“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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior… This is a trustworthy saying.” - Titus 3:5-6, 8
Twice Paul says to Timothy, “He saved us.” As if this phrase needed to be re-stated. As if it was something that was frequently forgotten. As if it was something that—although we know it in our minds—is a lot harder to work out in reality.
How do you live into the reality that someone has saved you?
For Paul, it seems that remembering how He saved us is just as significant as the fact that He saved us at all. “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
Washing and rebirth? When was I washed? When was I re-born?
At my baptism.
When I was baptized—although I was too small to remember the exact details—the water that was poured over me was a visible and tangible sign of Jesus washing me clean. I had recently been physically born, but God’s faithfulness to me meant that I was now re-born in Christ.
All of us, at whatever age that we pass through the waters of baptism, are spiritually washed clean. The slate is wiped. There is no sin, no baggage, no dirt, no mess.
Jesus looks at us as completely clean—which means that no matter how little or much we’ve done, we are now able to receive the most holy of all gifts.
The Spirit of God Himself.
This is how He has saved us. Our baptism is a reminder that He has created a way by which the canvas can be totally clear for the Great Artist to being His work. In other words, this wasn’t a band-aid solution, a quick do-over, a renovation, or a re-painting of a really ugly colored wall.
This was a clean slate. A fresh canvas. He made me completely new. And every morning, His promise is the same:
I am washed clean.
I remember years ago, I wanted to paint my mom a picture for her Christmas present. (No, I wasn’t just trying to save money.) So I picked up a blank canvas and some paintbrushes from the Dollar Store (okay, I was trying to save a little money) and then selected an evening where I could close my bedroom door and secretly work on the project.
And I recall sitting there on the floor of my bedroom, in front of the blank canvas, completely terrified to pick up my paint brush. What if I made a mistake? I wouldn’t have the skills to fix it. What if I spill the paint bottle on it and it smears everywhere? What if I’m 90% done and then suddenly I screw up and ruin it?
What if it’s not… perfect?
Without His Spirit, we are lost in the worries of our own inadequacies. Without his Spirit, we will only continue to paint and re-paint and re-do and scrape and re-paint, trying as hard as we can to make the perfect image.
This is why Paul needed to remind Titus. As followers who have been baptized in Jesus’ name, we wake up every morning with a blank canvas. We no longer need to perform or prove ourselves. We trust the paintbrush into the Painter’s hands.
And every time we spill or make a mistake, our Lord is yet able to make a masterpiece out of it.
Some of our sister denominations have a tradition where—before you enter into the Sanctuary—you are invited to stand at the water fount by the door, dip your finger in the water, and mark the sign of the cross on your forehead as a reminder of your baptism.
I want to invite you to find ways to remember your baptism today. Any time you take a drink of water, remember that you are washed. Anytime you shower or take a bath, remember that you are cleansed. Anytime that you offer a drink to someone else, pray that the living waters of Jesus would flood their souls.
Remember, believe, and know that He saved you.
Living God, remind me today of the gift of your Holy Spirit’s presence within me.
Lord, remind me today that your salvation is to be a lived experience
and not simply a knowledgeable fact.
Lord, remind me today of the reliable truth that you have washed and cleansed me,
and that it is all because of your grace.
In Christ, amen.