1 Timothy 3:1-16
Paul wrote this chapter with two specific groups of people in mind: overseers and deacons. These two groups of people represent two areas of responsibility in the church. An overseer is one who has been placed by God in a local body of believers to lead them towards the gospel of Jesus and away from false doctrines. They look after the spiritual well-being of the body. Deacons are those who lead the church in meeting one another’s practical necessities of life. To be a deacon is to literally serve or wait upon others. Both groups must be humble servants of Christ. Paul is stressing the importance for their need to reflect Christ in their ministries.
You and I are not excluded from this call to holiness. All believers should be aspiring to serve the body of Christ – the church – in a manner pleasing to God. All believers should pursue a lifestyle of holiness above reproach. Do not gloss over these requirements for holiness because you do not possess a title given to you by the church you attend. We are all servants of Jesus and we must all serve his body well.
Paul is not asking us to pursue these virtues as a means of salvation. He is reminding us that these virtues should readily flow out of those who have been saved by the grace of God. If the presence of God lives within us, the holiness of God should flow outward from our redeemed spirit. Paul is warning Timothy to protect the church from those who seek to serve in the name of Jesus but fail to live by the spirit of godliness give to us through Jesus. How does your life reflect the person of Jesus. Do your good works flow out the spirit of God dwelling within you or are your good works an attempt to please the spirit of God? Do you live with your mind set on the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit? We cannot please God without the spirit of God living within us. (Romans 8)
Jesus tells us that others will recognize his work in our hearts through the way we love all people. As servants of God, we are to pursue holiness in the presence of our family, the gathering of the church, and in the presence of unbelievers. It is imperative that someone claiming to serve others in the name of Jesus have outward signs of the spirit of God living within them.
As you reflect on the qualifications of one who serves Jesus and his body, take the opportunity to remember the depravity that Jesus has saved you from. It might even cause you to bust out in praise to God like it caused Paul to do: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness!” (1 Tim 3:16)