Practicing Politics as Former Fools

Titus 3 speaks a timely word during election season. Paul charges Titus,

Remind [the people] to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (verses 1-2)

God doesn't send his church into the political fray with a strut and an open mouth but with gentleness and courtesy—with a readiness to do good, to avoid quarrels, and to speak evil of no one.

Why gentleness and courtesy? Why such an unexpected posture? Paul follows with his reason:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (verse 3)

As we Christians engage disobedient, enslaved "fools" in the political arena, we are to remember that we at one time were fools. We were once captive to the same unbelief, disobedience, and folly. But what happened to us? Nothing of our own doing.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (verses 4-7)

Those who have been rescued by God's grace are to engage those who haven't with gentleness and courtesy and a readiness to do them good and not evil. We should be quick to remember that apart from God's saving work—and owing to no work of our own—we share in the same disobedient, enslaved foolishness.

Our posture shouldn't be one of anger and triumphalism but compassion and humility. We remember that what saved us from our foolishness wasn't a political debate or a ballot box but the gospel about Jesus and the sovereign working of God.

We engage as recovering fools with empathy for the foolish.

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.