First Timothy 3:1 says that if a man desireth the office of a bishop (pastor, elder) he desireth a good office. I desire this office shortly after I was saved, but I wasn't sure the Lord agreed that the ministry was right for me.
When I attended the Lawrence County Baptist Association annual meeting in October, 2005, I felt the presence of God stronger then than at any other time, with the exception of February 9, 2005, when I accepted the precious, beautiful gift of my salvation.
I felt the feeling on both nights, with the wonderful preaching. I also felt convicted to preach the word of God and the word of Christ, not the doctrine of men. 2 Timothy 4:2 calls for a minister to "preach the word; be instant in season, out of season." That is how I will preach the word of God: his word, not my own. Paul warns us in 1 Timothy, 4: 1, that in latter times, some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies to hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
Paul further calls us in 1 Timothy, 4: 6, to put the brethren in remembrance of these things. I feel not only are we to remind our fellow Christians, and our fellow man and woman, of the good things Christ has given us, such as faith, hope and love, but also to remind them of the snares and traps that Satan has lain for us throughout our walk on this earth.
A bishop must be blameless. I realize that this might confuse some people. Blameless sounds as if it would mean perfect, without sin. However, Christ tells us in Matthew 19:17 that only God is good, not mankind.
For a bishop to be blameless does not mean the bishop ceases to commit sin, or is in any way perfect. What it means is that a bishop is to be the leader of those to whom he preaches, and to set an example by which those who hear his word may live. Christ says in Matthew 4:4 that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Therefore, it is hard for a bishop to lead simply by words, although his words are vital to the church he represents and to the ears that hear those words.
Additionally, a bishop must lead by his actions as well. A bishop cannot live like a reprobate Monday thru Saturday, then step into the pulpit on Sunday and preach a Godly sermon. It simply isn't the way God commanded bishops to behave.
For instance, if a bishop were to drink for the pleasure of drinking, and not for his often infirmities, he is therefore breaking from the mold that God created for bishops to be made from. How can you tell a young, impressionable church member to abstain from alcohol when you do it yourself? Especially if the young church member knows the bishop partakes of alcohol.
A blameless bishop, therefore, strives harder, hopefully, than the average individual to grow closer to our Lord and to receive the knowledge that is promised to those who seek it. He will live a life that will reflect his love of Christ, and that can be followed by even the simplest of minds. A bishop will realize that his life will not be sin-free, but by the same token, he will strive to eliminate sin from his life each day, and will repent of his sins when he commits them. Sinning without remorse is unacceptable in the eyes of God, especially for a bishop.
A bishop cannot partake of alcohol, cannot be a violent person, and cannot covet that which his neighbor has. If a bishop finds himself falling into these temptations, he must be strong enough to go before God and ask for forgiveness and to confess these sins to the Lord. Should the sins become too much, and be a distraction to the ministry, the bishop should be willing to step aside, at least for a time, while he heals himself through God's love and grace.
A vigilant bishop is one that is always ready to preach to those around him. When the opportunity arises, a vigilant bishop seizes that opportunity, realizing he may not get a second chance, and strives to lead that soul to the Kingdom of God for all of eternity.
A bishop must also enjoy teaching others. The interaction between a bishop and a lost soul is very integral within the ministry. A sober mind doesn't mean simply an alcohol-free mind. It also means to be sober and prepared for the daily temptations Satan will place at the feet of a minister. When ministering to lost souls, the bishop must be careful not to allow the lost soul's deviations to interfere with his own convictions.
A bishop cannot be greedy of filthy lucre. This doesn't apply simply to money gained in a devious and deceitful manner. It also pertains to anything that involves ill-gotten spoils. A bishop who allows himself to be a whoremonger, partaking of captive women, is receiving ill-gotten rewards, which will surely lead to death, and at the least a much lesser crown in heaven than the bishop who keeps himself pure.
A bishop cannot be a novice. This means he cannot enter the ministry when he is still a babe in Christ, unable yet to avoid the snares and entrapments of Satan. A bishop must prepare himself before entering the ministry. The most well-prepared bishop will still sin, and will still face the daily grind of temptation. However, he will have a much more knowledgable mind than a novice, thus more able to defeat Satan.
A novice is also apt to allow his pride, which can be a good thing, if it is pride in the Lord, to interfere with his ministry. Pride in the Lord can be manipulated by Satan to become pride in earthly matters.
The bishop must also have a good report of those around him. This means he cannot pretend to be one thing, then truly be another. If a man lives like hell outside church, but tries to disguise himself in church, could be compared to the parable of the sower and the seed, in Matthew 13: 1-23. This man would be like unto the seed that fell into the stony places, who is happy with the word when it is first received, then has no root in himself and endureth but for a time, and when tribulation or persecution (and I believe, unspoken, this involves temptation), arises, he is offended.
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