Today Paul gives Timothy standards for choosing church elders and deacons as well as the guidelines for the caring of widows.
Elders – “Must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
Deacons – “Must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience… Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.”
Widows – Paul instructs the church to let her family take care of her first. However, if she does not have a family, the church is to provide for her. But Paul tells them to refuse the young widow; “For when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
We end the reading with Paul stressing the importance of being content with what the Lord has given you in this life – “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Tomorrow we conclude this letter to Timothy, read Paul’s letter to Titus, and begin Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Keep reading.
(1 Timothy 3:1-6:10)