After pounding on the immoral Cretans for two chapters, Paul gives missionary Titus a word of humility. I can almost hear Paul chuckling ruefully, "no, I was never as bad as the Cretans - I was worse."
Paul trains Titus to always remembers there is no "I" in "Gospel", no room for clubby self-righteousness. Without letting the Cretans off the hook of obedience to God and human authority, he cautions Titus and perhaps himself, too:
"3 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. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 "
Paul directs Titus to humbly identify with Cretan sinners, testifying how being made an heir of God through the good work of another, Jesus, he himself has been reborn and renewed through the Holy Spirit.
I know a young person (not a relative) who smokes dope. She's really lost in every way. To her I am probably a well-meaning grayhaired holy roller with no concept about "real life." I hope to tell her I was 16 once and smoked dope because it made me feel good when nothing else did until someone told me 38 years ago last Friday about how Jesus could give me new life if I just would say "yes" to him and I heard something in my spirit ask me if I wanted to do this and I said yes and lo and behold the desire to smoke pot just went away and I broke my pipe and tossed it into Malletts Bay in front of my parents' house, where it is rusting still I expect but I on the other hand am alive and expect to be so, forever.
And if by grace that testimony ever takes place, I will add silently, "Hallelujah, and Glory to God!"