Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Importance of Elders
"It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity, (but if a man does not know how to handle his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. "
I Timothy 3:1-7
Now this is a real man.
A man who is kind and generous, yet sober and responsible, engaged with his family, has a good reputation inside and outside of the church, is a teacher at heart and has the maturity to lead - God's requirements for an elder.
Almost seems as unattainable as the ten commandments at times, but these are the men you want leading your church. These men take the oversight of the body, and they do it willingly and voluntarily. They do it out of love and concern. They feed the flock, speak the Word of God and labor over doctrine. They admonish the people and give account for them.
And they protect against false teachers.
That's why I've got my elder up there dressed as a warrior. The elder is a protector and in order for a false teacher to get to me, he has to go through my elders first.
This is a awesome responsibility and a great comfort as a part of the flock. And it is not a laughing matter and it is not a popularity contest. I'll tell you this, looking at the qualifications of the elder, true qualified men are hard to find. And when they do rise up, they must do it with the weight of responsibility on their shoulders. Unfortunately, many are unwilling to take on the responsibility and I'm okay with that because I want an elder board whose courageous enough to say, "Bring it on."
In Titus 1, after writing again the qualifications of the elder, Paul says, "For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain...they profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed."
Paul wanted the elders to deal with the false teachers. We need elders who are willing to speak openly about false teachers. They need to be informed and studied, and they can't be intimidated by divisive speech - they must stand on the truth.
Pray for your elders.
Pray for the men whom God is raising up to be elders.
Give them the double portion of honor (I Timothy 5:17) that they deserve.
And when they warn you of false teachers, heed their words.