Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 3
When I was an undergraduate, I had a very hyped eatery where I used to frequent. It cost me a lot keeping up with it. Typically, I’d be broke by about the middle of the month and then would have to start being in faith for survival each new day. But at the beginning of each new month, when the allowance was fresh, I couldn’t quite talk myself out of going there every day.
Well, until one day.
A friend of mine authoritatively told me about how he had seen the hyped eatery’s kitchen and how terrible and messed up it was. I was honestly battling that thought and trying to deny it in my mind till two of the waiters got caught up in a messy fight while I was eating there. A third person was trying to settle the fight and in the whole lashing out about what caused the fight, they began to explain that the fight started because of a plate of rice in the kitchen that a rat had ‘shit’ on and blablabla…
To be honest, I didn’t hear much else of the fight or the conversation. I just know the food lost every bit of its taste and became appalling. That was my last time there!
I think the Christian conversation in our day so easily slips into the taste of food in the restaurant and we really overlook the state of the kitchen. We are all about skill and charisma that we see and feel, not character in the behind-the-scenes. We’re just about the food tasting good. A great church or pastor is really about the eloquence and ambience and all that. Who cares about his private life as long as he can flow in the anointing and work miracles?!
Well, God does.
Reading through our Chapter today, Paul is screaming loud about the importance of Christian character.
‘…must be blameless… temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior… not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well… not a novice… he must have a good testimony among those who are outside…’ 1 Timothy 3:2-7 NKJV
If you read these words and think its all about some Bishops and leaders out there, I think you miss the point. Jesus implicated every Christian into the leadership picture when he declared to us ‘you are the light of the world! You are the salt of the earth!’ (Matthew 5:14-16) That’s as strong as influence gets! Whether we hold a title or position or we don’t, following Jesus puts us in the leadership spotlight and raises the bar for how we must be living our lives.
Paul mentions one skill in the list- the ability to teach (v2), but swamps the one skill between about sixteen character qualifications for the Bishop and about twelve for the Deacons and their families! You can almost say that for every one skill, there are about twenty eight character strengths that hold it up!
What is even most sobering for me is that they aren’t just character questions based on public performance. It’s not just about your punctuality to church and how high you lift your hands in worship or how hard you serve and stuff like that; it’s about how you behave at home!
In fact, Paul says we must rule our own home well. Hey, that’s not about being married and commanding out orders all around your house. It’s really first about your ability to oversee your own space that he’s talking about. How do you rule your life? How disciplined are you in private?
Paul will tell you not to think that Christianity is just about boxing the devil, its also about wearing clean boxers. It’s not just about avoiding the bed of fornication, it’s also about changing the bedsheet of your righteous bed. It’s not just about preaching in buses and at the street corners and telling everyone that sin sucks, it’s also about keeping your own socks clean.
To be a follower of Jesus is to be exemplary in public and in private. It is to be strong and disciplined on the inside and on the outside.
One more thing Paul emphasizes- the church is the ground and pillar of truth (v 15). In a valueless and corrupted age that we live, if the world is going to find truth about God and about life, the truth is that the church must live it and model it. May we be that kind of Church and those sort of Christians! May we truly raise the bar of truth and inspire the world!
When it comes to Christian character, here’s the liberating and empowering truth that you must never forget- it’s not about your striving for performance. It’s first of all about a working of the Holy Spirit in us as we yield to His processes! That’s why it’s called the fruit of the Holy Spirit!
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…
Galatians 5:22-23 TLB
Something to Pray
Would you pray for yourself and for someone else? I’ve generated a list of most of the character traits listed in our reading today:
Blameless, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous, one who rules his own house well, not a novice, not puffed up with pride, good testimony among those who are outside, reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, pure conscience; being found blameless, not a slanderer, temperate, faithful in all things, good standing and great boldness in the faith.
Would you pick two or three specific things from the list that you need the Holy Spirit to particularly strengthen you around. Let’s me know in the comment section what you’re praying for, I’ll love to be praying along with you! And you can pray for a brother/sister in the comments too.