Ecclesiastes 11 & Titus 3

Ecclesiastes 11

    Cast your bread upon the waters,
        for you will find it after many days.
    Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
        for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.
    If the clouds are full of rain,
        they empty themselves on the earth,
    and if a tree falls to the south or to the north,
        in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
    He who observes the wind will not sow,
        and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
        As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

    In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

    Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.

    So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.

    Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

    Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

(Ecclesiastes 11 ESV)

Titus 3

    Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

    When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

    All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

    Grace be with you all.

(Titus 3 ESV)

Titus 3: As it concerns our relationship to the state, the apostle teaches that our submission to worldly authorities is ultimately our submission to God’s authority who has established their rule in the first-place (Romans 13). However, it should be stated that in painting governing authorities in such a positive light, the apostle is stating the intended ideal and not necessarily the always experienced reality. He of all people can attest to the negative injustice that can occur under evil governing authorities. There may be situations and circumstances that call for resistance. However, we must resolve that we can’t simply resist a governing authority because we disagree with them or dislike them.

The general rule for the Christian’s submission to the state is that we submit all the way up to the point where continuing to submit would become disobedience to God. If a government is commending those who do evil and punishing those who do good or commanding what God forbids and forbidding what God commands then the requirement to submit is no longer reasonable. Peter and the apostles agree, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5) We actually can observe several examples of resistance found throughout the Bible:

  • The Hebrew women refuse to kill their newborns as ordered by Pharaoh (Exodus 1). 
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to obey the order to worship the image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).
  • Daniel refuses to obey King Darius’ order that all citizens were to only pray to him for an entire month (Daniel 6). 
  • The apostles refuse to obey the Sanhedrin’s order to cease preaching the gospel of Christ (Acts 4). 

We must carefully and cautiously discern when a governing authority has crossed the line from its role as a servant of God into the realm of being an instrument of Satan. The state’s role is to promote and reward good and punish and restrain evil. This is the ministry of government institutions and the authority given to them by God. Therefore, we are to honor the authority given to the state out of our obedience to God and a clear conscience to do what’s right and honorable. 

The apostle Paul makes the assumption that the non-believing world around us ought to benefit from our presence within the culture and the community, and therefore ought to never have anything negative to say about us. We are not called to be passive pushovers but rather active and engaging in making a redeemable and loving impact on our environment.