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Qualities that Grace Supplies (2)

Living with Grace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:18
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My parents served as missionaries in South Africa 10 yrs. There they noticed a sad reality. Low-character men who could neither qualify for a college or university or some sort of meaningful job would turn to tuition-free colleges offered by American missionaries instead. They hoped that training to be a pastor under an America missionary would be their ticket to easy respect and a substantial income.
What a sad misunderstanding! Laboring as a pastor is not a platform for under-achieving men to earn respect and get rich quick. This work requires men who already exhibit certain personal qualities that may well prepare them for other opportunities yet are prepared to sacrifice their reputation and lower their financial ceiling for the good of the church.
When Paul wrote this letter to Titus, he warned against choosing men who were eager for a leadership role, a teaching platform, and a sense of personal prominence. Such men would be easy to find - even on the island of Crete. Yet Paul told Timothy to make personal character his first and second priority. When choosing leaders for the church, God values personal character over mere enthusiasm, administrative skills, an outgoing personality, and so on.
Let’s see what personal qualities Paul urged Timothy to look when searching for pastors. We’ve already learned that God first emphasizes a man’s reputation with his family - his ability to love and care for his wife and raise obedient, respectful children (Tit 1:6). Then he also emphasized five negative qualities to avoid: selfishness, anger, drunkenness, aggressiveness, and greed (Tit 1:7).
Today we’ll see that God also values six positive qualities. These qualities are not natural behavior for us any of us. They require personal discipline (which is a pattern of regular, deliberate choices) that depends not only on our personal willpower but on the grace of God - which is his free and unlimited ability to be what we should be and do what we should do.

A pastor should practice hospitality.

I’d venture to say that North American culture in general values hospitality far less than African, Far Eastern, South American, and even some European cultures do, too. We too easily and too frequently relegate our home space to personal use only. We may invite close relatives to a birthday party or some friends to watch a football game, but we even do this rarely and its usually for something that we enjoy. How much hospitality do you practice at your home? By hospitality, I mean using your home to serve people in your church and your community for gospel- and ministry-related reasons.
A pastor should counteract this trend for at least two reasons.
He should provide an example to the congregation, encouraging more members to practice hospitality.
He should utilize his home for the benefit of the church.
In the first century, churches frequently gathered in homes. Believers also opened their homes to host smaller church gatherings, accommodate traveling teachers, and help other believers in need. Without hospitality, a church could not exist!
Romans 16:5 NKJV
Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.
1 Corinthians 16:19 NKJV
The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
Colossians 4:15 NKJV
Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.
Howard Marshall and Philip Towner say this: “For worship to take place, homes had to be opened and provisions made (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15). Consequently, the application of this virtue to the church leader is natural, since the burden of providing hospitality to travellers and those in need would fall on him (cf. 1 Clement 12:3; Hermas, Mand. 8:10; Sim. 9:27:2).” (I. Howard Marshall and Philip H. Towner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, International Critical Commentary (New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 163.)
Homes weren’t the only place churches would meet in those earliest years. They would also meet in synagogues, underground burial vaults, and even public schools. Yet one thing is clear - when church members (pastors included for sure) open their homes for fellowship and ministry causes, the church stands a much better chance to grow strong in relationships and reach new people with the gospel.

A pastor should value good friends and good things.

A farmer went to market to buy a donkey and found an impressive looking animal. Before purchasung the donkey, he received permission from the owner to take him home a few days as a trial to see what kind of donkey he would be. When the farmer arrived at home, he placed the donkey in the stable with his other donkeys. The new donkey looked around and immediately lay down beside the most lazy, greedy donkey in the stable. The farmer removed the new donkey immediately and returned it to its owner. Surprised the farmer had returned so soon, the owner asked, “How’d you make up your mind so quickly?” “I don’t need to put him through more tests,” said the farmer. “I could see what kind of donkey he was from the companion he chose in the stable.”
I adapted this story from one of Aesop’s fables, which concludes, “A man is known by the company he keeps.” That’s what Paul is saying here when he says that a pastor should be a “lover of good things.”
Throughout history, people have valued this quality for kings and other high-ranking government leaders. This virtue often focused on a man’s ability to choose good friends and advisors. If he made good friends, he would receive good counsel and make good decisions. If he surrounded himself with bad friends (ruffians, riffraff, scoundrels), he would receive bad counsel and make bad decisions.
1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
What’s fascinating about Paul’s word for this quality here is that he speaks more generically, referring not only to making good friends but preferring good things. This is helpful because whatever a man likes to surround himself with (not just his friends) will influence him one way or the other.
Are a man’s tastes and preferences noble and wholesome? Are the books he reads, hobbies he enjoys, places he goes, and associations he identifies with respectable? When a pastor or anyone who follows Christ chooses friends or other influences that are coarse, crude, ignorant, filthy, morbid, vulgar, or outright evil, he contradicts the kind of person that grace enables him to be and harms his ability to be a good and godly leader.

A pastor should have control over his emotions.

This portrays a man who makes decisions objectively. He does not allow emotions like anger, frustration, or sadness to govern his decisions or behavior. As such, such a man will exhibit a balanced, even-keel demeanor.
This does not mean he expresses or feels no emotion. Instead, it acknowledges that though he experiences the full range of human emotions, he responds to his emotions in a balanced manner and does not allow his emotions to control his behavior. Such a man, for instance, does not succumb to depression (endless sorrow) or dramatic mood swings.
Greek and Roman militaries valued this quality when they selected high-ranking officers to lead their armies because the safety and success of their armies required a leader who would remain calm and clear-headed under pressure. They simply could not afford to have generals who would collapse under the pressure of battle with so many lives on the line! Likewise, a church must have leaders who will remain clear headed and objective when facing the challenges of leading a ministry forward. They must have a man who can maintain a clear, biblical, Christ-centered viewpoint in the face of so many complex issues and pressures.

A pastor should exhibit a high view of other people.

This word justice emphasizes a man’s commitment to treating the people around him with dignity and respect, as people who are made in God’s image no matter who they may be otherwise. This principle permeates the entire Old Testament law and in theory is supposed to guide our civil laws in America today. A just man puts other people first and “loves his neighbor as himself” (as Christ himself taught us to do).
When faced with difficult choices, this man not only values other people over himself, but he navigates difficulties between one person and another in a balanced, biblical way. He doesn’t exhibit favoritism or partiality. He doesn’t come down heavy on one person’s failures and go easy on another’s just because he prefers one more than the other. He is guided by a clear and consistent sense of right and wrong and can be counted on to make a fair and right decision, even in a difficult spot.
Matthew 22:37–39 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

A pastor should exhibit a high view of God.

There are a variety of Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible which Bible translations translate as “holy.” This particular word in Titus 1:9 emphasizes an inner heart attitude with a high view of God. Such a person adores and worships God - but not just at church. He conducts his entire life from a worshipful mindset. He values pleasing and serving God over other priorities and this value permeates all other priorities. For instance, when he arranges his weekly schedule and the schedule of his home, he gives first priority to pleasing, serving, and worshiping God. All other priorities take second place and must also be influenced by God.
To illustrate, such a man will tend to choose gathering with his church for worship and ministry on the Lord’s Day over entertainment, family, or recreational activities, not because of some legalistic requirement but because he genuinely loves to serve and worship God and values him and his church so highly. When he does engage in an entertainment, family, or recreational function, he does so in a way that he believes will best reflect God’s desires and serve God’s greater purposes for his life.
Such a man does not divide the activities of his life into secular and sacred; he views everything he does through a sacred lense to bring honor and glory to God. He does not live a compartmentalized, fragmented life as we so easily tend to do. We are a spouse, parent, or child at early morning and then in the evening, but we are a student or employee during the day, but when we do some recreational activity alone or with friends, we do that for our self.
We to easily carry this compartmental mindset into our relationship with God, unfortunately. We treat Sunday (or Sunday morning) as though its sacred for God but the rest of the week as secular – as though it belongs to us, and God doesn’t care about it as much. A “holy” man views all seven days as sacred – and so should we!
Ephesians 1:22 NKJV
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,
1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

A pastor should have control over his physical desires.

This quality strongly resembles the one given previously in this list, “having control of his emotions,” but seems to differ in nuance by emphasizing to some degree a man’s control not just over his emotions but over his physical desires, passions, and urges. He is a disciplined man who is not governed by things like
a desire for excessive sleep
an appetite for too much food
an impulse to speak without thinking
a tendency to waste time on personal hobbies and pleasures
an urge to make unwise or wasteful purchases
uncontrolled sexual behavior.
He must certainly be a man who is free from personal addictions and who maintains consistent control over his body.
It’s fascinating to observe how Paul began this list of personal qualities with “not self-willed.” A pastor should be a man who does not impose his will on onto others. Instead – according to this final quality – he should impose his will onto himself. Rather than seeking to control other people as a master over them he should seek concentrate instead on controlling himself and mastering his own behavior.

We need God’s grace - and personal discipline - to be this kind of person.

Sometimes we’re lazy as followers of Christ. Because God has provided us with all we need forever, we expect him to whisk us off our feet and change our lives without much effort on our own part. Yet a proper view of grace understands that we need to appropriate what God has provided.
Grace is not a blanket guarantee that God will just “do everything” so we don’t have to try or work hard. To be sure, there is nothing to “do” to be forgiven from sins and become a child of God. We need to repent (which means to change your mind) and believe (which means to trust entirely) in Jesus Christ as our God and Savior.
Ephesians 2:8–9 NKJV
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Acts 16:31 NKJV
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Once you have turned to Christ and trusted in him for salvation, God pours out his grace into your life without reservation. He not only releases you from the guilt of your sin, he also provides you with the ability to do what you should do now that you are his child.
Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Knowing this, we should actively, deliberately, and regularly make choices to be what we should be and do what we should do. This requires prayer for ability, strength, and wisdom for sure, but it also requires actual personal discipline and effort.
If you say, “I’ve asked God to help me use my home more for church fellowship and gospel outreach, but he hasn’t given me the courage to do that yet,” then I’d suggest that you haven’t made the tough choice to cancel other obligations that make you too busy and to simply invite people over and do it!
If you say, “I prayed for God to help me make better friends but he hasn’t helped me with that yet,” then I’d suggest that you haven’t made the tough choice to break off wrong relationships and find and make better ones yourself! If you would make those kind of choices, then you would experience God’s grace.
If you say, “I’ve asked God to help me overcome my repeated giving in to misguided emotions and desires but he hasn’t done that yet,” then I’d suggest that you haven’t made the tough choices to say “no,” replace those choices with newer, better ones, get pastoral or even professional help in some cases to address unique challenges you may face, and memorize and meditate upon what Scripture say about your particular struggles. Not all addictions, bad habits, or mood swings are equal but God’s grace is available for whatever you face.
What steps do you need to take to access God’s grace today for these qualities that grace supplies?
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