“...but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.”

// Titus 1:8

I used to keep a ‘junk drawer.’ It was the place I swept all of the chaos that would gather on the counters of my kitchen – and it was extra handy if I had guests coming over and not a lot of time to tidy up. Anything I wanted out of sight, into the drawer it went. Why did I have unsightly junk lurking around my life? Because it’s easy to let distraction, convenience and a gradual acceptance of compromise seep into our behaviors. What was once a hard-won virtue can be tarnished or lost without self-control.

Without discipline, we are robbed of lasting results. If I didn’t focus long enough to tie my shoes in the morning, I’d spend all day tripping up. In the Amplified version of Titus 1:8, Paul writes that a church leader should “keep himself in hand.” This speaks of action! God isn’t waiting for us to stumble; He wants us to tie our shoes. Self-control is often painted as list of “do nots” when truly it is a call to “do.”

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus exhorts the disciples, “Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in Heaven.”

This verse unlocks what Paul says to Titus about the careful selection of church leaders. What could look like a laundry list of nice attributes – “upright, holy, and disciplined” – is actually Paul describing someone who can keep open house. And how important is it for the church to be a place with wide-open doors? Yes, this means a church building or house gathering, but beyond thresholds with physical welcome mats, the doors to our hearts must also swing wide. We are the incarnate temples of the Most High God. Of all the places He could dwell – in the heavens and highest heavens [2 Chronicles 6:18] – He chose to make a home in us.

It is this home we are to open generously, graciously. Without self-control, opening the doors would be a constant experiment in sweeping mess under the beds or debris into junk drawers. By contrast, discipline creates a space where the story God has written on our hearts is uncluttered and focused. Let us then be a church – and each of us a temple – where all are welcome.

// Amy Claborn