To care for the church life, the family life, the social system, and the government, we need a specific supply. In speaking of these four units, Paul also tells us of the divine supply. We have seen that in chapter one Paul speaks concerning the church life. The supply for the church life consists of the faith of God’s chosen ones, the full knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, and the hope of eternal life (1:1-2). Eternal life in particular is the supply which enables us to have the church life. The word of proclamation (1:3) is another aspect of the supply for the proper church life.
Just as there is a supply for the church life, there is also a supply for the family life. The supply for the proper family life includes healthy teaching (2:1), healthy speech (2:8), and being healthy in faith, in love, and in endurance (2:2). For the family unit we need the supply of healthy teaching and healthy speech. The word speech in 2:8 refers to our ordinary daily conversation, such as conversation at the dinner table. If our speech is healthy, it will supply us that we may have a proper family life.
We have seen that in 2:9-15 Paul charges the slaves to behave well in the social system of slavery. This indicates that we need to have the proper attitude toward society. But what is the supply for living in the existing social system? This supply is the grace of God which has appeared, bringing salvation to all men and training us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age as we await the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Christ Jesus (2:11-13). By means of this supply we can adorn the teaching of our Savior God in all things.
The supply which enables us to keep a good relationship with the government is wonderful. Paul speaks of this supply in 3:4-7. Prior to this, he says in verse 3, “For we also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving as slaves various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” We should remember that in nature we were once the same as others, living in the fallen condition; therefore, we should sympathize with their pitiful life and pray for their salvation (1 Tim. 2:1, 4). We also once served as slaves various lusts, various desires and gratifications. But now we have a marvelous supply to have a good relationship with the government.
KINDNESS, LOVE, AND MERCY
Verse 4 says, “But when the kindness and love to man of our Savior God appeared.” It is the kindness and love of our Savior God that has saved us and made us different from others.
In verse 5 Paul continues, “Not by works in righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy, He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 2:11 says that the grace of God brings salvation to man, and 3:7 says that we have been justified by the grace of the Lord. But verse 5 says that according to His mercy He saved us. God’s mercy reaches farther than His grace. Our pitiful condition created a wide gap between us and God’s grace. It was God’s mercy that has bridged this gap and brought us to His salvation of grace.
Notice that in 3:4-5 Paul does not speak of grace, but speaks of kindness, love, and mercy. Love is the source of grace. In the heart of God the Father there is love. But when this love is expressed through the Son, it becomes grace. For this reason, 2 Corinthians 13:14 speaks of the grace of Christ and the love of the Father. In John 1:16 and 17 we have grace; however, in 1 John we touch the love of God the Father as the source of this grace.
What, then, are mercy and kindness? We have pointed out that mercy always reaches farther than grace. When we are in a proper situation, God’s love will come to us as grace. However, we were all in a pitiful situation and may still be in such a situation today. Therefore, we need God’s mercy to reach us. The mercy of God can come to us even in our pitiful situation.
Kindness is God’s attitude in giving grace to us. It is possible to give a gift to a person without having a proper attitude. For example, I may give a valuable gift to a brother but give it in a rather crude, insensitive manner. On the other hand, I may give him a gift in a way that expresses an attitude of kindness. God’s attitude in giving us grace is the attitude of kindness.
When we have mercy, love, and kindness, we automatically have grace. Our God and Father has shown us love, mercy, and kindness. It is by this that He saves us.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Chapter 25, by Witness Lee)