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Sunday, September 3, 2017                                            NT Church 2017 Index

NT CHURCH 2017 (25)
Elders 4 – Their Qualifications (3)

     Today we conclude our study of the qualifications of elders.  These qualities are based upon 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-10.  See our previous lessons addressing his character and foundational qualities.  Again we consider that our standard needs to be high, but not impossible.

 II.                   His conduct

a.       First consider his character – his character is who he is, NOT ONLY with brethren, but at all times.  He will manifest these qualities in interacting with others. 

b.       Of good behavior (3:2) – one who acts properly.  He conducts himself properly.  He behaves himself!  This implies that he is courteous and respectful with others.  He is not drawing undue attention to himself.  He is good neighbor, drives respectfully, speaks with dignity, etc. 
There is nothing in scripture that says we ought to set out to be an embarrassment to proper decorum in any are of life.  Being a Christian will bring its own troubles by those who hate God and the light of His word (cf. John 3:19-21), without us acting without concern for proper decorum with those around us.
An elder (as with every Christian) represents the Lord and His church.  He does NOT do that which will unduly tarnish it and give cause for rejection.

c.        Not given to wine (3:3, Titus 1:7) – he is sober and not addicted to ANYTHING!  In fact, the NASB says, “Not addicted to wine”.  The point is, with self-control, he has a sober mind at all times.  
He is capable of making decisions completely uninhibited.  An absolute necessity for our spiritual leaders.

d.       Not violent (3:3, Titus 1:7) – (no striker  -KJV; not…pugnacious – NASB) – he is not one easily drawn into a fight.  Nor is he one looking for a fight.  NOT a bully! 
Elders should not be looking for confrontation, nor so intimidating that people are afraid to come to them OR afraid OF them.  How can one who like this going to gently lead the flock or influence outsiders to come in?  NOR, should elders (or anyone) bully others into submission. 

e.       Not quarrelsome (3:3) – related to being not violent, but perhaps this goes further in describing one looking for a fight.  We know of those who are constantly looking for what is wrong in others so that they can confront them.  This quality is the opposite of that.  In fact the NASB uses the word, “peaceable” meaning one who is seeking peace.  That ought to be the demeanor of our leaders. 
The work of an elder is NOT to make the flock miserable but micromanaging their lives.  They lead by example and seek to steer the flock in the right direction.  WHEN they find disputing they seek resolution (without compromise of course). 

f.         Not self-willed (Titus 1:7) – he is not selfish.  He is not thinking about himself.  We have emphasized the need to think about others continually as Christians (cf. Philippians 2:3-4).
An elder cannot make decisions based upon what he wants.  He cannot demand that he always get his way when there are other choices.  He needs to think about the congregation as he makes them.  

g.       Holding fast the faithful word (1:9) – addressed in previous lessons, noting his ability to teach and defend the truth.  We might add here, he doesn’t compromise the truth!   The expression, “holding fast” means to be devoted.    We might use word integrity or virtue in handling God’s word. 

h.       Hospitable (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:8) – in NT times, the term described one who provides food and lodging to strangers. The idea is one who is receptive and willing to help others.  A good example of this would be the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-36. 
Today when we think of being hospitable, it is one who opens their home to the brethren and the occasional visitor.  While this is involved, we show hospitality in many different ways.  Sometimes, it is simply helping someone who has a need. 
An elder must be accessible and receptive to the flock.  He is one they can come to, in confidence when needed, for guidance and spiritual help.  He is one they can come to WHEN they have a need and he will be there.  This is a quality that CAN also demonstrate unselfishness. 

i.         A good testimony among those who are outside (3:7) – an elder has a good reputation.  In the business world he is known for his integrity and honesty.  In his community he is an asset to the community, not an embarrassment.   He pays his bills, obeys the law, is pleasant to be around, etc.  If you were to ask a neighbor about him, you would see the qualities we have been discussing. 
In essence, there’s nothing about him that would be a black mark on the church with him as a leader.   His social life doesn’t contradict his spiritual life.

 III.                  His Family

a.       There is much discussion about various details associated with the family qualifications of elders.  It is not the purpose of this lesson to examine each of these variants.  Suffice it to say that some set a standard so high that it is virtually impossible to obtain, or that disqualify men who are capable and able to serve. Again, be reminded that in all qualities we set a standard that is high, but not impossible. 

b.       He rules his house well – this is what Paul is describing when he talks about his family.  He is in control of his family

c.        Husband of one wife – 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6 - simply stated, scripturally married.   Vs. 11 very likely is addressing her qualifications, including the need for her to be “faithful in all things.”  Considering the importance of his work, he needs a godly wife who will stand with him as he shepherds the flock.  Stands as a help-meet, NOT a hindrance.

d.       He must have respectful children – 1 Timothy 3:4-5, Titus 1:6.  These children are described as, “in submission with all reverence” (1 Timothy) and “faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.  (Titus)  This demonstrates that his children understand what it means serve God. 

e.       WHY these qualities? 1 Timothy 3:5 explains why, for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?   The elders are shepherds in the congregation and need to know how to guide them in love.  There is NO better indication of this than the way one rules his family. 

 

These are the qualities we need to consider as we appoint those we entrust with shepherding us.  As we consider these qualities, consider, are we looking to find men who are qualified to serve, or are we looking to disqualify them?  There is a big difference in approach. 

In our next lesson, we will notice what our responsibilities to the elders are.   If we are genuinely seeking to find the church we read of in the New Testament, we will seek godly and qualified men to lead us.  May that be our goal as we consider these things.  

 

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