minister holding forth a Bible December 17 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Timothy 3-6

Right Conduct for the Church

How should we behave in church? Should we sit down, shut up, read our Bibles and pray? Or, can we shout, sing, and play our music until we blow the roof off? Who determines what is right conduct anyway? How are we to act and who is in charge to make sure things don’t get out of hand? Today’s Bible lesson should help us with this.

We know that the Apostle Paul wrote two letters to Timothy, a disciple and a young pastor of the Ephesian church. In his first letter we read today he says, “I am writing you these instructions so that, …you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth,” (1Timothy 3:14b-15, NIV). From these verses we can make some observations about how we should conduct ourselves in church.

First, Paul writes instructions to Timothy for the church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; therefore it is God’s Word which is our guide for conduct in church.

Whose church is it? It is the church of the living God. This means we must honor and respect it. The church is not just a meeting place and neither is it a playground. The church should have some sanctity. On the other hand, however, it is the church of the living God so the church should also express life. The church is an organism, not merely an organization. It should be caring. The members should laugh and cry, expressing both joy and sorrow. The church should be compassionate and extend itself both to its members and to those outside the church. Are you a part of the church of the living God? It starts with a personal relationship with Him (more...).

What characterizes this church? It is the pillar and foundation of the truth. Truth should be the distinguishing mark of the church. Is our church the place where truth from the Scriptures is taught on a continual basis? People need the foundation of the truth in their lives to know how to live in order to please God.

According to 1Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9, proper conduct within the church starts with the church leadership. The qualifications for pastors and deacons are not suggestions; they are musts (notice how frequently Paul uses the word “must” in these two passages). The requirements given are for the betterment of the church; not following them is always to their detriment. Churches often have their own job descriptions for their administrators. Because of this, many churches skirt these Bible passages; they do not wish to embarrass the candidate by investigating him so personally. A church congregation, board of deacons, or presbytery, is wise, however, if it examines a leadership candidate based on the requirements of these Scriptures. Popularity or politics should not determine who should serve as leaders. Church leaders cannot inspire any better conduct than what they themselves possess. Churches should aim high in their selection of leadership; character should rank higher than popularity.

Church leaders are sometimes hesitant to preach or teach all of the Word of God. The Word of God is not always popular, and there are false teachers who tickle the ears of their audiences by saying what people want to hear, instead of the truth. Church leaders must be bold in proclaiming all the Word of God, rightly dividing the word of truth. People need to know what is truth and what is error, regardless of how well it may be received. Paul tells Timothy to “command and teach these things, … and to be diligent about these matters.” (4:11,15, NIV). We should do the same. How can people live right if they do not know what is right?

Churches are to be morally pure and godly. Older men should be given respect as fathers, “younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters with absolute purity,” (1 Timothy 5:1-2, NIV). Timothy ministered to the church in Ephesus. Ephesus was a very immoral, idolatrous community. Paul did not want the Ephesian culture to creep into the church and ruin it. We must not allow that either. Godly training starts in the home; it is there where children are first taught respect.

Church leaders and congregations are to comprise a caring community. Not only are we to love and respect our ministers, but we also need to express spiritual and emotional support to all our members. Additionally, some will need financial or physical help. To whom should we extend our help? It is tempting for an especially loving church to extend herself to all people. Paul commands Timothy, however, to have the church help those who are truly in need and not to overextend itself. Families have responsibilities to take care of their own before the church helps them. If that is not possible, the church should be happy to lend a hand.

Partiality and favoritism are not to be a part of churches. It is tempting for many people in churches to compare others with themselves, to form exclusive little cells, and to favor those with position or money in the community. Gossip and malicious talk and even inward fighting can be the result. Paul instructs Timothy, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness, (1Timothy 6:11, NIV). We should do the same.

Lessons to Live By

  • Are you a part of the church of the living God? It starts with a personal relationship with Him (more...).
  • Leaders will set the example for godly conduct in the church. We should choose them wisely, using the Scriptures as our standard.
  • Godly training starts in the home, it is there where children are first taught respect.
  • Preachers and teachers and counselors should be careful to teach all of God’s Word.
  • Churches should be known for genuine caring, not fighting.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

1Timothy 4:16 (NIV) “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

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A Look Ahead: Now that we know proper conduct for the church, how do we live in our ungodly culture? See our Next Lesson for Christianity that Fits. It may not be as you think.

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