June 8, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Continuing with my current answer to Who Am I? – I am a pastor, I count 17 qualifications in these four verses of Titus 1:6 through 9, written by Saint Paul to his spiritual ‘son’ Titus, bishop of Crete:
…if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children
not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blame-
less, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to
wine, not violent, not given to money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good,
sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he
has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and
convict those who contradict.
We will look at the seventh, eighth and ninth qualifications for a bishop (elder, pastor):
7. Titus 1:7 – “…a bishop must be…not given to wine….” According to Strong’s A Concise Dictionary of the words in The Greek New Testament, given means “…staying near wine, i.e. tipping (a toper)….” So what is a toper? According to Webster, a toper is “…one who drinks (alcoholic liquor) to the point of intoxication.” It says in Proverbs 31:4 through 6 (Contemporary English Version):
Kings and leaders should not get drunk or even want to drink. Drinking
makes you forget your responsibilities, and you mistreat the poor. Beer and
wine are only for the dying or for those who have lost all hope.
A pastor is certainly a leader in the church, and must have clear-headed wisdom to discern proper action when it comes to the flock under his care – as well as those who are not in the Church. For in Paul’s description of the qualifications of a bishop in I Timothy 3:7, he writes, “Moreover, he must have a good testimony among those who are outside [the Church], lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
In Ephesians 5:18 the Lord gives this command concerning all believers (so it certainly applies to pastors): “…do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit….” So seek to fully ‘drink in’ the Holy Spirit, Christian, and leave the excess of intoxicating beverages alone!
8. Titus 1:7 – “…a bishop must be…not violent…” (“…no striker…” in the KJV). From Strong’s: “…a smiter, i.e. pugnacious (quarrelsome)….” A smiter is one who is too ready to physically lash out at the slightest provocation. But of Jesus, it says in I Peter 2:23, “…when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” The Lord did not lash out (He did in exceptional cases like cleansing the temple of unscrupulous traders – see Matthew 21:13; John 2:14-16), and pastors especially ought to follow His example!
9. Titus 1:7 – “…a bishop must be…not greedy for money…” (“…not given to filthy lucre…” in the KJV). It is not an intrinsic trait of money that makes it filthy! Paul tells his wealthy readers in I Timothy 6:6 through 10:
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into
this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and
clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall
into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which
drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root
of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from their faith in their
greediness, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Much good can be done with material resources with which God has blessed us! Jesus told us in Matthew 6:19 through 21:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy
and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in
heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break
in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Treasures in heaven are the result of what we do with our resources to help people! Jesus also told His followers that the payback is 100 times the amount invested! (See Mark 10:29, 30). It makes sense to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven!
As a pastor, I have always tried to set the example for my people concerning tithing – giving 10% of my income derived from my ministry as pastor to my church. It was not my only giving, because my wife also was working after our children were in school or out on their own. Also, we would always give more than a tithe to thank the Lord for all He has given us.
We will continue with more characteristics of a pastor in our next blog on Wednesday.