Read: Titus 1:1-15
Consider: Paul’s letter to Titus in Crete, deals with a similar problem to that which occurred in the church at Ephesus. False teachers were infiltrating the church and were seeking to impose on them additional ‘rules’ for the believers to follow. This included insisting that the men be circumcised and everyone should keep other Jewish traditions and festivals. In each case Paul wrote to the person leading the church (Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete), instructing them to appoint suitable elders (overseers). But what criteria were they to use in selecting individuals to take on this role in the church?
In today’s reading from Paul’s letter we read about the qualifications or characteristics that a person should display to be considered for such a role. Twice Paul states that an elder ‘… must be blameless …’ (Titus 1:6, 7). He then elaborates on this with a list of attributes to look for in the person:
- Children who are believers and not unruly or disobedient;
- Not overbearing;
- Not quick-tempered;
- Not given to drunkenness;
- Not violent;
- Not pursuing dishonest gain.
Paul then adds to this list in Titus 1:8-9 when he states that an elder must be:
- A lover of what is good;
- Firmly rooted in the truth (knowing sound doctrine and able to refute error).
Quite a list to live up to! While we see fourteen characteristics or attributes mentioned by Paul in his letter to Titus, this listing can be added to with other attributes mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. You can see why Paul says of the elder: Here is a trustworthy saying: whoever aspires to be an overseer [elder] desires a noble task (1 Timothy 3:1). In other words a person should not seek to be an elder lightly, or without thinking through the responsibility they carry for the spiritual oversight of those in their charge. This applies to all elders, not just those in full-time ministry. The advice to all churches is to choose elders wisely, seeking God’s insight into their personality and spirituality. As human beings we can be fooled, but God is not fooled as he sees what is in a person’s heart. As it says in 1 Samuel 16:7 – The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17).
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you (Hebrews 13:17).
Pray: Father, may your Holy Spirit guide congregations when seeking to choose elders whose lives are blameless. May their spirituality be clearly evidenced in every aspect of their daily lives and may they be good examples to those under their care. Amen
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