What’s the point of living the Christian life? I mean really. It’s not easy to always walk the straight and narrow. Why do we do it? How do we do it? These are questions that many people wrestle with and that many Christians may have subconsciously asked at some point in time.
The overarching theological answer is so that we can glorify God! If you share my doxological perspective on life and ministry, then ultimately that is the reason for everything. All we do is to glorify the Lord.
But practically, why are we called to focus so much on growing in our sanctification and living a life of godliness. As fallen and flawed people, even though we are redeemed by grace, it isn’t easy. Godliness does not just happen. We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to work in and through us so that we can grow in our practice of godliness.
If you’re like me, sometimes it is easier to grab hold of how to do something if you can see an example. God knew that. He is the One who wired us like that. So, He organized a system that would provide both the example of what godliness looks like as well as the support network to actually live it out. As you might guess, I am talking about the local church. Yep, God’s embassy on Earth with which those who have responded in faith in Christ can connect for the purpose of having their salvation affirmed and discipleship overseen.
This system of modeling, affirming, and overseeing does not happen by default. There must be someone in the lead. Of course, Jesus is our head and King. But He also saw fit to have leaders appointed in the church to be the examples that the body of Christ would need so that they could live out the godliness that God desires to be in our lives.
Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to Titus and shared that there must be leaders (elders) appointed in the church and those elders would need to lead.
My church is currently going through a study through the book of Titus. This past week we looked at Titus 1:5-9. There are so many deep Truths in that short passage that you’ll have to watch the video to hear all the details. One main idea that ran throughout the whole passage was that as Believers we need to realize that our attitudes and actions have a direct impact on others.
It is not a profoundly new concept, but it is deeply practical. As Paul goes through the process of explaining the qualifications for godly leadership, he emphasizes the overall Truth that the godly attitudes and actions of God’s people are key to the effective gospel witness of His church in the community.
People need an example to follow. While our example is Christ, God saw fit to have leaders appointed in the church to be the practical expression of what a grace empowered life looks like.
It’s interesting that as Paul tells Titus to appoint elders (click the link below to listen to a more thorough explanation of the office of elder) throughout the island of Crete, he doesn’t leave him to his own devices. No, Paul gives Titus a clear list of qualifications and characteristics that these elders must possess in order to effectively fulfill the role as God’s stewards. As I read through this passage and looked into the original languages and context, I came to the conclusion that while there are many characteristics listed there, it seems to be just one main qualification that is presented.
If you read Titus 1 you will find a list of characteristics: is above reproach, a husband of one wife, has children that are Believers, is not arrogant or quick tempered, is not a drunkard, is not greedy for gain, is not violent…but is hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. It’s quite a list of characteristics. As I studied through this passage, it seems like the requirement of being “above reproach” is paramount and then the other characteristics are a practical explanation of what being above reproach means.
Basically, it seems like Paul is saying: Titus, you are to appoint elders, and each elder that you appoint must be above reproach. If they are above reproach, then the example of their lives will prove it. Another way to explain the concept of being above reproach is by using the word blameless. The concept of blameless comes from a legal situation where someone is not accused. It means living in such a way that one cannot be accused of living contrary to his faith.
So, to be an appointed elder in the church, one must be above reproach…blameless. Just in case you were wondering, being blameless does not mean being perfect or without sin. There was only one person to ever walk the earth that was without sin, and that was Jesus. So, Paul isn’t calling us to be sinless… If that were the case, we would have no one serving in any office in the church. But he is calling us to be blameless. The qualification of being blameless is directly related to the elder’s godly example before others. A blameless person in Paul’s mind is someone whom others have no obvious reason to accuse of living inconsistently with his commitments of faith.
Our blamelessness as Believers is not measured internally, but externally. As you look at all the qualifications listed in Titus 1, they are all qualities that are measured by those observing the elder. The godliness that others observe in our lives is what will impact and affect their lives.
Why is it so important that Christians, especially those in leadership live blameless and godly lives? Because the godliness that we live out gives credibility to our message. When we model what godliness looks like by being “blameless” in all that we do, we highlight the beauty of the gospel and the power of God’s grace at work in our lives.
But, when the lives of Believers, especially leaders in the church, do not model what godliness looks like, our ministry becomes ineffective.
The message of the gospel has no credibility if the life of the messenger does not demonstrate that the power of the gospel has freed him from the very bondage to sin that all mankind is born.
People need to see that tomorrow does not have to be like yesterday. Christians in our churches and people in our communities need to see that by God’s grace change is possible, transformation is real, and hope is readily available.
I would challenge anyone who reads this article to dig into a deep study of Paul’s letter to Titus. There are so many practical Truths that, if properly applied and modeled in our lives, will enable our witness and effectiveness for Christ to be multiplied in our communities.
It’s so important for the local church today to grab hold of the Truth that the godly attitudes and actions of God’s people are instrumental in an effective gospel witness of His church in the community.