There is a pivotal point consistently found throughout Scripture. We discover a contrast of what we once were, and who we now are. The hinge in the middle is Christ. In every scenario, and in any circumstance, He is the difference maker.
We find exactly this sort of situation in Titus chapter 3. Verse three paints a bleak picture: “For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” Yet here is where we find the pivotal moment of grace: “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy … .” What a stunning word picture, His kindness appearing! Just as the sun emerges on the horizon each morning, His kindness appears in the moment we need it most, dispelling darkness.
The Greek word used for “kindness” in this verse is an interesting one. It is “chrēstotēs” pronounced, “khra-sto’-tas.” It has been translated in Scripture to mean kindness, integrity, and moral excellence. What an interesting thought, to correlate God’s kindness with His integrity! Integrity gives us the idea of a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition. This is precisely the kindness of God — unbiased, unconditional, and without end. His kindness is fixed within His righteousness, carrying out all good deeds toward us in wisdom and truth. In this fuller definition, we find His kindness consistent and unwavering.
With this understanding of His kindness, we can take comfort in His somewhat mysterious ways, which may, at times, go against our desires. When we struggle to understand why He allows difficult circumstances, or why some prayers seem to go unanswered, we can lean on this bigger definition of His kindness and integrity going hand-in-hand. Acting with integrity, perhaps He is carrying out a bigger agenda than we can see, one for our good and His glory.
When we study a specific word in Scripture, it is similar to playing a game of dot-to-dot. We make connections from one use of the word to the next, drawing conclusions from the context as we go along, and gaining a more complete understanding of God’s intent. Through examining this word, chrēstotēs, used for both kindness and integrity, we gain a fuller picture of our need and God’s grace.
We can begin in Romans 3:12 where we find it used to describe how far from God’s integrity — His moral excellence — we fall. The verse reads, “They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good (chrēstotēs), There is not even one.”
In this position, we sense our deep and desperate need for a Savior — One who can bridge the gap of integrity, bringing us back to God’s presence.
Next, we trace the line to Romans 2:4, where the same word is used to describe God’s kindness, and how He leads us to His salvation, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness (chrēstotēs) and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
Finally, we have our verse in Titus, assuring us of our salvation. “But when the kindness (chrēstotēs) of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us … .”
Chrēstotēs acts as a direct line pointing from our need, to His deliverance!
His kindness may not always look as we expect, but we can be assured He has our good in mind. From our need, to God’s leading, to His provision of salvation — this word chrēstotēs acts as a bridge, carrying us along in God’s kindness and integrity until we find ourselves at the foot of the cross. When His kindness appeared, He saved us.