Help me, Father, to hear your voice as I read your Word today. Speak to my heart and move me to follow you more closely.
Read 1 TIMOTHY 5:17-25
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”[a] and “The worker deserves his wages.”[b] 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
24 The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
As you read the Word, allow it to read your heart.
I wonder if during the writing of an email you’ve come to the point of thinking ‘I mustn’t forget to mention x or y.’ Then, the ‘cut and paste’ facility in word processing is very useful in rearranging things into a coherent order. Often, I reorder my prose in email correspondence like this and, as I read this section of the letter, it is as if Paul had a few additional things on his mind to record. What we mustn’t lose, among quick-fire references to ‘elect angels’ (v 21) and ‘wine because of your stomach’ (v 23), is the need for honor toward those appointed to shepherd the sheep.
While I was researching for today’s notes, my wife interrupted me and asked what my hourly rate of pay was. I didn’t know the answer and will curiously pick up the conversation later. Most biblical translations of the text speak of ‘double honor’ (v 17) and it is quite clear that Paul is referring here to financial remuneration. While not directly linked by Paul, what a travesty it would be for an elder in the church to be unable to fulfill the earlier charge to provide for his family (v 8). Sadly, I’ve come across many gifted church leaders who have left full-time ministry for other work so they can more adequately provide for their family.
However, honor for leaders within the church mustn’t be limited to financial reward. Unfair accusations (v 19) can be crippling to those in leadership; gifted leaders have fallen as a result. This is not to minimize the need for accountability when an accusation may be justified: discernment is necessary in dealing with discipline within our churches. Is it any wonder, when addressing such issues, that Paul implores Timothy a second time to keep himself pure (v 22)?
Take a moment to pray for those who are in leadership within your church community.
Lord God, thank you for the gift my pastor is to our church. Show me how to meaningfully show my appreciation.
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