:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Timothy Chapter 3 (part 1)

I Timothy Chapter 3

vs. 1-7

- Paul is giving Timothy instruction and qualifications to appoint elders.

- As we look through these qualifications, whether you are an elder or not, be thinking about how to apply these to your own life. These are all great characteristics of what it is to be a strong and founded believer in Christ.

- So who is an elder?

- footnote- “To be a church leader (“elder”) is a heavy responsibility because the church belongs to the living God. The word elder can refer to a pastor, church leader, or presiding overseer. It is good to want to be a spiritual leader, but the standards are high. Paul enumerates some of the qualifications here. Church leaders should not be elected because they are popular, nor should they be allowed to push their way to the top. Instead, they should be chosen by the church because of their respect for the truth, both in what they believe and in how they live. Do you hold a position of spiritual leadership, or would you like to be a leader someday? Check yourself against Paul's standard of excellence. Those with great responsibility must meet high expectations.”

- Elders in this sense could have been pastors, or just leaders in the church. So keeping that in mind, let's look at the qualifications.

- “An elder must be a man whose life is above reproach.” This means that there's nothing in their life that gives anyone any reason to look down on them or their faith. There's no gray areas that people can read into, to find fault in their faith or in their walk. Perfection? No... just open, honest, and clear in what they believe in. When they mess up, they admit it and move on. When situations arise, they pray and react according to the word.

- This in my mind speaks of someone who is seasoned in the faith. Those of us who are young in the faith can still sometimes be hot-heads. We rush into situations without thinking or praying. We let our anger burst when we feel like it. We hide our mistakes and hope no one sees that we messed up and that they will still see us as at least close to perfect...

- A life above reproach is one that has lived long with the Lord, and Jesus is taking more and more control over their life... The life is more fully reflecting Christ because that life has been more immersed in Him.

- Acts 20:25-35
- Titus 1:5-16
- I Peter 5:1-11

“He must be faithful to his wife.” Faithfulness is a big thing with God. I know I've probably said this somewhere before, but the things in our lives are reflections of our relationship with God. Our relationships with our parents and our spouses and our siblings are those relationships that Christ used as examples to show us what our relationship with our Father was to be.

- Our faithfulness in our spousal relationships is important not only because marriage is sacred to God, but also because that faithfulness proves a steadiness and loyalty in our characters that is a representation of God's character working in our lives.

- Ephesians 5:15-33
- Colossians 3:18-19

- “He must exercise self-control.” I know in previous writings of Paul or Peter we've hit on self-control. Self-control doesn't just mean in anger... we are apt to think that's all it entails, but self-control is in just about any part of your life. Anger, lust, sex, food, spending money, drinking, etc.

- Practicing self-control in one area, generally leads to practice in others. Self-control can also sometimes go hand in hand with patience. Coincidentally, both of those are fruit of the Spirit. This is also something that generally gets easier with age and maturity. Piece of cake? no... but easier to recognize when you should do/say something and when you should keep your mouth shut? Yeah.

- “He must... live wisely.” Living wisely could mean a lot of things. Could just mean not speaking out of turn. Could mean living within your means. Could mean living a life that is free of conflict. Or free of debt. Or free of regret. Or a life that is always a happy one. A life that serves others. A life that is frugal.

- I think mostly, to live wisely means not to take any moment for granted. Live wisely in that you don't waste your time. We are only given so much time... so live wisely and use every moment. Live, Laugh, Love. With all your heart. Do the work before you with all your might and be content in your condition. (Now that's my interpretation... again... it could mean a lot of things...)

- “He must... have a good reputation.” A reputation is important. Have you ever heard the saying “his reputation proceeded him”? This means that people knew this man before he ever made an appearance on the scene.

- I was reading a Jane Austen book the other day (I know totally random...) but anyway, Austen has this way of presenting characters so that you can see different sides and perceptions of them. For instance, in “Sense and Sensibility”, Edward Ferrars is presented as this very shy and backward man. To those who know him, he is simply shy and needs time to become comfortable with you, but his heart is warm and he is very kind and generous. To those who don't know him, he can sometimes be seen as very uppity and proud. (Similar to the character of Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice”.)

- If someone doesn't know you that well, your actions and your presentation of yourself are all they have. They carry that back to other people, and that becomes your reputation. So to your friends, you may have one reputation and to strangers, you may have quite another.

- So what do people see in you? Are you open about your faith? Are you known as a friend to be had? Are you known as someone who is a helper? As someone who is understanding? Would you be ashamed to hear a reputation ill spoken about only to learn that it was your own?

- To have and maintain a good reputation means that not only do your friends see your heart and know that it is good, but so do complete and total strangers. So that the stories carried to others outside your circle all line up with one another and they are not conflicting reports.

- “He must enjoy having guests in his home.” Hospitality. Communication. Serving. If you love people, you will love to be around them, you will enjoy talking with them, you will be glad to serve them. Guests in your home could be anything from having people over for dinner, to hosting church events in your home, to taking in a stranger to feed them.

- My dad used to have this horrible habit of picking up hitch-hikers. Half the time he'd pick these random people up and bring them home for mom to feed... This one kid had run away from home. He was like 16 and dad decided he was going to feed him... So he picked him up and kept driving further and further into the middle of nowhere... I mean literally... the middle of nowhere... GPS can't find us... And this poor kid sat by the door and ate his food looking like he was ready to run out the door at any given second. (Not really sure where he would've gone HAD he run... but that's a whole other story... lol)

- My mom loves to cook... she loves to feed people... and either because of food, or just because we love having a full house, we have had people in our little backwoods house from almost 20 countries. Middle of nowhere and somehow God brings us the most random people...

- And we have a blast! You know... a lot of fellowship is founded around food times. There's something special and intimately friendly in sitting down to eat together. Even if it's spread out all over the living room or outside in the field... : ) It builds a more free relationship with people because you're more relaxed with them. To go to a restaurant is fine... but to be at home? You can laugh as loud as you like, cry as much as you want, and nobody thinks harshly of you.

- “He must be able to teach.” Teaching is important to those in leadership of a church. They need to be able to teach those younger in the faith. They need to be ready with Godly advice and wisdom. Teaching also means studying. Studying means getting into the word and digging into God. Holding on tight and never letting go. If you have studied, then you are more founded in your own faith to be able to teach and lead someone else in theirs.

- “He must not be a heavy drinker.” Any kind of controlled substance is bad in over-usage. Alcohol is one of those things that there have been hundreds of discussions on and no real solid answer. Paul said that a little wine was good for the belly... and so it is... I forget the amount... it's like a half a glass a day helps to regulate digestion.

- But to overdo it means that you're going to end up with health problems. And to be a heavy drinker or an alcoholic means that you are letting something control you that shouldn't be controlling you. God should be in control of your life and if you let anything else take control... it's not going to go well. Scripture says that wine is a mocker. It makes you a person you wouldn't recognize. I heard someone ask recently, “ So would you like a little red or white mocker with your meal.”

- I know people who like to have a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer with dinner or something... I don't necessarily see anything wrong with that. Moderation is a good thing. Most people don't live in moderation.

- However, both of my parents grew up with fathers who drank. The thing right after this one says that an elder shouldn't be violent. To drink until you are intoxicated can cause a lot of things... violence sometimes being one of them. It endangers yourself, those you love, and sometimes... if you decide to try and drive while intoxicated... it may endanger total strangers...

- I had one grandfather who was a mean drunk. He was in the Korean war and he was POW for 22 months... he got drank to forget... and he could be something crazy to live with...

- My other grandfather was a crier when he got drunk. Most of the time, he cried for a while... then eventually he'd puke or go to sleep... meanwhile he was pretty cranky... and highly emotional...

- And hangover's aren't fun to wake up with... We were in a percussion pedagogy class once and like half the class had been out partying all night... well the instructor caught on to this and he decided to get everybody to lean down to listen to the tuning of a timpani... and then once everybody's ears were close... he gave that thing a really hard whack. Man were there some upset people in that class... : ) It didn't lead to violence that day... but it could have had it escalated any at all...

- As an elder, again, avoiding anything that could bring reproach, and secondly, to avoid things that would take control and make you do something you'd regret later. To avoid things that would mar your witness and your reputation.

- “He must not be... violent.” Violence and anger are not attributes of Christ. When we look at who we are to be in Christ, we look at the fruit of the Spirit. We look at the life of Christ. Christ was not a violent or angry man.

- There is a time for righteous anger... a time to be angry because of the injustice of the world... But there is never a time to resort to violence just because you find yourself angry. Ecclesiastes talks about there being “a season for everything”. You might find yourself in a season of anger... but it doesn't mean that it's time to retaliate or time to strike back... “Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord”....

- Ecclesiaste 3:1-8
- Proverbs 14:29

- “He must be gentle.” Yet another fruit of the Spirit. To be gentle means sometimes that we are patient in our words and actions. When I think of gentle, I think of a mother carefully taking care of a baby. Or a small child. Sometimes there are those things like gentle reprimands. Something that tells you what you did wrong and how you maybe should have done it differently... but in such a way that there is no anger or malice present in the reprimand. It's just like a soft reminder of a different strategy.

- Children need gentleness. In teaching a child, if you just start yelling or start speaking harshly... they can't focus as well, nor can they comprehend completely what it is you want/need them to do. But if you explain and don't get frustrated when they mess it up the 20th time... eventually, they'll get the hang of it and start to grow in that place.

- “He must not be... quarrelsome.” My uncle and my grandfather love to argue... they start arguing about politics or about sports... it turns into a yelling contest with no real winner... And I have seen my uncle take a side that he was just against... just so he could argue a point. That's what I think of when I think of quarrelsome. Just trying to pick a fight... just trying to get under your skin so he can argue about something. When I think of quarreling, I think of petty things.

- This is not a characteristic you look for when putting someone in a leadership position over a church... Quarreling causes divisions. It could be over the carpet color, or the Christmas decorations, or the music, or a number of other things. Nit-picking and arguing over nothing, doesn't help anything at all.

- II Timothy 2:15-26
- James 4:1-12

- “He must... not love money.” The love of money, means greed. Greed means selfishness. Selfishness means that you are not worried about the welfare of anyone but yourself. Proverbs says that money is the root of all evil. The love of money can lead great men to do not so great things.

- A church is not supposed to be built on money. A church is built on people with a common faith and a common goal of witnessing to the masses. If you have a leader in a church who is worried about money all the time, or is constantly asking for money for petty things... the church ends up being built on greed and selfishness, rather than on the word of God. And if a church leadership isn't built on God... the church doesn't have the greatest of chances of surviving or growing in Christ. In the world? Maybe... in God? Not as much...

- “He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church?”

- This is another one of those reflections or parallels that Paul is drawing between the family unit and the church's relationship with Christ. If a man has no control over his kids and they are completely off the wall, spoiled rotten children who can't think of anything outside of what they want, or who are disrespectful of authority in general, and who do not carry themselves as children should, then who's to say that this man will have any more control in the church?

- In teaching and in general, I am seeing more and more kids who are disrespectful of any and all authority. And I hate to sound like a bitter old teacher, but a large majority of the problem lies with the parenting of today. We have a whole generation of kids who grew up with parents who were more lenient than their parents had been... and these kids see their parents as hard... so they as parents are trying to be easier on THEIR kids...

- Well that's all well and good... except that we are almost to the point that enough generations have gone by that the present parents are almost completely ignoring the discipline factor. If their kid gets in trouble at school, the parents are right there wanting to know who's fault it is and why their kid is in trouble... hello! If your kid punches a classmate... it's your kid's fault! Sorry!

- But they come in and try and get their kid off the hook... by fifth grade... good grief... I feel like my students could commit murder and their parents would fight to say that it wasn't their fault...

- Discipline is important in parenting. If you don't discipline your kids early on, they don't form the necessary concepts of right and wrong. Their brain's create too many gray areas for them. Some of my kids in fourth and fifth grade see nothing wrong with stealing if it benefits them. They have ceased to see the world as right and wrong and have started to see it as “how does this benefit my life right now?”

- God put rules in place for us to follow in this faith. Just as we as parents should put rules in place for our kids to follow. Proverbs says that if we train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.

- Sometimes in the church it is necessary to discipline or correct a fellow member... If you can't discipline your own children... when you have to live with the consequences of their behavior... how are you going to discipline a brother/sister in Christ who is not of your household? How are you even going to see the NEED for discipline or correction, if you so often overlook your own children's need for discipline?

- Ephesians 6:1-4
- Colossians 3:20-21
- Hebrews 12:1-13

- “An elder must not be a new member.” OK this is just basic common sense. If you have a leader in the church, you want him to be capable of leading with wisdom and discernment. If he's a baby Christian, he's not going to know what to do when asked for advice, or how to teach, and he may not exude a lot of the above characteristics that tend to come with age...

- OK so scenario. I teach music for K-5. For different programs and things we do at the school, I sometimes need helpers. If I need helpers for arranging things, or running sound equipment, or setting up things, or helping with crowd control... common sense says, find a good fifth grader who has a good head on their shoulders and who has participated in things like this before... Common sense would NOT say to stick a Kindergarten kid in charge who has no idea what's going on and who is a nervous wreck because they've never done this before... Kindergarten kids gradually learn the processes of these kinds of things as they go through school. By the time those same kids get to fourth or fifth grade, they can take on more responsibilities. Until then though... it would be crazy to expect them to handle such responsibility.

- If you give someone in the church more responsibility than they can handle, or that they are ready for, sometimes pride can get in the way. Satan can use just about anything in our lives to cause us to stumble and fall... and if he can get in your head and tell you all the great things that YOU are doing and how much God is using YOU... since you just must be SO special... after a while... you're gonna start thinking that you're God's gift to the church... and you're gonna start asserting yourself in ways that are quarrelsome (cause you're always right) and some of those other characteristics that were maybe there... just not fully developed... will start to disappear...

- “People outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil's trap.” This goes back not only to a reputation above reproach, but also to those attributes that define a Godly character.

- Galatians 5:19-26
- II Timothy 2:15-26