In Paul’s epistle to Titus, he gives some instructions for “aged men” that contain good advice for believers of all ages, saying,
“That the aged men be… sound in faith, in charity…” (Titus 2:2).
The word “sound” means strong, healthy and wholesome (cf. Isa. 1:5,6), and all of God’s people should aspire to be sound in the virtues Paul mentions here. But that can be difficult when things in life arise that test our faith and challenge our charity. That’s why it interests me that another definition of the word “sound” is to strike something to see if it is whole, based on the sound it makes when you strike it.
When I worked in my dad’s tool and die shop as a young man, I worked with surface grinding machines that had a grinding wheel of two feet in diameter that spun at several thousand revolutions per minute. If the wheel was cracked and unsound it could fly apart at that speed and take out your eye, or even your life. The problem is, you can’t tell if a grinding wheel is unsound just by looking at it. So my dad taught me to check the wheel before mounting it on the machine by putting my fingers in the hole in the middle of the wheel, balancing it in my hand, while using my other hand to strike it with a brass hammer. If it made a clunk sound, that meant it was cracked and dangerous. If it made a ping sound, then it was healthy and whole.
And I believe that you can tell if you are sound in faith in the same way, when life strikes your faith. The word “faith” here means faithfulness, as it does when Paul talked about “the faith of God” (Rom. 3:3). If you want to know the strength of your faithfulness to the Lord, all you have to do is wait for something in life to strike you while faithfully serving Him to see if you will continue to serve Him, or fold like a house of cards. When life strikes some Christians they respond with something that sounds more like a clunk than a ping. Some even make sounds such as you might hear at the Wailing Wall! But when life strikes others, their faith rings true. Does yours?
Similarly, if you want to know if you are sound “in charity,” just wait to see how you react when someone strikes out at you when you offer them charity. Years ago when I was a painting contractor, a lady hired me to paint her parents’ home—while they were away on vacation! She wanted to surprise them by doing something nice for them. But I remember she was very apprehensive about how her charity might be received! She knew that the old saying, “No good deed goes unpunished,” is often true. But that’s how you can know if you are sound in charity—when someone lashes out at you for giving it, and you continue steadfast and sound in charity.
Now the reason Paul told “aged men” to be sound in faith and charity is that these are “the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). It’s not very becoming for a believer to profess sound doctrine and not be sound in these virtues. Others are watching to see if the doctrine that we say is sound doctrine actually works in our lives, and we dare not let them down.
On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash. When one of his closest friends was interviewed afterward, he pointed out that John Jr. never said or did anything that caused embarrassment to his family name, unlike many of his relatives. What makes this even more re-markable is the fact that he lived his life under constant scrutiny. Every time he stepped out of the house he was met by a flurry of photographers, who followed him wherever he went. Had he said or done anything to embarrass his family name, it would have been all over the evening news.
Could your life hold up under scrutiny like that? Do you always live in ways that are becoming to the sound doctrine found in Paul’s epistles that we hold dear? Can it be said of you that you never do anything to embarrass the name of the Lord? If not, don’t wait until you are aged to start faithfully honoring His name. Start now.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.