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Qualified Overseers

Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series in the Pastoral Epistles with a message entitled “Qualified Overseers,” centered on 1 Timothy 3:1 – 7. Someone needs to be in charge, to run the church, keep it organized, keep it functioning. Though sometimes people may take leadership by default, because no one else will, God’s Word is plain. God has ordained a plan with roles for leadership. He has not left church leadership up for grabs. While it is true Jesus vests His authority in each church so every member shares responsibility for the spiritual welfare of all members, included in that authority is the responsibility to recognize God-given spiritual leaders who will give oversight to the local church. Paul spells out qualifications for these leaders here in 1 Timothy, qualifications that will differentiate these leaders from the false teachers previously mentioned.

First, these leaders are to be men. Paul’s use of the masculine makes that clear. He notes two offices in the church, elder and deacon. Paul addresses the office of elder, or overseer, first. It is a noble position, worth desiring. Of course, the desire must be appropriate, a desire not for personal gain but toward serving and caring for others. Overseeing is a challenging work requiring much of the shepherd. Therefore, Paul lays out qualifications. He must be above reproach and the husband of one wife. Whether this means the man must be married, must be married only once, or may be remarried under certain circumstances has been a discussion for the ages. What all agree upon is that he must be a one-woman man, not a womanizer. The list goes on, one who exercises careful judgment and can control himself. He must be decent and well behaved as well as hospitable both to the saints and strangers. Finally, he must be well thought of by outsiders having a reputation reflective of the previous qualifications. Paul, having listed what an elder must be, goes on to list what he should not be, not a drunkard, quarrelsome, violent or a lover of money. Finally, he should not be a recent convert but should be experienced in the church. Paul also lists two observable skills. The elder must be able to teach and he must manage his own household well. A man’s home life becomes the proving ground for his ministry abilities. Of course, no one can live up to these qualifications perfectly. Rather it is the intentional living of the man in view here, that which that reflects his heart.

Paul, throughout his discussion of qualifications, seemed more concerned with character than all else. The man is more important than his work, what he is more important than what he does, his being more than his doing. He, after all, more than most in his congregation, will represent Jesus Christ to the church and to the world. Qualified elders are God’s gift to the church from Christ is the Great Giver; He alone is worthy of honor, trust, and loyalty. Turn to Him.

Amens

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