DAILY WORD 10/5/20
3. Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
1 Timothy 3:3 KJV
For today’s passage, I chose to take a short break from the version of the Bible I have been using for the past several months. I mentioned briefly that I may be doing this from time to time in order to get the most out of the Verses and commentary covered. Today I choose this approach because none of the other versions I read held true to the translation of the KJV, they all left out at least one aspect of Paul’s instruction if not more, so let’s begin.
In his instructions to Timothy for the proper operations of the Church and the appropriate Standard for the behavior of Pastors and Spiritual Leaders in the Church, Paul gives us several more Characteristics that should be present in the lives of those Leaders. Today’s passage offers 7 more Traits of a Pastor.
The first is a specific note on the Sobriety that we covered in the last Verse. I mentioned that the Sobriety listed in Verse 2 may well have meant being Sober in Spirit, not free of alcohol and other mind and behavior-altering intoxicants. If there was any question as to which it was, and if experimenting with alcohol and drugs for a Christian Leader was really alright, Paul takes the guesswork out of the equation with this first clause.
The phrase, “Not given to wine,” actually goes a bit further than just suggesting that Pastors shouldn’t be drunks. It refers to total abstinence to alcoholic beverages and by extension mind-altering drugs and other naturally occurring substances as well. As Christians, we all have to live up to the same Standard. God is not making acceptations for one person’s behavior and then Judging another person less harshly for the same thing. His Standard is the same for us all and even though He calls his Leaders to a higher responsibility, Holiness has a Concrete Criterion. It cannot be changed, altered, or ignored because it makes you uncomfortable.
Whatever substance you utilize to alter your mind and soften the blow of life’s hardships (or whatever other reason you use them for) is in essence a substitute for God and His Power to Affect change in your life. As such, it is an affront to Him and an impediment to your Holiness. In addition, anything you use to alter your brain can also invite in things that are not of God into your mind. I won’t spend a lot of time on this but suffice it to say that there are only two sources for the things you allow into your spirit and mind and if it’s not from God it’s from the enemy and by association, it is inherently harmful to your spirit. That includes wine. If you want to be a Pastor or just a Real Christian, leave it alone.
The next thing Paul mentions is not to be a “striker”. That is to say, one who acts violently against those who offend them. Punching people in the face (or anywhere else for that matter) is not a good look for someone in a leadership position, especially in Christian Leadership. This is regardless of what is said, how it is said, and how angry it makes you.
As a Pastor, there will absolutely come times when you will become angry and frustrated and will be driven to act on those sentiments. However, as Ephesians 4:26 states, we must all, especially those in Christian Leadership, “Be angry and sin not:”. On a side note, I find it interesting and more than a little bit ironic that it is in the letter to the Ephesians that Paul mentions this. Considering that he has sent Timothy there and that is where this particular letter was sent to him, there must have been an issue with physical violence there. Hitting people is not a good way to get them to feel God’s Love. Nuff said.
“Not greedy of filthy lucre;” is the next portion of Paul’s admonition for a Pastor’s Traits, and given the potential amount of tithes and other monies that may come into his possession for the use of the Church, this one is paramount. Unless there are checks and balances in place, the Pastor may have sole discretion as to how these monies are distributed and utilized. If there is even a little bit of dishonesty as it comes to financial transparency, temptation may overwhelm even the most well-meaning of Leaders.
There must be total honesty and integrity in the realm of finances because money and greed have destroyed the trust and faith of many a congregation. Nothing can splinter and crumble a church faster than poorly stewarded tithes and offerings. Unfortunately, we see plenty of Leaders falling victim to the temptation of greed. To be an effective Pastor money cannot be your motivation. Souls must drive your passion or this is simply not the office for you.
The next Standard Paul mentions is Patience. This one is pretty obvious but you’d be surprised how many Leaders lack patience. This comes into play not just with dealings with church members and activities but even more importantly with the subjects of Prayer and Faith. In order to teach others to “Wait of the Lord”, be sure that it is His Voice you are following, and potentially postpone action until you are sure you are doing His Will, patience is paramount. There is nothing more dangerous than a half-cocked Leader.
Paul goes back to violence with his next admonition which is further evidence that Ephesus was in sore need of Good Leadership and may have been a pretty crazy place for an early Church to be established. His Standard of “not a brawler,” is pretty self-explanatory but again, it bears repeating. Sometimes people will make you angry and oppose what you know to be True. That does not give you the license to fight with them, even verbally, in order to prove your point. There is a Biblical Standard for behavior, even when angry and God expects us to adhere to it.
The final Standard Paul offers in this passage is to be “not covetous:”. That means not to be jealous of what another person, church, or organization has. This may come into play in a material fashion. Pastors may not have the amount of money that they want for their congregation or their family which harkens back to that greedy Standard but there is another way this can come into play that is just as important.
Not everyone in the Body of Christ has the same Spiritual Gifts. We all have our strengths and God gives us each a different Gift to operate in From His Spirit. It is foolish and against God’s Will to envy another person’s Spiritual Gift. If you are a Prophet or can interpret Tongues or whatever God has given you to do with His Power, it does you no good to envy what He has Given someone else. Just operate as best you can in your own Gift and be content. He has Given you what you need to do the Work He has Called you to do. Envy is not becoming of a Christian, let alone a Christian Leader.
There are absolutely more Traits to come but this is plenty for one day. Reflect on just which of those 7 that we covered today are still in need of some work in your life and pray for God’s Help in your individual struggle. We all have a path to follow and getting to the end of our journey is never without some difficulty but in the end, the reward will be worth the effort!
Have a Magnificent Monday, FB, and Stay Safe out there!