March 13, 2011 Sunday School Lesson
1 Timothy 3
The Apostle Paul, in giving a guide for the leaders of the church, listed qualifications for a bishop. Here, bishop is the same as elder or pastor.
“If a man desire the office,” Paul wrote in explaining that a person is not chosen by the congregation. There is a desire, or calling, to the office, and the desire that Paul wrote about does not originate from selfishness, but from the Lord’s leading.
This desire is so strong and specific that a person cannot be content doing anything else, and the man who does not have the desire given him by the Lord, but enters the ministry anyway, will be miserable in the office.
The pastor is to be “blameless,” Paul wrote. He was not saying the pastor should be perfect, but he should be someone with a good reputation. In writing that the pastor should be “the husband of one wife,” the apostle was perhaps saying more about the pastor’s moral purity than his marital status.
He is careful in the way he conducts himself and in what he says to other people. The pastor is not reckless, is hospitable to strangers, and desires to teach the Word. He is not one who consumes alcoholic beverages, and he is not consumed by greed nor covetousness.
The pastor is patient with other people, and he is not a fighter. He is the leader of his family, and his home is never seen as an unstable place.
He must not be a recent convert, or someone who might be more apt to fall into temptation than a more mature Christian.
Deacons, too, have a work that requires them to be inwardly and outwardly conscientious. There must be no wavering in their belief that salvation is found in no one but the Lord Jesus Christ.
Letting them be “proved” suggests that their lives have been open to the people in the church, and they have been found to be people of good reputations. They, too, must be found to be morally pure, having solid, stable homes.
The way we conduct ourselves as the church really does matter. The church is no mere organization, it is “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.”
All of us, as members of the church, have a great privilege, but we also have a responsibility to conduct ourselves in ways that honor God. We know the truth that people so desperately need to hear, and we must share it.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church, Lumberton, N.C. email@example.com