Acts Devotionals


We live in a neighborhood where people are very friendly to each other. As you drive past someone walking their children or dogs, there will be a hand greeting. In the shops, the shoppers and staff are exceptionally friendly and helpful … but it is seldom that you speak to your neighbors. You almost never see them. Maybe it is because it’s winter. I have only seen our one next door neighbor to greet … “Good afternoon. How are you?” I received a friendly response. Other than that we don’t know the neighbors.

Back in South Africa we knew just about everyone in our street. We had Street Braais and Security Meetings. When driving past a neighbor and he or she was at their gate we would stop and chat. In this way we could formulate a profile of each other. Mostly the people are good people, yet one could easily determine whether they were Churched and Christian, what their world view is, where they stood politically, how they related to people of other ethnicities, etc.

My point is, we have a tendency of putting people into brackets. We formulate a reputation of people as we get to know them. Sometimes we are right and at other times we are wrong. In our journey, seeking to answer the question … “How important is leadership?” we have travelled from Genesis 1 to 1 Timothy to answer that question and grasp the type of person and attributes are required to be an elder of the Church. The reason we did this was because:

Ac 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church.

We were trying to understand, from a Biblical point of view how God wants to see those who preside over His Church. Lastly, before returning to Acts 14, we find:

1 Tim 3:7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

1) The elder must have a good reputation with outsiders. The word “good” signifies a reputation that is excellent, powerful and vigorous.

(1) Consider some harbors … even in Paul and Barnabas’ travels they were not always useable. Some would close during the windy, rainy season to prevent ship wrecks. Other harbors again would be serviceable. This means that whenever a ship approach it, the harbor was open and available to provide whatever needs the vessel required. The harbor was serviceable … it could service the needs of the ship. An elder needs to be able to service the needs of outsiders … in kind but especially with the Gospel.

(2) The same word also means genuine or sterling. Maybe you have seen a stone with gold spots in it. It looks like the genuine things, but it is “fool’s gold”. It’s fake. Metals are proven genuine … proved to be the real thing when tested in fire such as recorded in

1 Pet 1:7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

(3) Both the above illustrations point to the elder’s reputation being inwardly or morally good, impacting his outward behavior and presentation of himself to outsiders. In other words, because of his sterling attributes qualifying him to fulfil the office of elder to lead and rule God’s people … the same attributes flows over to those outside the Church.

(4) Whether people like the elder or not, or whether they agree with the Gospel or not, is not the point here. It is how they see him as one standing for God. Do they see him reflecting the Gospel values he says he supports … and ask … “Is he genuine or is he a fake?” Before I was a Christian, I would see men in a pub, rather inebriated … and they were elders in their Church. As a non-Christian I had no respect for them! You see, the world wants a higher standard of morality from those who lead the Church.

(5) It is seriously wrong for an elder to say he does not care how the world or his neighbors see him. He is always an ambassador for the Lord Jesus, wherever he is!

2Co 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

The elder’s role is not just to rule the Church … he needs to win the lost and the lost are in the world. How he sees his neighbors and how he perceives they see him in very important. He must do his best never to turn souls away from the Gospel because his reputation is soiled because of what he does.

2) The elder must be diligent and ensure that … he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. Disgrace is not firstly before man but before God for he has abused the privilege and honor of ruling the Church of God by discrediting the Gospel of the Lord Jesus before the world. To fall into “the devil’s trap” implies falling into a noose, snare or mouse trap. Once caught, it is unlikely you will escape. The underlying thought is “ruined … totally ruined!” Let me suggest two examples here …

(1) Jesus called the spiritual elders of Israel hypocrites. (Read Matthew 23:2-39)

Mt 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Mt 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

(2) Jesus called the spiritual leaders of Israel liars. (Read John 8v42-47)

Jn 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

If being a hypocrite and liar was serving the devil’s cause and achieving damnation, how much more the elder who is a fake? Such a man is easy prey for the enemy of Jesus and will render the imitation elder useless for service for he is not a serviceable harbor for souls tossed back and forth in the spiritual storms that will come upon them. Because he has been caught in the devil’s snare, like the devil, he too will suffer the devil’s fate. A newly appointed elder in our Church has suggested that we need to consider adding “the work of an elder in practical terms” … in these Notes. We will do this soon. Keep this teaching on Church Leadership in mind, especially as you choose men to lead the Church you have membership with.

Our Father, thank You that You do not leave elders in the dark, clueless and rudderless as to their qualifications. Help us to be good Church members, supporting and assisting them where we can. Amen.

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