When the apostle Paul left Titus in Crete to set things in order and establish qualified leaders in the church there, he made the following statement regarding the conditions into which Titus was getting:
Titus 1:10–14 (ESV) — 10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.
The statement in verse 12 regarding the Cretans by one of their own included their own was they are liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons (also translated: “slow bellies”)
Titus 1:12 (KJV) — 12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. Wow! That was not an outsider saying that but one of their own. Paul, however, must have found that to be the case for he went on to say in verse 13, “this testimony is true.” I wonder how an assessment of our society today would differ, if any. Let’s see how we would match up to some of the details.
- They have trouble with telling the truth so in general they are liars.
- They are evil beasts so you could say they were sly, hurtful and of a savage nature.
- They are lazy gluttons or as the KJV says “slow bellies” so they exemplified a life of laziness, idleness, sloth and sensuality; they were more inclined to eat and enjoy sensual practices than work honestly.
How do you and/or people you know stack up to the Cretans? It could probably be said that the description of the Cretans matches very well with people in general. So how do we avoid falling into this trap and end up like a “slow belly
- Be a person of truth. That is not an option as it is one of the Ten Commandments that God has given us.
Exodus 20:16 (ESV) — 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Ephesians 4:15 (ESV) — 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
- Be a person who demonstrates a preference for others, rather than following a natural selfish tendency.
Philippians 2:4 (ESV) — 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
- Be a person who sees the importance of stewardship of time, talent, and treasure; a person who sees the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and takes heed to the warning against drunkenness, gluttony, laziness, and sloth.
Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Ephesians 5:18 (ESV) — 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
Proverbs 23:1–3 (ESV) — 1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. 3 Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.
Proverbs 18:9 (ESV) — 9 Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (ESV) — 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
As Paul instructed Titus to rebuke sharply, so does the word of God rebuke every aspect of the “slow belly syndrome.”
2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV) — 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The teaching of Titus was to teach those who were “slow bellies” to know the grace of God which would lead them on from the dearth of “slow belly” to the praise of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Titus 2:11–14 (ESV) — 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.