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The Titus Touch

A knight in battered armor, a weary horse beneath him, approached the gate of his king's castle, shouted for the drawbridge to be lowered, and demanded to see his majesty. When the knight was admitted to the monarch's throne room, he proclaimed: "Sire, I have come from fighting your enemies in the west!" "But I don't have any enemies in the west," replied the king. "You do now, Sire!" said the knight.

There are people who have a way of stirring up trouble where there is none, making bad situations worse, and spreading chaos wherever they go. But their opposites exist also. They are the reconcilers, people who have that special gift from God to bring peace, promote reconciliation, soothe ruffled egos, and to leave in their wake not chaos but contentment. Such people have THE TITUS TOUCH, that is, they have that special gift of peacemaking exhibited by Titus, one of Paul's right-hand men.

There are about 13 references to Titus in the New Testament, and nearly every one mentions what a comfort he is to those he is with. Paul writes to the Corinthians: "When we came into Macedonia [we] had no rest but we were afflicted at every turn - fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus..." What we need desperately are more people with THE TITUS TOUCH.

Do you have that special gift that Titus had? If you have it, are you using it? And if you don't have it, are you willing to pray for it and work to perfect it and use it to the glory of God and the betterment of this world?

So that you may have a better idea of what THE TITUS TOUCH is, let's look at how that touch is described in the various references to it in the New Testament.

First, the Titus touch promotes communication. Word had come to Paul that the Corinthian Christians had defied his instructions, and were in a hostile mood to him, even to the point of doubting his right of apostolic leadership. He sent Titus ahead to see if the reports were true, and to see if Titus could help clear up any misunderstandings. Paul eventually met Titus in Macedonia and was overjoyed to learn that everything was patched up in Corinth, and whatever misunderstanding had arisen was now gone.

Now the Bible doesn't tell us how Titus calmed the stormy waters in the Corinthian Church, but we know he did. He had that gift of promoting communication. Nearly everything we worry about is made worse by poor communication. Parents are often at odds with their children because they don't understand how their children perceive them. Children are often angry with their parents for being so old-fashioned. Nations are often hostile to other nations because the barriers of language and custom bury the common concerns all people share.

I suspect that one reason Titus was successful as a peacemaker is that he was a good listener. He must have listened to the Corinthians, waiting patiently while they poured out their frustration and hurt, and only then spoke quietly and persuasively the truth. So we hear all the time about the "teachings" of Jesus; what we don't hear about are the silences of Jesus, how he listened to others. I believe Jesus was a good: listener. Someone has called listening "a primitive act of love."

Titus too, must have had the gift of being a loving listener. To have THE TITUS TOUCH is to practice the discipline of listening attentively. Most angry people have no one who will listen to them. That may be why they tend to be loud in speech and outrageous in action, so that at least someone will notice them. Negative attention is better than none. What a blessing you are to others when you care enough to listen.

Second, the Titus touch means unwavering support. When Paul got to Troas to preach the gospel, he wrote: "...a door was opened for me in the Lord, but my mind could not rest because I could not find my brother Titus there." Paul seemed almost incomplete without his friend. He needed that steady, constant, loving support that only Titus seemed able to give him.

Many of us, I'm afraid, waver in our support of friends. We see their shortcomings and failings, and something in us makes us all too ready to point them out. We do it, of course, thinking that it is for "their own good" but as a friend of mine likes to say, "Why is it when someone tells me, 'I'm doing this for your own good' that I feel so bad?" Some of us are critical by nature. When we are reminded of that we get defensive and say, "Well, that's just the way I am." There's no doubt about that. The question is, 'Is that the way of Christ?'

I have been greatly helped by a short credo I first heard many years ago. It is something you can use in leadership positions and in everyday experiences. It consists of just three simple statements:

Jesus SAW EVERYTHING. Jesus was the most alert and perceptive person who ever lived. He knew not only what his eyes told him, but what his spirit perceived. He knew people literally inside and out. He advised his followers, you'll recall, "Be wise as serpents..." Naivete is not a Christian virtue. We are not called to be blind to the shortcomings of others. Jesus was always telling his followers to be alert but compassionate. He called them to be the "light of the world," and the "salt of the earth." They were to see everything, to be in the world even though they were not of the world. Jesus never called his followers " be so heavenly minded that they were not earthly good."

JESUS OVERLOOKED MUCH, however. He did not constantly pick at his disciples or harp on them for their failures. To be a Titus you have to separate the unimportant from the crucial. You have to look past the little everyday irritations. You have to love in spite of. Anyone who has had a long term friendship or who has been married to the same spouse for 20 or 30 or 60 years has overlooked much! Jesus lovingly endured many shortcomings in his friends and disciples. Because he was accepting of those around him, he did not fritter away his authority by petty criticisms.

OCCASIONALLY, JESUS CORRECTED A LITTLE. Jesus could be firm, even harsh. When Peter said that Jesus did not have to go to Jerusalem and face the cross, Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan!" That was a severe correction; but Jesus had to do it because if he were successfully tempted to avoid the cross, the whole Christian enterprise would have come crashing down. But because Jesus corrected so seldom, his word had power. He did not diminish his authority by fussing at the disciples. He saved his authority for when it was absolutely necessary.

To have the THUS TOUCH is to overlook the petty annoyances of your friends. Paul probably had many unpleasant aspects to his character, but Titus ignored them. He was there to support and encourage and defend his friend. Paul needed Titus, and each of us need Titus in our life; and each of needs to be a Titus to another.

If you want to have the Titus touch, see everything, overlook much, and correct only a little, and only when it is absolutely necessary.

Third, the Titus touch brings joy, it is a joyful touch. Paul writes to the Corinthians, "And besides our own comfort we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus..." Who needs a gloomy friend? What you and I need is a friend in whom we see reflected the good news that this is God's world, and a good world, and though it's filled with strife and violence and evil, God will prevail over them all. The universe is friendly.

"This is my Father's world!" That's what Titus did for Paul; he reflected the joy of our life in Christ.

Are you a joy-bringer or a gloom-carrier? Titus brought joy everywhere he went. He had the touch of reconciliation, the touch of communication, and the touch of joy. No wonder Paul wanted him near by. I urge you to be a Titus to someone, if possible, to many. Pray for the Titus touch, work on it, perfect it, and use it to the glory of God. If you do, others will come to Christ because of you. AMEN.