In my last post, I talked about this requirement that Paul teaches for “Overseers” or Elders to be “above reproach”. It’s a deep phrase that Paul needs to unpack with two different lists of qualities, one positive and one negative. He started with the negative qualities first – what the overseer should not be: “He must not be arrogant, or quick tempered, or a drunkard, or violent, or greedy for gain” (Titus 1:7, ESV). Then he goes on to the positives, “but (he must be) hospitable, a lover of good, self controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined” (Titus 1:8, ESV).
These are such a wide range of qualities that I can understand why Paul uses this phrase “above reproach” to encompass all of them. Take a look at the positives for example: like, how do you get from something as seemingly benign as “hospitable” to “holy” and “upright”. But I do understand it somewhat. I struggle with hospitality. It’s jut not one of the traits that I naturally possess. But the same thing is true of the negative traits from arrogance to violent. The range in each spectrum are so wide. And it’s all expected of an overseer.
I was wondering about that when I realized I hard the perfect example for the reason behind it. Over the past few weeks I had been reading Chronicles and Kings. In fact, just before I started writing this, I was reading about the reforms that King Josiah made after he discovered the Torah in the run-down temple. I was struck by how much the king’s actions affected all of Israel. When it was a evil, idolatrous king, the people of Israel were also evil and idolatrous. When it was a good king that followed the Lord, then the people of Israel also followed the Lord.
Given this relationship between leadership and faithfulness to the Lord, it’s no wonder why Paul insists on overseers/elders who are “above reproach”. I could get political at this point. After all, as I am writing this, Donald Trump is president of the United States, largely propped up by people who consider themselves to be “Christians”, and the abhorrent Rodrigo Duterte is the president of the Philippines. But that just makes me sad, and angry… So I won’t touch that. For now.
This Titus series is part of a challenge that my cousin, Luis, and I are doing together. We are trying to blog every week for the next year. To start off the challenge, I’ve chosen to write my entries on Paul’s Epistle to Titus because I am currently doing my main study in it. I will probably spend 10-12 weeks on this series.