5. Pursue godly character in your own life (2:19-23)

Paul contrasts two different kinds of vessels in a mansion- ones that bring honor to the owner, and ones that bring no honor or dishonor to him. The point is the vital importance of godly character in Christian leadership. Godly character is more important than gifting and/or technical competence. A leader who has godly character inspires other to godliness by the beauty of his character. This integrity brings honor to God, is useful to God, and is prepared for whatever good work God wants him to do (2:21). Unlike inanimate vessels, we can choose what kind of character we will have.

How do we acquire godly character?

  • On the one hand, this godly character comes from God (2:23- “call upon the Lord”). It is the fruit of the Spirit, not mere moral will-power and self-improvement. Our integrity brings honor to God.
  • On the other hand, we must go after this with all our hearts. Notice how aggressive the verbs are: “abstain from;” “cleanses himself from;” “flee;” “pursue;” Do you prioritize the formation of God’s character in your life? We should pray for specific godly character we need in our lives.
  • We must pursue it “with those who call upon the Lord with a pure heart” (2;23). We cannot grow in godly character without close Christ-centered friendships. There will be gaping holes in our lives without these close friendships. People who say they are overwhelmed tend to be under-engaged with God and with others.
6. Deal with errant members in a firm and redemptive way (2:24-26)
This is one of several passages in the Pastoral Epistles concerning the ministry of correction- thus emphasizing the importance of this unpopular and difficult leadership responsibility. In our morally relativistic and therapeutic culture, this may be the most searching test for us. If we don’t do this, we are hirelings, and Satan will ravage the flock. But if we do this well, we make it easier for our people to repent. When was the last time you confronted errant sheep?
How do we do this? Paul’s words here provide us with three key guidelines:
  • Move toward them vs. withdraw from them, ignore the elephant in the room, etc.
  • Conduct yourself with ‘kindness” and “patience” and “gentleness” vs. quarreling, blowing up, being self-righteous, etc.
  • Focus vertically on what God says by “teaching” and “correcting” and calling them to “repentance” (return to trust in God’s wisdom and goodness) vs. focusing horizontally on social conformity, how their sin affects them and others, etc.
It is extremely helpful to have at least one colleague in this ministry. Colleagues can hold each other accountable to take action instead of ignoring the problem. They can counsel together how to approach it, and pray together before taking action. They can sometimes go together to help one another. Leaders who do not have this help usually avoid correction or address it ineffectively.
Keep making progress that your flock can see (1 Tim. 4:12-16)
Finally, here is a very encouraging passage. The command is vs. 15-work hard at making progress in three areas (vs.12-14), progress that our flocks can see. The promise is in vs. 16 if we do this, we will have redemptive impact on our flocks-
Oswald sanders: “We leaders think our main responsibility is to see that our people are growing-but Paul says our main responsibility is that our people see that we are growing!”
Spiritual influence is not like accumulated capital that automatically gains interest. God grants current spiritual influence only to those who are currently growing. Are you growing or are you coasting? It is hard work to make progress in these areas, but the only thing that can prevent us from doing this is us. Determine to keep growing!