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An Exemplary Home

Living with Grace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:26
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There are striking connections and parallels between a human family and the church.

First, the church is a family - a spiritual family. We are brothers and sisters to one another. We reach and teach spiritual children. We enjoy a close relationship with God as our Father. Christ himself said:
Matthew 12:50 NKJV
For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
Second, the church is reaching out to a world with broken families. Husband-wife relationships and parent-child relationships are severely broken, dysfunctional, and hurting, both on Crete in the first century and in the United States today.
Third, the church will only be as strong as the families within it. That’s why Paul and Peter gave careful, detailed teaching about the family in their NT letters.
If we lose sight of how God designed and desires a family to be then we are placed at a great disadvantage as human beings and a society, as individuals and families, and as followers of Christ and a church. When we lose sight of this, several things may occur:
We lose hope that a building a thriving, successful, biblical family is possible.
We fall short in treating one another in the church as genuine spiritual family.
We fail to provide our broken world with a refreshing alternative.
Napoleon Bonaparte said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” Like a light in the darkness, a leader not only shows us where to go but gives hope that we can get there.
Such hope springs up when sailors lost in a storm-tossed sea see the beaming glow of a lighthouse through the spray.
Such hope springs up when adventurous hikers get lost in an underground cavern and they spot the gleaming light of a park ranger’s lantern off in the distance.
For this reason, we can understand why Paul placed the condition of an elder/pastor’s family at the start of his qualifications to lead the church. Though other personal abilities and qualities are necessary, Paul highlighted the condition of a man’s family at the top of the list.
One reason why this qualification is so important is because the home serves as a proving ground for a man’s ability to care for and lead people personally and spiritually.
1 Timothy 3:5 NKJV
(for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);
That’s what Paul told Timothy in another letter. In his letter to Titus, though, he doesn’t give this reason. He simply gives this qualification for being an elder (a representative, exemplary leader of the church) at the front of the list. By doing this, he emphasizes not a man’s leadership ability so much as his example as a man who’s been transformed by God’s grace as a husband and father at home.
If a pastor’s example gives hope for God’s ideals, then hope for change in our families is profoundly significant. Other lists of leadership qualifications exist in first-century literature and many of their qualifications match the ones that Paul gave to Titus for elders in the church, but this one is unique.
No secular lists of leadership qualities require the candidate to be a “one woman man.” Sadly, his relationship to his wife was not a high-priority concern. As believers, we should think differently and make our home relationship a high priority. We should not be as pessimistic and hopeless as the world about this matter because the grace of God can transform even our family relationships. That’s why we need pastors who - by God’s grace - can provide an example of this transformation for us.

A pastor’s reputation must reflect the grace of God.

Titus 1:6
Titus 1:6 NKJV
if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.
Though a pastor should be a capable person in a variety of ways, his qualifications to lead and care for the church focus less on his academic, intellectual, and professional qualities or even his personal talents and abilities and more on his personal, moral, and social qualities. The emphasis rests more on who he has become as a person and less so on what he has accomplished in a professional sense.
Blameless describes someone with a reliable reputation, someone who may not be accused of ungodly behavior or character whether inside or outside the church.
If we surveyed your church, would they accuse you of unchristian behavior and morals?
If we surveyed everyone who knows you from the community outside the church, would they accuse you of unchristian behavior and morals?
Accusations – of course – refer to actual, legitimate accusations, not false or unfounded ones. The point here is that no one should be able to question a man’s profession of faith, commitment to Christ, or personal character.
Blameless does not require a man to be entirely free from accusation. If it did, then no one would qualify for this necessary role since we all have sinful pasts. Remember that the men from whom Titus would find new pastors had been immoral, idol-worshiping men living ungodly lives on the island of Crete. Yet from these men, Titus would find men who had been so transformed by God’s grace that they could be called “blameless.” People would have known what these men were like in the past, but they would also acknowledge what these men had become after turning to Christ for salvation.
Blameless it requires a man to have proven himself faithful over time after having believed on Christ for salvation. It refers to what a man has become by the grace of God, not who he was before he received the grace of God through faith in Christ alone.
In fact, blameless refers to the kind of reputation every Christian should have since we’ve all been changed by God’s grace (Tit 2:12). That’s why a blameless pastor is important because he should provide the church with a living example of what we all can be and do in our families by the grace of God.
The only difference between pastors and other believers is twofold:
According to Tit 1:9, this man must be able to teach and preach the Word effectively. Not every believer has been given this ability or trained for this task.
According to 1 Tim 3:6, he should not be a novice, which means he should not be a new believer without a track-record of faithful Christian living.
As we consider the qualifications for being a pastor in the church, you should do so not by examining your pastor or future pastors alone but by asking whether you are also aspiring to the same sort of Christlike lifestyle and reputation made possible by the grace of God. You may have a guilty past marked by failures and wrong choices, but you may be a blameless person in the future if you depend on God’s grace and follow the clear teaching of God’s Word.
Key Question: Have you turned to Christ alone for salvation from sin?
Key Question: If so, then are you depending on Christ to be what you should be and do what you should do? Are you overcoming the past failures and sinful behaviors that marked your life so that you are blameless where you were once guilty?

A pastor should be devoted to his wife.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore various qualities that a pastor must exhibit by the grace of God and we’ll consider how we should all exhibit these qualities in our lives as followers of Christ.
Next week we’ll consider personal qualities that we should not exhibit.
The following week we’ll consider personal qualities that we should exhibit.
Then finally we’ll consider a necessary ability that a pastor must possess.
But first, we will focus on the home - the pastor’s relationship towards his wife and towards his children.
Titus 1:6 NKJV
if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.
Good, sincere people work hard to understand what this means.
Does this quality intend to avoid the problem of polygamy? Though the qualification may be applied to the problem of polygamy, polygamy was not a common practice on Crete, therefore it was probably not the central focus of Paul’s concern as he wrote to Titus.
Does this quality require a pastor to be married? Though marriage certainly enhances a man’s ability to counsel and understand people, this quality doesn’t necessarily require a pastor to be married. If it did, then the same logic must also require a pastor to be a father with two or more children as well.
A literal, straightforward reading of this phrase from Greek to English is “a one-woman man.” It describes a man who is devoted to his wife. If a man is not married, it means he is devoted to his future wife.
Such a man avoid all forms of immorality.
Such a man also loves and meets the needs of his wife (material, financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs). He does not neglect her, nor does he foster similar relationships with other women.
The question frequently arises of whether this quality prevents a divorced man from serving as a pastor. The short answer is no, it does not. Just as God hates things like a proud look and a lying tongue (Prov 6:16-19), he also hates divorce and so should we (Mal 2:16). Divorce is a difficult, painful experience that fractures family relationships and damages our society at large.
Still, God has permitted divorce in some cases, not because it is a wonderful plan but because sin is so bad that in some cases that a person needs a way out from a marriage relationship gone bad - a marriage in which a spouse has severely abandoned his or her marriage covenant by means of behavior such as abandonment, abuse, and adultery.
Such cases do not require divorce but they do provide grounds for it. Sometimes we are able to overcome and restore a marriage relationship which has suffered from these hurtful behavior, but not always. And when a divorce must occur, the party who had been wronged is free to remarry (1 Cor 7:15).
1 Corinthians 7:15 NKJV
But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.
I know this is a challenging topic with a variety of opinions but here is the question we must consider. Can a man with immorality, multiple women, and even divorce in his past life become - by the grace of God - a “one woman man” or not? The answer is yes he can!

Oberlinner, 1 Tim, 120, comments that the author is here not concerned with legal rules to be observed but with the quality of conduct displayed by the church leader within the marriage relationship.

I agree. Consider, for instance, the subsequent quality of “not addicted to wine” or “not violent” (Tit 1:7). Can a man who has been arrested and imprisoned for drunk driving or a man with a criminal record of violence be so transformed by the grace of God that people would no longer accuse him of those things? Can he become a truly sober man and a genuinely gentle person? Absolutely. As a child of God, he can become someone entirely different from his past legal record of sin.
Paul himself - the apostle who wrote this letter and led many churches - had been a very violent man himself, instigating and presiding over the killing, abuse, and imprisonment of many Christians. Such behavior ended when he turned to Christ for salvation and - over time - believers eventually learned to trust him as their leader. Such trust was not automatic, but required years of faithful, humble service and spiritual growth.
A pastor must be an example of a “one woman man” because this is the kind of man that any man can become by the grace of God, regardless of his past choices. Once a man has believed on Christ, he can become over time the kind of man who is loving and loyal to the wife to whom he is or will be married.
To lead the church as a pastor, various things must be considered on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a man’s past life will result in ongoing accusations of hypocritical, ungodly conduct hanging over him. But the passing of time and genuine, personal change by the grace of God as a man becomes more and more like Christ can transform a man’s reputation from immoral to moral, unfaithful to faithful, even from divorced to a “one-woman man.” That’s what the grace of God can do.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Key Question: Have you fully accepted God’s forgiveness for your past hurtful or immoral choices?
Key Question: Are we the type of church where men and women with broken pasts can become loving and loyal husbands and wives?
Key Question: If you’re a married believer, are you a “one woman man” to your wife or a “one man woman” to your husband? Do you refrain from all forms of immorality and commit yourself to meeting the needs of your spouse?
Key Question: If you’re a believer who’s not yet married, are you still refraining from all forms of immorality and preparing yourself to be a loving, supportive spouse?
Pray for your pastor(s) to be this kind of example for you to follow. And the reason I need to be this kind of example is because this is what God desires and requires for all of us and provides the grace for us to become.

A pastor should be influential towards his children.

Titus 1:6 NKJV
if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.
Like the first, this second qualification also pertains to a man’s family, though instead of his relationship to his wife (if he has one) it pertains to his relationship with his children (if he has any). They should not be “open to the charge of being wild and disobedient” (NIV).
This qualification refers to any children who are still “under his roof” so to speak, children for whom he is directly responsible, who are under his guidance and care. Since we know that all children are wild and disobedient at one point or another, at one stage or another, as they develop to adulthood, in what way, or to what degree, or when does such behavior disqualify a man from serving as a pastor.
The first word wild (or dissipation) can help us understand Paul’s focus. It describes people who do things like get drunk, spend money wastefully, eat like a glutton, and commit fornication. This being the case, Paul is probably focused less on the disobedience of young children in training and more on the public, regular behavior of older, adolescent children. This word also refers to an excessive, repeated lack of self-control, not necessarily a one-time failure or offense.
The question then is whether a man’s adolescent and perhaps even college-age children can be trusted to behave well and do what is right. Do they follow their father’s (or parent’s) instruction or do they consistently and flagrantly rebel against him by doing things which rebel against God?
Faithful means to be obedient or submissive as a trustworthy employee, servant, or steward.
1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV
Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Though this qualification does not necessarily require a man’s children to themselves become followers of Christ (since no leader can ensure the salvation of anyone), that his children believe on Christ and follow him is certainly major source of encouragement.
In a parallel passage 1 Tim 3:4, Paul required a pastor’s children to simply be well-behaved without also requiring faith in Christ. Likewise here in Tit 1:6, he states a positive quality (faithful/trustworthy) followed by a pair of negatives (NOT wild and disobedient). In such a statement, the negatives specify which kind of faithfulness Paul has in mind. It is the kind that behaves well without necessarily requiring genuine faith (though genuine faith is always the goal).
The Old Testament provides us with a helpful illustration of why it’s important for spiritual leaders (in our case, pastors) to raise obedient, well-behaved children. A priest named Eli raised two sons named Hophni and Phineas.
According to 1 Sam 2:12-17, 22-25, when they served in the tabernacle in their father’s absence, they would steal the people’s sacrificial meat for themselves rather than helping them offer it to God. They would also have inappropriate relationships with the women who came to worship at the tabernacle.
1 Samuel 3:13 NKJV
For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.
Their behavior reflected badly on their father and encouraged other Israelites to take a lower view of God and the life he laid out for them.
Why is the good behavior of a pastor’s adolescent and even college-age children a requirement for being a pastor? 1 Tim 3:5 tells us that a pastor’s ability to raise well-behaved, respectful children is a key test for whether he is able to manage the many personalities and people of a church.
Yet I believe that this qualification has at least one more aspect. Since a church is a family, is reaching people out from a world marked by wild and rebellious people and broken family relationships, and is a place where we can be transformed in our family relationships, then we need pastors who can exemplify this ideal.
When a pastor’s teenage, college-age children rebel against their parents (and against God), they enable the rest of the families in a church to accept the same outcome as the norm for themselves.
When a pastor’s teenage, college-age children rebel against their parents (and against God), they diminish and weaken our hope for the kind of change that grace makes possible.
Just as the grace of God can transform the relationship between a husband and wife, it can also transform the relationship between parents and their children.
Malachi 4:6 NKJV
And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
For God to bring about this kind of change does require parents (esp. father) to treat their children as Christ himself would treat them and point them to the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 NKJV
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Such behavior from parents (esp. fathers) is neither normal nor natural today but it is the kind of behavior that the grace of God makes possible. Unfortunately, many of us know firsthand what it’s like to have fathers who didn’t raise us or treat us well. Such is life apart from the grace of God. But in a church where God’s grace is transforming our lives, we should come to expect that he intends to transform our relationships with our children as well as our spouses.
Key Question: How has a broken relationship with your parents or broken relationships in the lives of other believers you’ve looked up to lower your expectations of what God can do in your home?
Key Question: Pray for your pastor(s) family to enjoy healthy, working relationships between parents and children because that relationship will serve as an example to many other families with children of what God’s grace can accomplish.
Without the grace of God at work in our lives and our humble, prayerful, obedient reliance on him we can do nothing. But as we rely on the grace of God and pray for one another, we can all - not just the pastor’s family - provide a broken world with newfound hope of healing between parents and their children. Adolescent children do not have to drift away into a self-absorbed, sinful lifestyle. If we believe that they do, then we need more examples of God’s transforming grace in our lives. So far are our Christian families are concerned, we need to be dealers in hope. Our church and community need it.
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