Thursday in the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Timothy 3:6-7

Qualifications for Overseers

Paul ends this passage with two more qualifications for pastors.  The first is that an elder must not be a recent convert—someone only recently born again.  This tells us that the word “elder” does not mean “senior citizen” as older people can be reborn as well.  An elder is not even one who has been a Christian for many years; nothing is so sad as to see people who have been Christians since childhood but who never grew in the faith.  An elder is one who has been a growing Christian for a number of years—one who has applied his faith to his life and lived godly and blamelessly.  Such a man oozes virtue and the fruit of the Spirit.  He has endured suffering and conquered temptation.  He continues in the disciplines of Scripture reading and meditation, prayer and good deeds.  He is a pillar in his church and provides wise counsel, a man of peace and discernment.  Again, it is not that a man in his twenties or thirties can’t acquire such a character (and many have), but it is acknowledged that such a godly character generally requires time to develop.  The consequence of rushing men to the office under discussion is that they might become conceited—a telltale sign of immaturity—and “fall into the condemnation of the devil”; that is, the condemnation the devil received for his rebellion against the Almighty.  Evangelicals are known for doing just this thing—rushing new or young converts to the front of the line, particularly if they are popular figures, and showing them off as models, only to watch them collapse a few years down the road.  They needed maturation not adulation; the fault lay with those who wanted to so use them.

Moreover, the Apostle says that the overseer “must be well thought of by outsiders” (i.e., unbelievers).  We must be careful how we understand this.  Paul is not saying that an overseer must know how to compromise before the world or rub elbows with the mighty for the sake of worldly gain or just “getting along.”  Pastors can do too much of this.  Instead, Paul is saying that the pastor must be known by outsiders as the kind of man he has been describing, that is, a man of principle.  Unbelievers may not like the man; chances are that if he is living a godly life (which should be a given), they will not like him.  But they will respect him.  They will know him to be gracious and kind, but they will also know him as godly and sincere, taking stands for righteousness and justice regarding community concerns.  Still, pastors must know that their first concern must always be the church and not the community, for it is His Bride they are sent to serve, that he may equip them as missionaries sent out into the community for witness.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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