“Word for Today” – 1 Timothy 3 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

April 27, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

pli-2This past week, Concordia had the pleasure and honor of hosting the Pastoral Leadership Institute, a gathering of 400 pastors and pastor’s wives from all over the country, along with some international guests.  During this conference, these men and women were trained and encouraged so that they may better serve the ministries in which God has placed them.  Some bear the brunt of challenging and harrying situations and need support.  Others are looking for new insights into how to reach out to their communities.  All are walking through a continuing education process as they learn how to faithfully serve their congregations and their Lord.   As I had opportunity to meet a few of the participants, I came to believe more than ever that these men and women deserve our thanks, prayers, and support. They are a blessing to the Kingdom of God.

“Here is a trustworthy saying:  If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task” (verse 1).  So Paul opens our reading for today from 1 Timothy 3.  What follows is a description of the virtues vital to being a pastor in the church of God:

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. (verses 2-6)

Many times, as I have read these words, I have felt woefully inadequate.  I wish I could say that I live out all of these virtues gracefully and magnanimously, but I do not.  I am most certainly not above reproach, for I am a sinner.  I have been known to lose my self-control and become less than respectable.  And although I do not particularly love money, I can think of many other things for which I am greedy.  I fall painfully short of this list.  Then again, so do you.  Then again, so does everyone.

What, then, is the point of this list of virtues if no one, whether pastor or otherwise, can live up to them?  Is it merely to make us feel guilty?  Hardly.

The Greek word for “sets his heart” in verse 1 is oregomai.  This word describes a “longing” or a “yearning” – something to which one aspires.  And it is this word that frames Paul’s discussion of the virtues that he outlines in the subsequent verses.  For Paul knows that no one displays these virtues perfectly.  Yet, these are all virtues to which we should oregomai.  For these are all holy virtues which reflect the nature and character of our Heavenly Father.  This is why 400 ministry leaders visited our campus this past week.  Because they oregomai to 1 Timothy 3 and wanted to better serve our Lord and his church.  You too should oregomai to the virtues of 1 Timothy 3, whether or not you are a pastor.  For these are virtues for us all.

No, you will not live out these virtues perfectly.  However, by God’s grace and Spirit, you can indeed grow in these virtues.  As Paul writes elsewhere, “Become imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).  Notice the first word:  “become.”  We’re not perfect in our imitation of God, but we are becoming imitators of God, one step at a time.

So today, ask yourself, what can I do, however imperfectly, to aspire to 1 Timothy 3?  Maybe it’s practicing patience when you feel like you’re going to lose your temper.  Maybe it’s being hospitable when you would rather be left alone.  Maybe it’s setting aside a struggle with greed for a generous spirit.  Whatever it is, remember, God’s grace empowers you and his Spirit guides you.  So go and do his noble tasks.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 1 Timothy 2 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” -1 Timothy 4 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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