O Man of God

We are studying 1 Timothy 3 in our morning worship. This is a very convicting portion of Scripture. In thinking through these virtues necessary for the minster of God’s church, I was encouraged to adapt them into a more prose style as a personal letter being written to a pastor or aspiring pastor. Go to our website www.graceutah.com to listen the sermon on this passage in full.

A True Man of God
(Adapted from I Timothy 3:1-7)

A true man of God has a general quality of striving to be above reproach, he recognizes that this world, his own flesh and the Devil would love to undue him, so he strives to be blameless and holy. Yet in this pursuit of holiness by grace he realizes that his first relationship second only to God, is his relationship with his wife. He strives to be holy toward his wife. Not only does he refrain from dalliances with sexual lust and perversity, but he makes his marriage bed holy, giving his wife due benevolence in their intimate delights. He loves her first, he lifts her up before their children and in the eyes of the neighbor. He prays for her, he is devoted to her and honors his vows with delight and love. He sacrifices his own desires for her and he gives himself to her, thus he models for the flock of God, the love and devotion God has for them. He is devoted in his marriage, but he is also restrained in his passions. He listens before speaking, he studies the matter before giving an answer, he is mature enough to realize that he is full of weaknesses and that allowing his passions, his desires, his delights to drive his choices will only end miserably, so he is vigilant and restrained, knowing his weaknesses and setting a watch over those areas. Thus he demonstrates in an unrestrained culture the wisdom and restraint of the Chief Shepherd. He is clear-headed and modest. Humility clothes him, not a false humility, but a deep understanding of who is he is and the grace of God that equips and enables him. He is not quick to assume fault nor paranoid, neither jaded by life circumstances. His life is not a party, but with joy and happiness he clearly thinks through the issues of life and makes less of himself and more of God. Jesus is his example as the meekest and most modest of all who was serious about the business of His Father. Thus the people of God learn of a Savior who humbly cares for them and thinks deeply on their behalf. The temptation would come to separate himself from people. Deep thinkers often do their best thinking alone, but he realizes that his sober and modest wisdom from above is made to be given freely to others so he loves strangers and treats guest and those around with grace and kindness, he also develops and uses his gifts to teach others. He teaches other men who themselves will be able to instruct. He teaches the opposition with sobriety and skill. He is well-known for his ability to take a complicated matter and to parse it out to its basic understanding. His teaching is not words filling the air, but exposition of God’s perfect Will in Revelation that urges God’s people to respond rightly and quickly to God’s Word. Because his life is an example of holy submission to God. Because what others see in him they will regard as true of Christ, he is very careful not to become a slave to any earthly thing. Food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, goods; these are all high on his radar and he is careful to let nothing begin to control him. He must teach God’s Word to God’s people; he must instruct them in holiness and mostly; he must teach them the love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul and mind and will. So if his will, and heart and mind and soul is bent toward some earthly substance, he will only confuse the people of God. So he watches his life and when he finds himself becoming addicted to anything, he cuts that off and sets guards up in his choices. Thus he shows a Lord who serves the church with his own life. In all of this, he must urge God’s people on to God’s holiness, but the temptation will come when they are not moving as quickly as they ought. When his own passions and drive can easily turn his temperament from being patient and gentle into being pushy and violent. He must not push the sheep of God, but lead the flock. He must not be behind them with a whip, but in front with the Rod and Staff. This is how Christ led his people, he went before with gentleness and example, not with anger and violence. The man of God knows that he must guard his own passions, for too quickly he may turn into a bully, but our God is not a bully. Along the way of a life lived in sacrificial service, be certain that Satan will tempt him to get a little more for himself. The words will ring in his ears, “You deserve a little more” “You have worked hard for this” “If they really loved you they would provide for you.” And these little phrases will destroy his soul if they are meditated upon. For when he is faced with the choice of feeding his family or taking that bribe, that gift-with-strings-attached, cheating on his fiscal dealings, gaining from shameful, unethical things-if he hears the voice of truth all will be well, but if he listens to these lies of the tempter he will fall. Beware, man of God that you reflect the ethics of your Master, who committed himself to him who judges righteously. But dear friend, leading sheep of God is not easy. You are not greater than your Lord and he led 12 ordinary yet obstinate men. Do not be quarrelsome, do not be quick to brawl, to fight, to be pugnacious. Jude, the brother of Jesus understood this tendency and so even while saying that the man of God must earnestly contend for the faith, he expressed this as a necessary burden, not a delightful desire to be quick to fight. Be slow to fight, quick to show mercy and grace. For no greater example of this do we see than our Lord in the Garden who healed Malchus’ ear when Peter was quick to fight. Finally, do not be greedy, be free from the love of money. Oh, the people of God can help greatly in this regard. By providing well for those who labor in the word and doctrine, they can help keep his mind from the love of money. But it lies upon you, man of God, to labor not for that which perishes, but to labor as Apelles, “Approved in Christ.” Labor for that great Day of Judgment, not for the silver that takes the wings of a dove and flies away. Laboring for temporal gain will cloud your judgment, will make you lazy, and will cause you lose your reward in heaven. Be careful man of God.

But where do these virtues display themselves? O Man of God, they display themselves in your home. Let these virtues and your progress be first seen in what you model, teach and instruct in your children. For if your children cannot see these virtues in you, then you must not seek to display them before the children of God. Where are these qualities clearly seen? Let them be clearly seen in your conduct of personal and private life, so that your progress will be seen of all. You began newly planted and at that time, were not ready for this task, grow up in these virtues that you would no longer be immature, a novice, but seasoned by reason of use, trained up into godliness. So that your arrogance will be dissipating and your holiness will be increasing. Where are these attributes modeled? They are modeled in how you treat your neighbors, your children’s teachers, your interactions in business, your vehicular habits, your response to governments and authorities, your demeanor with service professionals. Those on the outside of the walls of faith will be used by the wicked one to trip you in these areas. Be strong in the grace of God and in his Word so that you do not fall into those snares. Be diligent in these three areas, your family, your personal life, and your community life. Take heed to yourself first and then to the doctrine and God will grow in his grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Dear man of God, do not neglect these things, for God has called you to a high and holy task, a noble work is yours. May it reflect the greatest nobility of the King who did that great work for you, shepherd God’s flock which is among, taking oversight as a mature elder in the faith.

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