Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.Modern Snares
1 Timothy 3:7
I. The snares are always about our feet. They vary in their guise, but their purpose remains unchanged. I want to look at a few of the perils which thus beset the youth of our modern life. (1) There is the snare of materialism. I speak of it not as a theory, but as a life. In Watts' 'Mammon' there is a great pompous figure in heavy scarlet and gold. His face is fat and sightless. Brutal hands and feet are resting carelessly on the Godlike figures of the young. The bloated materialistic presence has the ears of an ass, indicating that he is powerful but imbecile. That is the materialistic life, the worship of naked gain, the pursuit of carnal power, and the unconsidered crushing of all the ethereal elements in our richly dowered being. It is one of the most insidious snares of the devil in our time. (2) And there is the snare of cynicism. In our childhood we live and move in an atmosphere of happy confidence and trust. But this is how the cynic is made. First of all, we discover our own duplicity. There comes a momentous day when I discover that I am putting in the shop window of my life goods of a different quality from what I keep in my warehouse. It dawns upon me that I am leading a double life, that appearances say one thing when the reality is quite another. And then I begin to wonder if others are the same. I read myself into them, and at last I discover a man in some duplicity. Now a double discovery of this kind is apt to embitter a man, and he becomes a cynic. The man who fosters the cynical spirit converts his world into a charnel house. It is the very opposite of the Christian spirit. 'Don't bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.' (3) And there is the snare of superficialism. There is the peril of moving and abiding upon the superficies, of being contented with the surface waters, the shallow but by no means crystal pools which lie here and there in the common ways.
II. How can we be lifted above these modern perils? (1) Seek height of fellowship, and begin with the highest of the heights, even with the Lord Himself. (2) Seek the fellowship of the saints. If you cannot find them in actual life, then seek their companionship in noble books. (3) Seek breadth of outlook. Read the best books. Take notes of the best books, and incarnate their best teachings. (4) Seek depths of noble service. The indolent are never safe.
—J. H. Jowett, The British Congregationalist, p. 228.
References.—III. 9.—Bishop Bickersteth, Sermons, p. 33. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 168. III. 13.—C. Parsons Reichel, Sermons, p. 382. Expositor (4th Series), vol. v. p. 184. III. 14-16.—H. S. Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 72. III. 15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No. 393. Bishop Jayne, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. p. 369. F. W. Farrar, ibid. vol. liv. p. 247. J. B. Mozley, University Sermons, p. 332. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv. No. 1436. W. J. Hills, Sermons and Addresses, p. 1. H. Allen, Penny Pulpit, No. 1611, p. 287. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year (2nd Series), vol. i. p. 17.
God Made Visible
1 Timothy 3:16
We are taught that there is a great scheme of providence at work round about us. It is a very mysterious providence; if you look at it in the wrong light, it is so mysterious as to be painful and destructive in its expression and energy. If I would study the providence of God, I would read all that Jesus Christ did. What shall I get from such a perusal of His record? A clear vision of what at present is regarded as the invisible providence. We talk about a providence within a providence; we speak thus almost atheistically. The providence of God is as plain as the sunlight, as beautiful as the summer landscape. How can we approach it? By studying Jesus Christ; the daily life of Christ was the daily life of God. Then why tear the clouds asunder to see some at present invisible providence? It is needless, it may soon become impious. We need not batter the cloud-door, and say, Admit us to see the machinery of the universe. No need of that; read the life of Jesus Christ, and you will see what God is doing, what God can do, and what God has been doing all the undated and uncalendared ages.
This brings the matter very closely to us. The kingdom of God is amongst us, the kingdom of God is within you. Why stretch your necks to see something beyond the horizon when God Himself is standing in your midst and manifesting Himself in your own flesh? Then we will study Jesus, and see what He thought about the people and about life, and how He sought comfort for all the persons that trusted to Him, how He made the orchards grow and the wheat-fields and the vineyards and the yards of olives. That is right; now you are becoming religious.
I. How does God Deal with the Poor?—Ask Jesus. What does Jesus say? He says to His disciples when they mention the necessities of the people to Him, Give ye them to eat. Yet we are the men who want to know what God does for the poor in His providence! He gives to me that I may give to the man sitting next me. He has made the man sitting next me rich in gold that he may hand some of it over to me He sets up the great doctrine of mutual interdependence; not the bastard socialism of a card-up-the-sleeve with which some swindler may seek to win the game, but the true socialism and masonry of brotherhood. That is too simple a plan for many persons; they like something more intricate, something that needs to be explained in long and resounding words; whereas God in Christ says to every man who has a loaf, Give some of it to the man who has no bread; I gave you the loaf, not that you might keep it, but that you might distribute it, and I have so arranged the economy of life that distribution is multiplication, and that whoso gives the bread most freely will be surprised at the last to find that he had more to end with than he had to begin with.
II. What does the Invisible and Unthinkable God do in the Matter of the Prodigality and Sinfulness of the World?—Read Jesus Christ's life and you will get the answer at once. What is God's plan about a lapsed and ruined world? 'The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.' That is what God is doing all the time; He is seeking and saving the lost; He is keeping the door of His own heart open that the very least and worst of His children may enter in and be saved. We have a pleading God, a self-humbling God, a God we keep standing out in the dews of the midnight and amid all its boisterous winds; and we are asking profound or foolish questions about God's method of dealing with the world He made and loved and redeemed. III. What is God's Method of Judgment?—We read of a great white throne, we read of a day of final audit and trial. We need not wonder about that; Jesus Christ has gone through the whole process; if we study Him we know all about it; and the day of judgment may be no longer than one flash of light, than the twinkling of an eye. What is God's plan of judgment as shown by Jesus Christ? He said, Where much is given much will be required; where little is given little will be expected. Where there is poverty and difficulty about doing certain things, yet there sounds this sweet music, She hath done what she could. Let us go to Jesus when we would know about God. Let us study His example when we would apprehend somewhat of Divine metaphysics. With Christ at hand no man need be at a loss for God.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. II. p. 137.
References.—III. 16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii. No. 786. Lyman Abbott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 75. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii. No. 1087. T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 70. S. Bentley, Parish Sermons, p. 1. E. A. Bray, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 296. O. Bronson, Sermons, p. 48. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. pp. 151, 330, 380; ibid. vol. vii. p. 297; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 153; ibid. vol. xii. p. 105. III. 17.—Ibid. vol. ii. p. 378. IV. 1.—Ibid. p. 296. IV. 1-5.—Ibid. vol. xii. p. 182.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.