Titus 1v5-9

Day 1

 

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[b] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

 

Paul’s concern and love for the church he and Titus had planted led him to make sure that things were put in place to ensure its ongoing health. Paul leaves Titus in Crete to look after it. 

We don’t know Titus’ circumstances but he is willing to stay and soldier on. It must have seemed daunting! The church was an outpost in a hostile environment, far from home and all that was familiar, yet he’s willing for the sake of those new Christians to put his own interests on the back burner, say goodbye to his mentor and leader, and take on the responsibility handed over to him by Paul. 

 

Paul’s strategy is to have Titus appoint a godly team of elders to lead with Him. It’s interesting that right here at the beginning Paul is interested in some form of team ministry – mutual encouragement and accountability. It fits with God’s strategy for all of His people, that they are incorporated in a group that can encourage and build each other up. The lone Christian is not an option under any normal circumstance. The Christian who does not meet with others or see their need for others is much poorer for the lack. 

 

Do you have a group that supports and challenges you to godliness? Does your home group do that?

 

PRAYER

Father, thank you for putting me into a church family. Help me to appreciate it. Amen

 

 

 

 

Day 2

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

 

As a young man thinking of going in to full time ministry I attended an information session for Moore Theological College, the seminary for those going into the Anglican ministry in Sydney. One of the lecturers, a man who later became the Archbishop of Sydney, told us that the greatest thing any of us could give to a church as its leader was godliness. He impressed upon us the need to work on our relationship with Christ as the number one priority. It’s the reason than most denominations have a rigorous interview and reference process for prospective clergy. At my seminary they insisted on student training to lead churches to live in at the college for at least part of their training so that they could observe the student. Despite all that, I got through. 

To be a church leader, an elder, does not require perfection. “Blameless” refers to a person’s reputation, they must be without blame. I can remember when a leading world political leader was caught out being unfaithful to his wife and there was a lot of talk about his private life not being relevant to his public life and his leadership. That is not the case with church leadership because it speaks of the elder’s character. Paul specifically mentions faithfulness in marriage. 

Then Paul talks about the prospective elder’s leading of their family. If they aren’t leading their family well they will not be able to lead the church. Again, like blamelessness, this is not an absolute requirement that the elder’s adult children be believers or even good citizens. In our culture we have very little rule over our adult children. It would seem that it’s a refence to young children, those who are under their parents rules, if you like.

 

These, plus those that will follow, are requirement for elders. Of course they really are the traits of all believers. However there is a higher bar for those in church leadership. James 3:1 says “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that those who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

 

We need to pray for our leaders, and not just for our own leaders but all Christian leaders. We know the damage that is caused to the whole church when Christian leaders fall.

 

PRAYER

Our Father, please be with the leaders and pastors of your flock. By your Spirit guide and lead them into godliness. Amen

 

 

 


Day 3

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

 

Why must a leader not be overbearing or quick-tempered? Because that’s the way all Christians should be. “Overbearing” means “arrogant, domineering or bossy.” Now Titus has been told to silence those teaching false doctrine, and to rebuke them sharply. [1:11, 13] That could be seen by some as domineering. How do we reconcile this? Well, there is a difference between firm strength in leadership that tells it like it is on the one hand and trying to manipulate of force obedience on the other. The latter is overbearing, even bullying, and unacceptable. However, godly Christian leadership sometimes requires the leader to stand their ground and to rebuke or correct behaviour. It must be done with great care and love. 

“Not quick-tempered or given to drunkenness. Not violent or pursuing dishonest gain.” Again, Paul is not demanding perfection but talking about a character trait. He is unpacking what blamelessness is. It has to do with reputation. 

 

What happens when a leader transgresses any of these prohibitions? Well what happens and what should happen are two different things. Different churches and denominations have their own standards and methods of discipline. Although there might be repentance and forgiveness that does not necessarily mean the leader can resume their role. I like the 17th century preacher Charles Hadden Spurgeon’s guideline for restoration of a Christian leader. He said that a leader could be restored to their position of leadership when their repentance is as notorious as their transgression. 

 

PRAYER

Lord of love and grace, please give our leaders a desire for godliness that expels all other wrongful desires. Amen  

 

 

 


Day 4

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

 

Yesterday we looked at the negative character traits that should be avoided in an elder. Today we come to the positive side of things. Again, although there is a special responsibility in appointing leaders, these qualities should be in evidence in all Gods people.

 

Being hospitable is much broader than having people round for a meal. It is having and attitude of welcome. It is treating others, even strangers, with warmth and acceptance. That is how God is. Deut 10:18 says of God “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”

 

“Loves what is good” – this is a person who celebrates “goodness”. Beware the leader who mocks the humble or the meek. Many years ago now in a sermon I talked about men needing to be men and not wimps. Looking back I could have expressed the point I was making in a better way. After the sermon a man came up and to me and said, “You think I’m a wimp, don’t you?” He may have been a gentle man, even retiring, but no less a real man for that, but he didn’t hear me celebrating those qualities. 

 

“Self-controlled” and “disciplined”. We hear lots about being who we are and making no apologies for that, but the Bible tells us to work hard at being something else – the men and women God wants us to be. That will take training and training involves self-control and discipline. Paul says to Timothy “train yourself to be godly.” [1 Tim 4:7]

 

“Upright and Holy”. These are qualities that are often mocked. No one wants to be called a “straighty 180”. It’s seen as being a bit of a nerd, and naïve. Yet upright and godly people, those who honest and kind and humble and keep themselves away from all corrupting influences are wonderful friends and neighbours. They are a joy to know.

 

Are you being changed by your faith in Christ?

 

PRAYER

Holy God and Father help me to be hospitable, to love what is good, to be self-controlled and upright, holy and disciplined. Amen

 

 


Day 5

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

 

The sixteenth-century Reformer John Calvin said that a church leader: “ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves.” (Commentary on Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Titus 1, page 3, quoted by Tim Chester in Titus For You

We see those two voices here – elders are to encourage by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Generally speaking, we love the encouraging bit but often find the refutation to be too negative. Preachers know that whenever you point out error publicly there will always be push back that you shouldn’t criticise others. Paul will have none of that! The stakes are too high. 

 

Sound doctrine encourages. False teaching can also encourage but it does not build up in truth. It brings about false encouragement. God says of such people,

“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” [Jeremiah 6:14]

 

Wrong teaching that leads people to rely on anything other than Jesus for their salvation or anything other than the Word of God, ought to fill us with righteous indignation, like we feel when charlatans get people to rely on some snake-oil medication to cure their illness. “Wrong teaching” is not about the finer points of theology but the fundamental things like the meaning of the cross of Jesus, the way of salvation and the character of God.

 

Paul says that the leader should “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught.”, that is the message as taught by Paul and the other Apostles and passed on to and by reliable people. 

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”  2 Tim 2:2

Reliable people are to pass on the teaching to  reliable people who are to pass on the teaching to reliable people and on it goes. 

 

PRAYER


God of truth and might, give me a love of your truth and leaders who are sound in doctrine. Amen

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