Paul continues his instruction and teaching of Timothy by giving him instructions for the leading of the church. We saw yesterday how Paul encouraged Timothy not to neglect his gift (4:14), he can see the potential in him and has invested much time in developing him.
This passage shows that Paul is not only full of the Holy Spirit, but has God’s wisdom in abundance through his life. He has practical outworking as well as the miraculous.
Instructions given to Timothy cover:
- Older men
- Younger men
- Older women
- Younger women
God’s church is one large family, comprised of many people who are often completely different to each other in diverse ways. Paul lists characteristics for different people in different scenarios.
- Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father
- Encourage younger men as brothers
- Encourage older women as mothers
- Encourage younger women as sisters
- Honour widows
- Teach family members to care for their own relatives.
Timothy is being instructed, because in the future he will be leading churches to bring a wide ranging group of people to Christian maturity. Paul, a leader, is growing leaders and Timothy will do likewise. He will probably have to instruct leaders in churches who are much older than himself, but need redirecting. ‘Do not rebuke’ doesn’t mean not tackling issues, but doing it with respect and love, not prejudging, but with impartiality and purity.
Issues often need tackling in church life. Phil Moore, in his commentary on this passage, described a situation which I find helpful and summed up well. As a church elder he had a situation where an older lady was sleeping with her lodger. Phil Moore quotes “she was old enough to be his mother”. So, with another woman in the church, he met this lady to ask her questions and challenge her about her sexual sin. He goes on to say “I respect my mother, so I was careful not to ask questions in a manner that shamed her or made it hard for her to confess her sin. But I also love my mother; so I did not hold back my challenge for fear of offending her sensibilities”. This was a good case of a young man bringing an older person to maturity with respect, love, impartiality and purity.
All of us in the church are being watched as to how we conduct ourselves, especially by those outside the church who we witness to. How we conduct ourselves is just as important as the words we speak.
As the church grows, the need for good leadership grows. In v.17 Paul speaks of elders who rule well being considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching. Also, v.18 – the labourer deserves his wages. As trustees, we recently had to take the decision to give Andy a pay cut, not to dishonour him but to help stabilise our poor financial state, a very difficult decision.
This passage is all about honour, we have a God who brings us out of any shame and sets us free. My prayer is that we continue to mature as God’s people and honour our leaders and all who come to the Gateway Church. Amen.