The Best Decoration
The most beautiful adornment is inner beauty springing from a love of God and understanding of His Word. There are also many attributes pastors should have for effective teaching, such as patience and living the truth.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright today? Oh, I trust so. Bless your heart! And I trust that things are going well, in all of your lives. We’re in business with God, you know it? You and I, we’re in business with God, and “it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure,” so that you can trust your blessed Lord to see you through.
Well, I’m going to look now at something that is apt to be controversial, and you’ll have to be patient with me and love me anyway, even though you may disagree with me. Paul talked about “adornment.” You remember we mentioned that the other day? The key is adornment, not whether or not you’re able to go out and have your hair set at the beauty parlor or wear a string of pearls or an engagement ring. The adornment is the thing. If you are depending on what you can hang on your body to make you pretty or make you beautiful, forget it. And fellas, if you’re depending on a new Hickey Freeman suit and Florsheim shoes, a Countess Mara tie, and a shave and massage and haircut and manicure – all of that to make you handsome – real, real beauty, real attractiveness has to be from the inside out. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it,” said Solomon, “are the issues of life.” So we covered that one.
Now he said, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection, for I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Not withstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue,” – “they” means “husband and wife” – “continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
What’s he getting at there? We’re right straight up against the women’s rights movement, aren’t we? And I can hear many a dear lady saying, “Alright now, Brother Cook. What are we going do about that? Was Paul against all ministry of the ladies?”
Well, all I’m going to to say about it is this: the Bible teaches that leadership in the home, under God, and in the church, under God, is male leadership at its best. I have also to say that it is quite evident, that when God can’t find a man to use, He’s often used a woman, and beautifully so. Where would the mission field be without the thousands of female missionaries who’ve gone out to do the work, that, that maybe men should have done, but they were either too cowardly or too greedy for money to leave and go out to the mission field? Where would the mission work of all the world be without godly woman missionaries? Tell me that! And where would some of the church work be without some of the ladies who are willing to work for God?
But God’s way, God’s ideal, is that in the home, the man should be the priest of the home, and in the church, they – man – should be the leader. God’s Spirit-filled leader of the church. Now that’s, that’s how I read the Bible and if you disagree, don’t bother writing to me and chewing me out about it, because all I’m doing is just telling what the Bible says, okay? There’s room in my thinking for female leadership. When I came to the college, I pretty fast told people that female brains were worth paying just as much as male brains. We didn’t have two sets of the, of salaries for, for male professors and female professors, and I believe in equal pay for equal work, and all that. Yes, I do. But I also believe that God’s plan in the home is for the husband to be the priest of the home, and God’s plan for the church is for the pastor to be the leader, and that pastor is to be a man. Granted, now, if God can’t find a man, He’s going to use a woman, because He’s going to get His Work done, and I have nothing at all against the dear ladies all across the world who have engaged in the work of winning souls and teaching others to know the Bible, and to know the blessed Lord Jesus. After all is said and done, there’s plenty work for all of us to do, isn’t there? Instead of quarreling about who has the right to do this or that, let’s get busy and do the work we can do for God.
Now, Paul says in chapter 3, verse 1, “if a man desire the office of a bishop,” – that’s our word “pastor” – “he desireth a good work. A bishop” – a pastor – “must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, 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 people who are outside the church; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
Hey, that’s quite an order – is it not – for pastors. You want to think about that for awhile? Now, if you want to be a pastor, it’s a good job. Don’t figure out that people end up in the ministry, or as missionaries, because he couldn’t do anything else. The highest calling that you can have is to be called into the ministry of our blessed Lord, and to pastor a church, or a denomination, for that matter. Now, what are the qualifications?
“Blameless” means that you’ve got a good track record, that people can’t point the finger at you and, and accuse you successfully of wrongdoing; that you, that your home is in order.
“The husband of one wife.” No room for bigamists there. No room for broken homes there – “the husband of one wife.”
“Vigilant” – that means life isn’t going to take you by surprise. You’re “with it,” as the young people say. You know what’s going on.
“Sober” – that word is, is a combination of two Greek words meaning “saved in mind.” “Sozo” and “frain,” which means “a saved mind.” Sober is not just “not drunk” or, or “looking solemn,” as you might think, but it means having a saved mental outlook on life, that your mind has been to Calvary and you’ve got a new mental outlook, a new perspective on life. That’s what that means.
“Of good behavior.” I guess we can tell what that means – “behave yourself.”
“Given to hospitality” – somebody that loves to help others, invite them in and, and have them in his home; this is part of being a pastor. Now, sometimes it’s hard when your house – if you’re, if you’re living in a parsonage, as Corrine and I did for 18 years – to have your house like Grand Central Station, where people just having nothing to do, do it in your kitchen. You know that’s hard, but by the same token, part of the, part of the ministry God gives you is the ministry of welcoming people in where you live. Why is that so? Well, because they’re far more open to what you can do by way of ministering to their spiritual needs. Maybe if they sit in your kitchen over a cup of coffee, they’re far more open to being helped in that kind of setting, than they would be perhaps if they sat in the front row while the pastor was thundering out like the thunders of Sinai. You see the difference? “Given to hospitality.”
Then, “apt to teach.” “Apt” means “skillful in” and “ready to” – skillful in teaching and ready to do it. What is the difference between teaching and lecturing? Well, you can lecture or you can preach, and people can just miss the entire business; they’ll miss the point and they won’t be moved by it. But if you teach, that means it is going to reach into where they live. You never really taught a person until what you are saying becomes part of his or her thought process and decision-making. How do you teach a person to swim? You so, so deal with that person that he or she will be able to navigate in the water by himself or by herself. How do you teach a person to ride a bicycle? You don’t ride it for him. You teach that person how to balance and how to go on down the sidewalk of the, the street by himself. Teaching involves making the truth your own. You never really taught a person until he has made the truth his own, and applied it to his, his life. “Apt to teach” – that’s part of your job as a pastor.
“Not given to wine.” Now, of course, I’m a teetotaler. I don’t believe that you should drink wine or strong drink. In those days when the Bible was written, it was a quite common thing to have wine at the table, because the water supply was, was filthy and the wine was a beverage, and so on. Well, today we know that alcoholism is one of the great causes of the breakup of the home, and the great cause of billions of dollars of unnecessary expense in industry, and it’s a cause of crime. We know that it’s better not to drink, so I think it’s quite clear: Paul says, “Not given to wine.” Within the context of our knowledge today, it’s better to lay off it entirely. Not only that, but you say: “Well, I can have a social drink and still be a Christian.” Well, of course you can. But think what it’s going to do to that man who’s just an alcoholic, who’s just been dried out, and who is trying somehow to keep from going over the cliff again. And he sees you take a drink – you’re a Christian – he sees you take a drink of Sherry or Port or whatever it is, and he says, “Maybe I can take one drink,” and he’s, he’s all over the cliff again, over the precipice, down in alcoholism once again. What have you done to him? Helped to kill him by saying “I can do it and get away from it?” Remember that Paul said, “If meat” – we mean things to eat or drink when we say that – if things to eat or drink “cause my brother to offend, I won’t touch it while the world stands.” There’s the point.
So, then he says, “no striker.” What does that mean? “Keep your temper.” Keep your temper; don’t, don’t be lashing out at people. Make a speech in anger, be the finest speech you ever regret. Write a letter in anger and you’ll always regret it. When you’re, when you’re tempted to write a bitter letter to somebody, just write it out and then put it, put it away, and, and, and don’t mail it. After awhile you’ll take it out, read it, and be ashamed of yourself, but you will not have done any damage to anybody else. “No striker” means keep your temper in check.
Then he says, not “greedy of filthy lucre.” I suppose money has been the downfall of many a minister. One thing is ministers aren’t paid that much ordinarily, and so the average underpaid minister certainly would appreciate a little extra cash now and again, and one of the great temptations, then, is to say, “How can I, how can I be true to the ministry and still make a few extra dollars?” Well, I think the key there is not extra money, but the word “greedy.” “Not greedy of filthy lucre.” There are some people who always ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” You know that, and how can you minister to somebody when you’ve got a calculating approach to say, “Well, how’s this going to benefit me?” You’ve not been a minister to somebody if you’re grabbing at the same time. You see the point? It isn’t, it isn’t that money itself is bad. It isn’t bad for you to, to find a way to augment your income. I don’t, I don’t criticize people who try to do that. You have to live, and if the deacons can’t pay you enough to do it, than you ought to look for another way to augment your income, but the key word there is “greedy.” Don’t grab, don’t be looking in a calculated fashion at every opportunity that comes along to see how much it can, it can benefit you. See the difference? It all depends – my friend, Jim Wright said long ago – “Whether you have things or they have you.”
Father God we ask today, that we may be the kind of people who deserve leadership in the church and in the home and in your world. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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