A Pattern of Sobriety

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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To teach his teenaged son about the dangers of alcohol, a father dropped a worm in a glass of water, and it just kind of wiggled around, the way worms do on your hook when you go fishing.  But then he dropped another worm in whiskey, and it promptly curled up and died.  He asked, “What does that teach you, son?”  The boy replied, “If I drink alcohol, I won’t have worms.”

Speaking of teenaged boys like that, the Apostle Paul had some advice for them that he wanted Titus to pass along to the young men to whom he ministered.  He wrote,

“Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded” (Titus 2:6).

After exhorting aged men to be “sober” (v. 2) and aged women “likewise” (v. 3), as well as young women (v. 4), Paul also tells Titus to instruct young men to be sober minded “likewise” (v. 6).  It is obvious from Paul’s emphasis on sobriety here that God would have all of His people rise above the frivolity of the world around us and be serious about the things of the Lord.

Of course, Titus himself was a young man, so it’s not surprising to read on and see Paul exhort him to lead the way in this important area:

“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works…” (Titus 2:7).

The word “pattern” is the Greek word tupos, from which we get our word type.  I learned to type on a type-writer that was so old it didn’t have to be plugged in to the wall, and it didn’t have a rechargeable battery like your laptop either.  What it did have were keys attached to long hammers with little letters engraved on the end.  When I would pound the keys—and you had to pound them—the hammers would fly up and strike an ink ribbon stretched over a piece of paper.  Each hammer’s strike would leave an impression on the paper in the exact shape of the letter on the end of the hammer.

So in exhorting Titus to be a tupos, he was telling him to be the little letter at the end of the hammer.  He was asking him to be the kind of young man who would strike you as someone you’d want to pattern your life after.  Paul had lived an exemplary life like that, but he was about to pass from the scene, so he instructed Titus to become a pattern of good works for the next generation.

Our English word “pattern” has much the same idea.  When I was young, I dated a young lady who made her own dresses by laying a paper pattern over the cloth and cutting it to the exact shape of the pattern.  The lives of pastors like Titus should likewise be so exemplary that the members of their flocks should be able to use them as a pattern of good works.

And if you think about it, that’s not bad advice for all believers, not just pastors.  Especially when you consider that Doubting Thomas used the word tupos when he said,

“Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails… I will not believe” (John 20:25).

The holes in the Lord’s hands were an exact match to the nails that pierced them.  That reminds me of how our police departments have forensic doctors who can tell if your knife is the murder weapon by the shape of the wound in the body.  That’s the kind of pattern Paul was telling Titus to be, the kind that would be an exact match to the good works Paul lays out in his epistles.

You know, arrests are often made on the basis of such forensic evidence, arrests that often lead to convictions.  May I ask, if you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  Does your life exemplify the good works that God has described in detail in His rightly divided Word?

If not, did you notice that Doubting Thomas declared that he would not believe unless he saw the tupos of the nails in the Lord’s hands?  There might be people watching you and thinking the same thing, that they won’t believe unless they see your hands engaged in the kind of good works in which God wants young men to walk, and the rest of us as well.  Why not start today?

To the Reader:

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