holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.Titus 1:9(NASB)
The qualities that Paul lists for church elders and spiritual leaders are those to which every godly man should aspire. Not only are they called to be even-tempered in their dealings with others, honourable in all aspects of their home life, self-restrained in their business and financial dealings and hospitable towards others but they are instructed to stand firm in the faith; to hold fast to sound biblical doctrine; to be able to exhort and encourage others in the furtherance of the gospel of God - and they should also be in a position to oppose and rebuke those that contradict the Word of God.. and challenge those that distort the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ.
Standing firm in the faith and holding fast to sound doctrine does not mean tenaciously clinging to ones own private interpretation of a passage or reading into a section of scripture what you want it to say, or hope that it says or would like it to say, or think that it says!! Nor is it simply spiritualising the truth so that it fits into ones own pet doctrine and gives an opportunity to argue the case with other believers.
Holding fast the faithful word, which is in accordance with the teaching, means correctly exegeting of Scripture. To hold fast the faithful word, which is in accordance with the teaching.. means interpreting the Word of God correctly - rightly dividing the Word of truth - and this can only be done literally and in an historical context.. and wherever necessary taking into consideration any grammatical implications.
The qualities that Paul lists for a church elder or spiritual leaders has nothing to do with ones bodily stature, physical strength; educational qualifications; bank balance; social status, business acumen; oratory skills or magnetic personality. Nor does it rest on a mans ability to book speakers, carry out building repairs, contribute financially to the upkeep of the church building, unblock toilets or keep the car park tidy.
The qualities that Paul lists for a church elder is for a man who is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe. He should not be rebellious nor self-willed, not quick-tempered or addicted to wine, not pugnacious or fond of sordid gain - but rather he should be hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout and self-controlled - and he should also be a man who: holds fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
Lead us Lord in Your righteousness and may those that are appointed to the responsible position of church elder reflect the qualities of a godly leader, and may we individually seek to do that which is righteous in Your sight - and may we all earnestly contend for the faith so that we too may be perfect and complete, lacking in no quality that You would desire to see in each of Your children - this we ask in Jesus name, AMEN.