Elders Are Not Quarrelsome

Rulers who rule justly and humbly spread blessing and hope among those they serve

“It is particularly important for elders not to be quarrelsome. As men who are called by God to shepherd the church into greater conformity to Christ, they themselves are to be exemplary in Christian character. The way of Christ that they teach and commend to others should be noticeably evident in their own lives.”

 

King David’s words describe the goodness and blessing of well-exercised authority:

The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth. (2 Sam. 23:2–4)

Rulers who rule justly and humbly spread blessing and hope among those they serve. This is true not only in the civil arena but also in the church. Paul says that elders who rule well should be “considered worthy of double honor” (1 Tim. 5:17). For a man to do this, he must not be quarrelsome. That is one of five negative qualifications that Paul lists for overseers in 1 Timothy 3:1–8.

“An overseer must be . . . not quarrelsome” (v. 3). That is, he must not be the kind of person who is always angling for a fight. He must not be irritable. To state it positively, he must be a peaceable person.

This is an important character quality for every Christian because it is a reflection of our Creator, who Himself is the “God of peace” (Rom. 15:33). He makes peace between Himself and sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (5:1) and through Him creates the basis on which believers can live in peace with each other (Eph. 2:14).

Believers are called to “strive for peace with everyone” (Heb. 12:14) and to seek to live with that wisdom that comes from above that is characterized as “peaceable” (James 3:17). As we do so, we will be enabled to stand firm with readiness to share the “gospel of peace” with anyone and everyone (Eph. 6:15).

It is particularly important for elders not to be quarrelsome. As men who are called by God to shepherd the church into greater conformity to Christ, they themselves are to be exemplary in Christian character. The way of Christ that they teach and commend to others should be noticeably evident in their own lives. A contentious, quarrelsome spirit will undermine an elder’s effectiveness in leading the church.

It will also affect the work of the eldership as a whole. A church is greatly blessed to have a team of competent, qualified men to serve as elders. A plurality of elders can watch over the flock far more effectively than a single elder or pastor can. As a church grows, the need for more elders grows.

Serving well as part of church eldership necessarily involves dealing with delicate, complex, and confusing issues. Those issues are important to the health and vitality of the church. The collective wisdom of those whom the Lord has called to serve together in the eldership is required to navigate such issues with grace and biblical fidelity.

Read More