For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers… (Titus 1:10)
In the previous section of Titus, Paul told his associate the kind of men he should look for as he appointed leaders for churches spread out all over Crete (Titus 1:5-8). Then he told Titus what those leaders should do – “hold fast the word of truth” (Titus 1:9). Now in verse 10 Paul tells us one reason why it was important to appoint good leaders.
The reason was because, “there are many insubordinate.” The word Paul used for insubordinate speaks of someone who will not submit to God’s order of authority. Like the English word, the ancient Greek word translated “insubordinate” is the negative form of the word submit– an insubordinate person will not submit.
God has established an order of authority in several different areas of life. There is an order of authority in the home, in the church, in the workplace, and in the community. God wants us to recognize the places where He has place an order of authority in our lives, and He wants us to submit to that authority.
Our submission to God should be absolute—we should do whatever He truly tells us to do. God is perfect and all-wise—but people are not. God never commands absolute submission to any human authority. If an authority tells us to sin, we should refuse and choose to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
But often—even most the time—our submission problem doesn’t have to with being told to sin. We are just asked to do something that we don’t think is a good idea or we don’t want to do. Don’t be insubordinate. If you recognize someone as a leader in your life only until they tell you “no,” then you are almost certainly insubordinate and need to be a better follower.
When someone is in rightful authority over us and we submit to them—when we have a different opinion and it isn’t a matter of sin—we then demonstrate our trust in God more than in the authority. It’s good to respectfully tell the person in authority if you have a different perspective or opinion, but then submit. If they are wrong, then let God deal with them.
Notice one other thing. Paul asked for a high level of character among the leaders who should be submitted to (Titus 1:5-8). This is important. It’s easier to submit to someone when their character is respected. When leaders act in ways that invite less respect, they make their job a lot harder. When leaders are corrupt, it helps ruin the foundation of God’s order of authority.
So, don’t be insubordinate. Show yourself as one who can submit to God and to whatever rightful authority God has placed you under. Follow the leaders God puts in your life. God appoints leaders and orders of authority for a purpose, and part of that purpose is our own Christian growth.