"I, Zach McIntosh, a resident of San Antonio, Texas, being of sound mind and body and over the age of eighteen years, and not being actuated by any duress, menace, fraud, mistake, or undue influence, do hereby make, publish and declare the following to be my Last Will and Testament, revoking all previous will and codicils made by me."
Such begins a standard Last Will and Testament. Perhaps the most famous line in the above paragraph is, "being of sound mind and body." This phrase is foundational and fundamental to any Will, because it indicates that person signing it is familiar with their property and family and that they are physically well enough to sign a Will and are not doing so under any sort of coercion or duress. In order to sign a will, a person must be sound - both mentally and physically.
In our reading for today from Titus 2, we find that the same thing needed for a will - soundness - is also needed in a Christian's life: "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance" (verses 1-2). The Greek word for "sound" in these verses is hugiano, meaning "healthy." Thus, a Christian is called to healthy doctrine and healthy living in faith, love, and endurance. This is a high calling.
Far too often, Christians sacrifice so-called healthy living for so-called healthy doctrine and so-called healthy doctrine for so-called healthy living. I have seen many who have prided themselves on living well while simultaneously refusing to take principled stands on important doctrinal issues. Conversely, I have also met many who, while priding themselves in their doctrinal purity, do so arrogantly, without the humble spirit that should mark a follower of Christ.
Trying to have sound doctrine without sound living and trying to have sound living without sound doctrine is impossible. Both sound doctrine and sound living are needed. Indeed, this is precisely what Paul says later this same chapter:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (verses 11-14)
Here we find both sound doctrine and sound living. The gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ - the very crux of Christian doctrine - is taught clearly and unequivocally while a call to righteous living is upheld.
Do you hail sound doctrine over sound living or sound living over sound doctrine? Today, take an inventory of your beliefs and your life. Is there any area in your doctrinal beliefs that you need to clarify or on which you need to take a solid stance that you have not heretofore? Is there any area of your life where you are not soundly living within God's commands? God calls us all to a sound mind, believing sound doctrine, and a sound body, practicing sound living. May you live and believe soundly. For this is living and believing soundly in Christ.