Monday, July 14, 2014

God's steward - Titus 1:5-9

"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." (Titus 1:5-9)
Like Timothy, Titus' mission was to finish what Paul had started at Crete. Titus was not a pastor or bishop, rather he was a partner with Paul in Paul's apostolic ministry at Crete. After Paul's departure, Titus was left behind to finish what remained pertaining to the formation and establishment of the churches they had started throughout Crete. This included any final instructions and the installing of elders to preside as overseers in the young churches in Crete.

Pertaining to the qualifications of elders, much of what Paul writes to Titus he also wrote to Timothy. I will not bore my readers by repeating what I previously wrote form Paul's letters to Timothy but you find them in my posts entitled "Ready to lead" and "Character to lead". However, Paul does remind Titus that elders are to serve as God's steward. The Greek term used here for "steward" means one who distributes things within a house, such as food, instruction, resources, and even authority. The steward does not do all the work but rather ensured that the work is done and that the workers have everything they needed to do their jobs. A steward's interests are not his own, but rather the interests of the house. In the same way, elders are not to serve their own interests, but to protect and serve the interests of the house, that is, the church, which is not an organization, a building, or a processes, but rather a gathering together of people.

Elders stand as God's servants to dispense the grace, forgiveness, mercy, teaching, and whatever else might be needed by the believers who freely choose to associate themselves together as a corporate collection before the Lord. Elders are also responsible to equip the saints unto their own works of service; to make them competent and successful in their own unique callings in God. Finally, when necessary, the elders carry within them the authority of God to correct and to restore order within the church that the church might best resemble the glorious life of Christ as expressed through union of each individual member.

Finally, an elder must not only have a good reputation with those outside of the church, lest he be snared by their truthful accusations, but he must also exemplify Christ with a fidelity that gives testimony to the work of Christ within himself. How can one admonish another in the words of Christ unless he himself comes in the same presence as Christ Himself would? presenting themselves in patience, understanding, mercy, soberness, and selflessness? An elder's authority is not found in his appointment but rather in his deportment, that is his character, behavior, and his personality. He is an elder, not because he is appointed one, but because he is one.

David Robison

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