“This is why I left you on Crete” (Titus 1:5)
Titus was not happy. Though he was a long-time and able assistant, Paul had given him the task of serving as pastor to the Christians on Crete. It was a tough assignment.
Even Paul acknowledged the long and sordid tradition of the Cretans. He quoted the proverb common in that day, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” Then he added, “This testimony is true.” (see Titus 1:12-13). That saying is from Epimenides, a Cretan poet. In fact, the ancients created a word “to Cretanize” that meant to be a liar.
This is where Titus was assigned. What a reward!! “Thanks a lot, Paul!” It was a genuinely tough place to be a Christian and to be a minister.
Have you ever lived in Crete? Not literally, of course, but in terms of being in a very tough place to be a Christian? Maybe where you are today is hard on your faith. You are not finding much encouragement or much appreciation. Maybe your environment is hostile to faith, or indifferent, or hypocritical. Maybe it’s simply the case that being a Christian where you are is not easy. Titus would understand.
And so would Paul. For this reason he wrote to Titus in the first chapter, “This is why I left you on Crete” (Titus 1:5). A tough place to be a Christian is often a good place for a Christian to be. You may not feel appreciated, but you never have to doubt your assignment. God needs a strong witness right where you are today.
Where is your Crete? Over the years I have observed a lot of “Cretes.” Your Crete may be the place where you work. Co-workers may not be hostile to your faith, in fact some of the folks giving you trouble Monday-Friday may be sitting in church on Sunday! But their gossipy habits, cutting remarks, and bad attitude is a drain. Remember, some Christians are not nice yet. You simply stay faithful.
Your Crete may be your family. Why is it that the people closest to us sometimes bring out the worst in us? Your task in this situation is probably not to be like John the Baptist, “You brood of vipers!!!” Your task is probably just to develop patience. Be faithful.
Being faithful in your tough assignment probably does not mean converting the masses. You simply need to be Christ. Be the salt and light by living honorably, serving others, blessing even when you are cursed. Resist the urge to try and measure your impact. Only God knows that.
Of course, it’s hard. Most of time it is. You take a great stride in your faith when you realize that the Christian life consists mainly of a long and trusting obedience. Be faithful where you are. God notices, and God honors. And trust me, God will use your faithfulness to bring His grace into someone’s life.
By the way, Titus apparently refused to give into disappointment and refused also to regard any man as hopeless. He labored faithfully, and the Christian church survives to this day on Crete, due in part to his long obedience to being faithful where God put him.
Dr. Terry Ellis