Pastors and elders must never forget that “the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Cor. 3:19), and that we His servants are, as Paul says, “the scum of the world, the refuse of all things” (1 Cor. 4:13).
Instead, the Apostle is calling for elders to live lives above reproach—not only above the reproach of those inside the church, as he called for in 1 Timothy 3:2, but also above the reproach of those outside the church. Sometimes a prospective elder’s unbelieving relatives, coworkers, or neighbors may know more about his character than his fellow church members. If unbelievers know him to be marked by immorality or drunkenness, or by a lack of discipline or integrity, while at the same time he is serving as an elder in Christ’s church, they will ridicule him as a hypocrite, and the name of Christ will be blasphemed because of it (Rom. 2:24). Paul requires that this not be so. Though the enemies of the truth will seek to discredit the character of God’s servants, elders must “keep [their] conduct among the Gentiles honorable” (1 Peter 2:12), “so that, when [they] are slandered, those who revile [their] good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:16). If charges are brought, they must never stick, and they must be shown to be illegitimate by a clear appeal to the man’s life. Under the examination of insiders and outsiders, the man of God must live a life above reproach. May God give grace to His servants, that we might walk worthy of such a high calling.