Qualifications for service
1 Timothy 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, skillful in teaching, 3 not overindulging in wine, not a bully, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.
8 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not insincere, not prone to drink much wine, not greedy for money, 9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 These men must also first be tested; then have them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one should act in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. 16 Beyond question, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.
In today’s text it says: 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, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, skillful in teaching, not overindulging in wine, not a bully, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. Of all the criteria Paul lays out, perhaps the one most often used to disqualify people from this position in the church is, the husband of one wife. Frequently the application is that a man who has been divorced and remarried is disqualified. Not to excuse divorce, God says: I hate divorce, (Malachi 2:16) but, if we look historically, in the early 11th century, Rabbi Gershorn B. Judah issued a decree, which prohibited polygamy among the Jews. Because this happened several hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, we can assume that many Jewish men were still taking more than one wife. This is likely what Paul was speaking about. If you interpret the words literally, those who were not married at all would also be disqualified, since they are not the husband of one wife.
It is the combination of all of these qualities that qualify a person for service, but we also must consider that of even more importance is the call and the will of God. In Christ, there is redemption for any area of failure. In Him, through the Holy Spirit, there is growth and strength for any weakness. Romans 3:10-12 says: as it is written: “There is no righteous person, not even one; There is no one who understands, There is no one who seeks out God; They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, There is not even one.” Yet, as 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. There is no one regardless of their own ability, social standing or training who is qualified to lead and serve Christ’s church. Only through the cross and the blood of Christ are any of us worthy. In Matthew 16:13-19 it says: Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you yourselves say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” It was not upon Peter’s ability or any other qualification that Jesus said He would build His church, but rather on the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. It is on that foundation and that foundation alone that Jesus builds His church, and to those who receive that revelation, He does more than make them leaders, He gives the very keys to the kingdom of heaven, and the authority to bind and loose in heaven and on earth. Through the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, He gives us power and authority to be part of the answer to the prayer He taught us to pray.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.