June 10, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Our scripture is Titus 1:6 through 9, in which Paul lays out 17 qualifications for a man to be a bishop (elder, pastor):
…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 are moving on to the tenth, eleventh and twelfth qualifications in this blog. After considering five negative traits in succession, Paul describes six positive ones:
10. Titus 1:7, 8 – “…a bishop must be…hospitable….” According to Strong’s A Concise Dictionary of the words in The Greek New Testament, hospitable means “…fond of guests, i.e. hospitable….” The Greek word is a combination of two words, philo – which means fond or reciprocal love, or by implication, friend. It is the same root word from which we get Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love. The second word is xenos – meaning foreign or alien. The idea that hospitable conveys is that a pastor is one who welcomes guests into his home and takes care of their needs, even if he does not know them.
A caution here: Jesus told His followers in Matthew 10:16, “…be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” One time years ago, my wife and I were visiting my brother-in-law and his family. He also is a pastor, and he brought a man into his house who had showed up at the church office requesting assistance. The man was acting a bit strangely. I noticed the outline of a gun in his pocket to which he often put his hand, probably checking to see if it was there and available. I made this fact known to the family in private, and we arranged to get this man out of the house as soon as possible.
Wise as serpents has to do with the wisdom of the world – the world being under control of “…the god of this world…” (II Corinthians 4:4 – KJV), Satan! No one with any sense, whether Christian or not, would bring a man with a gun and acting strangely into the presence of his wife and children, putting them in danger! Though Christians are to be harmless, we are to approach life with great wisdom. And this surely applies to pastors!
11. Titus 1:7, 8 – “…a bishop must be…a lover of what is good…” (“…a lover of good men…” in the KJV). From Strong’s: “…fond to good, i.e. a promoter of virtue….” Good in this case means both good men and good things. God’s Word Bible reads thus for Galatians 6:10: “Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers.” But to do what is good starts with the mind – thinking what is good! Paul deals concisely with this subject in Philippians 4:8 (Modern KJV):
Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest,
whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are
lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there
is any praise, think on these things.
If we – especially pastors – allow only good things to dwell in our minds, then our words and actions will also reflect the good, as well as the people with whom we associate!
12. Titus 1:7, 8 – “…a bishop must be…sober-minded…” (“…sober…” in the KJV). From Strong’s: “…safe (sound) in mind, i.e. self-controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion)….” This is an entirely different thought from the seventh qualification with which we dealt in yesterday’s blog: Titus 1:7 – “…a bishop must be…not given to wine….” While excess alcohol will muddle clear thinking, a pastor needs to be clear-minded at all times. He is affecting the lives of all those under his care, and he must answer to the Lord for his influence over them! It is much like the responsibility of a teacher which is brought out in James 3:1: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” But when there is greater responsibility, as far as the Lord’s work is concerned, there is always the opportunity for greater eternal rewards!
There are five more qualifications of a pastor in our Titus scripture. We will continue with them in Friday’s blog.