Thursday, March 24, 2011

All in the Family

Paul had given Timothy spiritual instructions and Biblical Christian doctrine as a young pastor to shepherd those who follow him in the church. Today's lesson looks at the work which Christ expects from his servants and does not speak to the issue of doctrine. Jesus had stated, "If any man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am, there shall also my servant be, if any man serve me, him will my Father honor." (John 12:26) Jew and Gentile alike were included in the family of God, if they followed Christ as a servant. Today's lesson, unlike those over the past few weeks, does not speak to the issue of doctrine. I Timothy 5:1-8, 17-22 looks at the work he expects from his servants, the things they do, and their walk.
One of the tasks that pastors are given to do is to rebuke or reprimand (II Timothy 4:2). Because Timothy was a young pastor, he was instructed not to rebuke the older man. Instead he was to call upon him as a father, perhaps giving direction. If the older man was to be rebuked, Timothy was not to be harsh. He was to treat the older women in a motherly fashion, and younger men and women as brothers and sisters.
Although our joy lies in our heavenly home, we can not neglect our ordinary and moral duties. In the matter of the care of older widows, how is the church to make sure they are taken care of in their old age? There was no social security survivor's benefits or publicly funded health insurance.
Paul states that honor is due to the older widows who trust in God, are virtuous and religious and not widows who live in pleasure and without restraint. He stated they should be relieved by the charity of the church and are of good credit to the church. A widow that lives in pleasure is dead while she is yet alive. She is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and can not serve the church.
Another rule Paul gives is that the church should not be charged with the maintenance of the older widows who has relatives able to maintain them. Family loyalty should be taught at home that the relatives must become caregivers to pay something back to their parents and grandparents. That is good and acceptable before God. "If any provide not for his own, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (vs 8) He has broken the fifth commandment given to Moses by God, "Honor thy father and mother". (Exodus 20:12a)
Paul then turned to the practical issues concerning pastoral compensation, the handling of accusations against pastors, and the process of pastoral ordination. Pastors are worthy of double honor. They labor in the word and doctrine, provide eulogies, care for the sick, baptize, etc. while some followers would like to stifle the purse string. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn." (Deuteronomy 25:4) Since the ox was not muzzled but was allowed to eat as he worked, the farmer realized an increase in the amount of work. Therefore, pastors are worthy of double honor, financial help and respect from God's people for the work they do.
Accusations against pastors must be in writing and there must be two or three credible witnesses. The accused must meet the accusers face-to-face because his reputation is tender. There is a special danger in unjustly accusing a pastor. If there is grounds to the accusations, Paul instructed Timothy that he must publicly rebuke the sin. Public rebuke is designed for the good of others.
We are not to be too quick to ordain a candidate for the ministry. The pastor must first know of the candidate for the ministry's sincerity in repentance, abilities, and qualifications. Have they been called by the Holy Spirit? Timothy was also cautioned not to be a partaker of other men's sins. Some men's sins are obvious and other's are not. Timothy needed to have a discerning spirit and a great deal of wisdom to know how to deal with all of the offenses and offenders he came in contact. Paul advised him to keep himself pure.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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