Our family was returning home from a trip to Lawton, Oklahoma. Happy, enthusiastic talk filled the van as we rolled down the interstate. Ahead of us on the other side of the highway, I noticed a car that was just merging onto the other side of interstate headed the opposite direction from us. Suddenly, I saw the car abruptly make a sharp 180 degree turn and strike out toward seventy-mile-per-hour oncoming traffic—a nightmare scenario.
In horror I said aloud, “Oh no!” and I cried out, “Lord Jesus, help them!” As we passed the car now traveling the same direction as us, I saw a woman driving with several small children in the car. I glanced ahead. There were two cars bearing down on her. To the Maxwell family’s relief, she pulled over and stopped on the median shoulder as the cars safely whizzed by her.
Our excited chatter had been replaced by a momentary deathly silence. Now everyone was voicing a similar thought. What if she hadn’t pulled over then? We realized we had just narrowly missed being eyewitnesses to a freeway head-on collision. We could not fathom what possessed that woman to make a U-turn and head the wrong way down the interstate toward oncoming traffic. How could she have risked her life, the children’s lives, and those of the people in the other cars?
Praise God that she realized she was heading in the wrong direction and took appropriate action in time to avert a disaster. How heartbreaking it would have been to watch something terrible happen had she struck one of the two oncoming cars.
For quite a while now, Teri and I have had heavy hearts as we read e-mails, read message board posts, and observe Christian families losing their children to the world. These families are busy with normal life until, all of a sudden, they are in the midst of a crisis. The child, who has been nurtured and taught for so many years, begins making choices that reflect the negative influence of the world.
Our sadness is nothing compared to what the parents of those children have experienced. The disappointment and anguish they suffer is horrible. But where is God in all of this? Does not His Word offer hope for the rest of us? Is it simply the destiny of a fixed percentage of families to have a child who will embrace the world?
It can be discouraging for parents when they look around and mostly see teens who are very worldly. Is there nothing that can be done, or do we just wait until they’re grown to see how it will all turn out?
We have found encouragement in these verses. “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?)” (1 Timothy 3:2-5).
As we look at these verses, it is clear that they are intended to be the litmus test of a man to see if he qualifies to be an elder or overseer of the church. Let me briefly list the meaning of the requirements: blameless, have one wife (one marriage), vigilant (circumspect or temperate), sober (self-controlled), of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not a drinker, not violent, not greedy, patient, not quick to quarrel (peaceable), not covetous, rules his house well, and having reverent children. Also, in Titus 1:6, it is added that the children would be faithful.
As we look at those requirements, we see how none of them have to do with the color of the man’s hair or how tall he is. Notice that the first thirteen all have to do with things that are affected by his personal choices of obedience to the truths of God’s Word. For example, a man makes a choice as to whether he will be self-controlled or gluttonous, greedy or generous, patient or angry. In the same way, this man of God who is qualified to lead the church has made decisions that have allowed him to rule his house well and raise obedient children. The fruit of that man’s walk with Jesus Christ are children who are reverent and faithful. His home is to be a miniature representation of the church.
The focus of the elder’s heart and his efforts are on fulfilling his God-directed, God-given, and God-taught responsibilities. He is proving himself to be a follower of God, by walking in love and obedience, and therefore he is qualified to lead the church.
Frequently, we see families who are on a collision course with disaster. At first they aren’t aware of it, but in time, they realize all is not well as they sense they have lost their children’s hearts. Our prayer is that they will realize it before it is too late. They need to hit the brakes and get off the road they are traveling down.
The problem is that, often, those needing to change direction are comfortable because they are with so many others. Someone once told me he was okay going to hell because all his friends were going to be there as well. Unfortunately, when the results of that decision are realized, it will be too late, and hell will not be the party that he was expecting. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Whether you are following the crowd or on your own, I plead with you, don’t propel yourself into a similar situation as that woman we saw. Praise God she finally made the right decision before it cost her, her children, and others a horrible consequence. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (Matthew 24:45).