If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Leviticus 26, Psalm 33, Ecclesiastes 9, Titus 1. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Titus 1.
So much has changed in American church ministry since I began preparing for it when I was in high school. Back then, pastors were guys who wore dark suits, white shirts and ties all the time, even when going down a waterslide. While that may still be the image some people carry of a pastor today, it is by no means the only picture that comes to mind when people think of church leaders. These days a pastor might be a guy who seems a bit too stuffy or someone who seems like he’s trying too hard to be cool.
As Paul explained to Titus what to look for in an elder, he carefully avoids a description of the man’s appearance. It is not his taste in clothes, his ability to appear somber or cool that matters to God. What matters is a man’s character; the description Paul gave in verses 5-9 focuses on the outward characteristics of a man’s life as evidence of God’s work in his life. People might be able to develop a few of these characteristics on their own but apart from the grace of God in his life, no one could consistently demonstrate these characteristics. Verse 9 of this chapter focuses on the most important aspect of a godly man’s life, the one that leads to all the character qualities that are required of him: “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught….” Sometimes pastors are criticized for being too rigid, too hard-nosed about orthodoxy. We are told to be tolerant of other viewpoints and not so dogmatic about everything. While this passage cautions us about not being “overbearing,” it also says that we should “hold firmly to the trustworthy message…” That is, we do not act as if our faith and its doctrines are negotiable, fuzzy, or unclear. Instead, God calls church leaders to have a certainty about them, one that comes from deep conviction about the truthfulness of these things and their importance for the Christian life. Why is this important? “…so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Doctrine matters because it is the content of faith; it is what encourages the faithful and provides us with what we need to grow and faithfully hold on to the Lord. Conversely, there is an abundance of false doctrine and false teachers in the world. A godly, capable elder can “refute those who oppose it.” This means that the truth can be defended, when necessary. This protects the growth of God’s people from the withering damage done by falsehoods. If you’re a man and aspire to serve the Lord, look at the words of this passage often. Think about them; consider what obedience and growth in these areas should look for in you life. Then become someone who serves the Lord with deep conviction for his truth and consistent personal integrity. If you’re not interested in becoming an elder, pray for the men who lead our church that these verses will be a fairly adequate picture of our lives as we walk with the Lord daily.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.