by Pastor Ayo Sparks
KINGDOM CULTURE AND WISDOM FOR ADMINISTRATION.
1Timothy 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
Recall that Paul was writing to our young Pastor Timothy, who definitely would have various age groups in his congregation. Paul makes it clear here that that we are equal partakers of the grace of God or that you’re appointed an overseer over God’s people does not negate the place of courtesy and deference.
To those who are immature and the novices, privilege appointment to a leadership position is seen as having an advantage over all others and could give rise to grandiloquent dispositions and pompous misdemeanors.
The elders (age-wise) are to be treated as fathers and mothers while the younger ones are to be treated as Brothers and Sisters.
The emphasis on “with all purity” in relating to the younger women as Sisters is an admonition to Timothy to avoid and guard against whatever can lead him to engaging in any form of immorality with the young women in the congregation. Knowing fully well that such is strong enough to bring reproach to his person and the Church of the living God. Sadly, many today are not heeding to this Spirit-inspired counsel as they unconscientiously indulge in what I term as “spiritual incest”: brothers and sisters in Christ, fathers and daughters in the faith going the family way. Paul did warned against such in the Ephesian Church under the pastoral care of Timothy.
ADMINISTERING SUPPORT TO THE WIDOWS
1Timothy 5:3 Honour widows that are widows INDEED.
The word “honour” here, as in verse Seventeen, means to support or to sustain. Without godly wisdom, widows are the most difficult to deal with in the church, particular the younger ones whose needs are far beyond financial and material aids.
Aside the possibility of having limited resources to go round everyone in need in the congregation, if the matters evolving around the widows in the church are not judiciously handled, any local assembly can get into troubles, become a subject of shame and reproach, and ultimately become spiritually dead! Paul took his time to analyze the different types of widows there are and gave sound wisdom on how to handle each group to avoid the church being taken undue advantage of by the bad eggs and anyone bringing reproach to the name of the Lord.
Though, the widows are to be supported but not all are to become the church’s responsibility. The strict qualifications for any widow to be enlisted in the church’s welfare program include: she must be above sixty years of age; she must not have grown up children who automatically should be responsible for her upkeeps, thereby relieving the church of another burden. That is the context of what we have in verse 8:
1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Any family that has a widow must be responsible for her upkeeps. Humorously, I do ask women who are fond of quoting that verse 8 to their husbands whenever things are not balanced, are they widows?
For a widow to be qualified for church assistance, she must have been married to only one man; must truly and solely be trusting God for her daily survival, she must have reputation for good works and should useful to the church, not such a one who is only given to pleasure. The list seems inexhaustible and strict but it is godly wisdom on display.
Remember, despite the generosity of the early church, where multitudes sold their properties and brought the proceedings before the Apostles to be distributed to the needy, the church was almost turned upside down due to several people complaining of not being attended to or not being catered for. Mind you, it was all centered on widows!
Acts 6:1 and in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Obviously, the same situation arose in Ephesus and Paul had to give their Pastor viable apostolic counsels. It is amazing how many see the local church as just a Charity Centre, believing that manna do fall from heaven into the pastor’s or church’s Treasury and must be shared to all. You see many trooping in, particularly to the so called “rich churches” but not to be saved or serve the Lord with sincerity of heart in any capacity, but just to receive financial help. Many, after getting what they came for swiftly disappear and you don’t see them until when next life has again tortured them beyond their ability and shamefacedness to endure. Others who stay long without being fortunate turn to start badmouthing the church and the leaders.
It is clear that for the church to be able to manage well the resources available at her disposal at any given time, widows who have relatives are not to be considered as church’s responsibility. Widows who are still young are advised to remarry because, the church will eventually be at the losing end to enlist them as her responsibility. That is because, they can still work, rather than busy bodying about while depending on the church for sustenance. Sooner or later, they will not be able to endure their passion and if they are not well guided, they can cause great havoc, given to sexual immorality. They should rather be counselled to marry and raise godly children (which are God’s heritage).
Also, widows that are not ready or willing to live the godly life are not to be considered by the church for support, especially, consistently.
When all the above are taken in to practice, the church will have resources to cater for other needs especially, the elders (not necessarily the aged, but the leaders of the church and the teachers of the word) who are to be considered worthy of double the support rendered to anyone else in the church, according to the volume of the available resources.
Many who think pastors are not working can barely endure for a month what pastors go through feeding, watching over and providing leadership to the people. Indeed our elders that rule well, especially those laboring in the word and doctrine (not doctrines!) are entitled to our supports for sacrificing their life and time towards our spiritual growth and edification.
Paul again reminds Timothy about how to handle issues involving the aged. No matter what they do that is wrong, it is wisdom to rather exhort (encourage them in what they should rather do) than to rebuke them. That however doesn’t mean that the Pastor doesn’t have the right and authority to correct the aged, as there are errors that must be addressed publicly (when proven so, banking on the testimony of two to three witnesses) to serve as warning to others. But, godly wisdom must always be employed.
Again, every local pastor is faced with a lot to handle, with the conscious awareness that God is watching, the Lord Jesus Christ must be well represented and the elect angels are bearing witness to every move made. So, the local pastor must learn to rule without favoritism, as one that will give account of his stewardship.
In the previous chapter, Paul already made it clear that there are attributes to look out for in everyone before any appointment or ordination to a leadership position in the church is carried out. The quest to retain members and build a workforce without the leading of the Holy Spirit has moved many to ordain novices, pretenders and “Judases” as leaders in the church. That has produced more evil than good, most often. Timothy is warned against such because, when you ordain anyone who’s well known among the people for some improprieties, it will be assumed that you’re either condoning his sins or you’re birds of a feather.
1Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. (The Message Bible)
THE NEED FOR PERSONAL CARE AND HYGIENE
1Timothy 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
I’m of the opinion that the challenging roles of a pastor would have contributed to Timothy’s stomach issue and his infirmities. As at the time Paul was writing to Timothy, clean water was very rare and wine was preferred as the process of fermentation is believed to have removed the germs in the water used in its production. Aside that, wine is considered as having medicinal properties.
While Timothy would have been consciously avoiding drinking wine as it is unbecoming of a church leader and can make you lose your sense of judgement if taken in excess (remember, wine is deceitful!). Paul counselled that a little wine would serve as medicine for his stomach issue as his well-being was so important to God and to Paul himself, even considering the task at hand.
This shows that, though God is particular about our well-being, it will not always take His supernatural power to make us and keep us fit. Eating and drinking healthily and not for drunkenness might be all that will work the miracle!
Reward is sure!
In whatever position we find ourselves – in the church or in the secular world, every man’s deeds are clear and open to God. While many good or bad deeds done are obvious and receive instant rewards or judgement, some other good works or otherwise will be revealed with due compensation at the end.
1Timothy 5: some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
That’s just a reminder that God is not unrighteous to forget our labour of love and should rather serve as an encouragement to us to abound unto all good works. Always remember, we are called unto good works!