An Overseer is Above Reproach in His Moral Character (Part4)

June 23, 2019 | Speaker: Pastor Jurem Ramos

1 Timothy 3:3a

not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome

   
From the internet:
Matthew Winkler is a respected 31-year-old pastor at a small fundamentalist church in Selmer, Tennessee. He is admired by many in his community for his friendliness and his views about family values. To many in town the Winklers are seen as a perfect family with Matthew as a perfect husband and wonderful father and Mary as a dutiful wife and mother. However, in the early morning of March 22, 2006, Matthew is found dead on his bedroom floor with a shotgun wound in the back. His wife and their three daughters—aged 8, 6 and 1 at the time—were missing when Matthew's body was discovered, and a search for the family began. Eventually, police authorities find Mary and her children at a beach in Alabama, but they also find a shotgun in her car. The police apprehend Mrs. Winkler.   “Almost overnight, the story of the preacher's wife turned killer became a headline sensation. Every news story seemed to ask the same question: Why would Mary Winkler take a shotgun and kill her husband?”   In the months that followed, Mary revealed to the court that Matthew, despite his kind pastor image, was an angry and abusive man. For example, when she did something that did not meet his standards, like folding a shirt incorrectly, he belittled her and slapped her in the face. She also revealed how Matthew mishandled money and committed sexual perversion. She never told anyone about these because he threatened to hurt or kill her to make her keep quiet.   What finally pushed her to breaking point was when hours before Matthew was killed, he tried to suffocate their baby daughter as he was unable to sleep due to the baby's crying. Unable to stand it any longer, in the early morning hours, Mary brings out the shotgun and pokes it on her sleeping husband at their bed to wake him up as she wanted to have a serious discussion with him about stopping the abuse. However, Mary was standing on a slippery rug which causes her to fall and accidentally pull the trigger and shoot her husband. After this revelation, she tells the jury that despite the abuse she suffered, Mary still loves Matthew and never wanted to kill him. She just wanted him to stop mistreating her.   The  jury makes their decision and finds Mary not guilty of murder but guilty of involuntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to 210 days and spent almost two months in a mental health facility.   This true story of an angry and abusive pastor and his shocking death is related in a book which was later made into a film and entitled, The Pastor’s Wife.   I haven’t read the book nor watched the movie but again, this is another sad story of what happens when you have a church leader whose character falls short of God’s standard. The disaster that his character has caused to his own family is beyond description. I cannot imagine the devastation that this incident has caused to the church that he pastored, the stumbling to the community where he lived and the dishonor that this has brought to the name of Christ. This should again serve as a warning to all churches of the danger of choosing the wrong men as overseers or elders. These stories emphasize the importance of appointing spiritual leaders based on the qualifications that are found in 1Timothy 3:1-7.   Today we are going to look at four qualities: Three of them are related to the story of the Winklers: not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome. We will also look at the first qualification that heads the list found here in verse 3.

Context

  The major problem in the Ephesian church was its leadership. From within the ranks of the church, a group of false teachers had sprung up who were perverting the gospel and teaching things that negatively impacted the congregation. Not only was their theology wrong, but their behavior was evil. Based on the qualifications that we read here in chapter 3 and the other things that Paul mentions about their conduct in other places in his two letters to Timothy, we could surmise that they were unfaithful to their spouses, they were not sober-minded or self-controlled, and not worthy of respect; they were not hospitable; they were drunkards, violent and quarrelsome; they were lovers of money; they did not manage their homes well, much less the church. As a result, they were bringing reproach upon themselves, the church, and the cause of Christ.   Because the problem in the Ephesian church comes from bad leadership, the solution that Paul offers must deal with the overseers or the elders. So Paul gives Timothy a list of qualifications that he could use as a standard for the spiritual leaders. Paul emphasizes that they exhibit a high degree of morality; they must be above reproach. The rest of this section in 3:1-7 tells us what this involves.   For the past weeks we have been looking at what it means for an overseer to be above reproach in his moral character. 1Timothy 3:2 lists a series of positive qualities that an overseer should have. An overseer who is above reproach must have these positive qualities. He must be the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.   Today, we are going to look at the next verse, v. 3, where we see a series of negative qualities to avoid. According to verse 3, an overseer must: “not [be] a drunkard, not violent but gracious, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” Today, I am only going to tackle the first four negative qualities to avoid and deal with the money issue separately. Some of our Shepherd’s Call listeners want me to comment on the issue of KAPA, and the Lord willing, I will have more to say about this when we look at “not a lover of money.”   So today, we will be looking at the temperance and temperament of an overseer or elder.  

1.   NOT a drunkard (paroinos)

  The Greek word for “drunkard” means “one who sits long at his wine, one who is a slave to drink or addicted to wine.”   This qualification that Elders or overseers are not to be drunkards is also mentioned in the list of qualifications for elders in Titus chapter 1. In the list of qualifications for deacons, Paul also says that they are not to be addicted to much wine. In Titus older women are also told not to be slaves to much wine. The fact that this idea of being addicted to wine is repeated in all three lists for church leaders and the older women are told not to be enslaved to drink (Titus 2:2) suggests that this was a serious problem in the Ephesian church. It is possible that Timothy himself was totally abstaining from alcohol because of its overuse in the Ephesian church.   Summary of the teaching in the NT on wine:
  • Wine is amoral. It is neither good or bad. This is why we see it mentioned at the wedding at Cana where Jesus even changes water into wine (John 2:1-11). We see Jesus drinking wine His disciples in the Last Supper (Mark 14:23-25). In Luke 22:29-30, Jesus said that when His apostles who have remained faithful to Christ during his trials will enter into His Father’s kingdom, they will “eat and drink at His table.”
  • Sometimes wine may be taken for medicinal purposes by doctor’s recommendation as in 1Timothy 5:23. (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
  • However Scripture consistently condemns all drunkenness and addiction to wine.
 
  • Pr 23:29–35 is a passage that offers a powerful warning against drunkenness. 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. 34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”
  • 1Co 5:11 warns Christians not to associate with those who claim to be Christians but are drunkards: 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard,
  • Drunkards will be judged. 1 Peter 4:3-5 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
  The Old Testament contains several solemn warnings to leaders about the damaging effect of alcohol:
  • Priests were forbidden to drink while on duty, for this was evidently the cause of the presumption of Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s sons) in offering ‘unauthorised fire before the LORD’. (Lev 10:1-2; 8-9)
  • Kings and other rulers were not to drink, or they would forget their country’s laws and ‘deprive the oppressed of their rights’. (Pr 31:4-5).
  • Isaiah ridicules magistrates whose pride lies in their ability to drink: "Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink" (Is 5:22). They would pervert justice, acquitting the guilty and punishing the innocent.
  • Priests and prophets who are drunk by wine reel and stagger and are unable render proper decisions (Is 28:7-8)
  Most probably Paul had this in mind when is why he issues a similar warning to Christian overseers and elders not to be drunk. MacArthur: “Those in spiritual leadership must stay away from anything that distorts their judgment or distracts from their testimony. Their lifestyle must be exemplary.” To those who say that wine is not forbidden therefore moderate use is allowed, I have two words for them and I had this from different sources:
  • While it is true that wine is not forbidden, Timothy cannot be held up as an example of moderate drinking.
  • When you think of Elder so-and-so, whiskey, rum and wine should not come to mind.
 

2.   NOT VIOLENT

  The next three qualities probably go together, and they seem to reflect the behavior of false teachers.   Fasle teachers are described in this way in 1Ti 6:3–5: 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people   In contrast to these false teachers, the overseer or elder must not [be] violent but gentle, not quarrelsome.   Perhaps the reason why these characteristics follow “not a drunkard” is because he who is under the influence of wine is violent and ready to quarrel and to fight.   The word “violent” means excessively inclined to quarrel or fight, a bully, striker, smiter, bruiser, ready for a blow, a pugnacious, contentious, one apt to strike; a quarrelsome, violent person.   The overseer must ”not [be] violent.” It means that he is not a giver of blows, not given to violence, not ready to fight physically, not given to verbal abuse, meanness, abusiveness, or retaliation when provoked. Not a bad tempered, irritable, out of control, bullying individual.   Guzik: This is a man who is not given to violence either publicly nor privately; a man who can let God fight his cause.   Derick: This seems to denote a person who is not taken to the fists to settle disputes. He should be able to settle things peaceably and quietly. The elder should control his temper and actions as well as his tongue.   I was in a service one evening when the pastor finished his service with, "Does anyone have anything to say or add?" One of the women of the church challenged him slightly on one of his points. She did not push the subject but one of the board members did push it. He pushed it until he was on his feet and he and the pastor were arguing, somewhat heatedly. They did not come to blows over it, but the appearance was not much better than blows! They were red-faced and hollering while shaking their fingers at one another.

SIGNS YOU ARE AN ANGRY PASTOR

  • You get angry a lot. You are harsh to his wife and stern and unloving to his family. You take your aggression out on their staff.
  • Kapag natatalo sa basketball binabato ang bola, kung sa tennis, hinahampas ang racketa o nang-aaway at nainigaw ng referee at ayaw paaawat.
  • Kapag na cut ng jeepney driver ay nainigaw at handa nang makipagaway.
  • Nanunugod ng teacher kung napagalitan ang anak.
  • Mabilis mang-away ng kapitbahay.
  • Kapag natatalo sa debate, ang sinasabi “Suntukan na lang tayo para ma-settle ito.”
  • You get especially angry when someone close to you suggests you are angry… and hearing this makes you angry. You are guarded, defensive, and deny, deny, deny.
  • You blame others for his failings. You know you’re right, they’re wrong, and that’s all that matters… right?! Or you blame your high blood pressure.
  • The pulpit becomes a place to vent, to accuse, to belittle, to defend. Your preaching is harsh and graceless. You are bitter and sarcastic. You clobber people with the Word and crush the hearts and spirits of the congregation. You drive people away from the church.
  • He take pride on being frank. You love a good fight. Your motto is “I don’t get angry; I get even.”
  • Your are vindictive and people fear you; they are afraid to confront you or cross you.
 

3.   BUT GENTLE (epieikēs)

  Note how “gentle” is placed between “not violent” and “not quarrelsome,” the reason being that it is contrasted with both.   The Greek word for “gentle” is difficult to translate with one English word. It includes these ideas:  
  • peaceable - Inclined or disposed to peace; not quarrelsome or unruly.
  • gentleness - Considerate or kindly in disposition; amiable and tender; not harsh or severe
  • gracious - 1.Characterized by kindness and warm courtesy. 2.Characterized by tact and propriety. 3.Of a merciful or compassionate nature.
  • reasonable - 1.ready to use or listen to reason. 2.A man of sound judgment who listens intelligently to both sides of a question.
  • considerate - Having or marked by regard for the needs or feelings of others. 2.Characterized by careful thought; deliberate. 3.Full of polite concern for the well-being of others.
  • equitable - fair; just to all parties; free from all bias in judgment
  • forbearing - To be tolerant or patient in the face of provocation. Bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness.
  • magnanimous - generous in forgiving; eschewing resentment or revenge;
  • conciliatory - Ability to overcome the distrust or animosity of; appease. Ability to regain or try to regain (friendship or goodwill) by pleasant behavior. Ability to make or attempt to make compatible; reconcile.
 
  • Guzik: The kind of man who takes Jesus as his example, not the latest action hero.
  • Even in correcting opponents, the true elder is to be gentle (2Ti 2:24–25): And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.
  • Bible Speaks Today: The person here indicated is the very opposite of a person who is of fiery temper and easily provoked to outbursts. Though he never compromises with respect to the truth of the gospel, he is willing to yield when it comes to his own rights, in the spirit of 1 Cor. 6:7, “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?”
  • A gentle person is one who exhibits willingness to yield and patiently makes allowances for the weaknesses and ignorance of others.
  • One who refuses to retaliate in kind for wrongs done by others and does not insist upon the letter of the law or his personal rights.
  • MacArthur: In a practical sense, [being gentle] is the ability to remember good and forget evil. You don't keep a record of wrongs people have committed against you (cf. 1 Cor. 13:5). That's an important virtue for a spiritual leader. I know people who have left the ministry because they couldn't get over someone's criticizing or upsetting them. They carry a list of grievances that eventually robs them of the joy of serving others. Discipline yourself not to talk or even think about wrongs done against you because it serves no productive purpose. It simply rehearses the hurts and clouds your mind with anger. A gentle person is able to pardon human failure and focus on the good done by others. He doesn't dwell on getting even because he doesn't hold grudges. That's the kind of person we need in spiritual leadership.
  Gentleness and forbearance are characteristics of God
  • Ps 78:38 38 Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.
  • Ps 103:8-10 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
  So is the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 2Co 10:1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.
  God desires His children to manifest the same towards one another.  

4.   NOT QUARRELSOME (amachos)

This seems almost identical with "not violent.” This would have great implications about the way he uses his tongue. He is not a verbal fighter.  
  • “not quarrelsome” is just one word in Greek. It means “peaceable, not quarrelsome, not disputing, avoids arguments, reluctant to fight, not given to angry debate, abstaining from fighting or strife, not giving a violent effort to obtain something. The previous word, “gentle,” goes further than this. A gentle person is not only passively non-contentious, but actively considerate and forbearing, waving even just legal remedies."
  • Guzik: The kind of person who is not always fighting over something or other.
  • Baclay: The Christian leader must be peaceable (amachos). The Greek word means disinclined to fight. There are people who, as we might put it, are "trigger-happy" in their relationships with other people. But the real Christian leader wants nothing so much as he wants peace with his fellow-men.
When a pastor exhibits a spirit of anger as he preaches and leads his congregation, his people will tend to imitate that attitude in their lives, because a spirit of anger is contagious. We are warned in Pr 22:24-25: Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, 25 lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Pastors are responsible to lead their congregations in patience and righteousness. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 2Timothy 2:24, “And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil.”   God compares a pastor to the shepherd of a flock, not to the barking dogs that corral the sheep. The strong, gentle demeanor of the shepherd and his willingness to lay down his life for the sheep should be the nature of a pastor in the pulpit.

Jesus’ message to the Church is not vengeance, but mercy.

Jesus boldly confronted the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He directly exposed unbelief in His disciples and others. Yet, Jesus described Himself in Mt 11:29 as being “gentle and lowly in heart,” not harsh or angry in spirit. In Lk 4:22 we read, “And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.”   Everyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ must follow His example. The Apostle Paul exhorted the believers in Colosse with these words: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. . . . Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:5–14, ESV).   If being gentle and not violent and quarrelsome is expected of ordinary members, how much more is this required of pastors who are under-shepherds of the Lord Jesus and His representatives, whether in or out of the pulpit.     If you are an angry pastor, here are a five steps you need to take TODAY:
  • Repent of your sin and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness. Focus on the gospel and on God’s steadfast love.
  • Apologize to all those you have offended. You will need to this in each of the following: one-on-one conversations, to staff and leadership teams, and most likely to the congregation during a Sunday sermon.
  • Memorize Biblical passages that deal with anger.
  • Contact a Biblical counselor and work through your issues.
  • Bring accountability into your life. Have the leaders in your church partner with you on a solution to this issue.
  Leroy Eims, The Lost Art of Disciple Making As a new Christian, I was working through Colossians. The Holy Spirit caught my attention with Colossians 3:8 (NLT): “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.” I tried to slide past the verse, but the Spirit kept bringing me back to the words “get rid of anger.” I had a violent temper. Whenever it flared, I’d haul up and bash my fist into the nearest door. Even though I often bloodied my knuckles and had once smashed a beautiful ring my wife had given me, I couldn’t seem to stop. Yet here was God’s Word saying, “Get rid of anger.” This wasn’t just advice given to the people of Colossae centuries ago. It was God speaking to me. So I made a covenant with God. I promised Him I would work on my anger. My first step was to memorize Colossians 3:8 and review it daily. I then asked the Lord to bring this verse to my mind whenever I might be tempted to lose my temper. And I asked my wife to pray for me and remind me of the verse if she saw me failing in my promise to the Lord. In time, that text became a part of my life. Gradually the sin of anger lost its grip on me.