Tuesday Devotion: 1 Timothy 3: 1 -7
In this letter to Timothy, Paul gives him advice on how to instruct the new church in Ephesus. In chapter 3, Paul appears to be giving instructions on the attitude and conduct of leaders. However, this message is something that all Christians should pay attention to, as we are all called to serve and minister to others. 1 Peter 4:10 states that each of us should use whatever gift we have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace. 1 Timothy 3:13 reassures us that those who have served well gain an excellent and great assurance in Christ Jesus.
God may have put in your heart a desire to serve and lead in a church ministry. Verse 1 tells us that whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Here are some instructions on how to prepare yourself for this responsibility. Before studying this passage, be reminded that Christ is the Head of the church, and we the body of the church receive our nourishment and help from Christ. Therefore, He is able to help us in all that we do.
We need to be above reproach, faithful to our spouse, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome and not a lover of money (v2-3). This indicates that we need to develop knowledge of God’s word, faithfulness, self-control and kindness. These characteristics are the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) within us.
Whilst reading these verses, it is important not to fall into the trap of legalism or self-righteousness. Intending to earn money and drinking alcohol are not necessarily bad things in themselves, as money clearly has its uses and Christ drank wine in moderation. This passage is about our intentions and priorities. We need to be a good example to others and reflect the love and goodness of Christ in our everyday lives. People are unlikely to be encouraged in their faith if they see ignorant, reckless, hostile or worldly behaviour in their leaders.
We should manage our own family well and see that our children obey us, and we must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. This reflects the truth that church is a family, which needs to be nurtured and managed with love. The leader has the role of a parent of the people within his ministry. However, in order to do this effectively he has to be able to manage his own family well because a parent’s priority should always be his own children and spouse, first and foremost. I recall some years ago, a pastor whom I respected telling me that in order to get the measure of a person or a married couple, he would observe their children to see how the children respected and interacted with their parents. I felt honoured because he was telling me that he had been observing how my own children behaved! I believe that what he meant was the importance of managing your own household well when you are a Christian because this is a reflection of your faithfulness and obedience. Proverbs 31 describes the wife of noble character in a similar way, “her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her... a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, she is honoured for all that her hands have done.”
Leaders should not be recent converts, or they may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil (v6). This does not specify a minimum time limit from conversion to leadership. Instead, it indicates spiritual maturity. If we walk into a ministry that we are not equipped to manage, we may fall into pride and sin. People grow in their walk with Christ in different ways, and we must be wise when we decide when to take on tasks and responsibilities. Have we prepared for this? How much prayer and discipleship have we dedicated to our spiritual growth? Do we have accountable relationships with fellow believers?
Finally, we should have a good reputation with outsiders, so that we do not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. This indicates that we should conduct ourselves well inside and outside of church. We should not be on our best behaviour on Sundays and then behave differently the rest of the time. We need to have the same consistent standards and guard our hearts at all times. We are witnesses of the Light to the outside world and therefore our lives should reflect this at all times. Clearly, we cannot do all this in our own strength, but we are able to do this with God’s help.
Personal Application and Prayer
Spend some time in prayer and self-reflection. Ask God to show you areas in your life that you may need to surrender to Him. Are there things in your life that you need God’s help with? Pray for your leaders and the people in your fellowship. Give God thanks for these people who are serving you, and ask for God’s encouragement and protection for them. Ask God to reveal where and whom He wants you to serve and ask Him to equip you with what you need to be able to do this well. Re-dedicate your life to Him, and ask Him to give you a willing and obedient heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.