The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

As I indicated yesterday, elders are to embody the principle that knowing the truth leads to godliness. They do have to be able to ‘talk the talk’ (9), but even more they have to ‘walk the walk’ (6-8). It is surely worthy of note that whenever the New Testament describes the qualifications required for eldership, it emphasises good character rather than giftedness or ability.

This is how today’s passage reads in ‘The Message’:

I left you in charge in Crete so you could complete what I left half-done. Appoint leaders in every town according to my instructions. As you select them, ask, “Is this man well-thought-of? Is he committed to his wife? Are his children believers? Do they respect him and stay out of trouble?” It’s important that a church leader, responsible for the affairs in God’s house, be looked up to—not pushy, not short-tempered, not a drunk, not a bully, not money-hungry. He must welcome people, be helpful, wise, fair, reverent, have a good grip on himself, and have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it.

It’s interesting that verse 10 goes on to say:

”For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers…”

It seems a contrast is deliberately drawn between the elders who live truth, and others who talk about it, who have the vocabulary, but not the lifestyle of godliness.

(By the way, Warren Wiersbe points out that ”sound doctrine” in verse 9 means ‘healthy doctrine’ – that which leads to the health of the church.

PRAYER: Lord God, we pray for your special grace on all those who lead your church. May they always teach by life and by lip.