Titus is a small book, scarcely longer than this blog post, found late in the New Testament.

In this letter, Paul writes to his “loyal friend in the faith” to remind Titus of his role in the spreading of the Gospel, the great good news of Jesus Christ.

This week’s four verses, 2:11-14, speak directly to the impact that the appearing of Jesus should have upon each of us as his followers. As Christ brings us salvation and redeems us from all iniquity, his intent is to “purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.”

In today’s world, we too often see “zeal” in the extremes of behavior. One can become convinced that zeal means loud, aggressive, intolerant, even vengeful. By contrast, Christians are called to “lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly.” Sounds very Presbyterian to me.

Fresh from the Christmas pageant, we are mindful of the gifts that wise folk brought to Christ at his first appearance. But more than frankincense or myrrh, more even than much fine gold, Paul urges us to present in ourselves the virtues that reflect our gratitude to God and that identify to an increasingly self-centered and destructively-partisan world what Christ would have us be: people of integrity, gravity, and sound speech, hospitable, honest and humble in our identity with all God’s children, kind and loving and devoted to good works.

As any day can be an Advent,

 be the gift you want to present … when Jesus comes again.