Take it from an expert (not me!)

If your car is in bad shape, do not ask me for advice: I have been driving around with a screw in my tire and overfilled oil (I thought it was low). Same for your succulents – mine may have died from heat exhaustion, but I did not drown as I was expecting. See, if you really want an expert, you need to go to someone who is good at what you want them to do – a mechanic if it is your car, and someone with a green thumb if it is your plant.

This is what Paul was pointing out in 1 Timothy 3 when he instructed Timothy on who to appoint to the church positions of overseer or deacon. These were to be men who were well respected in the community, and generally stable in their everyday life. After all, they were taking on quite a burden.Have you been around people lately? These men needed to be able to gently listen to people, call them out where they were wrong, teach them better ways…so they needed to be people who were blessed with people skills, and someone who knew how to use their own advice. Another thing I found interesting:

They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”

There is a lot of debate these days about how to apply the Bible from the first century cultural context to our present day. Are women able to be leaders in the church? What if you have been divorced? I am still not decided for myself on those points. But I do believe that each leader must have the fire of faith as their core. This world is a rough place. The Gospel is, like Paul said, a mystery to many, including some who call themselves Christians. It is calling out more in the world than we always like to see, and responding to a love that is not limited by time or space. Church leaders need to have a solid foundation on the Gospel, which Paul closes with:

“15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
    vindicated by the Spirit,
        seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
        taken up in glory.”

I have heard that this is a song of the early church, and I wish someone would pick it up for modern services at some point.

God, thank You for the men who do live lives focused on You. Thank You for their conviction about the Gospel, and how that plays out in their lives. Thank You for their skills with people, and please give them patience and wisdom as they respond to a thousand similar circumstances. God, please help me to have greater understanding of the mystery of the gospel, and embrace it in my life. To Your glory, Amen.

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