1 Timothy 3

This devotional is written by Trissie Coleshaw.

1 Timothy 3

Qualifications for overseers and deacons
Here is a trustworthy saying: whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Reasons for Paul’s instructions
14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing to you with these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.


While the date and veracity of Paul’s authorship of the First Epistle to Timothy is contested by modern scholars, Chapter Three of this letter offers us a crucial insight into the workings of the Early Church. Firstly, the existence of overseers (or bishops) and deacons, infers the presence of an organisational structure. Christianity, even its earliest form then, was not merely a loose association of the devout, but a framework of interdependence and stability, constructed to unite a community of believers. What we are shown in 1 Timothy 3’s prescription for the overseer and deacon, therefore, is the model of behaviour required of the Church’s servants so that this stability and unity might be maintained.

At first glance it might seem that for both bishop and deacon alike, and indeed for all of us who walk with Jesus, the instruction is fairly basic: be morally sound enough to inspire the confidence of others. Simple and straightforward. But if we look a little deeper at the qualifications for overseers and deacons, we see that God wants a far more intricately beautiful experience of life for His children. The letter speaks of a person who is temperate, gentle, hospitable; someone who can pass on their experience, strength and hope in Jesus, and who is not prone to getting into arguments; somebody of a sober mindset and sober behaviour, who has a decent grip on their life and is faithful to the ones they love. In this we see that God doesn’t simply want obedient, virtuous automatons for followers – He wants us to cultivate peaceful, loving lives for ourselves with He and His love at the centre. In short, in order for us to experience and to reflect the deep truths of our faith—the truth of God’s steadfastness, the truth of God’s protection, the truth of God’s adoration and of His eternal and indiscriminate love for us—He sets out certain parameters for our behaviour, to enable us to build and live drama-free lives.

And so, where in your life might you be creating unnecessary drama for yourself with your attitudes and behaviours? Where is your view of God’s vision for you being blocked by your own shadow? Are there bills that you’re not paying, cuts you’re refusing to make, or changes you’re not implementing that are bringing stress into your life? Are there relationships and commitments you are neglecting or overinvesting in? Are there conversations you are avoiding because you cannot predict or control the outcome? Is there an apology you need to make, or one you need to accept, but to do so would mean you having to get vulnerable or humble? Is there a doctor’s appointment you have been avoiding?

Whatever it is that is creating drama for you, remember that God gives us limitless opportunities to invite Him into our lives to solve our problems, to fix our brokenness. Infinite in patience, He gives us as many goes as we need. Spend time in conversation with Him today, therefore. Hold up all the things that rob you of your peace, and take ownership of the things that you do also that deprive others of theirs. Allow God to breathe healing into them. Ask Him to remove these problems, these defects of character, and let Him gently guide you into a peaceful, more loving way of life.

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