Today is my mother's birthday so I'm thinking very much about her. In reading Paul's letter to Titus and today's passage I'm also very much thinking about how my mother really worked hard to raise me with a sound doctrine and live a life worthy of the gospel. She raised me and my sister on her own, with some help from her mother and she worked to make sure we valued our education and we valued what was most important, family, friends, God.... not necessarily in that order. Most of all she taught us both to work hard (we both to this day have very strong work ethics) and to be fair. She practiced what she preached and really helped to form me as a Christian woman.
I think this is really what Paul is talking about in this passage. To have strong values and to pass them on to others - to be a witness for Christ in all we do so that we proclaim the gospel in all we do. We all have people in our lives who were formative in our coming to faith in Christ. We all owe a word of thanks (or more) to those who have been role models of faith. This Christmas season, may we remember those who gave us so much in how they lived their lives and what they taught us. May we also give thanks for the ONE who gave us everything at the birth of his Son, Jesus Christ.