Paul was a bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his calling as God’s appointed apostle to the Gentiles was to furnish the elect of God with a knowledge of the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ. Paul was an apostle of Jesus, who was called to equip believers with godly attributes which would glorify our Father in heaven.
Titus was a young man who, like Timothy, demonstrated some special spiritual characteristics which had proved him to be a reliable helper and fellow workman for the sake of the gospel of Christ. Paul considered Titus to be his son in the common faith, and to him was given the responsibility of overseeing the activities of the local churches, on the island of Crete.
In this short epistle, we discover that Paul had left Titus in Crete and entrusted him with the practical oversight of the churches around the island. Indeed, he was given particular responsibility to ordain church elders and select godly overseers in every city, “for the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward. He must not be self-willed; not quick-tempered; not addicted to wine; not pugnacious and not fond of sordid gain.”
In this epistle, Paul lays out the norm for church elders. They are to be men of outstanding character, with demonstrable leadership qualities and spiritual maturity. Every born-again child of God is a member of the body of Christ and each have their own God-appointed gifts and abilities… so that they are enabled to carry out the roles and responsibilities for which each has been called.
Not everyone is gifted to preach and teach, and similarly, not everyone is called to be a church elder or the overseer in a local fellowship. It should not be a position that is decided by a self-appointed committee, but a person who has been divinely enabled and is personally willing to undertake the responsibility of shepherding God’s people. Elders are instructed to care for the people of God and to be vigilant in preventing false teachers and false doctrines from infiltrating their congregations.
An overseer should also be a man who is willing and able to lead by example and not by his own, personal dictates. He should not be someone who becomes an overseer or a church elder… simply because he is good at book-keeping, organising an office, repairing the building infrastructure, or a ‘whiz’ at booking good speakers!
The sort of man that is qualified and equipped to become an elder, is one that sees his role as humbly overseeing God’s people through the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. A man should not become an elder in order to further his career… or to furnish his own honour, popularity, or credentials. He should humbly recognise that he is a servant of God whose heart should be blameless before the Lord and who should be both doctrinally sound and above reproach in his public and private life.
A self-willed individual, who likes to dictate the rule of law, or who exhibits violent behaviour or crude thinking, is totally inappropriate for this role of overseer, but so also is the man who is too timid and fearful to stand up for that which is right and true. Rather, an overseer should be sober-minded, prudent, and discrete in word and deed… as well as a man who is both trustworthy and led by the Spirit of God.
The qualities of the overseer that are outlined in this epistle to Titus are, in effect, the characteristics that every child of God should seek to emulate. May we reflect on these godly qualities that Paul gives to Titus and examine ourselves to see if we are above reproach as God’s steward – not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, and not fond of sordid gain.
Heavenly Father, I want to be the sort of person that is pleasing in Your sight. Help me to examine myself to see if there are any areas within my own life and character that could be displeasing to You. Furnish the church fellowships of our nations with godly overseers who will take responsibility to care for the flock of God, and use them, and me, in whatever way You may choose, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.