My bible study in Titus (see Tuesday's entry) has taken me to I Timothy.
See, Paul gives both Titus and Timothy a list of qualities elders and deacons should have. But, there's a difference between the two books. Timothy is over the church in Ephesus. The church is poisoned with false doctrine. Leaders who had "shipwrecked their faith" are corrupting the church. Titus, on the other hand, is in Crete helping to firmly establish the new church there. Paul tells Titus to appoint elders in every town (Titus 1:5) and gives him a picture of what sort of character these men must have. Timothy is given the same (verbal) picture, but his job is to correct the church. The qualifications serve as a contrast to the behavior of the leaders in the church. Some elders were removed from leadership or even excommunicated (I Timothy 1:20), so it stands to reason that Timothy probably appointed new leaders as well.
Tuesday, I posted Titus 1:6-9, which closely matches I Timothy 3:2-12, the verses I am focusing on today.
"A bishop [elder] then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant,
sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine,
no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not
covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection
with all gravity. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he
take care of the church of God?) Not a novice [new believer], lest being lifted
up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have
a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the
snare of the devil. Likewise must deacons be grace, not doubletongued, not given
to much wine, not greedy of the filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith
in pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the
office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave,
not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands
of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well." (KJV)
In a different version (NIV) it says, "The overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap...." (v2-7)
Vigilant means to be keenly watchful and alert. We reviewed the definitions of striker and lucre in my other post.
This is quite a list of qualities. In my mind, I cannot see any man, apart from God, being all of these things. It's quite impossible. I believe Paul knew that. Anyman with all of these qualities would be a man who truly serves God as he could only be this man if God had transformed him.
Still, as I looked at these verses I wondered, "What is my role in all of this." Verse 11 tells me I should be worthy of respect, not a malicious talker [slanderer], but temperate and trustworthy [faithful] in everything (NIV, with KJV in brackets).
In other words, I should:
- Be respectful others
- Refuse to participate in gossip
- Be patient and kind.
- Keep my attitude and temper in check.
- Uphold my "end of the bargain".
- Do what I say I will do.
And then it says to be faithful and trustworthy in everything. Wow, I could write a thousand bullets on what I need to be faithful in. First and foremost, I need to be faithful in putting God first- taking time to read and pray often and being obedient to His will. It also means being faithful to my spouse. Sure, emotional and sexual faithfulness, but also being faithful in my respect and care of my husband and in tending to our household and any other things he would put in my trust. Proverbs 31:11-12 reads, "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Proverbs 31 would be a great definition of what it is to be "faithful in everything" as a wife and mother.
Being a wife is a huge responsibilty so many people take lightly. I know, I once did. Sometimes I get focused on myself and lose sight of what a honorable, important duty I have. We are to be managers, or keepers, of the home (Titus 2:5), which is a gigantic responsibilty since we represent our husband when he is gone. (And Paul clearly tells Timothy and Titus that men must have control over their households.) A wife could really be a hindrance in this if she is not faithful and trustworthy. We could easily sabotage the home, and what a sad and destructive thing this would be. I know, because in the beginning of our marriage, I did a lot of sabotaging.
When I take in consideration all the bible says about being a woman and wife of virtue, it's quite overwhelming. I'm incapable, really. There's no possible way I could be what God wants me to be.
But that's just it- God wants me to know I'm incapable. The miracle of it all is only God is capable, so I MUST depend on Him if I am to be the woman He designed me to be. God doesn't ask us to do or be anything that He won't help us to do or become. He is a great God!
Anyway, my thoughts are so scrambled- but these verses are so close to my heart. I'm passionate about mending marriages and homes, because God mended mine. And, I want to see revival in the hearts of the church (the people, that is). How beautiful would that be?