January 30, 2017
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
“But after that, the kindness and love of God our Saviour
toward man appeared”
Our generation has witnessed some incredible philanthropy on the part of men such as the Warren Buffets and Bill Gates of our world. Out of their amazing wealth, they have given liberally to many causes which they have espoused. While we may not always sympathize with the choice of their cause, we cannot help but admire and acknowledge their liberality. They have given for others and displayed the true meaning of “philanthropy” or a love for man. This word is made up of two parts: one part indicates love, the word “phileo,” and the other part, “anthropos,” means mankind. We derive our word, anthropology or the study of man, from this latter part of the word.
The Word of God, significantly, also uses this word on one occasion and it is in the text cited above. The love spoken of in Titus 3:4 is a philanthropic love, or love for humanity. God is the ultimate and original philanthropist. While, the thought in itself, is worthy of our worship, when we look at its setting, it becomes even more wonderful. The previous verse (v 3) depicts the dark past of our lives: we were marked by “living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.”
Please don’t miss the dark background upon which the precious jewel of God’s philanthropic love is displayed. It is highlighted by the Spirit of God by His words, “But after that.” After all we displayed of hatred, God loved us. We were full of hatred toward Him, and we even hated one another. So self-centered has sin made us, that we can only think of self; and others do not really matter to us. When we were not able to love one another, God, actually, loved us!
When we were full of hatred toward God, He loved us! The verse is highlighting God’s love for humanity. Of course, we each take this personally, but the portion of Scripture is stressing the amazing contrast between our inability as human beings to love one another and God’s love for humanity.
But contrasts abound. Human philanthropists give of their wealth, not all their wealth. Many give their estates to noble causes but only after their deaths and after descendants have received their bequests. Have any ever given all? Most still enjoy comfortable homes, private jets, exotic vacations, and immense privilege after their donations. But “ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich … He became poor … ” (2 Cor 8:9).
The kindness and philanthropic love of God is displayed against the background of men hating one another. This unique love of God’s has been displayed and abounded toward us, resulting in blessing upon blessing. As we look at the teaching of Paul’s short epistle to Titus, we learn we are saved by His mercy, justified by grace, made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (cf 1:2). Paupers have become princes; debtors dignified; the hateful made holy. All this the fruit of the first, original philanthropist!
1. Notice in chapter 2:11 that the grace of God has “appeared.” In chapter 3:4 the “kindness and love of God” has appeared. Look for other appearings in this epistle.
2. We see the meekness of Christ, the kindness of God, the philanthropic love of God, the mercy of God, the grace of God. Also, the Savior-hood of both Father and Son is seen in vv 4,6