“A lover of what is good…” (Titus 1:8)
The apostle Paul gave Titus a list of character qualities to look for in potential church leaders. In all, he listed 18 aspects of character. Number 12 of the qualities to look for is what we find in verse 8, that a leader among God’s people must be a lover of what is good.
This ancient Greek word (philagathos) is only used here in the New Testament. Philos is a word for love, and agathos is a word for good or virtue. Put the two together and you have the idea of lover of what is good or “lover of goodness,” or even “promoter of virtue.”
There is a lot of evil and corruption in the world today. I don’t think that is anything new; there has always been a lot of evil and corruption! Yet we, as believers, should never love the evil things of this world. We should be lovers of what is good.
In Micah 3:2 the prophet spoke against those who did the opposite. Micah spoke against You who hate good and love evil. We see a lot of that; those who actually hate what is good and love what is evil. The mixed-up morality of our present age is the cause of so much brokenness and trouble in the world. The godly man or woman will have a sense of moral clarity. They see good and recognize it as good; and they see evil and call it what it actually is.
This sense of moral clarity means not only that we should be lovers of what is good, but that we will also hate evil. Psalm 97:10 says, You who love the LORD, hate evil! It also says in Amos 5:15, Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate.
Loving good and hating evil can be difficult for many reasons. It demands courage and moral clarity, which both seem rare in today’s world. They are also often confused with hating evil people. We can hate the evil that people do, and even work against that evil without hating the people themselves. We can commit ourselves to loving them in Jesus’ name and to pray for God’s good in their life, even though they do evil things. And if you think it is impossible to hate the sin while at the same time loving the sinner, remember that we do this with ourselves all time. We love ourselves (Ephesians 5:29), while at the same time hating our sin. We can do this for others as well.
Finally, remember that God is the ultimate good: James 1: 7 says, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights. Jesus also said in Mark 10:18, No one is good but One, that is, God. God is the source of all true goodness. In fact, God invites us to taste and see that the LORD is good (Psalm 34:8). To be a lover of what is good is to be a lover of God.