First and foremost, a blameless leader or a blameless Christian, if who we are is a prerequisite for what we do, it starts in our home.
Notice he moves from the home to our relationships. And relationally he says, “You need to be emotionally mature.” When you look at the next four phrases it’s, “Not, not, not, not.” Four things you’re not to do.
And when you dig a little bit behind them, and what you realize is what he’s really looking at is someone in their relationships who has emotional maturity. And so the first one he says is that you’re not addicted to power.
Literally he says, “You’re not self-willed. You’re not overbearing.” The word means “to be selfish, arrogant, disregarding the interests or opinions of others.” This is people that are intolerant. These are people that when you talk to them, they glaze over and say, “Look, it’s my way or the highway. And by the way, it’s my way.”
He says, “That’s emotional immaturity. That’s insecurity. That’s being threatened. You can’t be overbearing.” You need to listen to people. You need to be gentle, would be the opposite of that.
Second, you can’t be addicted to anger. He says, “You can’t be quick tempered.” And this is a very interesting word. In Greek, there are two words for anger. One has the idea of something happens and you blow up like a flame. And the other is like a smoldering coal that you hang on to.
And he says, “There are always crises and anger is an emotion and it’s neither bad nor good, but we have anger. He says it needs to be controlled. But this isn’t the quick blow up anger. This is that kind of anger that gets down in people’s soul.
Have you ever been around people that are just negative? I mean, the most wonderful thing happens, and they’re negative. Sarcastic. No matter what is happening, they have these little sarcastic barbs.
Not only negative and sarcastic but they’re always critical. “Doesn’t measure up, doesn’t measure up.” Down behind that is an angry person. They are either angry at God, or angry at themselves, or angry with others and he says, “That’s not emotional maturity.” It’s not healthy. It’s not how a leader is in the Church. Doing good doesn’t flow out of anger.
The third emotionally mature response, is not dependent on substances. He says, literally, it’s not given to much wine. The literal phrasing is, “Not sitting long over wine.”
And that was the drug of choice in that day. And the Bible is very, very clear. Jesus, when they took the Lord’s Supper, used wine. The Bible does not teach abstinence from alcohol. The Bible teaches drunkenness is wrong. But the core behind this is any substance that controls you.
In our day, he could say, “prescription drugs,” he could say, “the internet,” he could say, “TV,” he could say, “food.”
But this issue of alcohol, both then and now, it’s a big one. And you have some people that have freedom to drink moderately and wisely and other people, we were in South America and we actually took the Lord’s Supper. And one of the leaders from our church was there and his background is alcoholism. He’s come out of alcoholism.
And he said, “When I drink alcohol,” I’ve never heard this, he said, “I’m allergic to it!” In other words, “I have a response to alcohol like few other people. It makes my mind do certain things, it takes me into places and behaviors that are destructive. I can’t. I must abstain.”
And so all of us need to understand that you need to be wise about, whether you be a leader or not, how do you view and how do you use alcohol? And so it becomes a wisdom issues. What we know from the research is that if there’s alcoholism in your family, like in mine, or like in my wife’s, you are four times more likely to be an alcoholic.
And then you have this teaching of Scripture where it’s not about, “My rights, and I can do whatever I want.” Paul says the kingdom of God, or loving people, isn’t about eating or drinking. It’s about love and joy and the power of the Holy Spirit.
And so different people come to different conclusions and so for some, like me, I didn’t have any alcohol in our home. As a little kid, I was pouring out bottles of liquor and beer when my dad would get up to go to the bathroom. I have an addictive personality. I can’t do certain things.
For other people, I know they have said, “I don’t have any problem with that. At a business meeting or at a dinner I may have a glass of wine but we don’t have that in our home.”
For other people, they say, “This is a part of our history and our culture and we’ve never had a problem and we may have a glass of wine at home but I’m going to educate my children.” You need to understand that you need to figure out, it’s easy to have rules, “Never, never, never!” Or, “All, all, all!”
God says I am not to cause anyone to stumble, I am to be very sober, no pun intended, about my ability to handle this because it’s dangerous. And then I want to do things in a way that are wise with regard to my family and those around me, exercise my freedom before God, but exercise it in a way where it communicates love to other people.
And he says, “As a leader,” he says, “being addicted to any substance is disqualification.” I mean, how many people have you known or I have known that they claim the name of Christ but some addiction to some substance just makes you go, “Boy, I just, hm.”
When people are addicted to things, by the way, it usually has very little to do with the alcohol. Right? There’s a reason I put, “Emotional maturity.” Whether people take pills or go to the refrigerator and eat too much, it’s about unresolved issues in their heart. It’s about filling gaps and holes. And God says, “I want you to be leading from a healthy soul.”
The final one is not violent and not pursuing dishonest gain. And so it’s not leading with coercion. The phrase here, “Not violent,” it literally means, “Don’t strike a person, physically.” It came to mean even broader, verbal intimidation, loud, angry, coercing people.
There’s an old, old book written in the early centuries called The Apostolic Commons, and in it it gives a word. It says, “If a bishop strikes a person in an effort to redirect a fellow believer’s life, he should be dismissed from his role.”
Well, the only reason you put rules like that in an Apostolic Commons is because apparently it was happening. And I’ve actually been in Africa in places where, in the name of Church discipline, I have literally seen someone on the floor and leaders kicking someone, trying to deal with demonic spirits or behavior or whatever. It’s bizarre.
But God says, “You can’t coerce people. You lead from love and gentleness, there may be boundaries and discipline.” And then the other way you coerce people is by dishonest gain.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I watch TV sometimes I can’t stay there very long. They manipulate people. And they’re trying to get people’s behavior… This “dishonest gain” comes up twice. Have you ever watched TV… sometimes you just are, like, in amazement. Am I really hearing this?
Some guy comes on, “I want you to know, if you’re in debt, send all your bills to me. Bring all your bills and put them in the mail and I will burn them on the stage and God will make them go away.” And I’m thinking, “Are you nuts, dude? Or are the people who send their bills to you crazy?”
Or the other one, when I just want to scream at the TV, “If you’re struggling, if you have debt, if you have difficulty, you need to plant a seed. Send me a thousand dollars and God will send you ten thousand!”
So, I don’t have any money but the answer is to give some guy on TV, with his hair blown back, a thousand dollars of mine? I mean, I’m just thinking, “If there is a reason why Christians have to live like Christians, it’s because of idiocy like that.”
And we need to stand and not be silent. Paul says to Titus, “Silence them, rebuke them!” But one of the hardest things for us as followers of Christ, a lot of people that you work with, their view of Christianity is those handful of channels up near the top and they shake their head and they laugh out loud.
We make a difference, we live differently, we live above reproach, we live it out in our families, we have emotional maturity.
Notice he goes on from emotional maturity to a ministry mindset. See, it’s not enough about not doing certain things or having certain maturity. There is an outward focus here. He says, “Be hospitable,” and it’s one who loves what is good. “Hospitable” literally means “a lover of strangers.” A lover of strangers.
It has the idea of a concern for others. Built into it is generosity. It’s seeing needs like we saw in that film and meeting the needs. In other words, think of the word, “shows hospitality,” can anyone think of a word that we might have gotten from this? I’ll give you just a minute here. Hospital. What do we do at a hospital? Hurting, sick, injured people go to a hospital where skilled, loving, caring people heal them! That’s what we do!
Being a Christian who lives like a Christian isn’t about some little moral code inside my little bubble. It’s about caring and flowing out of that relationship. And then notice, not just hospitable, but they are lovers of what is good.
Literally, devoted to kindness. The word “devoted” here and “good” has to do with being devoted to not just what is good for people, but for good things. It’s very similar to what Paul said when he talks to believers and says, “Set your mind on the things that are good, that are noble, that are right, that are winsome, that are beautiful, that are praiseworthy. I mean, set your mind on that which is beautiful, and, you know, creation and sunsets and love and intimacy and care.”
And when you fill you mind with those kind of things, your soul, then you have this reaction. It’s positive. It’s not you making a little list, “Oh, I’m going to try and be good, I’m going to try and be good.” It’s the Christ in you allowing your eyes to see the way He sees and He sees needs.
And it’s not only seeing and loving what is good, the opposite of loving what is good is not loving what is bad.
About a year ago I was in another city and I was invited over to a Christian leader’s home. And we were gonna have dinner and they had a nice, family room and he said, “I really, really like movies,” and I said, “Great,” and he had a TV with, like, fifteen thousand speakers. And I’m exaggerating, of course.
But it was really nice, and I thought, “This is really neat.” And so he went up to get ready or something like that and he had one of these stands or two or three of them that swirled. And he had, like, two or three hundred movies.
And I didn’t know him but, you know, I’m nosey. I mean, wouldn’t you? I mean, you know. And I started looking at the movies. And they’re good, good, good, whoo, good, good…he didn’t love what was good. He loved what was violent. He put things in his mind that I’m sure was entertaining and probably he was, “I’m just disengaging and I’m…”
But see, you’re a product of your thought life. And we need to love, there’s something that happens in your soul that produces disease and makes you want to eat things or makes you want to take the third or fourth glass of wine when you have disease when you know these things are true but you put these kind of things in your mind.
And, you know, we’re in the day where I may be naïve but I’m shocked. Evil isn’t neutral. Evil comes in an angel of light. Evil is a lure. And somehow we think, “If I’m not doing bad things,” my question is, “Are you a lover of good” Because when you are a lover of good and you focus on what is good, I will tell you, good will come out of your life.
And if you’re a lover of bad privately or secretly, I will tell you, what will come out of your mouth and out of your thoughts and out of your relationships are things that are bad. Because as a man or a woman thinks in your heart, so you become.
The final aspect that he talks about here is he talks about not just our mindset but our private world and our motives and our methods. And in our private world he gives us four very specific words. Talking about what no one else sees. He says, “Self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” In your private world, integrity.
All those things have to do with not just honesty, but integrity means an integration. There’s an alignment of: what people see is what they get. Who you are alone before God, who you are alone in front of a screen, who you are when you’re out of town, who you are with one of your kids – there is an alignment of the self, with others, and with God. And so he gives us these four very clear words.
The first is “self-control.” It means to be a master of your mind and your emotions. Very key word in the New Testament. Has the idea of you’re not driven by your passions. They are under control.
The next word, upright, we get our word “righteousness” for, it means “to be fair,” it means “to be right,” it means “to do what is right.” The word “holy” means reverence for God. It has to do with personal piety. The opposite of being conformed to the world is to be separate from the world, to be set apart. It’s not “holy” like in weird, like, you gotta push a fish on your card and a “Praise the Lord!” here and a big, black Bible and act weird.
That’s not holy. That’s weird. Holy is having loving, winsome, godlike thoughts. Holy is fearing what God thinks more than what anybody else thinks. And so you live according to the Scriptures.
And “holy,” the roots of it, are “bring wholeness” or in Hebrew, the “shalom” of God. And it’s not just emotional peace, it’s the peace and the wellbeing of a life well lived, of relationships and place, living with an open and sincere conscience and to be free. That’s what he’s talking about. And it’s private and it’s who you really are.
And the final word here is “discipline.” It’s the inner strength to control. It’s a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. It’s the discipline that when you don’t feel like getting up that that discipline allows you to get up and you don’t always feel like praying, you don’t always feel like coming to church, you don’t always feel like reading the Bible. And it’s not trying to gain God’s favor, but it is choosing to do what you know will position you to allow God to work in and through your life.
And then finally he says, “All those things are very, very important.” But he then contrasts it with the bad leaders, if you will, and he talks about motives and methods and the bad leaders were rebellious, the opposite of submissive. They are mere talkers. And they were deceivers and they were for dishonest gain.
And so he says, “The motives and the methods need to be pure and teachable but courageous.” Doing good flows out of being courageous.
I think, if we could hear the mind and the spirit of Paul, as he is writing this letter, it’s to a very young man and to a very godless culture. And look at verses 10 through 16, he goes, “This is who these guys are. They claim to know God. They are taking people down bad paths.”
Look at some of the words he says, “Silence them!” “Me?” “Rebuke them! Be able to stand and teach sound doctrine. Encourage them.” And so part of being the “who” that good works flow out of is being above reproach and that starts in your home, it means there’s emotional maturity in issues that probably all of us struggle with, one or two or maybe more of those.
It has to do with the mindset we have that is outwardly focused. It means that there is an inner world of control and being Spirit-led, not a legalism, but a control and being Spirit-led, of doing the right thing at the right time in the right way with integrity.
And the motive isn’t to impress people. And the motive isn’t to get rich. And it’s a humility and a teachability and a courage that when everyone in the office or everyone at the jobsite and everything is flowing this way and God is looking for a Christian to live like a Christian and step up lovingly, kindly, without malice, and without their voice raised, and without defending to step up and say, “You know, I’m not really so sure that that is good. And I really respect you all. But, you know, for a couple thousand years, the track record on that particular issue goes this direction and, I’ve done a little reading and the consequences of those kind of behaviors and those situations, this is what it does to women. This is what it does and creates poverty. This is what it does and hurts kids. So, I know it’s not politically correct but I just would say to you, because I know you all want to be tolerant, I think there’s another opinion that we ought to consider.”
And when people meet Christians like that, doing good, by your words, by your thoughts, and by your deeds, the poor get fed, the destitute get rescued, the orphan gets loved, the single mom or the single dad gets encouraged, and your workplaces get transformed.
That’s why doing good matters, but it begins not with what you do. It begins with who you are.