We learn the things of Titus 2 so that God's Word is not dishonored. Raising the bar, 2 Timothy 2 (notice the number 2...Titus 2, now 2 Tim 2...handy way to remember the scripture reference and the goal for the year ahead, doubling our effort and focus) motivates us on. Verse 15, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." It is to God that we answer at the end of the day as to how we handled His Word... will we be approved or stand ashamed?
Priscilla, introduced in Acts 18, will help us with the task at hand. PrisCillA. P-Pass It On!, C-Culture, A-Available.
Starting appropriately in the middle, is C for culture. Like Priscilla, I know I'm feeling the pressure of the squeeze all the time! The pull of the culture, the call of biblical womanhood. However, if we think our culture is ungodly, let's get to know Priscilla's. Corinth was an extremely pagan city, home of the temple to Aphrodite, goddess of love. Even by heathen standards, Corinth was over the top when it came to sexual perversions. But beginning in Acts 18, we find a another familiar character, leaving Athens and stepping right into this bed of sin city.
--Paul arrives in Corinth and meets Aquila, a Jew, recently come from Rome. A thought is they may have met while in the synagogue (they did what Jews do, go to the synagogue) and Aquila already a convert. Another thought, people sat in the synagogue according to trade... Aquila is a tentmaker, so is Paul.
--Aquila is mentioned first here, afterward Priscilla first. They are never named without the other.
--Paul lived and worked with them. They were Paul's companions, I'm sure in support of the Gospel as well as leather working.
"But when".... v. 6 turns the table for us, revealing vital info in knowing our culture, thus knowing our enemy. "But when the Jews opposed Paul"..... As soon as the Lord moves, Satan moves too! According to John MacArthur (I've used him as a major reference), it's always the same attack on the church: persecution, sin allowed into the body, and no unity in the fellowship. Our enemy has the world, it's me and you and the church he's after!
Specifically on persecution, John MacArthur has an interesting analogy. He says throughout church history, the church thrives in light of persecution. Only when the church confronts the culture, does the church grow and have effect. A bold church is an effective church. A bold church is a persecuted church. Bold you, effective you. Bold you, persecuted you. But the result is always the same, progress.
Back to 2 Tim 2, Paul says v. 1, to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, v. 2, pass on what you know to others, v. 3, endure hardship...." When the Lord is doing a work through you, Satan always counters. For a matter of length, I'll only tell you to study Eph 6. After Paul lays out the essentials for spiritual battle, he makes an interesting request... check it out!
In this country, we're not usually tortured or imprisoned for our beliefs. But nonetheless, we are persecuted. Think on how we generally react? We stay quiet in uncomfortable situations or gather within our own ranks to be safe. We just avoid. I think for us, persecution seems minimal and unimportant, but it has produced great rewards for the enemy. We've played his game.
Back to Acts 18, v. 8-10. During the night, the Lord came to Paul in a vision and said, "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."
WOW! Don't avoid or keep quiet! God said Paul if your silent, they won't hear and I have many that will come to salvation.... keep on speaking, they've got to hear it before they believe it! It's like saying Corinth is a bed of sin and it seems like nothing bright or good can come from such dark and evil. But God said watch, I'm gonna shine! Just keep on speaking! I know, I have people in this city!
The Matthew Henry commentary on Acts 18, says God gave Paul a prospect of success. Many in the city of Corinth would be called as a result of Paul's ministry. The Lord knows those who are his. "Yet in this heap, that seems to be all chaff, there is wheat; in this ore, that seems to be all dross, there is gold. Let us not despair concerning any place, when even in Corinth, Christ had many people."
Priscilla was available, flexible, even moving when necessary. Her home was open, the Ephesus church met there. But I have to say, my favorite available Bible character is the Good Samaritan, Luke 10.
In v. 33, the Samaritan was about his day, on a set course with a sure purpose. Scripture says he was traveling. Ahead of the Samaritan, lay a man who had been beaten and left in the road. No one would stop and help him. Knowing those things, I think the key to this scripture isn't what was said, but what wasn't. After the Samaritan "came upon him;" there's that punctuation mark, a semi-colon. It's job, connecting two separate thoughts. It's a pause. After the semicolon, it says "and when he saw him, he felt compassion." I believe the ; or the pause, is the choice. He came upon the man and he had a decision to make, a choice, just like the other travelers. He chose mercy. Being available is never about my comfort or my schedule. Availability is mercy. (The Samaritan was prepared, or at least had the cash to be available, paying for the man's care. I think money is the main reason, or excuse, we're not available. Please pray and ask God to reveal if this is a problem area for you.)
I can't leave Luke 10 without giving a couple of my favorite girls a shout out! Immediately following the story of the "Good Samaritan" is "At the Home of Martha and Mary." Jesus is so gracious, he knows how to keep us ladies balanced!
One more point here. Acts 18:26, Priscilla and Aquilla heard Apollos speak, they invited him to their home and explained the way of God more accurately. This verse will lead us into our third point, but for now, Priscilla saw an opportunity and she pounced. She didn't go home, make a casserole. Time was of the essence and too much at stake. She needed to speak truth boldly and fearlessly and Apollos needed to hear in order to understand the Way. She invited him to her home....
3. Pass It On!
Priscilla invested in Apollos and Corinth and Ephesus and Rome.... we are part of that lineage. Acts 18 points out that Apollos was highly educated in scripture and very gifted in public speaking, and yet Priscilla corrected him. I must point out, this was done aside. She didn't call a committee or put it on the prayer chain. She had confidence in her knowledge of the Holy One and approached Apollos square on. Don't miss this either, Priscilla and Aquilla were a tag team.
Again borrowing from John MacArthur, there are no simple formulas for a pass it on attitude. The churchy word here is discipleship. MacArthur helps us out, listing some common characteristics of what healthy discipleship looks like:
--first and foremost, it's about sharing the gospel.
--it's about relationship, but with the purpose of spiritual growth.
--humility must always be present on the side of teacher.
--love the other person without condition (remembering Titus 3:3-5, "At one time I too was foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures...But when the kindness and love of God my Savior appeared, he saved me, not because of righteous things I had done, but because of his mercy...).
--be an example in all areas of your life, 1 Tim 4:12b
--if your going to teach the Word, you have to be a student of the Word.
Priscilla has done an excellent job at helping us get the bigger picture of Pass It On! Ladies, we must begin to incorporate this practice into our everyday lives. It's just too important and too much to lose. I often wonder how many older women have crossed my path, paused and just didn't think I was worth it. How often do I too choose the path of least resistance. The ripple ending where I stand silent.
In Romans 16, Paul sends a big hello to all his people. He says, "Greet Priscilla and Aquilla, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them."
That's you and me sister... be grateful for those bold and fearless shoulders on which we stand.