June 12, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We have five more qualifications to cover of the 17 for a bishop (elder, pastor) from Titus 1:6 through 9:
…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.
Let’s look at the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth qualifications in this blog.
13. Titus 1:7, 8 – “…a bishop must be…just….” According to Strong’s A Concise Dictionary of the words in The Greek New Testament, just means “…equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy….” It is a different Greek word than that which is used for holy in almost all other places in the New Testament – as in I Peter 1:15 and 16: “…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy for I am holy.’ ” The word means “…(an awful thing)…; sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated)….” Certainly, a pastor should be consecrated to God and to the position to which God has called him. And he ought to be pure and blameless in his personal, social and professional life. Furthermore, he must live in such a way as to prove himself innocent of any charges laid against him, and equitable (fair) in all interactions with others.
This is a large order for one to fill! Thank God that although I have tried to be just, I have found it true what Paul wrote in II Timothy 2:13 (Easy to Read Version): “If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful, because he cannot be false to himself.” He forgives all our failings, and I have many! I can say with Paul in I Timothy 1:12: “…I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry….”
14. Titus 1:7, 8 – “…a bishop must be…holy….” This is a different word than the two discussed above. Strong’s defines it thus: “…properly right (by intrinsic or divine character…that is, hallowed (pious, sacred, sure)….” Pastors are right (as are all true believers) – certainly not by intrinsic character, but because they are made right by being given the divine character! This is plainly stated in II Corinthians 5:21: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This is positional righteousness. But holiness must be more and more evident in a Christian’s life – and especially in the life of a pastor! This is practical righteousness. Pastors are also hallowed (set apart) unto the work to which God has called them – to care for those over whom they are placed, and to help their charges grow into mature Christians. This growth is accomplished not only by pastoral teaching (the seventeenth qualification in our scripture), but also by personal example.
15. Titus 1:7, 8 – “…a bishop must be…self-controlled…” (“…temporate…” in the KJV). From Strong’s: “…strong in a thing (masterful), that is, (figuratively and reflexively) self controlled (in appetite, etc.)….” Self-control is also a part of the definition of sober-minded – the twelfth qualification discussed in the last blog. But whereas sober-minded has to do with a sound mind, not extreme in opinion or passion, self-control carries the idea of strength, mastering those things in one’s life that are lacking in someone without self-control.
I have a friend, a fellow-pastor who gave me a good definition of what it means to be meek – as in Jesus’ description of Himself in Matthew 11:29 (KJV): “…for I am meek and lowly in heart….” “Meekness,” he said, “is strength under control.” This sounds very much like what the qualification under consideration means.
What does a life look like in someone who lacks self-control ? Proverbs 25:28 gives an apt description: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” Such a city would be defenseless! Likewise, a life without self-control is also prone to attack from evil spiritual entities, other people, habits and addictions!
I have a very compulsive/addictive personality. I have struggled over the years with many things assailing me because of lack of self-control. But Paul’s heart cry in Romans 7:24 was also mine: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ” And I found with him the truth of Romans 7:25 and 8:1: “I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!…There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus….” How have I gained self-control ? By what Paul stated in II Corinthians 12:9 and 10:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made
perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirm-
ties, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in
infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s
sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I have learned to let Him be strong where I am weak! (See Philippians 2:12, 13; II Peter 1:3, 4). Now I can say more often than before, “…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And I am presenting a better example as a pastor!
We will try to finish with qualifications sixteen and seventeen in Monday’s blog.