By Michael Milton
Thursday, January 01, 2009
It is important to get the right portrait of the right person.
Once upon another life, before I was a minister, I did a lot of other things. I was even a caricature artist. One day, as I was pursuing my work amidst a gaggle of people all gathered around me at a fall festival, I was commissioned by a father to draw his child. I began to draw the person in front of me. It was a tremendous portrait, if I do say so myself. There was only one small problem: when I handed the portrait to the father he said, “This is not my daughter.” I had drawn the wrong kid. The portrait was a perfect rendition of the child in front of me, but it was not the man’s daughter! It is important to get the picture right!
We know that as fathers. And so we look to the model of fatherhood in the Bible to draw a portrait of the man we should be. We look to the Bible to get the right portrait of a godly mother and wife and everything else in life.
It is important to get the portrait of a pastor. We may have all sorts of ideas about what a pastor should do or shouldn’t do, what he should or shouldn’t look like.
Once I was getting my haircut, and I discerned that the barber was not a Christian—indeed had little or no background in the faith. As we were talking, I felt I had finally broken through, when he said, “May I ask you a question?”
“Yes, of course,” I said with some hope for a breakthrough!
“Do all priests and monks and ministers like you have this little round place cut out in the back of their heads?” Well, he had the wrong picture of a minister to be sure!
It is important that we get the right picture, the right portrait of what God is calling us to be. This is important for a seminary. This is important for a local church. It is important for your own walk with the Lord.
Now before you check out and say, “This is a good sermon for preachers; but since I am not a preacher, this is not for me,” remember that God’s Word has something to say to every man and woman and boy and girl here today. For as the Lord gives us a portrait of a minister approved by God, we also see features of the believer approved by God.
Context and depth and perception are important in painting. It is so here. You see, in 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul painted a portrait of apostasy. So he turns to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:6-16 and paints the portrait of faithfulness to resist the apostasy and even to save himself and others from the deadly consequences of such teaching.
And so it is in this context that Paul the apostle instructs Pastor Timothy: “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine.”
Because we live in a world of distorted images drawn by men, it is important to focus on the portrait of a pastor approved by God.
Paul speaks of Christ Jesus and calls Him, in this passage, “the living God.” He emphasizes the divinity of our Lord Jesus by calling Him this. So let us follow Paul’s language and speak of a minister approved by Christ Jesus. Exactly, what are the features of this portrait of the Christ-approved pastor (and remember, we can take the same features and apply them to a “disciple approved by Christ Jesus”)?
The first feature is this: