Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Duties, not Qualifications

I'm getting ready to go over the Table of Duties with my men's bible study class, and I find it interesting to note that the first set of duties given are from 1 Timothy 3, the section that so often we today will call the qualifications for the pastoral office.  However, consider them for a moment:

 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive... He must not be a recent convert
 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound[a] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9)

Now, so often we will treat these as "qualities" - as though they are aspects of a man that make him worthy of the office, or eligible.  If I check off these boxes then I *can* become a pastor.  But I think that misses the point, a point that Luther nails.

The Office of the Ministry places an obligation upon a pastor.  He is to serve the people he has been called to shepherd.  And this list deals with his duties.

If you constantly embarrass them, you can't serve them very well.  Keep your nose clean for their sake. If you are constantly trying to sleep with the women, you aren't serving them well.  Keep it zipped for their sake. If you aren't serious, you can't serve them very well.  Be serious for their sake.
If you can't control yourself, you can't serve them well.  Be controlled for their sake.

So on and so forth.  These aren't just a set of standards for some fellow to meet in order to become a pastor - they are active descriptions of what a pastor does, how he relates to his congregation in the exercise of the office.

That's why it is necessary, why a pastor must be these things... because they are the duties that he carries out in the performance of his office.

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