“Blood is thicker than water” is a well known proverb coined around a thousand years ago. It originally referred to the fact that distance, or even ocean water, cannot sever family ties of blood and kinship. It has come to mean that one should be loyal to one’s own family before any other commitments.
In today’s reading, Paul completes his list of qualifications for the office of overseer. Each is accompanied by a rationale for inclusion in the list. The first qualification is that “he manage his own family well” (v. 4). Because the church is a spiritual family, it was important that an overseer managed his own biological family in a godly manner. In the ancient world, this included not only having the respect of one’s children, but also caring for and providing for an extended family. If one could not manage a household, how could he be expected to care for a spiritual family (v. 5)?
Notice that an elder should “not be a recent convert” (v. 6). In the ancient world, most people would see a leadership position as an opportunity for personal advancement and as a chance to raise their social standing. Paul’s warning was directed against this type of attitude. Leadership in the church looks quite different than leadership in the world. To illustrate what true leadership looks like, Jesus humbly washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1–17). Finally, an overseer “must have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (v. 7). By the “devil’s trap,” Paul is referring to the fact that an overseer with a bad reputation among outsiders could bring reproach to the message of the gospel that the church is tasked to proclaim.
>> These official qualifications offer us a good description of what spiritual maturity looks like for any Christian. Read through 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and consider in what areas you have grown most as a believer and what areas of your life provide opportunities for future growth.
Today’s devotional encourages us to seek spiritual maturity. May we always look at Jesus and follow His example of love and humility. Lord, help us to live in a way that’s pleasing to you!