A Small Little Hinge

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I spent a little part of my younger life as an apprentice cabinetmaker; well all around helper might be a better term. At any rate it developed a love of working in wood and to this day I still would like to have a full shop to build all new furniture for the house… maybe some day? I especially enjoyed working on more intricate furniture, like cabinets that incorporated some ornate hardware. I remembered one that had really small antique hinges on the door  while reading in the Book of Titus yesterday morning. Just one word got me to thinking about how important even a little hinge can be.

Paul opens the third chapter of his letter to Titus with an admonition… a strong reminder of what we used to be…

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 

And then he inserts that Small Little Hinge, a powerful little word…

Titus 3:4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 

How often throughout the Bible it comes to our rescue, as in the parable of the of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:20, 22)… 

Luke 15:20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

That small little word is so often a “hinge” to something that introduces some revelation of God’s character. Here the father shows his love for his son that surpasses all that his rebellion and selfishness has brought about. For Titus, and for us, it sets forth Paul’s testimony, on which he reflected when he wrote these words. His conversion was just like that and it all pivoted on one small little hinge…

Acts 26:15-16 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.

There was Paul, mired in the muck of sin against Jesus. He was angry, deceived, malicious, lustful and on his way to Damascus to wreak havoc on the church he hated. Then he was stopped “dead” in his tracks, surrounded by a light that was brighter than the sun. It was at that moment that Saul of Tarsus died and Paul the Apostle was born. At the very uttering of that one little word… But!

And that experience happened throughout the Bible and is happening every minute of every day somewhere in this lost world. God reveals Himself in His own time. First, He allows the sinner to run his course, doing what “seems right in his own eyes” (Prov 14:12). He allows the sinner to discover just how utterly lost he is and brings him to the end of himself, just like the Prodigal Son. Then, at just the right moment, that Small Little Hinge that opens the door to something else shows up… kindness and love!

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared

The word appeared is epiphaino (to shine). When God reveals Himself, the light breaks through the mists at last. Let me share something I found in studying this verse from John Phillips that really paints a picture for us:

 In Genesis 1, the sun, moon and stars were created “in the beginning,” but it wasn’t until the fourth day that they broke through in all of their splendor to rule and reveal (Gen 1:14-19). God went to work to dispel the darkness, the disorder and the desolation that prevailed. Then the sun came out, and the moon and the stars appeared. They were there all along. God’s ways with a human soul are equally wise. When God has sovereignly intervened in His own good time and way, He allows events to follow their course. Then, when the conditions are right, there comes the full revelation of His goodness and grace.

The next time you are reading the Word and that little “but” shows up, pay close attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying. Big doors often swing open on little hinges.

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