The church doesn't function well unless the whole of ourselves is gathered with the whole of God's family and devoted to the whole of God's purposes. God's commission for His church is bigger than any one of us. He desires to govern all of us by His Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
In the second half of 1 Timothy 5, Paul teaches Timothy and the Ephesian churches how to obtain quality leadership. We have already looked at how pastors are to be compensatedand how to handle an unrepentant pastor. Paul reminds Timothy that that shepherding God's people is a sober undertaking done "in the presence of God." Next, Paul instructs Timothy how to choose church leaders so he can avoid dealing with the same issues in the future.
Why do guests return to a church? What keeps people coming back? Churches can do many good, practical things to welcome and care for their people. These are all the fruit of a stable spiritual reality that begins with the character of church leaders.
Content and disposition are both important in communication and leadership. Saying the right thing in the wrong way can hurt more than help. When Jesus spoke, He only scolded religious unbelief. He reserved harshness for those who should have known better.
The human authors that God used to pen the Bible each wrote with their own disposition and personality. We must read each of their books understanding their unique style. Paul gave Timothy essential information to govern God's church, assuming that Timothy was ready to embrace his instruction.
As we study the final three qualifications for pastor-teachers, remember that all of the qualities in this list (except skill in teaching) are ones that all believers are told to emulate elsewhere in Scripture. Pastors are to set the example for everyone in the church.
As a poet said, the things that matter most must never be put at the mercy of things that matter least. When Paul writes the qualifications for pastors, a leader's character is what matters most. If local churches are to perpetuate Gospel influence, character must always be held above any gimmicky attempts to make the church popular or the Bible "relevant."
In 1 Timothy 3, Paul writes Timothy about the qualifications for leadership in the church. His comments raise two questions: Do you aspire to be a leader? Do you qualify? This particular section is addressed to men, but all people in the church should aspire to have character that mirrors their leaders.
Three Greek words are used interchangeably to describe one position of leadership in the church. In English, these are translated as pastor, teacher, overseer or elder. 1 Timothy 3 describes the character that should exist among leadership families.
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul moves from philosophy to practical instruction for Timothy and the Ephesian churches. What would you say is the most important thing for a new church? Paul says the number-one priority for the church is prayer, with a primarily evangelistic focus. Our responsibility to the state is to pray for the salvation of our leaders.
Corporate purity in a church comes from the personal purity of its people. In God's divine order, people will become like their leaders. Paul wrote Timothy to watch his own life and doctrine so he could lead the church of Ephesus well. When it comes to doctrine, there is no "wiggle room." Even though Paul spent the most time establishing the Ephesian church, some people there were okay with deviating slightly from biblical doctrine. A thread of falsehood can creep into the most well-taught church. We are all prone to this error in our fallen natures, but the Word of God acts like a hammer to correct both our doctrine and our practice of it.
Paul had mentored Timothy for some time now. Timothy learned boldness in spite of timidity and learned to recognize and exercise his spiritual gifting. Timothy had watched Paul endure persecution and stay true to the gospel. By Acts 18, Timothy was strengthened to be an encouragement to his own teacher when Paul needed it. God has called every believer to be a spiritual encouragement to other saints. Even mature saints get tired and sometimes think about quitting, and even new believers can encourage these mature saints.
This passage shows the spiritual change of three individuals – Jacob, Judah, and Joseph. Two of them had made significant mistakes in their younger years, yet God showed patience with them. By His grace, they progressed in their maturity and now show virtues of obedience. This can encourage us not to measure spiritual growth by hours, a day, or even a month of a person’s life. Instead, look at big-picture growth. Do you know God more than you did a year ago? Are you more Christ-like?
From Genesis 42, we can learn about wise stewardship, political leadership, and the fact that sin will always find you out. But the main focus of this chapter is a servant leader who lives faithfully wherever God puts him because he knows he has a divine purpose.
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