Above and Above
Paul's letters to Timothy are some of my favorite to read. Within them there's such a sense of care, authority and applicable principles for everyday life. Paul's purpose for writing to Timothy in Ephesus included many theological themes including the Law, attributes of God, salvation, the Second Coming of Christ as well as qualifications of leadership.
In chapter 3 of his first letter, Paul shares the importance of leadership in the church, what qualifies a leader and the example they are to set. Not only do we read about what's expected of leaders in ministry through these verses but also the character of God and what difference it makes to those that aren't in ministerial leadership.
1 Timothy 3:1-2:
"It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach..."
It truly is an honor to desire the position of overseer in the Kingdom of God. An overseer, also known as a bishop, pastor, elder. An overseer is to lead the church and lead it well. We know the church isn't just a building--it's people. Someone is to preach and teach, help the spirally weak, lead and care for the church as a shepherd cares for his sheep.
Of highest importance, beyond leading the church, is the leader's personal life. If a leader can't lead themselves into a deeper relationship with God with integrity and sincerity how can they lead others to do the same? Overseers must live a blameless life. They are to take seriously their responsibility and have no acceptance of hypocrisy in their personal life.
With no account of wrong-doing that can be validated against them, a leader represents the Kingdom of God as it is and should be. As God is holy and without blemish He expects pastors to be the same. It's only through His Spirit within and His grace that a leader can live as God demands. How often have we heard or seen a leader in the church act one way to a certain crowd and is a completely different person in another crowd? Maybe you can attest to being like that? I know I can.
This goes beyond leaders in the church doesn't it? This applies to the church as a whole. Any follower of Christ is expected to live the transformed life referred to in Romans 12:2. By definition, salvation is a transformation and rescue from what was into what God has deemed pure. One who calls on Jesus is forgiven of their sins and is deemed pure. But staying pure is just as important.
Something that can dilute the purity of any representative of God is the desire to be seen as intimate with Him without actually being intimate. Appearance. Reputation. Adorned. The look and option of others can easily become more important than the depth of our relationship with God. A double life can arise and an above reproach lifestyle is no longer the focus. This is devastating to the Kingdom and reach of the gospel.
Our secret life is just as important as our public life. Evaluate your motives and lay them before God. Ask Him to search your heart and lead you in the way of purity. Do it for your sake and those whom you influence. It's more impactful than you may think. Let's live above reproach!