Acts Devotionals

Do Not Be Hasty

Maybe you too have used the term … “When the tyre hits the road” or “the proof is in the pudding” … (the proof is in the eating). When one makes a hasty decision, it could backfire and cause a disaster. That is when the tyre hits the road. A long time back I met up with a man who was a young Christian, but quite knowledgeable. Because the man was middle age and professional … and because we as a Church had a shortage of leaders, I encouraged that he be made a leader in the Church. I was wrong. The proof was in the eating … the tyre hit the road … he turned on me and almost ruined the Church. I had made a cardinal error. I had done what the Bible forbids. It says:

1Ti 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands.

This verse means that the Church must not commission or ordain one to the position of eldership too quickly. The person concerned needs to prove himself, not just as a Christian or in knowledge, but is the practices of the attributes of an elder. Let’s read the text again:

1Ti 3:1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one 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 with proper 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.

The one I laid hands on to quickly left our Church taking people with him to another Church. There he caused similar problems, taking the same people with him. They started a Church of their own which failed. May God grant us as members of Churches the wisdom and discernment to understand this fundamental teaching …

1Ti 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands.

1) The elder must not be a recent convert. This was the problem. Recently converted. Unable to contain his enthusiasm. Coming across as a servant, yet this was disguising a passion for power and authority. There was no track record and no one to provide a credible testimonial.

1 Tim 3:6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.

Anyone planting flower or vegetable shoots will know that these need to grow, mature and harden to be able to with stand the cold, rain and wind. Should these come unseasonably, the shoots will bend, break and die. The words “recent convert” mean “newly planted”. To be installed as an elder you need to be a seasoned Christian. You must have a few fundamental qualifications … and all come the hard way.

(1) Be a man of the Scriptures. He needs to know God’s mind to be able to deal with God’s people and what happens within a lost society, as this has an influence on believers.

(2) Be a man of prayer. Prayer includes seeking God’s help and guidance to lead His people in paths of righteousness. Prayer is taking God’s Word and praying through it to understand how it applies to himself and the people he rules over for Jesus. Prayer is taking the souls under his care to God for His blessings and provisions, especially spiritual.

(3) Be a man of love. Ruling (managing) people includes looking out for their good. Sometimes the elder needs to be forthright in saying “no” or pointing out beliefs or a lifestyle that is in contrast to God and His Word. Love is not giving people what they want … it is giving people what they need.

(4) Be a man of doctrine. The elder needs to understand the doctrines that flow from the Bible. As an example, he needs to know why the Jehovah Witness, Church of the Latter Day Saints, Church of God (Moonies), Scientology, Prosperity Cult, Roman Catholicism, etc. are Biblically lacking. And more, he needs to understand the difference between Liberalism (those who talk away Jesus as God, the Bible as inerrant and inspired, miracles), Charismatic (the distorting of Scripture to prove an erroneous doctrinal position), Arminianism (the teaching that man’s free will enables him to choose salvation through Jesus and then withdraw it … lose salvation) and Reformed Protestantism (that the Bible is the only authority for life, salvation and eternity, that it is inspired, inerrant, infallible and authoritative, that God has chosen a people for salvation and each one shall be saved and remain saved for all eternity.) Remember an elder needs to protect the flock. Like a soldier without a rifle at war is useless, so the elder without the weapon of God … the Holy Bible, known and understood, he cannot protect the flock of God!

2) Need must not influence appointing those with potential. Should this be done, great harm could follow. I did this and the Church was affected. The Church we belong to is small. They have three aging elders who have held the fort, keep things going … yet are tired. They resorted to prayer, seeking God for help and He brought three families into the Church, of which Jenny and I are one. Tomorrow the men from the other two families are being presented to the congregation for their approval as elders. These two men are mature believers. They are model husbands and fathers. They have served in Churches in various capacities … but more importantly, they are well versed in Scripture and well-read where it comes to Christian Literature of a Reformed nature. The elders of this Church applied:

1Ti 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands.

They prayed.

3) Preventing pride. Pride is the first sin! It is wanting to be like God. It was Eve’s problem as she was seduced by the serpent (enemy, devil). The text goes on to say … or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. The word “conceited” means arrogant or pride. A newly planted convert, installed into a senior position in the Church (eldership), could become filled with pride and arrogance … even thinking he knows more or better that experienced elders and lead the saints away from and not to Jesus. The judgment he could fall to is penal. Remember he is to care for the sheep of God, yet if he turns out to be a wolf he will face the same punishment the devil will experience because of him causing man to sin (Genesis 3) and causing the horrendous rebellion by man against a Good, Loving God. Eldership is serious and with it comes responsibility and accountability. He is to be God’s servant!

O Lord, protect Your Church from the appointment of newly planted trees that could bend away from true doctrine and lead souls astray. Amen.

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