1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

1 Timothy 3:1–5 ESV Read More

So we established yesterday that we’re not taking Paul’s words in the New Testament and making them into a new law, right? At the same time, throughout this letter, Paul gives guidelines and training on the choices Timothy should make as he starts and leads new churches.

In the early church, if anybody wanted to be in authority and asked, they got marks against them. You had to show yourself and be appointed, not have the pride to enlist yourself as a leader. So if Timothy had a list of things to look for in a leader that he could share with all of those wishing to be leaders, it would give them some ideals to strive for.

That “one wife” statement has sort of become a hot button to run off any leaders that have ever been divorced. That’s not exactly what Paul meant. There was a word for divorce in his vocabulary and that’s not the one he used. Polygamy was a thing then and, like now, it confused the meaning of marriage and split the motives of those that were in it.

Jesus used the symbolism of marriage to describe His relationship with all of us. There is only one Jesus and only one Church – His bride. Now we can talk about divorce and all of that another day, but that’s not what Paul is talking about here so we won’t.

But if we’re going to make Paul’s words into a formula, we have to do the same with all of them.

  • Above reproach
  • Sober-minded
  • Self-controlled
  • Respectable
  • Hospitable
  • Not a lover of money

I’m not going to go through the whole list, but my point is, through church history, we have a bad habit of picking one thing out of a list and making it the heavy duty law and ignoring the rest of the list. Not to excuse anybody, but we can find plenty of examples of the 12 disciples breaking a ton of these. These are qualities to aim for, but not laws to judge you by.

And finally their household. This one is simple and clear too. If an overseer is absent and detached from his family, how will he be able to connect with the Body of Christ? If he is caring and loving with his family, even when they may not follow his path, how much more so will the people he is leading see that he will show them the love of Jesus when they fail too? Again, this is not about judging how righteous someone is by their deeds under some law, but looking for ways for Christ to work among us.

Being an overseer is a noble thing, but it is far from easy. The blessings often only come from the God Who Sees In Secret, but good overseers are crucial for the survival of the church.

You can get the Daily Bible Readings to your inbox via email every day by subscribing on our home page. Join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.

One Life Podcast on iTunes

Similar Posts