Unproductive Lives

2022 brett johnson brett johnson biz brettjohnsonbiz devo devotional food for thought marketplace marketplace reflections reflections Apr 24, 2022

Our people must not live unproductive lives. Titus 3:14

You may not be a proverbial Cretan—“liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons”—but you are facing some subtle pressures that can be a by-product of tough economic times. Many things can lead to un-productivity. Let me see if I can unpack the cycle for you:

  • There is disillusionment with public officials. The only ones who seem to think that they are accomplishing things, are the politicians themselves. People simply do not believe “data” about job creation, turnarounds, and progress. Government leaders seem to be in a world of their own.
  • There is disdain for the greedy. The very people who devised many of the meaningless products, that created some of the financial mess, are being rewarded with ridiculous bonuses at the expense of taxpayers.
  • Hopelessness. People are low on hope.
  • Disempowerment. The magnitude of the mess, at home and globally, is causing people to feel, ‘I cannot do anything about it.’ There is a dull blanket of disempowerment that is sapping the creative juices of the nation.
  • The result: unproductiveness, and feeling entitled to be unproductive.

Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities, and not live unproductive lives. Titus 3:14

Paul tells Titus that he has a specific task: change the culture on an island. The church had become infected by the culture, or never got out of it. There was meaningless argument and legalism. The antidote to this malaise: the truth about Jesus and productive work. Let’s unpack the verse a little: 

Our people” – he is writing to Paul and Titus’ people… Christ-following people. 

must learn” – the target audience, it seems, was naturally lazy. They had to unlearn laziness. 

to devote themselves” – focus and effort were required to get out of the nosedive.

to doing” – not to talking; you get the impression that Cretans had lots of opinions on everything and could spend all day philosophizing about everything in general and nothing in particular. How different are we? When our efforts produce limited economic results we run the risk of becoming talkers, not doers.

what is good” – idleness leads to evilness. 

in order that they may provide” – who? “they” – we cannot put the onus on God to provide if we are being unproductive. 

daily necessities” – ‘So all they have to do is cover their own basic needs?’ No. Read back one verse.  

“Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need.” 

‘What, me help a lawyer… doesn’t he have his own job?’ Actually, these were traveling ministers who, at the time, were most likely visiting Crete to strengthen the believers there. As such, they probably took little with them and relied on the hospitality of the local Christians. They do not appear to have been in town to work on a court case. (Apollos was a Bible teacher.) So Paul urged Timothy to teach the Cretans; to provide for themselves and for others, particularly those who were part of mobile ministries. (Is it any surprise that his first qualification for an elder is that they be hospitable? Titus 1:8)

and not live unproductive lives.” So, there you have the full picture. Productivity has a purpose. It is an antidote to faithless inactivity. It is an act of obedience. It is a declaration that God is in control, not the economists, bankers, or politicians. We work because we hope, and our hope is in God. We work because there is a God to be served through our work, and not for a paycheck. We work because our faith-infused notion of work is a reflection of our God who is still at work. Let’s face it: if economic downturns stop us from working we have been working for the wrong boss. If we are cutting ourselves slack because there is a slowdown, we are probably not doing all the work we should be doing. If we are jumping on the ‘life is hopeless’ bandwagon, we are living like Cretans, not Christians. 

Our people must not live unproductive lives. Titus 3:14


  • How are you living: productively, or unproductively?
  • Are you providing for the ‘mobile ministers’ in your life and not just for your own needs?
  • Are you practicing hospitality so routinely that it is a descriptor of who you are?
  • Do you realize that there is a spiritual dimension to a recession or depression that needs to be resisted with faith?
  • What are you going to do about this?