Jump Start # 2840
1 Timothy 3:15 “but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of truth.”
One of the things we learn as we read the writings of the apostles is that, although they were inspired by God, they did not have a crystal ball that told them everything about the future. Paul was planning to come to Ephesus where Timothy was. However, he might be delayed. Didn’t he know? No. Didn’t God tell him? No. The impression from moderns is that God directed detailed everyday events in the lives of Christians. They knew who to marry, when to buy a house and where to vacation. How would they know these things? Moderns believe that God revealed those things. It’s a wonder that we even need the Bible if God is telling each of us just what we need to do. Our verse reminds us that moderns have things mixed up. Paul didn’t know if he’d make his schedule to be with Timothy or if he would be delayed. He didn’t know.
In the event that he was delayed, Paul sent this letter, we commonly call, 1 Timothy. And, as our verse tells us, it was sent so Timothy would know how to “conduct himself in the household of God.” The household of God is not the church building. There were no church buildings back there. Paul is not saying, make sure the kids do not run in the hallways, and be sure the doors are locked when everyone leaves. Not at all.
Our passage follows the descriptive qualities of shepherds and deacons. Earlier Paul told Timothy to teach certain men not to teach strange doctrines. Later, he’d remind Timothy that people were not to make accusations against an elder without two or three witnesses. This is the conduct that Paul has in mind. It’s how we function and operate within a congregation. And, from this we find some important lessons:
First, the church does not have an “open mic” policy. Within Paul’s instructions about conducting ourselves within God’s church is holding to sound doctrine. Endless genealogies, myths, strange doctrines were not to be given a floor to air those agendas and thoughts. Freedom of speech is an American concept. God expects us to hold to the teachings of Christ and the apostles. Letting anyone say anything only feeds division, error and departures. Preach the word is what Timothy was told in the next letter to him.
Second, within the expression, ‘how one ought to conduct himself’ is implied a right way and a wrong way. We need to know the right way. We need to hold to the right way. Some things are just not proper in worship. Some things can take away the honor and praise that ought to go to God. Our attention needs to be Heavenward. But by our behavior and attitudes, that can be lost because we are not conducting ourselves as we ought to.
Third, Timothy, overseers and deacons– there were specific functions and roles for each of these. There was enough work to be done that no one needed to get in the way of the others. Part of this proper conduct is having a congregation functioning as God designed. In the absence of overseers, the church is vulnerable. We by necessity, develop men’s business meetings so things could be decided. Some congregations like that. Some would rather have that than what God designed, qualified overseers. But the downside of men’s business meetings is that every male Christian has a say. The young. The carnal. The weak. Those with false agendas. They all have a say and they all have a vote in the direction the church will follow. Equal votes for every person in the meeting. So, a ten year old boy who happens to be baptized, sitting right beside the preacher, or a former elder, has as much right and say by his vote as anyone else. It doesn’t take too much to see the trouble, danger and shortcomings of men’s meetings. Stack the room with people who will vote the way you want and the future of the church could be at stake.
This is why Paul was telling Timothy about how to conduct oneself in the household of God. God has a plan and it works. His plan is divine. Our ways are doomed to have problems.
Finally, when things are conducted rightly, it brings a pleasant feeling to us. We understand this in the family. Mom and dad are taking the family to visit someone. Strick instructions about the kids’ behavior is stressed over and over. The children are kind, gentle and well behaved. They are bragged upon about being so polite and well mannered. Mom and dad feel a since of pride because everyone has conducted themselves as they should. It’s the same for us spiritually. When we appreciate God’s order of things and we follow God’s pattern, things are beautiful. Worship becomes such a wholesome benefit. Encouragement, support, and love flow among the members. Unity is solid. Grace and forgiveness is practiced. God’s word is taught, loved and cherished. What a wonderful, wonderful experience and relationship that is. Those that hurt are cared for. Those that are worried are strengthened. Those that are slow are waited upon.
Conduct yourself is something that goes to all of us.