This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you - if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
I know you are all chomping at the bit over the next phrase in this letter from Paul to Titus, but we need to get seriously serious for a last time here regarding the question of what it means for an elder to be "blameless" or "above reproach".
Almost everyone reading this thinks that Paul could not have meant "blameless" because Christ is the only truly-blameless one, right? And our problem is that we are either "without any sin" or "just a sot".
Let me say this plainly: that's not the comparison Paul is making here. Paul is saying that the one who ought to be an elder is (as we mentioned last week) the mature believer, the one who has received grace through faith and is justified before God, but is also thereby sanctified -- manifesting the gifts of the spirit. And that would be love, joy, peace, patience, etc., not tongues, signs, prophecy, card tricks, etc.
That's why Paul assumes the elders have a wife, and a family, and children, and all the other stuff we'll see in the letters to Timothy: they are mature men and not barely men. No offense to anybody.
But here's the thing: not only will these kinds of guys be good elders for the church: they will also be men in whom we can place our confidence in a way which is unlikely to be betrayed.
All men are human, and human beings will fail. But our hedge against that is calling men with godly character. If character comes first, rather than being allegedly built on the job, trust comes built-in, having been earned.
The elder must have blameless character; he must show the fruit of the spirit.
We'll find out why next week.