Thursday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:1-16 (NKJV)
1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.
12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.
Truly God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. In yesterday’s reading, St. Paul alluded to how God intends for this to happen, namely, through what we call the Office of the Holy Ministry as men “lift up holy hands” in prayer. In today’s reading, the apostle presents the qualifications for those who would be called to this holy Office.
Paul mentions here specifically “bishops” and “deacons.” Elsewhere he refers to “elders” (e.g., 1 Tim. 5:17; Tit. 1:5). Whatever human distinctions there may have been among these three classes of ministers, it is clear that all three were included in the Office of the Holy Ministry. All three were charged with preaching and teaching and administering the Sacraments. All three among us today are commonly called “pastors.”
The solemn task of preaching and revealing the truth about the God Who became man for our salvation comes with a host of requirements for the one who would carry it out. He is not required to be sinless (or else no one would qualify!). But he is required to be both “blameless” and “able to teach.” The other requirements for pastors can be classified under these two headings.
Pastors have an important and noble task. So do those who hear them and benefit from their teaching, as they pray for their pastors, support them financially, honor and obey them as spiritual fathers, and treat them with love and respect. Those who receive a minister sent by Christ receive Christ Himself. Neither preacher nor hearer can exist without the other.
Lord of the Church, grant that pastors and hearers may be faithful in their vocations, that Your name may be glorified and Your kingdom extended; through Christ, our Lord. Amen.