“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you…” (Titus 1:5 ESV)
The need for good leadership in congregations is necessary. Despite the trendy and progressive ideas that we often see around us, the leadership of God’s people is to rest in men – those who are “above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers” (Titus 1:6).
This is not a put-down of women or childless couples, or a suggestion that they do not have a contribution to make, but this is God’s will for his people. As other’s have expressed it, God wants male spiritual leadership. But it is not to be all the men, as there are qualities that these men must have.
Paul emphasised over and over again in this letter the importance of knowing God’s word. “He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught, so that he will be able to give exhortation in such healthy teaching and correct those who speak against it” (Titus 1:9 NET).
These men have to know God’s word and this must be seen in how they live. They have to be able to use God’s word to teach people. And they have to know God’s word so that they can recognize what is in opposition to it and correct it.
The idea of correcting those who speak against God’s revealed word is not popular today. In most of Western society, the prevailing viewpoint is that it matters not what you believe or teach as long as you are sincere. Among religious people we often hear that we can all believe something different; after all, we are all trying to follow Jesus and will all end up in heaven. Really?
Notice what Paul wrote on this: “For there are many rebellious people, idle talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught…For this reason rebuke them sharply that they may be healthy in the faith and not pay attention to Jewish myths and commands of people who reject the truth…They profess to know God but with their deeds they deny him, since they are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good deed” (Titus 1:10-16 NET).
Wow! It is not politically correct in our society to say things like that, let alone do them. But it is biblically correct among God’s people. This is why those who are recognized as elders, as the leaders of God’s people, must know God’s word. If they don’t, they will not be able to tell what is true from what is false. And they must be willing to take a stand on the truth of God’s word.
The reason for this is quite simple. “For an overseer, as God’s steward…” (Titus 1:7 ESV). The congregation does not belong to the elders, it belongs to God. Elders/overseers are stewards for God. A steward was someone who had the responsibility of taking care of something that belonged to someone else, usually their master or employer. This is what elders are to do – look after God’s people. The analogy of shepherds taking care of sheep is a good one and very biblical.
If you want to be someone God can use for the benefit of his people, first and foremost we need to know his word. Without this knowledge, and being willing to speak up for the truth, we cannot be the men God wants us to be.
Readings for next week:
28 November – 2 Timothy 1-2
29 November – 2 Timothy 3-4
30 November – 1 John 1-2
1 December – 1 John 3
2 December – 1 John 4-5