Paul isn’t prone to flattery. In our age of “positive thinking” and incessant reminders to work on our self-esteem, Paul takes a different approach. When reminiscing about the work of the Gospel in his and Titus’ life, Paul reminds his disciple (i.e. student) “ At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3) I doubt anyone has ever introduced themselves to you in a such negative light as Paul’s self-description above. As poorly as Paul portrays himself, it gives him opportunity to celebrate how Jesus rescued them both“ not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:4) There is no room for self-congratulation with Paul’s Gospel. You cannot be saved from the penalty of sins by righteous performance. We cannot be rescued from our guilty consciences through positive thinking. Certainly we cannot overcome death simply through having a hopeful outlook. Paul is no flatterer because he wants us to understand our need for salvation, for without grasping our need we will never enjoy this salvation. If the apostle were simply trying to build a platform or sell books, he might tell us that we are awesome and that we need merely unlock the potential within us. Paul would rather see you spared the justice of God. We can praise God for such a clear voice that speaks to us from 2,000 years ago to ignore focusing on our greatness and to rather delight in the wonder of a savior that makes us “heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)