2009-05-28 - Speaking Confidently
Titus 3:8-11 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (NASB)
Paul is writing to Titus and closing the teaching part of his letter. Paul left Titus in Crete to start the work of establishing the church - to appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5). There were apparently already Christian believers on the island of Crete spread through the towns on the island. Some of these men were well established in their faith. Paul is instructing Titus. Titus was a convert and student of Paul. Paul refers to Titus as his child in the common faith (Titus 1:4).
Titus is encouraged to speak confidently. How does one learn to speak confidently? Speak about the things you know and it is much easier to be confident. In order to be knowledgeable about something, we must study and sit in the presence of teachers who can instruct us. Most churches have Sunday Schools for the younger ages. The atmosphere in these classes is often a little more relaxed and the teaching is directed at more age appropriate levels. This also frees the adults to focus fully on the sermon. There are those who either must keep their children with them, or they chose to do so. I have no serious argument with this as long as it does not impact the ability of the parent to listen and learn.
As we learn mathematics we start with learning the numbers and their order. Then we learn to add and subtract. Throw in multiplication and division next, followed by exponents, roots, inequalities and variables. The teaching moves to algebra, geometry and trigonometry. All of these things become the foundation for calculus and even deeper mathematics. It would make no sense for a child to be placed in a calculus class, let alone to try to teach one. Unless they are the vast exception to the rule that child is completely unprepared to either learn the material or instruct others. Now, add study and good instruction and math becomes a powerful tool in the hands of someone who has mastered the subject studied from childhood. The professors who taught my higher math classes in college were able to speak authoritatively and deal with the questions and problems their students raised. They were effective instructors.
This learning process is mirrored in most human learning processes be they academic, athletic or otherwise. The Christian faith is no different. At first we know very little, other than Christ loved us enough to die for us and paid the price for our sins. We know that He has accepted us as His children. The Bible is a big book and there are not many pictures as many young folks point out. The good news is the calculus test is not tomorrow. But even here we can speak authoritatively about what we know. Christ has saved us.
Today engineers know huge airplanes will fly before the first screw is turned proved by calculus. Just like the scriptures in the hands of someone who has studied and learned is a powerful tool to speak the truth of God's love for a lost and fallen world. Does it take confidence to present a set of plans for a multi-million dollar jumbo jet? If the work has been done, confidence is easier to have. This is not unlike the confidence that is integrated into our words and our actions. And confidence is contagious. If you want someone to be excited about something you're telling them, your confident enthusiasm is part of the process.
The interesting thing most people find is that the longer they study a subject, the more they realize how much they don't know. They have a greater vision of how much further the topic reaches and in how many different directions. I have worked with professors who had taught higher math for many years. I have been taught by Pastors who have been to seminary and more study than I can imagine. I find these to be very humble people in many cases. One man I call a friend has a PhD in Chemistry and a great deal of Biblical study as well. He is wise and very humble man. I have sent him questions and asked for his considered opinion on a variety of things. His answers are always confident, but never brash.
Study so you can speak from what you know. It takes time to be a student. It takes more time to be a teacher - a great deal of time. But adults can learn from children. And the best teachers never stop being students.
Grace & Peace,