“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy...I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.” - Titus 3:5, 7b
God's mercy sets boundaries for our lives. The kindness of God appeared as a gift to which we respond both by accepting the gift and living accordingly. Paul instructs Titus, one of Christianity's early ministers, to stress the reality of God's mercy so that Christians would take care in how they lived-to be careful to devote themselves to doing what was good.
Why would such an instruction be necessary? Why would Paul indicate to Titus that he needed to “stress” the mercy of God? An answer comes in Titus 3:9-11. There is always the human tendency to waste time in “negative energy.” In the instance of Titus' community, debates, controversies, legal wrangling over the law. These result in division, not mutual edification and instruction. Paul is clear and incisive: have nothing to do with people who are bent on expending a lot of negative energy, being divisive and causing trouble in the church. Warn them, but have boundaries: do not continue to tolerate such behavior as it is warped and sinful.
God's mercy does not mean that we tolerate bad behavior or a constant stream of negativity. Rather, God's mercy instructs us to avoid arguments and quarrels over such things. We are to set boundaries in our life that keeps us from wasting energy on those disputes and quarrels that drag us down and detract from the mercy we have received. Instead, we are to allow God's mercy to motivate us to “doing good.”
The question is this: what does “doing good” mean for us? Each one of us only has so much energy to expend in any given day. To what, and to whom, are we devoting our energy? Let's think about how we spend our time and expend our energies. If there are negative “time wasters” that consume our energy, let us set a boundary based on God's mercy so that we spend our time positively on “doing good.”