Titus 3:2-4 says, “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared”
Isn’t smug a fun word? Smug.
It’s fun to say but absolutely not fun to feel.
No matter what your personality is, where you are in life, or how much you have in life, we all have little smug feelings in us sometimes.
When we tip the waiter lower than we know we should. When we don’t thank someone for holding the door open. When we don’t return a stranger’s smile or wave across the street. When we worry more about our reputation than spreading the Gospel.
I’ve been struggling with several seemingly separate heart issues lately- I’ve been judgmental, ungrateful, pessimistic, apathetic, etc… I’ve found that they are all actually connected in one problem -and it’s found in the cute little word, smug. How can such an adorable word have such damaging effects?
For those of you who don’t know, smug (adj.): contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority, or correctness
The verses in Titus above call us to not spread unkind gossip, to live peaceably, and to show gentleness and kindness to everyone we meet. These things are fairly standard commandments sprinkled abundantly throughout the whole Bible. There are so many more verses that command us to do the same things.
The reason that this particular passage stood out to me is the why. Why should I show kindness to them? Why should I refrain from spreading gossip? Why should I tip the waiter a fair amount? Why should I return a stranger’s smile?
Because verse 3 tells me that I, myself was (and still am) disobedient, living in envy, hateful, and serving my own selfish desires. This tells me that I am in no position to withhold love or kindness from anyone, because honestly, I am not always worthy of love. Never, actually. I’ve never been worthy of love.
But God loves me anyways.
He doesn’t love me because of anything I’ve done (if you keep reading you see that in verse 5), or anything I am, but because of who He is and what He’s done.
God saw how lowly and full of failures I am and decided to keep loving me anyways.
He sees all the weakness in you too, friend. And he continues to love you anyways.
Show kindness to them, no matter what they’ve done, because God shows kindness to you through his grace and mercy. Don’t spread hateful gossip about anyone, because any shortcoming you see in them, you also have a little of in you too. Your money is not too good to be given as a tip to the waiter. You are not so above anyone as to not return their friendly smile.
Here’s a hard truth to embrace in every-day life: You are not above God’s commandments. You are no better than any other soul on Earth, and it is not up to you to decide how to treat others.
That sounds very harsh, but it’s the honest truth. When we don’t follow through with what God has commanded us to do, we are implying that we are above His commands.
There it is again- our smug little soul.
Do y’all notice the sequence of events? We ourselves were foolish and disobedient, and after that the kindness and love of God appeared toward man.
After you lived in malice.
After you were hateful.
God showed his love towards me after he saw how lost I was.
Humans have an unreasonably low tolerance level with each other. Most of the time, the minute I see an imperfection in someone, I write them off. I immediately judge their character by the one failure I see in them, without remembering that I have the same failure in some degree within me too.
Who am I to decide that others are not worth my love and kindness?
Despite the fact that God saw the worst in us and still decided to love us, we still sometimes think that we have the power to withhold love from someone that we have deemed “unworthy”. If you keep reading on into verse 5, it says “not by works of righteousness which we have done”. We did nothing to earn God’s love, so how we do have the right to make others work for ours?
God’s love, grace and kindness toward us is unmerited, unconditional, and undeserved. Yet we are so stingy with our own love and kindness. If God forgives the worst in you, and still chooses to love you, you are not only compelled, but called to do the same for others. Please don’t let the smug side of your soul prevent you from showing love towards everyone, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.