How important is a religious title?
The writer is pastor of United Church of God Big Sandy.
By Dave Havir
BIG SANDY, Texas-The Bible describes some wonderful religious titles. A few familiar to all are Christian, saint, bishop, deacon, etc. What is more important: having a good religious title or behaving in a godly fashion?
One lesson from the biblical account of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is how personal behavior is far more important than religious titles.
When a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, thieves robbed him and hurt him badly. Three men separately came upon the man in need. Which of the three men actually helped the victim?
A priest came first. A Levite came second. These men both had fancy religious titles. Unfortunately, their titles did not translate into any practical help for the wounded man.
Finally, a Samaritan came down the road. This man's title was not impressive at all. He was "one of them." He was "not as good as us." Yet he was the one who gave loving help.
Someone might say, "But that's not the way it was supposed to happen."
Do you see how misleading titles can be? The truth is that people place too much importance on titles. If you pay close attention to life, you will notice that religious titles do not guarantee godly behavior.
Obviously, not all priests and Levites are like this bad example. Some set good examples, and some do not. How will you know the difference? By watching the "fruit," of course.
Obviously, not all Samaritans are like this good example. Some do wonderful things and some do not. How will you know the difference? By watching the "fruit," of course.
Sometimes people in the Church of God place too much importance on a physical religious title. Too often a minister is given too much benefit of the doubt. Too often someone with a negative title or label is needlessly overlooked and underappreciated.
God watches our behavior. God expects us to watch the behavior of others. Evaluating and analyzing do not have to be rude. In fact, they should be a part of responsible adult behavior. They should be a part of responsible Christian behavior.
The wounded man undoubtedly appreciated the good Samaritan. The acts of compassion, in his case as in others, were more important than the religious title.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God