Today we will discuss a topic that may not be too popular: authority. Humanity, the world, you and I are all in desperate need of authority. Most of us here in America have come to the point where we hate authority. Most of us have developed a lone wolf mindset. But from parents, to teachers and professors; from bosses at work, to our government, authority cannot be escaped. It is both helpful and needed. What is strange however is that although we often go along with most authority in the world, despite our anti-authority mindsets, this for some reason stops when we get to the church- we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like to think about the church as an authority in our lives. A church is made up of a congregation. This congregation sets over itself elders or overseers, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where we find ourselves today.
An overseer of course, self-explanatorily, is someone who oversees; someone who gives over sight to GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s flock. We can see also that an elder or overseer has responsibility to create order and structure in the Church. If we were to look at verse 5 we would see that. Paul writes to Titus and says:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into orderÃ¢â‚¬Â
If you think about a steward, it is someone who looks after or manages something that belongs to someone else. They are stewards in the fact that they are, well, overseers. They are put in charge of the thing that our Lord finds utmost precious and valuable: they are put in charge of the LordÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Church. Our God dearly loves His church, She is His bride; He is wed to Her. But He puts that church in charge of overseers, stewards, elders, pastors, and they are to help Her flourish, grow. An overseer is to help the saints. To help them minister in their local body; to look more like Christ, share Christ with the world. The office of overseer is one of utmost importance. It is a role that we are not to take lightly. We must respect overseers because they take upon themselves a truly hard, truly stressful task. They have taken on themselves a task for which they will be judged with intensity by God. And under their care is a people for whom God is protector of. The church is a people whom God will avenge if are treated badly.
And so the shepherd of the flock must tread with caution. But it does work the other way too; we too must be careful.
Because of these things discussed, we know that in searching for an overseer, elder, a pastor, we must also give much thought to who we bring on to guide us. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall in to a pit. We must appoint a pastor who knows where he is going: and where he is going must be toward God. So we will look at in this passage two things that an overseer or pastor must be in order to fill that position, as well as look at a third point that the passage assumes.
1) Above Reproach
We see this in verse 7:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For an overseer, as GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s steward, must be above reproach.Ã¢â‚¬Â
To be above reproach is to walk in such a way- to have such a character about you- so that you are above criticism. It is to live a life that is upright. Hopefully this raises a flag in your minds: we know that sin, although it no longer reigns in our hearts, still infects us to some degree. You should realize as we discuss moral uprightness that it is completely impossible for anyone, pastors included, to be perfect in every regard. In other words, your future pastor will fail you. Pastors will fall short. It is absolutely certain. And not only that, at times they will fall short drastically. They will let you down. They will disappoint you. They will sin, because they are people. It is very important to remember that. Do not make the mistake of expecting a perfect pastor. But in another sense it is also important, as the text tells us, that they be above reproach. Not perfectly of course, but there is a moral standard for an elder. It is not that the man never goes against any of the virtues we are going to discuss, but it is about someone of a certain character. This is necessary because the church will be following this man. He must be walking in the way of our Lord. (These are simply the character traits of a Godly man. Not distinct to pastors. The text just points out that you have to be a Godly man to pastor)
A) Stands Against Evil
We see this in the rest of verse 7:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For an overseer, as GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gainÃ¢â‚¬Â
The text shows us that an overseer must stand firm on the tracts of EvilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s train with hand held out. He must not budge when the world tempt him give in to their ways. We are given a few examples here by Paul, but this list of course isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exhaustive. This list stands as a principle. The pastor of course is not to be arrogant. Not to be of quick temper in nature. Not to be a drunkard or violent or greedy for his own gain. But what Paul is doing is pushing forward a principle that states a pastor, as a whole, is to be a person who stands against evil. A pastor of the flock of Christ stands wholly counter-cultural. The world screams that we join them on the path of unrighteousness. But God calls us to a higher stander- a holy standard. Again not just pastors, but all Godly men and women. You must not be arrogant. You must not be of a quick temper. You, if you have been saved by Christ, must use the freedom He gives you to stand against sinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s snare.
B) Steps in to Righteousness
Not only must an overseer stand against evil, he must also step in to righteousness. Not only does being above reproach mean you hate the bad, but also hug the good. We see this as we continue to verse 8:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So here Paul almost contrasts the list we had previously. Rather than to be about his own good, quick to anger, arrogant, and violent, a pastor must instead be hospitable, love good, be self-controlled, upright and holy in behavior. A pastor must instead be disciplined. We must strive by his strength that mightily works within us, if we are in Christ. We must oppose evil, but also run towards holiness. These two things, both standing against evil and stepping in to righteousness, make someone above reproach. Being above reproach marks a pastor. But it also marks a Godly individual. If you are truly in Christ, you will hate evil and you will run toward what is right. If you are in Christ, this is your nature. It is impossible to be otherwise.
2) About the Word
Secondly, a man above reproach is a man about the word of God. We see this in verse 9:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
We are also going to break this truth down and see what it looks like to be a man who is about the word.
A) Hold Firm the Word
A true Christian man has a friend in the Word of God. He has a strong desire for the Word. If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t desire the Word you are not Christian. The man who is above reproach, the type of man you want as a pastor, is the type of man who is about the word; and part of being about the Word is that he himself holds firm to the Word of God. He knows it like the back of his hand. He is not a man who has mastered the Scriptures. But he is a man whom the Scriptures have mastered. The Bible; the preaching and proclaiming of the Word of God is to take precedence in our worship services, in our evangelism, in our interactions with one another. May no conversation pass us by without the mention of His name. And a church, a flock, needs to be led in to that. It is important to humble yourselves, and realize that you need to be led. A shepherd cannot lead the sheep to water unless he knows where the stream is at. So how can a pastor lead a church in and with GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Word unless he himself is familiar with it? And why must he hold firm the Word of God? This brings us to the second thing a man Ã¢â‚¬Ëœabout the WordÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ does.
B) Herald Sound Doctrine
Ã¢â‚¬Å“so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrineÃ¢â‚¬Â
A pastor is also a counselor, and more so, a preacher. Because of this he must be able to instruct. More so, a pastor should always be instructing, always giving guidance, always speaking truth in to peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lives. But here we are told firstly, that he must be able to teach and secondly, what he must teach. We are told he must teach Ã¢â‚¬Ëœsound doctrineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Now what does this mean? He must teach doctrine. He must of course, hold fast the Word of God, and through holding fast to the Word he begins to understand what it says. The man of God, the preacher, must understand the Word and must proclaim its doctrine. Doctrine of course meaning the beliefs of the Christian faith. He must understand the doctrine of sin. He must know what Scripture teaches about itself, about the sovereignty of God in salvation, about the work of the Holy Spirit. He must understand something about the teachings of the Bible. And then of course the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“soundÃ¢â‚¬Â. It describes the kind of doctrine. It lets us know the doctrine taught must be stable, must be healthy. Which lets us know that there is some teaching that is not sound. The pastor must stand boldly against this false doctrine and defend his flock from it at all costs.
C) Heroically/Humbly Rebuke
The pastor must stand unafraid, as well as in meekness, and proclaim to wolves, to false teachers, even to his own sheep at times that they are wrong in specific areas. May it be a blemish of ungodliness in a personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life, a person with a false doctrine or a teacher teaching it, the shepherd of the flock must with a marriage of boldness and humility rebuke those around him, using the Word of God and the power the Holy Spirit gives in proclamation.
3) Attached to the Cross
This third point we cannot find bluntly in the passage at hand, rather it is a point the text assumes. In order to be an overseer of the flock of God, you must first become attached to His cross. Abducted by His love. Addicted to His grace. The chief qualification, no, the chief need of any minister is that his sins are washed away. The most important thing for an elder in the church is that he be forgiven before God. And more than that, your greatest need in this life is that the debt you owe heaven be canceled. The only one who has ever been hospitable, loved good, been upright and holy, died a sinnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s death. He died so that those who were arrogant and quick tempered- us who by nature are drunkards and violent and greedy for gain- might live. There are certainly some of you this morning that do not know Christ, and because you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know Him you have never experienced His sweet forgiveness. But He stood in your place. You desire evil, and for your acts of treason against His Majesty in heaven, you have been given the death sentence. But the Son of the King died in your place, if you will run to Him. As you are, you are alone without hope. The guillotine of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wrath has been erected, and your head rests on the wood block. Who knows when your life will end and the rope will be cut. Who knows when your heart will run out of beats and the blade of judgment will swing with force down on you? But your crime has been paid for, your sentence has been served by another Man- a God Man- a Man more glorious than you can imagine. Please, come to Him! You have committed insubordination against the King- but He has loved you with an everlasting love. We can see His love in the cross of Christ. If you do not know Him, what do you gain by remaining in your sins? All who in stubbornness refuse His offer will be destroyed before this great God like a sandcastle in a tsunami. And He has given one barricade from that judgment wave- His very own Son. But if are here this morning and you do know Him, praise God! Use His mercy to stand against evil, to step in to righteousness. DoesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t what he has done for us make you want to walk above reproach? DoesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it make you want to be a man, a woman about the Word of God? DoesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t His love for you give you such a great love for Him?
We are a people that by nature, hate authority. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to submit ourselves to anyone, and in our natural state that includes God; but He is a God who buys back rebels. In coming to a church, we are choosing to submit ourselves to that churches leadership. And so when choosing who will lead us, we must be very careful. As we close today I would like to leave you with these questions:
1) First and foremost, the question is this: Do you know Jesus?
2) The job of an overseer is very important. Do you find yourselves concerned with the qualifications listed here in a pastor, or do you look at more worldly things such as the way a person looks, the way he talks, age, etc.
3) A pastor must walk stand against evil and step in to righteousness. A pastor must be about the Word of God. But these are also character traits of Godly people in general. Do you find these traits in yourselves? A true convert to Jesus will desire to live in a way that is pleasing to Him.
The office of overseer is a very important and essential one. All areas of our lives must be governed by Scripture, and the Scripture tells us the type of person we are looking for to fill that role. He must be above reproach. He must be about the word. And of course, he must be attached to the cross of Christ, which brings men back to God again. I would urge you to ask the Lord to bring you such a man. He looks after His children. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pray.