Sunset Over New Haven

“The Task And The Task-Bearers: Titus 1:5-9”

How did your last job interview go? I wonder what qualifications you boasted about and what accomplishments you highlighted? Here Paul reminds Titus why he has been placed in Crete and the qualifications of those whom he must choose to bring that to pass – and they have very little to do with intellectual qualifications but everything to do with personal character.

We’re all familiar with job descriptions and are encouraged to list all our attributes and qualifications when taking on a job. We’re told to ‘sell ourselves’ – to highlight all our achievements, but my Dad used to say ‘don’t blow your own trumpet … you’ll only annoy the neighbours!’ As has been said many times, God is not really interested in our ability, but He is fully interested in our availability. Jesus’ great qualification was to ‘always do those things that pleased Him’ (John 8:29).

As Paul says in 1 Cor 1:26-29, ‘Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many of noble birth, But God chose the foolish … the weak … the lowly … so that no-one may boast before Him’ and Paul goes on to put down his own qualifications in 1 Cor 2:1-5 which includes ‘When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom’ – so the Good News is we all qualify!

The Task (v5)
Paul says, ‘The reason I left you’ (v5). Paul saw a need for others to do what he could not do. Do we sense that we have been ‘left’ (placed) here by the Lord for an important task? – I hope so! The task is described as to ‘straighten out … unfinished’ (v5)– ‘straighten’ epidiorthoo is used by medical writers of setting broken limbs. Faith in Christ brings things back to the way they should be – a restoration of disfigured lives – to complete people who otherwise have an aching ‘lack’ in their lives (Ps 23:1). Being a true Christian is the true normal human existence.

The Task-bearers v6-9
Titus is called to ‘appoint elders’ (v5) – this is also translated ‘ordain’, which really means to set down or to appoint to an office – it has no distinct status and is in the plural, so there should be a plurality of leadership not ‘one-man bands’. ‘elders’ is presbuteros (literally – grey-bearded one) – the assumption being that age leads to maturity but clearly not automatically because of the associated requirements that follow. Titus is to identify Godly men to provide order and structure in the Church.

The evidence of sufficient maturity start with being ‘blameless’ (v6), someone against whom there is no outstanding charge or accusation, i.e. like Christ (Luke 23:4, 14, 22) – without reproach (note Noah and Job are both described as ‘blameless’ so it does not mean sinless perfection) ‘the husband of but one wife’ (v6) – lit ‘a man of one woman’ – when put with the ‘blameless’ characteristic it would at least imply that the requirement is for the elder to have only been married once, but the main target is bigamy or polygamy.

The key model again is Christ, who is the husband of only one bride – the Church ‘whose children believe … are not wild … disobedient’ (v6) – the implication is that there is clearly Godly supervision and order in the home which would be extended into the Church context, ‘an overseer … entrusted with God’s work’ (v7) – Episkopos sometimes translated ‘bishop’ or ‘steward’ – the qualifications are the same as for the elder and a reminder that he is not the source of God’s ministry only the one ‘entrusted’ with it ‘not over-bearing … or quick-tempered’ (v7) – aggressive styles of leadership may work in the short-term but invariably fail in the long-term and are usually based on ‘ego’ and self-justification rather than in the interest of others

Further, the qualities are ‘not … drunkenness … violent … dishonest gain’(v7) – lit ‘one who sits long at his wine’ so not requiring total abstinence, but note
1 Cor 10:31-33 – and one who is in control of his temper and his desires too ‘rather … hospitable … loves what is good’ (v8) – a clear sign of a Godly leader is someone who is more interested in others than themselves and identifies with all that is wholesome and pure – note: Ps 1:1; Phil 4:8 – ‘self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined’ (v8) (self-control is a fruit of the Spirit [Gal 5:23]) so it has to derive from His presence because it is not in our fallen nature.

In fact, all of these attributes are sourced in Christ’s person and so can bear fruit in us. If Christ is living in us, we are already fully equipped to serve and lead ‘hold firmly to the trustworthy message…

In fact, all of these attributes are sourced in Christ’s person and so can bear fruit in us. If Christ is living in us, we are already fully equipped to serve and lead ‘hold firmly to the trustworthy message … encourage … by sound doctrine’ (v9) – true teaching will be faithful and honest but also always encourage people and remember ‘sound’ is lit hygiaín¶ from where we get hygienic and so healthy, ‘and refute those who oppose’ (v9) – so it is not that these elders were to be just passive or walked over – they were to confront those who opposed the truth.

Stuart Briscoe Summarises;

God’s leader is a; Steward who loves God’s Church, Shepherd who loves God’s People, Student who loves God’s Word, Servant who loves God’s Service.

Key Prayer’s:
• Thank the Lord for the great task He has called us all to and for already equipping us to serve because of His Spirit within us.
• Thank the Lord for those who are in leadership over you and pray for them to serve and lead well.
• Ask the Lord where you are called to serve and lead.

  • Written by Peter Thomas for New Life Aus, 27 Mar 2022