Grab your Bible, and let’s go deeper into 1 Timothy 3.
Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
In this passage, we are given one of the best and clearest pictures of what a mature, Christian man is. Paul is instructing Timothy in the qualifications of a biblical elder.
While very few will ever hold the position of pastor/elder in our churches due to its high qualifications and level of commitment, we can use the passages on elder qualifications as a tool of evaluation for how we as Christian men are growing in Christ and maturing in our faith and sanctification.
So today, let’s dig into this passage and do some self-evaluation. I pray as you read this, you are hopeful for what God can and will do when you grow in Christ, instead of being discouraged at how you are struggling. The key is to hear the word's instruction and put it into action. I am praying for you as you prayerfully read, evaluate, and respond.
1 Timothy 3:2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach ...
A mature, Christian man is blameless, holy, and presents no patterns of scriptural disobedience. This means this kind of man is vigilant in fighting sin and avoiding the temptations to practice sin. We all are tempted. We all will stumble. A mature, Christian man lives his life above reproach. It doesn’t mean he is perfect. It does mean he is a great example for the Christian life.
Really all the qualifications we are about to look at come back to this one. Is the character of God deeply at work in and through you? Do you desire to truly walk in obedience to God’s word, to practice holiness, and to honor God in all you do? It is one thing to desire it; it is another to truly put it into daily, regular practice.
1 Timothy 3:2 ... the husband of one wife ...
This means a mature, Christian man is emotionally and sexually pure. This means you are a one-woman man. You have emotional investment, eyes for, and physical interaction with only your wife. If one is not married, he must still be a one-woman man and practicing sexual purity. This means God’s design for sexual interaction is with your wife. This means if you are not married, you don’t have a wife; therefore, you are not to be sexually active in any way.
Pornography is not more acceptable if you are single. It is still sexual activity outside of marriage. There is a lie that is floating around in some Christian circles that has allowed Christian men to believe that porn is such a normal struggle for men that it is somehow okay. It is sin. You must make vigilant war with avoiding any kind of sexual sin or lust.
God’s design for intimacy is for marriage—not love, not engagement, not dating, not commitment. Marriage.
Men, how are you doing at a pure, faithful devotion and attentiveness to your wife if you're married and to God if you are not? Is this an area where God is honored in your life?
1 Timothy 3:2 ... sober-minded ...
A mature, Christian man is sober, sensible, wise, and balanced in judgment and discretion.
We have all been in the situation where there is a good chance it could go badly. A prudent man is the one who stands up and says, “I am out, and you should follow me. This is riding the line too much.” He is willing to exercise wisdom and self-control even in the face of adversity. This is not the kind of man that likes to ride the edge of risk. A prudent or sober-minded man uses good decision-making and discretion in leading those who follow him.
1 Timothy 3:2 ... self-controlled ...
This is also called being temperate. A mature, Christian man is self-controlled and mentally and emotionally stable. Self-control means you do life with restraint. You don't get caught up in stuff that could equal personal compromise. A temperate man doesn’t need to keep buying new things or working long hours to feel complete. A temperate man is given the opportunity to get super angry but exercises restraint. A temperate man is not emotionally all over the map all the time. Temperate men live life in moderation—a moderate, controlled temperature. It is the man who doesn’t gorge himself just because he can. A life of moderation is satisfying to him because, ultimately, he is satisfied in Christ and is not looking to be made happy in other things.
1 Timothy 3:2 ... respectable ...
Verse 7 says, “Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” A mature, Christian man must be well-ordered, disciplined, and an honorable man worth following or imitating. This is a man that people quickly have respect for in the ways in which he prioritizes and go about his life—he smells of balance, honor, and is worth following or imitating.
I know many guys who subconsciously turn away from this one. They are willing to lead others but not in such a way that it is worth imitating. This cannot be so, because those that follow you will imitate you. They will want to be like you—your kids, your brothers, those to whom you are ministering.
1 Timothy 3:2 ... hospitable ...
A mature, Christian man is unselfish with his personal resources, welcoming, and generous with others. He must understand to his core that what he has is not his. It is all God’s; he has been called to manage it for God’s glory. This means a hospitable man is quick to open his life, time, stuff, home, and family to others who need to be loved.
1 Timothy 3:2 ... able to teach ...
Are you growing your life in the word in such a way that it is not just for you but for those God puts in your path—your wife, your kids, your brothers, and those you interact with at work, at church, and on the road? A mature, Christian man is equipped to divide God’s word and rightly teach what it says—you are mature in your understanding and defense of sound, biblical doctrine.
Titus 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Since the church is "the pillar and support of the truth" (1 Tim. 3: 15), its men must be pillars of biblical doctrine, or the house will crumble. Since the church is also a small flock traveling over treacherous terrain infested with "savage wolves," the mature men in the body of Christ must know the way, see the wolves, and lead the flock safely to its destination. Are you studying casually or are you really studying? Are you really digging into God’s word? Are you looking to sit under sound, Bible teaching more than just a Sunday sermon? There are so many great preachers to sit under, and you can do that through podcasts and the internet. Are you reading sound books that teach you accurately about Christ? I say this because there is so much junk out there. Just because it is in the “Christian bookstore” doesn’t mean it’s right or accurate.
Don’t hesitate to email me and ask about preachers to listen to or books to read. I want to help you grow in this area.
A mature, Christian man never grows tired of God’s word and its authority in his life. He loves God’s word and feasts on it daily. His aim is not a casual relationship with God and His word but a fervor and passion for God and His word. Without a growing understanding of God’s word, we will not know what and/or how to correct those who are promoting false doctrine or bad interpretation of the word.
1 Timothy 3:3 ... not a drunkard ...
A mature, Christian man must be free from excesses and be living a God-honoring lifestyle that doesn’t damage his testimony. Christians are to be controlled by Jesus and not by any other thing. Addiction can be to a variety of things—alcohol, smoking, caffeine, TV, video games, working, hobbies, spending money, internet, food/sugar, reading, and so many more areas.
Notice something: None of the things I just listed are in-and-of-themselves a sin. Any of these things you can enjoy in moderation. But ask yourself, “Is there an ‘I have to have it’ or ‘I need it’ mentality?” To check yourself on any of these, can you go 30 days without it? If not, you might very well be addicted, and this means something has you in its grip that is not Jesus.
Can you enjoy it without overindulgence or gluttony?
To give control of an area of life over to something else is detrimental and creates compromise. This sets you up to be disqualified and compromises your testimony. Don’t wait to bring around accountability for any of these things in which you are knowingly or possibly excessively participating.
1 Timothy 3:3 ... not violent or quarrelsome ...
A mature, Christian man is peaceable and not quarrelsome or divisive. This doesn’t have to mean physical violence. There are too many men who do not represent Christ in this area. Are you quick to argue, to make waves, or to engage in debates? Is the peace of God at work in your life? Are you quick to post things online that are critical and divisive? Are you argumentative with your brothers?
Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
1 Timothy 3:3 ... gentle ...
A mature, Christian man is kind, gracious, loving, and even-tempered. There is a big difference between one who tries to force you the direction he wants you to go and one who gently influences you to move. When you have to resort to yelling or throwing something to get respect, you are not ready to lead. The gentle route takes more time but builds a relationship and respect that goes much further.
There is a maturity that means if you are a big, tough guy, you don’t have to wield that in order to influence others. You are gentle in your words and actions so that you can make much of Christ and not yourself.
1 Timothy 3:3 ... not a lover of money ...
A mature, Christian man is not greedy for things or money and is financially content and upright. Money is a big idol in our society. It is so much so that it is commonly the idol-of-choice used by Jesus and the New Testament writers when illustrating how we are to worship God and not idols of the heart. The American dream equals get rich or die trying. Okay, that is maybe the more “gangster version” of the American dream, but it’s close. The American dream has to drown in the satisfaction one finds in the gospel of Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:4-5 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?
How one leads at home is one of the biggest signs of how one will lead God’s flock. The Puritans referred to the family household as the "little church." A mature, Christian man has a high priority to lead and manage his household. Men, if we are not discipling our own wives and children, what business do we have in skipping the flock God has given us at home and going out to disciple the flock outside the home? Are you investing time into your bride? Are you investing time into your children?
My prayer is that the overflow of the ministry you do is out of solid ministry at home. Are you praying for your family, discipling your kids who are still under your roof, and leading them in Bible study? A mature, Christian man is well-ordered in his schedule and priorities to steward and lead well that which God has entrusted him. This starts with himself and his home before it goes to his outreach.
1 Timothy 3:6 ... He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Anyone can be fired up to live sacrificially when the living water of Jesus first flows through him. The test is what one does with the grind and the trials of the seasons to come. A mature, Christian man is proven and tested by trials. His maturity in Christ shows he has ongoing harvest—the Fruit of the Spirit constantly coming out through thick-and-thin—not just when times are good and not just in intermediate moments, but constantly.
Now, I said it at the top of the lesson: This is hard. This is the measurement of a mature, Christian man. It doesn’t mean that if you struggle with many of these you are not a Christian man. It just means you have maturing to do.
This is the good news—God doesn’t save us based on merit but instead on His amazing grace. If you are saved, you are saved by His power and will and not your own. Thank God. It also means He will endure those whom He has saved to the end. The question is, are you maturing? Are you afraid to dig into the areas where you are weak? Are you growing in God’s word and maturing in gospel community so that the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work is happening in your life?
I pray that you are hungry. That is my biggest hope from this study—that you are hungry, and you stay that way. Dig into Christ and grow in Him, and He will mature you and endure you unto these things.
I look forward to growing with you. Keep Jesus the main thing. May we have more and more maturing men who are purposed to Glorify God by teaching God’s holy word, training up faithful disciples and testifying of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all those God puts in our path.