul is referring to how Titus is to respond to persecution and criticism in a manner similar to his advice to Timothy.    Titus' message has the power, not Titus himself.  Titus is not an elder, and on his own will not garner the respect that is realized by an Elder.  However, he should not be discouraged or changed by those who would oppose him.  Paul is saying, "do not give authority over you to those who oppose you."  For example, when one persecutes or criticizes, I evaluate my response by a simple question:  Does this person love me?  If the answer is no, I pay little concern to their criticism.  However, if the answer is "yes", their opinion has great weight.  The person who does not love me, by that very state, despises me.  Paul encourages all Christians to not be controlled by those who despise, but be encouraged and guided by those who love. 

This is great advice for Titus who is clearly trying to bring the truth of the gospel to a church that is more worldly than righteous, and more opposed to the truth than supportive of it.  This is still true advice today as the body of believers in Jesus Christ, like the church in Crete, has allowed much of the world culture to dope it with the impurities of sinful and secular lifestyle and doctrine.  This is also the church that would impact the culture through righteous living.  This advice by Paul for Titus and the churches in Crete is still relevant today as all Christians are called to live godly lives and to be a testimony of godliness to a wicked and perverse world.