Paul gives six virtues that men of God should pursue: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.
By Tony Merida
Biblical manhood (pursuing godliness while retaining masculinity) is missing in the church, and the need for more godly men is necessary for the transformation of churches and families. We need men to lead, protect, and provide both physically and spiritually.
Paul gives six virtues that men of God should pursue: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness (1 Tim 6:11b). The imperative “pursue” is also a present tense command. Every day we must follow after the above-mentioned virtues that flow from our union with Christ. So, holiness is not just about abstaining from certain actions; it is about pursuing God, like a deer panting for water (Ps 42:1). Do not just say no to sin; say yes to God.
Follow after Righteousness
Righteousness means to possess a right relationship with God and people. Paul is not talking about imputed righteousness (the righteousness we receive at our justification). He is talking about practical righteousness. The man of God should hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt 5:6). He will live with honesty before God and honesty before people. Be right with God, and be fair and just in your dealings with people.
Follow after Godliness
This virtue is closely related to righteousness. Godliness begins with a worshiping heart. Men of God love God and serve Him with a reverent fear (Heb 12:28). Consequently, men of God do not play around with sin; they kill sin. Again, the preacher must first pursue holiness before preaching it. John Flavel said, “Brethren, it is easier to declaim against a thousand sins of others, than to mortify one sin in ourselves.” Make sure you are a clean vessel. M’Cheyne’s words are challenging:
Do not forget the culture of the inner man—I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword, His instrument—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.
Follow after Faith
The man of God must trust God. We live by faith. MacArthur said, “To live a life of faith . . . is to live in a state of relaxed desperation. The man of God is desperate, because of the tremendous weight of responsibility his ministry entails, yet he is relaxed because of his confidence in the sovereignty of God.” A high view of God is absolutely necessary for faithfulness and longevity in ministry.
Follow after Love
Instead of the youthful displays of bickering, impatience, and contentiousness, the man of God must love. Obviously, you have to care sincerely for people if you are going to pastor them. Of course, there are times when you want to strike a blow, but you must refrain and remember the love that God had for you when you were unlovely. Set your people an example of genuine love for the body of Christ. Love them enough to wash their feet and love them enough to tell them the truth. Demonstrate a deep concern for the poor and the unreached peoples of the world, as well.
Follow after Steadfastness
The man of God endures to the end. The word means, “to bear up under, or remain under.” The weight of ministry is demanding, but by the Spirit’s help we must persevere. Remember that the goal of our ministries is a lifetime of faithfulness, not sporadic faithfulness. Obviously, there are times in which we fall down, and by God’s grace, get up again. However, we should take the long view. Pursue longevity. Do not get carried away with big events that last for a weekend. Focus on the finish line, like Jesus who endured until it was finished.
Follow after Gentleness
In Paul’s requirements for the pastor he noted that the overseer should display gentleness not violence (1 Tim 3:3). This concept carries the idea of strength under control. It does not mean “weakness.” So, when the older lady comes up to you ten minutes before the sermon and asks, “Why is the homecoming not in the bulletin?” think before you respond. Do not use the pulpit as a place for brow-beating either. Remember Jesus who coupled strength and authority with humility and meekness. He is the picture of godliness.
Tony is pastor of Imago Dei in Raleigh, N.C., vice president of theological training for Acts 29, and professor at Grimké Seminary. He is also the author of numerous books, including Faithful Preaching.
Excerpted from Faithful Preaching (B&H Publishing Group, 2009)