May 19, 2014

Blamelessness Is A Non-Negotiable, Part I: A Bellwether

Blamelessness is a non-negotiable in a Christian’s life. This is especially true for a Christian leader. There is no wiggle room on this for a spiritual leader. The Bible shows many instances of this type of character demand and it also makes explicit statements about blamelessness. If we look at the Old Testament, God’s leaders needed impeccable character or they were summarily chastised or punished for not having it. We see it in Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets. When they stepped out of line it cost them dearly. In the case of David the sword never left his house/family.

We see in Noah a blameless  and righteous man. His biblical example is imperative for people to see so that they know what proper and acceptable behavior is before God. Had people emulated Noah, there may have been more people on the Ark at the time the rains started falling. As we see with Noah and we will see with others--what truly constituted the blamelessness of a person was the closeness of the relationship with God. As we see below, not only was Noah blameless, he also walked with God meaning he had a very close relationship with God which would mean he had to have been holy to be in God’s presence.

Genesis 6:9 ~ “These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”

The Law in Deuteronomy says that the priest (holy people), to be in covenant with God must walk blameless before God.

Deuteronomy 18:13 ~ “You shall be blameless before the Lord your God”

When we look to the sorrowful story of Job we see that a person can be blameless in their behavior even under extreme duress and suffering. As a matter of fact the word blameless is used nine times in Job because the significance of this character trait plays so heavily into the storyline.

Job 1:1 ~ “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

Job 1:8 ~ “And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

In the New Testament we see citations concerning more of the same. The word above or beyond reproach is often substituted in lieu of the word blameless but both words convey the intent.

1 Timothy 3:2 ~ “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach [blameless], the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach”

Titus 1:5-7 ~ “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 [blameless], 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 [blameless]. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain”

Even the 144,000 in Revelation are viewed as being blameless.

Revelation 14:5 ~ “These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

Blamelessness is predominant in a godly person’s character. It is the foundation for all other behavior. I suppose this is the reason many men do not ascend to leadership positions quickly. I am nearly certain this is why some never do and I am absolutely certain it is why many fall from leadership. I too have struggled with this characteristic as it pervades everything I do. It is not only shown in my behavior but also in my speech and interpersonal relationships. Those relationships include marriage, family, work, friendships and even interaction with neighbors and casual acquaintances.

To clarify though, blamelessness is not faultless, sinless or perfection. No human is capable of even one of these demands. Only Christ was. No, instead blamelessness is more along the lines of setting the bar extremely high so that few can approach it in terms of our behavior. One's behavior must be impeccable. This is why in Titus, Paul states that the elders are to be appoint from the ranks of what? The blameless. It means to set an outstanding example for others to follow. The moral and ethical credentials of a person should be nearly spotless. In reality we would be mentoring people and leading by example in the way we handle ourselves and conduct our lives. We want to emulate Christ and in so doing others can them emulate us and be on the proper track towards holiness and biblical behavior. It is the proverbial adage: Leadership is action, not a position.

Leading the flock by example. In herding they are called bellwethers. Bellwethers were usually the smarter more agile ram, sheep or goats. The term bellwether is derived from the old English practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated male (a wether) that would lead his flock of sheep by its behavior. The movements of the flock could then be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight. We may not physically be neutered but in a metaphorical sense, we give over our authority and influence over to the One who owns us. In this way, through our actions we allow the one who owns us to steer others members of the flock also...its called discipleship. In this way, Christian leaders (and Christians in general) are called to be a form of Bellwether when it comes to blamelessness. 

More on what constitutes a blameless person in my next post.

[Concluded in Next Post]

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