If a man is blameless… For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God. (Titus 1:6-7)
The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus, telling him the character of the men he should appoint to leadership among Christians. We find a similar list in 1 Timothy 3, and both of these lists begin by saying that the leader among God’s people should be blameless.
When we consider a person’s character, it’s a great place to start. The ancient word literally means, “nothing to take hold upon.” It simply means there must be nothing in the life of the leader that others can take hold of and attack his life or the church.
The Bible commentator Adam Clarke said that the word was a metaphor taken from the world of boxing. Just like a skillful boxer defends every part of his body and gives his opponent no place to hit, so a blameless person gives the outside world no true place to attack his character.
This is a broad term for a person who lives a righteous life that can be seen as righteous. No one could stand up and rightfully accuse the man of grievous sin.
More than ever, the world around us finds and exposes the sins and faults of leaders. Sometimes the sins and faults of leaders in the church are found out and exposed to the world. When this happens, sober consideration should be given to how this impacts the leader’s standing as a blameless person. When Paul wrote about deacons in 1 Timothy 3:10, he used the phrase being found blameless. This implies being blameless is demonstrated by a track record of behavior – it is found and demonstrated to other people. A leader can’t decide for himself if he is blameless; there should be trusted people who can honestly look at him and his reputation, and how they reflect on God and His people.
This doesn’t mean that a godly leader will never be accused. Jesus, Paul, and many other godly men have been accused of terrible sins – but they were false accusations. We understand that blameless here applies to the truth of a man’s reputation and does not take into account false accusations.
I don’t think this means that a person with sin in his past can never be a leader among God’s people. It means that their reputation for repentance and godliness must be more public than their prior reputation for sin and compromise. It means that when those who know the person think about him, they first think of his godliness, before they would of the sins of his past. Godliness and time can restore a reputation.
If your reputation is good, if you are blameless in the sense described here, remember how easy it is to wreck your reputation. It can happen surprisingly fast. Trust Jesus every day to actually live in such a way that will only improve your reputation.
If your reputation is not good – if you are not blameless in the sense described here – then don’t despair! Jesus came to forgive and restore us all. Just remember that the restoration of your reputation will take time and consistency. Ask Jesus for daily faithfulness so that day by day, year by year, you can build a reputation that can be once again regarded as blameless.