One of the more difficult aspects of discipline is a willingness to be honest with each other. We were raised on the principle; if you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all. If we think back to when we heard this saying, it probably had nothing to do with whether our statement was true. Kids oftentimes are the most honest people one would ever meet. Adults are taught to be “tactful” and “considerate”, but this is often at the expense of being honest and helpful.
Titus 1:10-13 (ESV): For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
The Apostle Paul did not want to allow ambiguity of words to cause Christians to misunderstand his message. Paul knew he had to be emphatic in his statements because souls were at risk. Jewish converts were trying to mingle Christianity with Judaism, but Paul understood that could not happen. In fact, Paul encouraged Christians to rebuke those who would misapply the words of God.
Titus 1:16 (ESV): They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Paul described them as liars, evil, and lazy; not because he did not like them, but because that is what they were. Anyone claiming to know and follow God, but did not keep His word is a liar. To not obey God is to be evil and to misapply His words are to be lazy. Paul is speaking with the simplicity of a child we all use to know. He is not interested in pandering, he is interested in saving everyone’s soul (including the people he called liars, evil, and lazy). Paul is hoping his words, along with the church’s words (assuming the church rebukes them as commanded) will create a change in their lives. Too often we are uncomfortable speaking the truth because we do not believe there is anything we can say to encourage change. Constructive criticism is not always fun, but it is beneficial and necessary. Imagine if no one was comfortable telling the lost they were lost; allowing them to believe God was pleased with their actions. If we love and care about each other, we will tell each other what we need to hear; regardless of how it may affect our relationship. Let us be as clear in our discernment and humble in our interactions; whether we are being corrected or correcting others.