How should Christians live their lives?
In 1 Timothy Chapter 3, Paul writes to Timothy about the qualifications for pastors and deacons. In short, he is explaining what the moral character should look like of those who are in leadership positions in the church.
He states that a pastor is to be “2…above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect...6 He must not be a recent convert…7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace.” Paul then states that deacons must be “8…be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.”
While Paul is talking about leaders, several of these principles really apply to all Christians. In fact, this list teaches Christians in general how to live in their communities. I think it can all be summed up by the phrase found in verse 2 above–“beyond reproach.”
But what does this mean for the Christian life? How do we live beyond reproach?
- We live in faithfulness to our spouse or significant other.
- We show self-restraint (temperance) in consumption of foods, drinks, pleasures, etc. In other words, we live a well-balanced life.
- We are self-controlled meaning that we do not let our emotions get the best of us. We do not lash out against others when we are wronged, and we do not speak or act out of ignorance.
- We are respectable. People can trust us. We act in integrity and keep our words.
- We are hospitable. In the Bible, hospitality is extremely important to the Christian life. Being hospitable means helping others meet their needs. It is doing what we can to to aid those who are struggling, to support those in need, and to welcome those who visit us.
- We are not to be characterized as those given to drunkenness. Those who are are often not in control of their cognitive faculties. As Christians, we should remain in control of our cognitive faculties so that we can use wisdom and discernment in our decision making.
- We should not be given to violence and we should not use our words or actions to abuse others. We should refrain from being bullies.
- Our words should be kind to those who speak against us so as to cause their wrath/anger to subside.
- We should not be about starting arguments. We should not be characterized as quarrelsome. Instead we should be focused on mending relationships.
- We should not love money. We should view all that we have as the Lord’s and we should be willing to use our resources to bless others. We should always see people as more valuable than things. We should place God above possessions in our hearts.
- We should raise our children in love and teach them right from wrong. We should guide them into becoming respectable adults as they grow up. We should not abuse or degrade them, we should build them up.
- We should not take advantage of others or use people as a means to an end. We should be honest in our business dealings.
If we live a life characterized by the statements above, we will warrant a good reputation in the community. We will be on good terms with others in our families, in our work environments, and in our churches. We will show the validity of our beliefs, because it will be evident that we are walking in obedience to the God we serve, and we will likely have a more positive outlook on life in general.
In order to live a life characterized by these qualities, I recommend that we each practice three things daily.
- We spend time with the Lord in prayer. We ask God to convict us of our faults, to give us the strength to replace our bad habits with good ones, and we ask God to give us the desire to listen to his convictions when he calls us to do good things for his kingdom.
- We spend time reading the Word of God. The more we know the Word of God, the more God can bring passages to our minds when we are in difficult situations in our daily lives.
- We humbly find a mentor. We all need someone to help us grow in our walk with the Lord. It does not matter if you are a recent convert or if you have been a Christian for 50 years. We all need someone to help us grow in our faith, and we all have more growing to do.
Take a few minutes and analyze yourself. Think about what motivates you. Think about how you relate to others. Think about how you speak to your children. Think about how you treat your employees. is your life characterized by righteousness or sinfulness? Are you a person beyond reproach? Are their areas in your life where you need moral improvement? Does the way you live speak positively or negatively about the faith you profess?