Summary: Paul sets before us a worthy goal-which most of us will work on for a lifetime.
This final category touches the leader in his relationship to alcohol and money-two areas of perennial tempta-tion. Don’t overlook God’s Word on
these crucial points! If you do, you will regret it later.
1. Not given to drunkenness 1 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:7
Literally this phrase means "not lingering over wine." It is variously translated as "not a lover of wine," "not addicted to strong drink," "not a drunkard," "not a hard drinker," "not excessive in his use of wine." I might add that the word also includes the thought of not frequenting places where wine is misused. It means not using wine as a way of life.
While this does not demand total abstinence, it also makes clear that a lover of wine cannot be a leader of God’s people. Godly leaders must be above reproach in the use of wine.
Unfortunately, too many people read this caution as a permission to drink wine. Since the warning is repeated twice, I take it that alcohol abuse
was a serious problem in the first century. One wonders what Paul would think if he suddenly arrived in modern America and saw how pervasive
alcohol abuse has become. Please do not turn this warning into a permission! Godly leaders must be very careful about alcohol, either using it in great moderation or not at all.
2. Not a lover of money 1 Tim 3:3
This touches how a man views his whole life. The godly leader must not make money the goal of his life. He must not be absorbed with the goal of
increasing his net worth. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Paul has some strong words for the rich. They are tempted to be arrogant and to put their trust in
their wealth. Instead they should learn to trust God and then focus on becoming rich in good deeds. This, he says, will lay up a firm foundation for the future.
Being a "lover of money" doesn’t imply anything dishonest or wrong. It simply means that you have wrongly made money (and the things money can
buy) the measure of your life. How foolish, how sad.
3. Not pursuing dishonest gain Titus 1:7
This characteristic is different. It implies a kind of deliberate dishonesty. The godly leader must not be an embezzler, a thief, a crook, a pilferer. His financial dealings must be above reproach. There cannot be the slightest question about the way he handles his money. If there is, if he has a reputation as a "sharpie" who cuts a hard deal, if he is known as a man who plays fast and loose in his business affairs, if he laughs and says, "Everyone does it," forget it. Don’t make that man a leader!
Note the difference: The "lover of money" is honest but wrong. "Pursuing dishonest gain" is dishonest and wrong. Both are condemned as inappropriate for a leader of God’s people.
4. Loving what is good Titus 1:8
We come to the final characteristic and find that it serves as a fitting conclusion to this list. "Loving what is good" means to support good people, good causes and good ideas. It reaches to the motivation of a leader’s life. What excites him? What hobbies does he cultivate? What brings a smile to his face?
Some people are excited by trifles and trivia, others by outright evil. Few there are who truly love what is good in life. When we find such people, we ought to follow them for they understand the difference between
the good, the near-good, and the not-so-good. One commentator calls this quality "the unwearying activity of love."
As we survey this list, we need to keep several things in mind.
First, it takes time to develop a life like this. That’s the best argument for not elevating young men and new believers to eldership. Most 30-year-olds won’t have developed these qualities yet. That same
principle applies to leadership generally.
Second, a life like this doesn’t happen by accident. You have to work at it. If you want to be this kind of person, it will take real effort expended toward a definite goal over a long period of time. You can’t
read this list, pray about it, and expect to wake up tomorrow morning a brand-new person. Change is possible, but for most of us real change is a slow, agonizing process. In five years you could substantially change your life; in two years you could be a very different person; in one year you could see real change; in one month you could begin to grow in several areas; in a week you could focus on one key area; and by tomorrow you could write down each quality on a chart and rate yourself in each area.