Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable . . . 1 Timothy 3:2
Yesterday, while driving home from work, I was contemplating today’s passage on being respectable, when I accidentally cut another driver off as I merged into the turn lane. He responded by laying on his horn at me. At that moment, it occurred to me that I was glad I didn’t have one of those Jesus fish on my car. If that other driver didn’t know Christ and all he knew about me was my bad driving, and if he associated my bad driving with my faith, then my behavior would have reflected poorly on Christ.
In today’s passage, Paul continued his list of necessary qualities in Christian leaders. We may not all be called to be pastors, but later in the chapter, Paul indicated that he wrote these things that we may all know how to live (1 Timothy 3:15). Living in a manner that is worthy of respect isn’t just for the professional pastor. As Christians, we are all part of the body of Christ and our behavior reflects upon him. We are Jesus’ representatives on Earth and so, our actions, good or bad, shape the world’s opinion of Christians, Christ, and the church.
If others looked at my life as an emissary of Christ, what would they think of him? Do I live in a manner that is worthy of respect? Or do I say that I believe one thing and then live in a manner that is completely inconsistent with those beliefs? It shames me that, in my addiction, my behavior once brought public embarrassment not only to myself, but to the cause of Christ as well.
Living respectably though isn’t just about being sober. We’re not supposed to be consumed with what others think of us, but as Christians, we should at least contemplate how our actions reflect upon Christ. Do we do our jobs well, or do we do as little as possible, complaining about everything? Are we kind to those around us or do we openly mock and criticize others? Do we love our neighbors, or do we live only for ourselves? Do we live in a manner that others respect, or do they look at us and say, I want nothing to do with them or their faith?
We may not all have Jesus fish on our cars, but if we call ourselves Christians, the world watches us and forms its opinion of Christ based on our behavior. Honestly, that’s a terrifying thought. If we say we follow Christ, then daily, we must strive to live in a manner that is worthy of the respect of those around us.