The mystery of godliness!
Scripture reading for October 18th: 1st Timothy 3:1-16
In this chapter, Paul tries to help Timothy with some guidelines for those who work at overseeing the church. He gives Timothy some qualifications for both overseers and deacons and their spouses. These are not meant to be laws, but help Timothy evaluate those seeking to become leaders in the church and to give instruction to the church of the standards that God values in His leaders. Behind all these values and qualifications is what Paul calls ‘the mystery of godliness.’
It’s a good thing to desire to be an overseer in Christ’s church! Overseers are what we might call the pastors, superintendents and bishops of today. “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.” We note that these qualifications involve character more than gifting or charisma. The ability to manage and minister in the home takes precedence over ministering in Christ’s church. If it doesn’t work at home, in will not fly in God’s household!
“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.” Time in service is also a qualification. It takes time to grow in grace and the character of Christ. Pride and conceit are primary weapons of the devil and each man is born the first time will pride as a stronghold. When Christ changes us, we need time to grow in relationship and to build a reputation outside the church as well as in as a consistent follower of Christ. Reputations are easy to lose!
These instructions were given to help people know how to conduct themselves properly. But a relationship with Christ is foundational to godly living. “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” (1st Timothy 3:16) Faith in Christ brings godliness to all who believe as we humbly follow our Lord!